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Quotes of the week: Waitrose, BBC, Budget reaction, WPP, Google,

It’s been a busy week for quotes, what with Budget reactions, App’s are described as ‘pimples’, Sir Martin Sorrell considering a return to the UK, calls being made to fight Government spin over the oil and gas sector and the BBC considering bringing an end to late night programming.

"In the future mobile apps will become a pimple on the surface of the mobile web,” stated Carter.

"That's because [the mobile web] is a great platform to develop on. You are not bound by the restrictions of app stores. And it's future proof... what you do will work on mobiles that haven't even been developed yet."

This story broke at the same time that The Drum revealed that bottle water brand Highland Spring had chosen to move its long held advertising account out of Merle to Story, with the company’s head of brand marketing Paul Condron, taking a bit of heat for wishing the incumbent agency well for the future.

“Their contribution towards the growth of the brand has been significant and we wish them well,” said Condron of the work undertaken by Merle in the previous ten years, which raised the hackles of a few online commentators.

Featuring heavily in the news this week was George Osbourne’s budget, which tried to be both hard in a bid to raise more money for the economy, while offering the public something back – 1p less on every litre of petrol to be exact. But it was his business tax breaks that caught the headlines, with a relaxation in taxation of British company’s profits from abroad apparently enough of an incentive to prepare the way for the return of advertising group WPP.

"There has to be legislation enacted... [but] I think it looks as though we will make that recommendation," Sir Martin Sorrell told the BBC following the Budget as to whether WPP could return to London.

The IPA told The Drum that such news should be welcomed by the industry:

“Of course we would be delighted if WPP were to transfer its HQ back to London, which remains the global hub for creative industries. One would like to think a move would be more a reflection on Britain's UK's recovery prospects than on Ireland's, but there are also non financial factors to take into account in such a decision,” stated IPA finance director Alex Hunter.

Liz Brion, head of media tax for Grant Thornton highlighted what the Budget announcements could mean for media organisations and brands.

”The ‘patent box’ extension with a 10% rate of corporation tax on income from patent rights, which was announced under the Labour Government in the 2009 Pre-Budget Report, is not wide enough as it does not include brands and trademarks otherwise known as “intangible assets. In comparison Hong Kong, a traditionally low corporate tax rate area, has already announced that intangible assets do include brands and hallmarks. Inclusion of this step in the Budget, coupled with the other changes, could have made a real difference,” said Brion.

Nathan Lane, managing director of Leeds PR agency Ptarmigan Bell Pottinger was positive, but level-headed in his reaction as to what it could mean for business.

"As always the devil will be in the detail but a comment I heard last week in regards to Local Enterprise Partnerships rang in my ears throughout this budget 'We have to wean ourselves off the belief that government money can solve our problems. There isn't any and we have to look to ourselves to affect change.”

The Budget also issued a surprise in the announcement of a £2bn tax levy on the exploration and production sector, which led Ian Ord, business development director for Fifth Ring to call on oil and gas company communications teams to fight ‘Government spin’. He referred to winning over public perception, which he claimed that Government has swayed towards making the companies look greedy, when in fact, the expense of the process to retrieve oil was a factor in the high cost.

“The price of a litre of petrol is not that far removed from the price of a litre of water – but the negative press surrounding fuel and the oil industry as a whole far exceeds any attention given to the latter. The challenge as I see it is for communications teams at the E&P firms to highlight the reality of the cost involved in getting crude oil to the pump as useable fuel. Maybe it is because the processes are generally invisible to the average consumer – they are less aware of the complexity, cost and risk involved,” explained Ord.

Also revealed this week was that Vision + Media was set to ‘pull’ or at least no longer promote its campaign ‘Resign London’ which aimed to attract creative talent from London into the regions, and drew much criticism. Having only launched a month ago however, an email, seen by The Drum from Enda Carey, revealed that a decision had been taken to abandon the campaign for the time being.

“I personally feel this is a shame, particularly given the importance which the Steering Group placed upon this issue,” commented Carey in his email.

Google also explained its reasoning for changing its Google Chrome logo – having moved from a 3D logo to a 2D logo last week with no rhyme or reason.

“Even before this effort, the new version of the Chrome logo was already being conjured up by Googlers and Chrome fans. Numerous creative reinterpretations have organically moved the icon towards simplicity and abstraction, so it felt right to make the icon structure cleaner and easier to recreate,” explained design Steve Rura.

And Waitrose also issued a statement to the press apologising for the problems that retailers were having with its new website.

"Following one of the biggest retail web changes ever, we're seeing unprecedented volumes with orders up by almost 34% on the same time last year, so clearly the vast majority of shoppers are getting on well with the new site. However, like all new websites there are some problems, and we would like to apologise for the inconvenience and frustration this has clearly caused some of our customers.

"We're working hard to correct the issues that some shoppers are experiencing as fast as we possibly can. We're using the feedback from our customers to prioritise the changes we need to make. The first batch will include improvements to the login and ordering process and these will go live soon. We are using our online forum to let everyone know which changes are being made and when these have taken place."

Finally, as the BBC continues to investigate how it can save money following the freeze on the licence fee for the next few years, Mark Thompson, BBC director general revealed that he was considering putting an end to late night programming.

"In a sense, it's more of a question it seems to me of how much money, how much of the licence fee, should you direct to this part of the schedule given the people available to view?”

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