Elections are popularity contests. There’s only one winner.  Successful marketing is also about being chosen, so is it a good strategy to be a bit Marmite? Or is it better to avoid extremes and be acceptable to all?

Many a brand manager claims that success will come from building a small but immensely loyal following. Marmite embraced the fact that some people can’t stand the stuff with its “Love it or hate it” advertising. Read More

Thought leadership | November 2020

The pandemic, and the ever-changing guidance for social interaction, has led to rapid changes in people’s behaviour. While falling revenues make it tempting to cut budgets, reduce activity and save money, some businesses have seen opportunity in the chaos. Changing behaviour is always a business opportunity, if you know about it and can move fast in response. Here are three options to consider.

+  Process and service innovation

Enforced change doesn’t have to be for the worse. Read More

Thought leadership | October 2020

What do you think when you hear the name Quality Street? What do you feel? If you’ve grown up in the British Isles, it’s part of Christmas, though you probably forget about it all the rest of the year. But it’s a case study in brand longevity, with some surprising lessons for brand managers today.

  1. There’s no need to obsess about a name

Was there ever a more mundane brand name than Quality Street? Read More

Thought leadership | January 2020

How do you get attention when you’re so familiar that people think they know you already? Two recent media stunts by established brands say it can be done – but be prepared for a backlash. “Going viral” isn’t always good news.

First, the one that worked. In November 2019 Coldplay launched their new album, Everyday Life, by announcing the track listing in the classified ads section of local newspapers. They chose papers that band members had some connection with. Read More

Comment | December 2019

This week Coca Cola announced the launch of Coca Cola Energy. If you feel like you’ve heard this before, perhaps at some point in the last 32 years you’ve stumbled across Red Bull. Yep, it’s taken Coca Cola 32 years to launch their response to Red Bull, although they distribute Monster, in which The Coca Cola Company has a minority stake. Now they’re finally doing it for themselves, you might have expected something rather more inspiring. Read More

Thought leadership | April 2019

The old saw “All publicity is good publicity” is being sorely tested. In the first month of 2019 we’ve had at least three major incidents. First there was vegan-sausage-roll-gate, in which Greggs caused grave offence to meat eaters. Well, Piers Morgan. Then men worldwide were outraged by Gillette telling them to show their feelings more, but not the mean ones. Today’s hurt is brought to you by a “digital banking alternative” called Revolut. Read More

Comment, Thought leadership | February 2019

People are getting in a lather about Gillette. Here?s why they?re doing the right thing, but going about it the wrong way.

The first question to answer is: Is it right for a shaving brand to take a stand on how men behave?

Second: If they do, how should the brand act on that belief?

Third: is a two-minute film the right way to tell the world what they think? Read More

Comment | January 2019

Heinz Salad Cream is reportedly changing its name to Heinz Sandwich Cream. This is, we’re told, because people use it more in sandwiches than on salad. But if people have already figured out they can use salad cream in a sandwich, there’s no need to change the name.

Marketers seem to forget that most people think more about whether to pay for one hour or two in the car park, where there’s 50p at stake, Read More

Comment | July 2018

Bud Light’s Dilly Dilly campaign is a useful reminder that Britain and America are divided by a common language. Apparently it’s a big hit in the USA, where the medieval background to the ads connotes Game of Thrones and is therefore, presumably, quite cool. Whereas here in the UK, any self-respecting beer-drinker who shouts “Dilly dilly!” in a bar can expect a lifetime of mockery.

Coca Cola is another global brand that’s traditionally been loved for its upbeat American values. Read More


Coca Cola is selling alcoholic drinks in cans. Only in Japan, and it’s low alcohol, but it’s still something I could not have imagined from The Cola Cola Company twenty years ago. It’s reported this week that they are experimenting with a uniquely Japanese alcopop called Chu-Hi, containing alcohol, fizzy water, and flavouring.

This tells us one thing for sure, and a couple of maybes. For sure, this looks like a level of flexibility being permitted in local markets that has not been seen since the sacred formula was standardised and the syrup production process centralised. Read More

Comment | March 2018