Tuesday, 2 December 2008


Let’s go to Chicago, the birthplace of advertising, where the estate agents, builders and building merchants are all showing the kind of 121 initiatives needed in what the 2008 recession.

Century 21 – the Roberts & Andrew chain got all the shops together in Wauconda and on the evening Route 176 traffic jam, sampled products and gave out coupons to this captive and grateful audience.

At Liberty Hill there was an open house with Grandma Ann Panico of a restaurant called Trattoria Pomigliano cooking her “famous” sausage and pepper and all and sundry being invited in for lunch. Party time!

Others were holding educational seminars on issues like the $7,500 tax credits for first-time buyers.

In Northbrook Kenneth James Homes were offering half built homes at discount – a “finish it yourself” deal is what they offered. A notable success.

And at Mount Prospect North West Electric a B2B electrical supplier was running “Tasty Tuesdays” – grilled burgers and hot dogs to all their customers. An opportunity to meat, eat and chat.

What I love about all these ideas is they are relatively cheap and involve relationship building in a natural, relaxed environment. They make heavy use of food and don’t you just love “Tasty Tuesday”…I’m waiting for “Wine-soaked Wednesday” and “Frisky Friday” sponsored by Ann Summers. They are examples of having a go to dissipate woe and I applaud it. I suspect communal activity like this may become a positive marketing norm.


Tuesday, 18 November 2008


There are four new Barclays in the UK. London, Birmingham, Manchester and Brighton. I was prepared to be grudging in my interest not ever having used Barclays but I was blown away.
It’s a big space with real people in open cubicles talking to customers down one side and a counter at the end for currency and straightforward transactions, loads of ATMs, a comfortable waiting area and a control, co-ordination area run by bright cheerful girls who direct you to the right place.
The floor seems to be limestone – no horrid carpet tiles. It’s classy, airy and Terminal 5 up-market. A place you wouldn’t mind spending some time.
Upstairs they have great but little, smart and functional offices and a waiting area that is really smart for business customers and big transactions.
This is the future and I like it.
Customers are being treated like important human beings and do you know I saw staff and customers talking, laughing and having a good time.
To end this when I congratulated John Varley he wrote a delightful – “I’m always here for you” letter in reply. And you know I believed him.
This is a revolution.

Monday, 17 November 2008


What price survival?

I am like Sir John Hegarty an incorrigible optimist – it’s all going to be all right.
But I do remember the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

Marylebone High Street was a wasteland of charity shops. Businesses went bust left, right and centre. Britain was pretty well bankrupt.

We are in much better shape but one issue is preying on most minds. How will the price issue work out?

· Price is a huge issue right now in retail. The cheap supermarkets are doing really well. Expect further turmoil. Pity Tesco.
· There’s nothing wrong with the word cheap.
· Treasure Island as premium priced United Kingdom is called by the automotive industry is going to change.
· Everyone can ask for a discount and get it.
· Smart operators are buying long term relationships…buy my paper up front for a year and I’ll give you a third off.

Don’t be afraid of asking what you need but don’t assume you’ll get what you asked for.

Price is a dynamite new topic. But real talent and genius will prevail – it always does.


Thursday, 13 November 2008


A few observations. To have lost, given the unpopularity of George W, would have been really pretty extraordinary but the Democrats have hisrorically been noted for screwing up so I suppose anything was possible.

They won because they ran a truly brilliant marketing campaign.

1. They got a little money from a lot of people creating a huge donor base.
2. They did this through a brilliant digital campaign.
3. They outspent their competitor very heavily
4. They mobilised a huge army of active supporters – swamping McCain’s efforts
5. And they got the vote out
6. They had strategic certainty that their strategy was “change” and they didn’t change that
7. They didn’t panic when the Palin effect happened – the waited for it to backfire
8. They kept their man orating in his inimitable way and were true to the brand
9. They converted some key opponents like Republican Colin Powell
10. They were a remorseless machine very well led.

Admire classic marketing – you seldom see it as good as this.


Tuesday, 7 October 2008


A depressing quote from King Lear will do us all good I thought.

What we are going through right now has a certain epic quality to it. We are undergoing the economic equivalent of Katrina and Gustav rolled into one.

What’s going to happen next?

It’ll get worse.

It’ll probably have a horrendous fall-out.

The eyeores amongst us are saying it’ll remain dreadful for five years…five years of chicken noodle soup; five years of Bronco; five years of living in sweaters to keep out the cold; five years of home made beer.

But actually it’s a wake-up call to enterprise.

It’s the new age of the entrepreneur when the true resilient spirit of the human race will shine through.

Inspiration beckons…

Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.


Monday, 6 October 2008


I’ve just finished a book called 'Brilliant Marketing' for Pearson.

42,000 words each scraped somewhat painfully from my brain.

I’ve had nightmares about Google, Nike, Apple and Bose who at various points appear in the book.

I’ve read more books and articles on marketing than most people read in a lifetime.

And all the time my enthusiasm for growing share and transforming markets has been performed to the tap-tap of the grim reaper nailing up the coffin of the global economy.

You try being upbeat when for incomprehensible reasons the world is going bust.

Marketing to some would seem a deckchair re-arranging occupation but is it?

Maybe, just maybe putting marketing rather than financial instruments at the centre of our lives might be a smart thing to do for the next generation.

It also happens to be something we are rather good at.