What’s going on in the airline business?  It’s not just United man-handling passengers like excess baggage, or refusing people in the wrong clothes. British Airways is also attracting a lot of the wrong sort of attention for the changes it’s made to its short haul food service. While these airlines chase efficiency to reduce fares, Michael O Leary’s Ryanair has seen the customer service light, with a cheesy but seemingly sincere TV ad saying they won’t treat you mean any more. Read More


Even the most consumer-focused marketers will be tempted, or pushed, to get people to pay more for less this year. Pricing will be a major issue, as cost increases caused by the weak pound feed through. How should marketers express the voice of the consumer inside the business in the face of this pressure? Being consumer-focused doesn’t mean defending low prices at all costs. The key thing is, whatever approach you take, brand champions must ensure there’s no long term damage. Read More

Thought leadership | January 2017

As you came through airport security this summer, did you pop one of those smiley faces as you scooped up your bags and swung past towards your departure gate? The company behind them, HappyOrNot, says that using faces rather than numerical scores increases positive ratings. That seems appealing. But it misses the point. Positive ratings are over-rated.

There’s a host of reasons for low scores, from ad hoc operational failures through to structural factors that are slow or costly to change, Read More

Thought leadership | September 2016

John Lewis Opticians have just launched. How will they do? JLP’s mutual ownership model is much loved and admired. It’s working well. The total group’s revenues have grown by 50% in the past six years, through a recession. With profit distribution to all employees, known as partners, John Lewis has become the new Virgin, champion of the customer. I would love to buy a car from them, or have them sell my house. But the world of opticians doesn’t need John Lewis. Read More

Comment, Thought leadership | January 2016

Effective marketing communications are getting harder to do. It can be hard to find anything (other than price) that’s really worth shouting about. There are whole advertising campaigns built around seemingly marginal features. Take The Ford Motor Company. “Keys”, says the woman in the Ford Focus ad, and I start watching because it is charming and true. Or that buff chap climbing the steps to the diving board, to the opening riff of Hawkwind’s Master of the Universe – Read More

Comment | March 2015

The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed, goes the saying. Logically, the most developed markets are ahead, so what they have now is what we’ll get soon. In Europe, we used to look at the USA and Japan for trends and innovation ideas which we could adopt or adapt to our own marketplace. In food and beverage, this held true for a long time – in part because it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Corporations large and small imported or copied successful products and brands from markets they saw as being more advanced. Read More

Thought leadership | February 2015

Whatever happened to disintermediation? Terrible word, big idea. The thought was that the internet would enable buyers and sellers to connect directly, cutting out middle men who were just a cost in the system. Ebay is probably the largest and most successful business built on connecting buyers and sellers directly. Uber and Hailo do the same for car travel, in different ways – Hailo leveraging the existing taxi network, Uber seeking to bypass it. Most of these started as amateur alternatives to the established trading systems, Read More

Thought leadership | January 2015

Last night I found myself asking, “What is this N’duja sausage?” Both Pizza Express and Zizzi’s have adopted it big time lately. The staff member in Zizzi’s couldn’t tell me how to say it, never mind what it is, so I ordered my pizza without it. Today I got an email from Zizzi’s giving me the answer to both. Genius joined-up marketing comms? Actually, the opposite – the person in the restaurant had no real answer for a question which she was probably not hearing for the first time. Read More

Thought leadership | December 2014

No sooner has the GoCompare opera singer been silenced than we have the TopCashback man, dressed in the world’s weirdest outfit – neon colours and those awful nappy trousers that sometimes look cool on young women but never, never on overweight men. He prances about to a jingle that lodges as firmly in your ear as any earworm, and an annoying voice that makes me nostalgic for the “We buy any car” voiceover. Is this “good” advertising? Read More

Comment | November 2012