Monthly Archives: January 2012

Dear Sainsbury’s

Dear Sainsbury’s,

Thank you for demonstrating the value of the human touch…and the short-comings of automated systems.

It’s all over Facebook (125,494 Likes and 40,918 Shares), albeit with a dose of cynicism from a minority of quarters about it being an orchestrated viral campaign.

But I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt – I think this is great stuff:

Very nice human touch.

But imagine my chagrin, when this waste of time was spewed out at me at the self check-out before Christmas.

I know the pennies count.

And I admire your Live well for Less proposition (as I pointed out as I was thanking Lego, here).

But honestly.

Please. Don’t. Waste. My. Time!

Thank you



Dear VW

Dear VW,

Thank you for introducing us to The Bark Side – your Superbowl 2012 teaser (over 7m+ hits on YouTube already) – and for putting a big smile on my face this morning:

(Big thanks to Andrew G. for sending me the link.)

For The Bark Side to make sense, I think people really need to have seen this (49m+ hits), from last year:

…which I thanked you for here.

(I also thanked you here, here, here and here…You seem to have earned a lot of my gratitude!)

Also want to thank Lynx (Axe) for using the “teaser” technique for their latest foray (this time, literally going after women) into the market, Lynx Attract…which officially goes on sale in the UK today.

Nothing will ever be the same again is quite a bold statement.

The Lynx Brand Key will probably never be the same again, might be a little less ambitious – just to start with anyway…

Thanks again


Dear Lucozade

Dear Lucozade,

Thank you for having a go.


As Danish physicist Niels Bohr somewhat sarcastically noted, “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future”, so I’m not going to nail my colours to the mast, but I’m not as convinced as Mark Ritson over at Marketing Week, that you’re doomed to failure.

Cola and carbonates are back in growth, and in an age where so much NPD is tested to death and is deemed to be a failure before it has even been launched (usually on account of somewhat optimistic action standards), it’s refreshing (sorry) to see your willingness to take on the big boys.

You may well enter the ever expanding pantry cupboard of failed NPD ultimately but as [INSERT NAME OF ANY ONE OF NUMEROUS BUSINESS / BRAND GURUS], rightly said [INSERT THEIR VERSION OF QUOTE ABOUT HOW YOU HAVE TO BE BRAVE ENOUGH TO FAIL IN ORDER TO SUCCEED], until you try something, you just don’t know.

Thanks again


Dear Virgin Money

Dear Virgin Money,

Thank you for giving me a bit of a brand dilemma…

On the one hand, I really admire your parent brand’s “simple aim of making things better”…40 years of championing the consumer, audacious PR stunts and zagging whilst the established brand leviathans zig…

All highly admirable. And I hope you do shake the banking industry up a bit.

As a consumer, I’m a big fan of Virgin Atlantic in particular…as a brand consultant, Virgin has provided ample material for the eternal debate about brand architecture and brand equity vs brand stretch…so thanks for that.


And I’m on the other hand now.

With communications like yours, it’s beginning to feel a little bit like your parent brand is plotting to take over the world.

Which I’m not sure is a good thing.

Maybe it’s just because you created a model world (which is somewhat reminiscent of Thomas’ Island of Sodor as it happens) for your ad and populated it with your brand.

It doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to picture Sir Richard sitting on his island, playing with a similar model of the world, nefariously laughing, Bond-baddy stylee, as he plots to develop an infrastructure so extensive that governments all over the world end up handing over legislative powers to the Virgin brand…

Now of course this won’t happen, and I don’t believe for a second that Richard Branson has any such aspirations (being an apparently fundamentally decent bloke), but the idea of it makes me laugh.

In banking, inertia is going to be your biggest problem. Which means you’re going to have to work a hell of a lot harder than taking a retrospective view of the good stuff your parent brand has done in the past to shake things up. Got a feeling you’ll manage it though.

Thanks again,


Dear First Choice


Dear First Choice,

Thank you for the clarity of your proposition – there’s zero ambiguity in your “The home of all inclusive” proposition – and for giving me a bit of a laugh with your latest ad:

Thank you for taking the plunge (sorry) and nailing your colours to the all inclusive mast.

OK, I know that 60% of your holidays were all inclusive anyway, and the choice was made easier by the fact that you’re part of TUI Travel group and have the Thomson brand…but nonetheless, I admire your bravery.


And thanks for dramatising the consumer journey.

As workshop exercise, mapping out the consumer journey and its magic and miserable moments is always highly revealing. It’s often the miserable moments that prove to be the most illuminating when it comes to generating new ideas and service improvements, but I can understand why you left those to one side here.

And thanks for reminding me of the latest moneysupermarket ads – I thanked them here – even if it does highlight a slightly worrying trend in me connecting with middle-of-the-road-family-man-does-something-slightly-out-of-the-ordinary type of advertising.

Bulging with unjustified and biased pre-conceived ideas, before I’d seen your latest ad, I would have proclaimed that an all inclusive holiday was not up my street. No way. But now…maybe. So thanks for helping me reconsider and reassess my prejudices – it feels good.

Thanks again,


Dear Saga

Dear Saga,

Thank you for reminding me that the old adage that, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, doesn’t really apply when it comes to the world of marketing and branding.

Sure it’s nice for Virgin Atlantic that you’ve – how shall I put it – allowed yourself to be influenced by their ad…albeit with a different tone. (Not to mention service package – chauffeur service etc)

And, I suppose it’s good for them to be in a “healthy” competitive market with other brands keeping the category on its toes (although which Marketing Director, in their heart of hearts, wouldn’t prefer a monopoly if they could get away with it without blame, guilt or retribution?)

But flattery leads to vanity, and vanity leads to pride and pride leads to arrogan…oh.

Well, anyway, arrogance leads to hubris (and which brand wants to risk that, by for example promising that they’re going to offer orbital human space travel, despite the enormous risks and hitherto unproven technol…oh.)

Anyway, thanks Saga. The way I see it, you haven’t got much to lose from riding on Virgin Atlantic’s brand coat-tails.

They have, but you haven’t.