Does Marketing Malaise rot your underpants?


"It's time to shrug off the British Marketing Malaise." So said Sir Michael Perry, chairman of Unilever, yesterday in his keynote speech at the City University Business School. Can this be the same Unilever that presided over the so-called "rotting Y-fronts" saga, when a rival company showed that Unilever's Persil Power could cause damage to clothing?

Sir Michael said that whatever Britain's role would be by the millennium, it would be determined by marketing. Perhaps a little market testing would be in order as well.

Mrs Beeton - management guru. The London Business School is championing the 19th century authoress, who wrote arguably the most influential cookbook cum housekeeping guide ever, as a sage for today.

Robin Wensley, professor of strategic management and marketing at Warwick Business School, wrote in the spring edition of the LBS Strategy Review that Isabella Beeton's book throws light "on two modern management debates; the relationship between strategic and operations management; and order/bureacracy as against adaptability/chaos."

And there I was thinking it was all about getting up early and keeping the servants in order. Isabella had completed her 1,112-page book in the 1860s aged just 25, and died just four years later, which certainly teaches a lesson about Getting On With It.

Princess Diana is to head a charity funded by people donating 10 per cent of their windfalls from building society conversions, if freelance butler Michael Hardern has his way. Mr Hardern wrote to the Princess's press representative Jane Atkinson last weekend about the scheme, which he reckons could raise around pounds 1.6bn for good causes.

He has already formed a lobby group, Members of Conversion, which is urging all remaining societies to convert and shower their members with one-off payments. Currently Mr Hardern is pursuing a scheme to get five sympathisers on to the board of Nationwide Building Society, which remains resolutely mutual.

Any charity scheme would have to receive the money automatically on conversion, Mr Hardern stressed. "Once people get their sticky hands on the money they tend not to want to hand it back."

The world of shooting collided with that of oil at the Turf Club in London's Carlton House Terrace last night. Britain's oil moguls like shooting together since they all have stakes in each other's oil rigs and Scottish grouse moors are conveniently close to the North Sea oil fields.

The first ever Annual Shooters' Supper was attended by 34 moguls, and amid the talk of buckshot they made a number of awards. Colin Moynihan, the former sports and energy minister, was voted "most boring guest". "Dresser of the year" was John Kennedy, chief executive of Dresser Industries, which builds oil rigs. Russell Harvey, head of Lasmo North Sea, won "Shot of the year" and Graham Hearn, chairman of Enterprise Oil, was voted "host of the year".

Ostrich meat. Yum yum. Many now view it as preferable to BSE-ridden beef. The booming world of ostrich breeding was thrown into disarray this week, however, when the Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint against the Pinstripe Farming Company, Sandbach, Cheshire. Pinstripe had claimed in an ad for investment in ostrich farming that "Demand will exceed supply for the next 7-10 years." The ASA found that pinstripe could not substantiate the claim.

Step forward the Ostrich Farming Corporation, Europe's biggest breeder with 2,000 birds in Belgium. On Monday the Corporation urged the British Domesticated Ostrich Association to tighten up its code of ethics to prevent such abuses in future. "We felt it was time to sort out the industry. A lot of farms don't understand what you can and can't do in advertising," said Robin Higgens of the Corporation. Quite right. The industry can't keep its head in the sand...

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