Bunhill: It seems anyone would do nicely

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The Independent Online
EVER since Victor Kiam, the Remington tycoon, liked the razor so much that he bought the company, entrepreneurs have been inflicting their faces and opinions on innocent TV viewers. The pestilence is about to get worse.

American Express last week launched a pounds 10m ad campaign featuring businessmen who not only use the green card themselves, but accept it for payment by customers.

Sir Terence Conran, the restaurateur, has already popped up between halves of News At Ten, claiming rather improbably that the card has 'undoubtedly changed the world'.

Richard Shepherd, proprietor of Langan's Brasserie, and Mike Gooley, founder of the Trailfinders travel agents, have also appeared, praising Amex, in what the company insists are unscripted, spontaneous filming sessions.

There is more to come. Roy Bishko of Tie Rack, Robert Peel of Mount Charlotte Thistle Hotels and Bob Peyton of the Chicago Pizza Pie Factory are all about to have their faces splashed across press advertising pages.

Everyone seems only too happy to take the Amex shilling in the form of massive nationwide free publicity. No actual cash changes hands.

Even Anita Roddick, the Amazonian head of Body Shop, whose opinion of bankers is usually unprintable - she tends to spell them with a W - has appeared in a parallel TV advertising campaign in the US.

Now I hear Amex is in negotiations with two more potential endorsers - Stanley Kalms, the chairman of Dixons, and Terry Maher of Pentos, which owns Dillons bookshops and the Rymans chain.

One man I confidently predict won't be appearing in the campaign is Jim Maxmin, chief executive of Laura Ashley. The fashion chain stopped accepting the cards after a dispute with Amex, which began when the wife of an Amex executive, shopping at Laura Ashley, was asked if Madam wouldn't mind paying with something else.

(Photographs omitted)

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