Column Eight: Staying pure at Virgin

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The Independent Online
SEPARATING Virgin Atlantic and Richard Branson in the minds of the flying public might seem an impossible achievement for one man's lifetime. But this is just the task faced by Paul Simons, chairman of the advertising agency Simons Palmer.

Virgin Atlantic has just given Simons pounds 3m to come up with an advertising campaign to turn the airline's recent spate of good publicity into a stream of paying customers. And his first step will be to get Branson off the scene.

'We need to distance Virgin from Richard Branson,' Simons tells us. 'The coverage he gets is invaluable, but the advertising must stand alone from it. After all, what if Richard Branson was at the wrong end of some bad press?'

BARCLAYS must have wanted to tear its hair and beat its breast over its crunching losses in front of as many people as possible. We received 10 copies of the results. The luckiest fund managers were awash with anything up to 100.

WAS John Ashcroft, the Eighties stock market star whose Coloroll home furnishings group crashed with debts of up to pounds 400m in 1990, asking for it when he called his new venture Survival Group?

Yes. The receivers yesterday went into Survival Group, which runs 11 outdoor clothing and equipment shops. Liabilities are estimated at pounds 1.7m.

GOLD BARS worth a tidy pounds 46m are being piled up offshore so that sharp employers can use them to pay bonuses (and avoid National Insurance) ahead of the Budget on 16 March.

The Motivation Marketing Board says its Goldhawk Vouchers can be cashed in by employees for gold bars. Those whose bonuses are not so glittering do not go away empty- handed - they get gold grains instead.

THE EFFECT on bladders of the trickle, gush, dribble of the high-tech fountains at Coopers & Lybrand's swish new offices next to the Thames has already attracted widespread comment. And now, as if to underline how large water looms at the firm, the new distraction for employees and visitors alike is an electronic map charting the firm's yacht in the British Steel Challenge. A television screen shows the intrepid crew in action.

'Blooming water. You just can't get away from blooming water,' glooms an employee.

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