Royal wedding dominates – even before it happens
Nothing came close to the royal wedding this month in terms of the UK public’s attention; as Will Clothier discusses in his monthly round-up of most noticed stories for the Times’ Red Box, it really did blow everything else out of the water. The wedding day itself was on Saturday 19 May, and it was mentioned by a sizeable proportion (43%) as the top story of the following week. However, it also garnered the attention of 45% of the public in the previous week, ending 18 May, as the public was hooked on tabloid speculation about Meghan Markle’s family, as well as emerging details of the day itself. Meghan Markle herself was the most searched topic on Google on Monday 14th, as the media conjectured about her future role within the royal family. On weddings, Populus has conducted research into how couples approach marriage for leading law firm Seddons, finding that 38% of couples report that the thought of entering into a pre-nup had not crossed their mind.
Sainsbury’s / Asda merger in the hands of the Competition and Markets Authority
May was a big month for supermarket retailers, with the Asda/Sainsbury’s merger making it into our top 10 most noticed news stories in the first week of May (5%), as well as being the most noticed business news story of May. Meanwhile, Tesco Direct and Marks & Spencer both made it into our roundup at the end of the final week of May. Populus’s David Racadio writes in detail about the proposed merger in our round up of the most noticed business news stories of May, noting in particular the high potential for reputation damage: for the CMA if the deal goes through, or for the two supermarket chains if not.
Immigration and Foreign affairs capture attention in first half of month
The two most noticed stories for the first two weeks of May were, respectively, the Windrush scandal (16%), in a week in which incoming Home Secretary Sajid Javid sought to take control of the issue, and the Iran Nuclear Deal (24%), which faces an uncertain future after American withdrawal. On the Windrush scandal, Populus found that
Summer of sport arrives with World Cup squad announced and Test Match series between England and Pakistan
On Twitter, sport grabbed the attention of the public on a number of occasions: #ROMLIV marked the second leg of Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final on 2 May, as the team saw its way through to the final, ultimately losing to Real Madrid. #Englandsquad on 16 May referred to Gareth Southgate setting out his stall for the World Cup by announcing his squad relatively early, and, finally, 24 May marked the return of test cricket, with the hashtag #ENGPAK being the highest trending hashtag that day. David Rowson wrote for FC Business this month (p35) on the importance of reputation management for football clubs, additionally looking across to the Australian team, highlighting the huge impact one major negative story can have. In terms of reputation and sport, Populus has also published findings in the past about the reputation of Rugby supporters, looking at whether the stereotypes about rugby fans being posh, middle-aged and male hold true.
Time for reflection
Trending hashtags this month also reflected a more serious side to the way in which the public engages with social media. The week ending 18th May marked #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek. Mental health is a topic at which Populus has previously looked in depth, having conducted research into the impact of public figures speaking out about mental health, the particular problems men face in terms of mental health, as well as Londoners’ attitudes to workplace health. May also saw anniversary of the attack at the #ManchesterArena on the 22nd, which was marked by tributes and a mass singalong. The latter story was also the third most noticed story in the week ending 25 May, with 5% of our respondents mentioning it as their most noticed of the week.