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Inspired by the US, the UK government is mulling motorway sponsorship

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The UK government is investigating the possibility of auctioning off naming rights to its ten busiest motorways next year in an effort to raise additional funds for the upkeep of public infrastructure.

According to a report in The Times, if acted upon, key arteries such as the M1 between London and Leeds, the M8 through Glasgow and the M25 around London could all lose their M designations in favour of a new corporate identity in a scheme modeled on the ‘Adopt a Highway’ scheme in the US.

It is thought that the Treasury could raise as much as £200m per year if the scheme takes off, with businesses paying for the privilege of having their branding added to roadside signs in return for financing maintenance and ‘beautification’ work.

The Times cited an overheard conversation by Treasury chief secretary Liz Truss, who suggested the measures could be implemented in 2019 once Brexit dust has settled.

Truss is reported to have said: “My new vision is all about the roads. We need to push to get company sponsorship for the top ten motorways, like they have in the USA. We’ll wait until the new year though because obviously now everything is consumed by Brexit.”

It is believed that officials have already held exploratory talks with Pat Nelson, president of the 'Adopt a Highway' scheme to confirm its viability.

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WPP rebrands to reflect Read reinvention

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Holding company WPP has issued an all-encompassing rebrand to reflect the restructuring of the business which boasts more than 140,000 staff globally.

The rebrand was handled by Jim Prior, who leads the branding agency Superunion which was formed following a merger of five of WPP's top agencies this year, and Landor chief Jane Geraghty.

The new augmented look is designed to play in varying environments and colour palettes to show how the agency network can adapt to clients and industry challenges.

Prior said: “Our ambition was to present WPP with the same energy and creativity that we offer to our clients right across the company. There’s a lot of pride and ambition in WPP that is now united under a strong and dynamic brand identity.”

Geraghty added: “WPP has always been transformative – bringing together the best people and ideas to meet the needs of our clients. We now have an evolved brand and expression of purpose that better reflects who we are as a company, our collective capabilities, and what we offer.”

Accompanying the creative is a new website that looks to showcase the group’s digital expertise and offer up a hint of what it can provide for clients. It is describing itself as a "creative transformation" company.

On Tuesday 11 December, the company outlined its new strategy day at an investors event in London.

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Putting a price on reputation

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Consumers are willing to pay more for products that not only have the features they want but also are delivered by businesses with a good reputation, new research has found.

The study, by researchers at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), puts a price on reputation and explores the trade-off between a good reputation and extra product features.

It reveals that a company evaluated by consumers as better than its competitors in terms of corporate reputation commands around a 9% premium for its products, and an even higher premium when there are desirable extra features.

“The impact of corporate reputation on consumer choices is substantial compared to the competitive advantage offered by varying product features,” says study co-author, Associate Professor of Marketing Paul Burke, from UTS Business School.

“Marketing managers need to be concerned about corporate reputation not only because it builds loyalty and trust but also because product features appear more valuable, so consumers are willing to pay more,” he says.

The research, with co-authors Professor Grahame Dowling and Dr Edward Wei, published in the Journal of Marketing Management, focused on consumers in the market for televisions. The televisions were made by Sony, Panasonic or Toshiba.

Corporate reputation encompasses a range of dimensions including how people feel about the company, the quality and innovativeness of its products, its workplace environment and workforce, its vision and leadership, financial performance and social and environmental responsibility.

Conversely, brand damage occurs when companies become embroiled in scandals and crises such as financial corruption, leadership failure or environmental destruction.

In the study, participants were first asked to give an evaluation of the corporate reputation of each of the TV makers.

Separately, the were asked to choose between televisions based on fairly standard features such as warranty, price or size, and in addition by novel features such as backlight control or dynamic range control.

The research showed consumers were willing to pay extra for a product with important features and a good brand reputation, but less willing to pay a premium for products with novel features regardless of reputation.

For example, in the case of screen size, consumers were willing to pay $121 more for a television that was 55” over one that was 50”. This amount increased by a further 22% to $147 for a company that was one standard deviation higher on the corporate reputation measure.

“Corporate reputation is not something that can be readily controlled by marketing managers, but it is definitely something that should command their attention,” says Associate Professor Burke.

“Companies need to work hard to communicate that they are environmentally and socially responsible, support good causes, have a positive work environment, and excellent leadership and financial performance, and do their best to mitigate brand damage,” he says.

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State Street mulls siblings for Fearless Girl as it removes its brand from NYC statue

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State Street Global Advisors, the investment management firm behind the Cannes Lion-winning Fearless Girl, has hinted at plans to commission siblings for the original bronze statue for financial hubs outside New York City.

Lori Heinel, deputy global chief investment officer at the firm, told The Drum the company has “talked about whether to have replicas … of Fearless Girl” as it looks to expand its campaign, and is placing more women onto company boards globally.

“We've certainly been asked by many outside the US for their own Fearless Girl, and that's certainly a conversation we continue to have,” she said.

However, she added that State Street is focused on celebrating the original’s new, permanent location for now.

Today (10 December) State Street moved the bronze statue, originally at Bowling Green, to face the pedestrianized New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on the corner of Wall and Broad Streets. The company worked with the City of New York and the NYSE to broker the statue's first permanent site; originally, it was only meant to be in situ for one week.

The move means the sculpture will no longer face the Arturo Di Modica’s Charging Bull – a stance the Italian artist vocally criticized – and will help alleviate traffic issues caused by heavy tourist footfall at the previous Lower Manhattan spot.

Ta-dah! pic.twitter.com/EvF53t6Bnb

— Katie Deighton (@DollyDeighton) December 10, 2018

Additionally, Kristen Visbal’s artwork is no longer accompanied by the plaque connecting her with State Street at the new location. A bronze sign previously declared: ‘Know the power of women in leadership/SHE makes a difference,’ followed by the State Street logo.

The copy was written by McCann New York creative Tali Gumbiner, who admitted she “never spent more time writing anything" in her life.

Heinel explained the decision not to move the plaque is symbolic of State Street gifting the conversation sparked by Fearless Girl to the wider world.

“The world moved the conversation [surrounding female leadership] away from just us a long time ago … it is way beyond State Street at this juncture,” she said.

“We wanted her to really symbolize the potential for all women everywhere and not be associated with just State Street. Clearly, we're very proud of the fact that we commissioned her and were the first to install her, but this is really about the girl now.”

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