Nigel Cope CITY DIARY

They don't come much closer to a marketing man's dream than Linford Christie. Followers of athletics and readers of the Independent who saw yesterday's front page photograph will have noticed that after his victory in the 100m in Zurich the other evening, Christie removed his running vest to reveal a large white Puma logo emblazoned on his chest.

The logo - on the left pectoral to be precise - looked so incongruous that observers might have thought it was a previously unnoticed birth mark or a rather unfortunate bird dropping.

Is this a new trend in sports sponsorship? Can we expect Gazza to have three Adidas stripes inked into his platinum blond crew cut? Or Andre Agassi to have the distinctive Nike tick shaved into his chest hair?

Puma - which has had a deal with Christie for 13 years - says that the sprinter usually removes his shirt after races but this was the first time that he had worn the logo, a temporary tattoo.

Puma arranged the deal through Christie's agent, Nuff Respect, and is understandably delighted at the coverage. "Linford is a great media vehicle for our brand and he likes doing things that attract attention," the company said.

Coca-Cola is just one of the companies enjoying a summer bonanza because of the continuing heatwave.

The Coke company said yesterday that sales last week were 30 per cent higher than the same week last year and six per cent higher than its best week on record.

Birds Eye Walls, part of Unilever and the largest UK ice cream maker, is equally chipper. The company sold 100 million ice creams in July, 10 per cent more than last year. This month looks like being even better with sales currently running at more than double last year's total.

Cadbury Schweppes, which markets Coca-Cola through a joint venture is pleased as punch with the big soft drinks binge but is saying precious little about its sales of chocolate.

Kevin Hawkins, former corporate affairs director at WH Smith, has jumped ship to join Argyll, the Safeway supermarkets group.

Dr Hawkins , one of that rare breed of PR men with a PhD, joined Smiths from Lucas in 1989. He says that his departure was nothing to do with the trauma of having to deal with WH Smith's profit warning earlier this year, the company's first in 15 years.

"I had been there six years and decided it was time for a change before I reached 50, he said." How old is he now? A well-preserved 47.

If Northumbrian Water gets really desperate in its defence against a hostile takeover from French group Lyonnais des Eaux, perhaps it will make use of its mirthful address. The company's headquarters is based at Abbey Road, Pity Me, Durham. Northumbrian tells me that Pity Me is a corruption of the French, Petit Mer, meaning small sea. Apparently French settlers alighted upon the North-east village back in the dim and distant past when there was a small lake there. This has long since been dredged and replaced by an aesthetically pleasing industrial estate. "There are a number of villages with unusual names up here," Northumbrian says. "There is one up the road called No Place."

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