Sore shins and tears for Sainsbury's pains

SAINSBURY has been receiving more than its fair share of brickbats in the past few weeks. So here is another one.

The company probably thought it was doing us a favour when it introduced mini-trolleys for mini-people. The idea was that children would feel thoroughly fulfilled as they pushed their boxes of Frosties around, and would burst with goodwill towards both their parents and Mr Sainsbury.

Reporting from the front line, a superstore in Dulwich, I can reveal that the mini-trolleys have brought nothing but tears, sore legs, and more tears. The sore legs belong, of course, to adults foolish enough to stand in the way of flying trolleys propelled by five-year-olds. The French call them chariots, which our youth reckon is about right.

The tears and tears belong to other children who, having been promised a trolley of their own, find the fleet has already been collared by rival youngsters who are even now assaulting lower limbs in frozen desserts. I am told that parents are having to arrive ever earlier in order to nab a trolley and avoid hysterics for the rest of the day. Please, nice Mr Sainsbury, do us a favour by not trying to do us this particular favour.

I DETECT subtle collusion between wicked multinationals in Vauxhall's advertising campaign for its appallingly named Vectra. The billboards use the catchline "Designed for the next millennium" and have a picture of a car driving past a futuristic city. Now this is where the subsidy comes in. The city is quite clearly built on an oil rig. And who would like cities built on oil rigs so they don't have to tow them away and be lambasted by environmentalists? Oil companies, of course. Is there a tie-up between two of the biggest companies in the world - General Motors and Shell? I think we should be told.

Bitch of a son

IT IS all very well analysing companies by looking at their earnings per share, technology and so on - but the most important element is of course the quality of management.

How do you find out whether management is any good - except by doing frivolous and time-consuming things like talking to the workforce or analysts? Easy. Listen to the radio.

One reason I am not crazy about GEC is that I heard Lord Weinstock, its chairman, on Desert Island Discs. He sounded like a dry old stick, but worst of all he chose eight bits of music all conducted by the same man. Since then, I have regarded GEC with suspicion.

But on Thursday I had to modify my view when I heard the Hon Sara Morrison, one of Weinstock's closest colleagues, on the Today programme. She brings her dog with her to work, she said, and it is called Jeremy.

Best of all, Jeremy is a bitch. Mrs Bunhill has a bitch called Grumble, which most people think is a bloke's name (if anything). But Jeremy? That's wild. Buy GEC.

WHAT is going on at the new Hackney dog track in deepest east London? Two colleagues, one a photographer, visited it on Wednesday evening in the pursuance of an honest crust (see page five for the elegant result). The snapper raised his camera to take a picture of the climax of the 8.45, when an official put his hand in front of the lens.

What was going on? We will never know, but I can report that the race was declared void. I can also tell you that one of the dogs was called Let's All Panic, which could be the explanation.

Facing consumers

I SUPPOSE it is obvious, but it had never occurred to me before that market researchers regard the human race in much the same way as David Attenborough views marsupials. I received a folder from a company called Vox Pops. The tag line was "Bringing Consumers to Life" (have you ever met a dead consumer?).

Inside was a note singing the praises of video market research - pointing a camera at people when you ask them questions. "Facial expressions are a good way of gauging opinion ... This visual element is extremely important given the fact that 80 per cent of impressions are based on body language, 13 per cent on tone of voice and 7 per cent on the words themselves."

But the real giveaway comes with a quote from an American market researcher, Jeremy Warshaw. The way to succeed, he says, "is to film people in their natural habitat with their guard down". Mating, presumably.