Category Archives: Journey to Work

Dear BP / M&S Simply Food

BP M&S Simply Food

Dear BP / M&S Simply Food,

Thank you for spotting an opportunity in the gap left by the tobacco display ban – and for filling it both elegantly and with a pleasing dose of karma.

BP - Tobacco ban replacementCiggies replaced by pharmacy – karma in action…and all pleasingly displayed in a back-lit pill shaped lozenge. Nice.

And so much nicer than the roller-blind of death that appears elsewhere.

Tobacco BanAnd thank you to your member of staff at the Family Farm services on the A34 just south of Junction 9 of the M40 who, albeit somewhat bemused and not only because of the ungodly hour in the morning, allowed me to take a picture whilst she was processing my Nectar Card.

Thanks again



Dear Metro Train Melbourne

Metro Trains Melbourne


Dear Metro Trains Melbourne,

Thank you for making the macabre and moribund somewhat mawkish…

What a happy little tune to have in one’s head on a drizzly Friday afternoon.

And thanks for selflessly being relevant to metro, tube and rail services across the entire globe.

Apart from giving us “content that’s worth sharing”, I’m guessing that’s why you’ve had 41m+ views on YouTube, approximately 10x more than the population of Melbourne.

I won’t be anywhere near Melbourne anytime soon, but next time I’m at Bicester North or on the Tube, I’ll think of you.

Thanks again



Dear Travelodge

Dear Travelodge,

Thank you for being the brand that never fails to disappoint…and in so-being, reminding me how important it is for service brands to over-deliver.

You I’m afraid do the opposite. You over-promise and under-deliver.

Not good.

When forced into my consideration set, my “journey” with you is as follows:

  • “Uh-oh, Travelodge…are there no other options?” (upon google’s revelation that Travelodge is a possibility)
  • “Well, I guess Travelodge is OK – all I need is a bed for the night, nothing fancy ” (upon discovering that there are other options, but that they are either fully booked, ludicrously expensive, or miles away)
  • “Actually, Travelodge is a good and sensible, cost-effective choice, I’m not precious after all – I’m being pragmatic” (upon booking the room online)
  • “Well, at least it’ll be clean, I’ll be asleep in 10 minutes” (upon driving into the car park, usually late a night)
  • “I’m getting a horrible sense of déjà vu right now” (upon struggling with self check-in despite having all the right codes and information / having to return to reception because the flaming card key doesn’t work)
  • “I cannot believe that, once again, I’ve managed erase the disappointment of previous Travelodge stays and kidded myself that it was going to be OK this time” (upon lying on the “bed”, desperately reaching around for something that comes close to resembling a duvet, inhaling the aroma of a thousand stale cigarettes and taking in the disastrous (lack of) decor and industrial en suite shower)
  • “OK, that’s it! Never. Again.” (upon looking at my phone and realising that it’s now 3am, that I have to be up in 3 and a half hours and that the hateful fire alarm LED is not ever going to stop winking at me.
  • Repeat as above approx. 3 months later.

The above pattern is strange.


As humans, we are completely and utterly irrational (see Exhibit A: High Heels, above).

But in the face of such damning evidence why is it that I keep coming back to you?

It’s not the bed.

It’s not the customer service.

It’s not room.

It’s not even the price (which, Ryanair style, is never as cheap as advertised…or is that just my perception?)

I can only conclude that Phil & Kirsty have got it right.

It’s location, location, location.

And for that, we’re willing, against our better judgement and past experience, to compromise.

Thanks again Travelodge, and here’s to under promising and over delivering.


Dear Case Logic

Dear Case Logic,

Thank you for your Laptop Backpack – so far an excellent replacement for my brilliant (but bad for my back) Tumi Alpha Briefcase.

We haven’t known each other for long enough for us to have developed the depth of relationship that I had with my Tumi, but early indications are that your Laptop Backpack is going to make a reliable and honest companion.

Sure, the Backpack doesn’t have the extensive features and pockets of my Tumi, nor the Reasons to Believe (as expressed in The Tumi Difference), but it’s fair to say that, although I liked the idea of the Tumi FXT Ballistic Nylon, it’s not something that I’m really missing.

And thank you for managing my expectations – your demonstration video (integrated on your website, via YouTube) gave me the confidence to pick you over your competitors, because I knew almost exactly what I was getting.

I buy loads of stuff – in fact as much stuff as I possibly can – online, and I just love products with a demo. I pity the actors who have to do the same thing over and over again, but I love the demos.

Thanks Case Logic and looking forward to the years to come.


Dear Tumi

Dear Tumi,

Thank you for 10 or so years of impeccable service – the practical durability of your Alpha attache-style briefcase continues to serve me dutifully, day-in-day-out.


But now – and with a heavy heart – the time has come to switch my allegiances to a different design of bag.

It’s not you, it’s me.

Or more specifically, my back.

Which selfishly fails to appreciate the Tumi Difference – your Tumi FXT Ballistic Nylon, your TUMI-patented articulating shoulder strap, your Rib-Tech padding, your TUMI Tracer feature. I could go on.

All it feels is the pain induced by my insistence of only ever carrying you over the same shoulder.

So a back-pack style laptop bag it is.

I know you do lots of fantastically designed, back-pack style laptop bags, that are replete with all the features and Reasons to Believe that add up to that Tumi Difference.

But at £445 you’re hard to justify.

You came close. Very close. But sadly, it cannot be done.


Like the recently retired England cricket captain, Andrew Strauss, it’s time to let someone else have their turn, bowing out whilst you’re pretty much at the top of your game –  with your head held high, safe in the knowledge that as you have travelled the world, you have performed pretty much faultlessly throughout. (Although there was that time when I had to take you down to Timpson to be stitched up).

So it is, that those folks at an Amazon fulfilment centre are busy getting ready to ship a considerably less costly (by a factor of more than 10) alternative brand to me.

And it was that brand’s simple 2 minute demonstration video that swung it for them against all the other candidates.

I hope that – within the week – I’ll be thanking that brand, rather than regretting that I didn’t just take the financial hit and stick with what I knew.

We shall see.

Thanks again Tumi – we’ve been through a lot together…


PS – I must also thank Paul Walton – the king of luggage (and all other gadgetry) – who generously loaned you to me in the first place.

Dear Smart

Dear Smart,

Thank you for showing us all how to do it when it comes to turning a Twitter “heckle” into an opportunity:

It’s always great when a stand-up comic manages to turn a heckle to their comic advantage, and I love the way you’ve managed to do it here.

Thanks must also go to one my favourite – albeit geeky and american-biased – blogs I love charts where I first saw this.

Their book is on my wish list, to accompany the wonderful Information is Beautiful.

Seeing opportunities in the face of “adversity” is great brand management…Puts me in mind of the Service Recovery Model – although I’m not seeing many Red Carpet noises coming out of RBS just now…

There’s something rather pleasing about the conversion of a brand critic into a brand advocate through the solving their problem quickly, efficiently and without question. And it happens quite a bit ‘cos even good brands make mistakes from time to time. Which is nice.

Who knows whether Clayton Hove is now a Smart brand advocate, but thanks for giving me a chuckle.

Thanks again



Dear Starbucks

Dear Starbucks,

Thank you for giving me a laugh as you inadvertently rebranded me as part of your good-in-theory-but-open-to-problems-in-practise “personalisation” initiative.


Now I don’t really feel like a “Mick” and I’m not sure any self-respecting “Mick” would have been ordering a decaf Frappuccino, but it was mildly entertaining and liberating to be “Mick” for the 15 or so ensuing minutes after my personalised cup was handed over.

Thanks Starbucks.