Monthly Archives: December 2012

Dear Clarks

Clarks Logo

Dear Clarks,

Thank you for being one of those bizarrely uncontrollable brands that – through no fault of your own – is wonderfully all over the shop.

Now I don’t agree with the glib cop-out that “brands are owned by consumers not by companies” (just an excuse not to bother coming up with – or taking responsibility for – a brand vision and strategy).

But your situation is somewhat different.

You’ve been adopted by so many contradictory sub-groups over the years that I can only assume that any attempt at formulating a coherent brand strategy is very challenging indeed.

Most surprising to me is that among singers, musicians, DJs and producers in Jamaica, you are “the ting”.

Clarks in Jamaica - QuoteIn fact, a somewhat niche book, Clarks in Jamaica, tells the bizarre story of how from your roots in Somerset, you became shoemakers to the reggae industry.

Clarks in Jamaica

But in England, as I was growing up, you were the sensible (and therefore duff) school shoes that I had to wear because my Mother had bought them on the grounds they were well made, durable and sturdy.

Clarks Boys Shoe

Clarks Shoe Size Gauge

The memory makes me flinch, not least because the Geography teacher also invariably sported you.

Clarks Geography Teacher ShoesSo soft and brown and stitchy.

Such sensible laces.

So leathery and rubbery.

So squeaky on the polished school corridor floors.

(Although the shoe above is currently available, I feel that Ecco may now be the Geography teachers’ shoe of choice).

Furthermore, it seems that the Mods also took a shine to the Clarks desert boot, as modelled here by The Who.

The Who

So perhaps you are in fact owned by your consumers.

But which group do you embrace?


And how?

And what might you learn from the likes of Burberry, Cristal and Hennessy all of whom have been adopted / had their ownership taken over unexpectedly.

What a lot to think about – thanks Clarks.



Dear Chicken Tonight


Dear Chicken Tonight,

Thanks for making me laugh out loud with your Christmas Edition Turkey Tomorrow:

Turkey Tomorrow

Excellent humour and thanks for sharing it with us.

Blow the brand (design) “guidelines”, the more FMCG puns the better as far as I’m concerned!

MaamiteThanks again,




Dear Tango

Tango Cans
Dear Tango,

Thank you for a second consecutive piece of innovation that I can confidently file in a folder named “Bonkers Innovation”.

Tango - Shower Gels

Now I’m all for looking to analogous and parallel or adjacent categories for inspiration in the innovation process. And I’m all for the heroic failures of entrepreneurs on their way to a final success.

But a Tango shower gel? Really?

OK, I know it’s a licensing ruse rather than “pure” innovation and in that sense could be seen as a fairly smart piece of commercial activity in which Britvic makes a quick buck without having to do anything…(other than risk diluting its brand)

…But consumers don’t know that and certainly don’t think like that.

All they see is a brand that they know as a sticky sweet sugary soft drink now suggesting to them that they should wash their bodies with it.

I just don’t get it.

But hang on a moment.

You did set somewhat of a precedent for crazy innovation last year with Turbo Tango:



turbo tango ads

And lest we forget, there was Tango Freekee Soda, rebranded as Tango Strange Soda back in 2004:

Tango Freekee Soda


(Strange Soda lasted less than a year, although personally I quite liked the product (for those that missed it, it was a carbonated milk, fruit juice and water mix – strange indeed.))

So perhaps you’re using highly targeted (at teenage boys) crazy innovation to help define your irreverent, whacky, crazy brand positioning? (Innovation is expensive but so is a shiny advertising campaign after all).

But then again, maybe you’re not.

Frankly, I have no idea what you’re up to!

Anyway, thanks again for giving us another example of bonkers innovation (licensing) to sit alongside Bic Disposable Underwear, Colgate Kitchen Entrees, Cosmopolitan Yoghurt and my personal favourite, Gerbers Singles – pureed single-serving meals in a jar for adults.

Gerber Singles





Dear Lacoste

Lacoste LogoDear Lacoste,

Thank you for your Eau de Lacoste ad and for giving us a lesson in how to maximise the brand assets that you’re famous for – in your case, the classic Lacoste polo shirt.

Amongst the sea of festive perfume nonsense – see Chanel here – you’re a shining light, and who can resist a bit of Old Skool hip hop as given to us by Grandmaster Flash?


Dior Logo


A special mention in dispatches should also go to Dior.

Bringing Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe back to life is impressive enough, but the casting of Charlize Theron, the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles as the set and deeply exciting soundtrack by Gossip, make for glamour that even has me considering a trip to the perfume counter in Boots on Christmas Eve.

Thanks again


Dear TNT

TNT - We know drama

Dear TNT,

Thanks for giving me a laugh and neatly demonstrating how dramatically the internet has changed the world of marketing.

In particular the scope that the web presents for the exponential extension of a brand’s reach:

Nearly 40m YouTube views and counting. Even very deep pockets would struggle to achieve that without the internet.

And thanks for dramatising your benefit. Lots of brands talk about doing it, but you actually do.

Thanks again