Business Diary: Confused by that meerkat

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The Independent Online

Poor old Admiral. Once the price comparison website king, its operation has slid into second place, largely thanks to its hugely irritating television ad campaign proving to be a flop compared with its rivals' hugely irritating ad campaigns. Don't cry too much for the Admiral – his company had a very good first half overall (growing pre-tax profits by 21 per cent to £126.9m). But really: getting beaten up by a tubby comedian (moneysupermarket), a tubby opera singer (gocompare) and a meerkat (comparethemarket). The shame of it!

Passport printer and its problems

The Home Office was yesterday trumpeting its new design for the British passport, which supposedly offers better protection from identity theft and will also show a series of well-known "British scenes" (White Cliffs of Dover, the Gower Peninsula, Ben Nevis and the Giant's Causeway). The £400m contract to produce this has gone to De La Rue, the banknote printer whose well-known scenes include profits warnings, quality control problems with Indian banknotes and departing chief executives.

Rail misery for the 7 per cent

Diary had to love the press release that was sent to The Indy's inbox from Network Rail. It was loudly trumpeting that this year's August bank holiday will be different! In fact: "The vast majority of people travelling by train this weekend will be unaffected by improvement works." And it's true that 93 per cent of journeys will run without rail replacement bus services. So only 7 per cent of travellers will endure a miserable time. That's all right, then.

Tweeting from the sidelines

The curse of Twitter strikes again – with a US sportsman caught tweeting during a game. Chad Ochocinco does play American Football, in which players spend half the time on the sideline. And the tweet was innocuous. If he'd followed the example of Azeem Rafiq, an under-19 cricketer who described his manager as a four-letter word after being dropped, his $25,000 fine might have been rather bigger.