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Tuesday, 29 January 2008

The cheque is dead


Well as far as Marks & Spencer are concerned. From March 1st they will no longer be accepted as payment.

Your M&S? Only if you carry plastic.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Do banners work anymore?


I was directed to this online conversation by our creative director on Brand Republic - 'Do online banners work still?'

Having been on both the media owner and the agency side I've got a different perspective than most and contributed to the conversation here:

Feel free to add your thoughts.

Bad press


Well it's a pretty rough day in the world of finance with a deluge of bad news money stories.

On a single page in the Metro Newspaper we have:

1. 'Britons become debt-free at 50'
2. 'Mortgages hit £22.6bn low'
3. 'People are living beyond their means'
4. 'Anger over £55bn Rock rescue deal'

It's enough to make you avoid the news for a week or two.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Free learning


I came across this site at the weekend It's an enjoyable way to learn about the markets as it allows you to speculate on the live financial markets without having to own any stocks, commodities or Bonds.

Needless to say I will be trading the live markets with play money, but if you're experienced at it, it's an original way to make money. And the site looks pretty nice too.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

All that glitters is Gold


Gold may come in and out of fashion but as an investment it seems to be a consistent performer. Spot prices in London saw Gold hit $914 an ounce with the cost of bullion increasing 30% in 2007.

As Gold is priced in dollars it has become cheaper for holders of other currencies to buy it helping fuel the price increase.

This might just be the excuse I need to delay that eternity ring Mrs Pete has been hinting at. Will a barrel of oil be an acceptable alternative?

Monday, 14 January 2008

I'll see you in court


Today is the day when we find out whether the High Court feels that current account penalty charges are fair or not.

So m'learned friend it's over to you now.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Is no one safe?


Chairman of Barclays , Marcus Agius, was subject to ID Theft after a conman had Barclays issue a credit card in his name. Good luck to the Barclays head of security following that one.

I hope the perpetrator went for the Breathe Card which contributes 50% of net profits to tackle climate change.

You don’t have to be a genius to work here...


One or two of the blogs I read have a ‘Readability rating’ from

So I tested ours.

Apparantly, the blog you’re reading right now came out as requiring a ‘genius’ level of reading. You even get a little graphic to put on your page (see here).

I was concerned. If this rating was any kind of reflection on reality, did it mean our blog is so densely written that it’s inaccessible to all but a few very clever people?

So I checked out half a dozen other marketing blogs. One or two required ‘undergraduate’ level education to understand. I began to see a pattern – elitists blogging purely for elitists. Once again, the everyman is excluded.

Then I checked one which used the word ‘vicissitudes’. Apparently, that only requires a ‘High School’ education. Weird. Then I checked the code behind the graphic above. The ALT tag behind it gave away it’s true purpose. It’s an ad for ‘Payday Loans’.

Bloody advertising. What a con.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

2008 - how do we market in a volatile market?

Jo Parker

Reading the FT’s article last week covering the views of 55 top economists it is hard to feel buoyant about 2008. Nearly nine out of the 10 believed the public finances are not in good order and that inflation is a very real risk.

Nearly two thirds said house prices would fall (not bad news for everyone then!) and that the Bank of England’s ability to affect the markets with interest rates has been significantly reduced – not least because as of today, one in five lenders fails to pass on interest rate cut to their customers.

So how should we be approaching marketing in this context going into 2008?

Well, of course we don’t know for sure how 2008 will turn out. But what all marketing plans should have in place is some clear scenario plans to show the likely affect on targets and how marketing can support the financial goals of the company. Many brands make headway in a recessionary environment. It’s when Easyjet launched. And Taco Bell and Pizza Hut stole share from McDonalds during the 90-91 recession. In 1999, PIMS conducted a study of 183 UK-based companies that compared marketing spend during recessions to share and profit gains during recovery. Those that spent in recession did better afterward than those that did not.

But how many of us are building this into our marketing plans right now or just burying our heads in the sand and carrying on as if nothing was happening?

Friday, 4 January 2008



Story in the Independent (late Dec) - Inflation remains at 2.1% in November
Story in the Evening Standard (early Jan) - Millions looking at fuel inflation of 17%
Train tickets on average up 4.1%
Private sector wage settlements are coming in at 4%

The old RPI is coming in at 4.3% but the CPI only records inflation at 2.1%.

Wonder why they switched in 2003, when the Bank of England was told to target the consumer prices index - excluding all owner-occupied housing costs?

What's that quote about statistics?

Thursday, 3 January 2008

New Year resolutions?


Happy New Year to you all.

So courtesy of Network Rail I'm using the information superhighway to write our first blog of 2008 from home - a not unexpected situation given the almost universal pairing of the words 'engineering works' and 'overrunning'.

Like many people I've used a variety of the social network sites to catch up with what all my friends and family have been up to over New Year - Facebook and Flickr seeming to cover about 90% of the people I know. What has been interesting to note is the transition of people emailing me to people sending me a Flickr mail or a Facebook message - this time last year it would have been a big fat zero.

I'm just waiting on the usual report to tell us how many people helped boost the share price of mobile operators by sending a happy New Year text - typically many millions of us but I am wondering if they will now start reporting on the number of MMS messages sent as well?

Finally, for this post. it's lovely to see that Facebook is going into full commercial mode now with a variety of sponsorships and ad placements - it's going to be very interesting to see if they can resist the 'just one extra ad unit on the page would increase ad dollars by x%' call. Today's featured ad unit is for IVA's - with no mention of the brand behind this but it's the Debt Clinic - never heard of them? Neither have I plus their site fails to tell you a single thing about their organisation, that takes some doing.

Welcome to 2008, has anything changed?