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How people like Maria Miller compound their own problems

One of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me was a teacher at my children’s school. On discussing their potential careers, he told me:

‘Your children don’t have to worry about their career choices, Hugh. They’ll be fine. They’ve got your values.’

I replied that, while I appreciated him telling me this, the difficulty my children would face would be how to identify the contrasting values of other people they might come across in the big, wide world.

In my career, I have been unfortunate enough to encounter people with rather a warped view, shall we say, of the difference between right and wrong.  Read More »

If you can whistle, you’re not tone deaf

My late father’s only sister, my Aunt Hetty, died last month.

My earliest memories of her are of Kenya and a different world. For the first 17 years of my life, ‘home’ was Hong Kong where I was born. From the age of nine, I was sent away from home to a godforsaken Roman Catholic boarding school near a maggot factory in Nottinghamshire. Not the happiest days of my life. In fact, the most miserable.

One summer, my father announced that rather than fly straight from Hong Kong to school in England, he had arranged for me to stop off in Kenya on the way. As you do. I was fifteen. Read More »

Digital fish fight drives democracy in the 21st Century

For several years now, I have advocated that more intelligent use of the media options available to us in the 21st century can influence social change and a better world.

Earlier this month, we were reminded of such a campaign when TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Hugh) updated TV viewers on his ‘Fish Fight’ campaign.

For those who are not aware, Fish Fight started in 2010 when Hugh highlighted the ridiculous situation where, under the EU landing quota system, our fishermen were being forced to throw back into the sea over half of the dead fish they had caught.

Largely as a result of the Fish fight campaign, there was an emphatic vote in the European parliament in which MEPs voted 502 to 137 to end this ridiculous practice. Fish Fight has been, in every sense, a political campaignRead More »

Innovation: communication and inspiration in the organisation

The overarching theme of this blog is to show that better use of the skills and creativity of the UK advertising and communications sector would benefit society as a whole as well as business.

But even I admit that, with all the creativity in the world, none of us could stop the floods which have dominated our media landscape – even if, as our austere Prime Minister said, ‘money is no object’.

However, one doesn’t get the impression that the relevant parties were communicating very effectively with each other: Read More »

The London Airport nondecision fiasco

In business, it is essential to be fast on your feet, identifying new opportunities and reacting to threats as quickly as possible.

In public life, decisions are taken far more slowly, if at all, and, often, for all the wrong reasons.

A prime example of this has been the lack of a decision to fulfil the market need for the expansion of London Airport. Read More »

Immigration, redemption and what UK politicians must learn from the Hoover Free Flights Fiasco

Oh dear, I have a feeling this will be my angriest post since ‘DLA Disgrace’ in September 2011. Hang on to your hats…

As an independent candidate at the last UK general election in 2010, it was only when canvassing started that I realised that, overwhelmingly, immigration was the most important issue concerning the voting public.

And, even worse for me, having taken the time and trouble to publish a 27-page ‘personal manifesto’ covering what I considered to be the most important issues of the day, I realised that I had not addressed the most important of all – immigration.
Read More »

Why things can only get worse in 2014

The dawn of a New Year is a looking forward to what is to come and for reflection, a time for taking stock.

There are two things we know will happen during 2014:

First, a relentless, inexorable, incessant and, I hope, respectful stream of ‘content’ will mark the centenary of the First World War. For me, with luck, this will include the development of film script I have written with WW1 themes – but Harvey Weinstein hasn’t called me yet and we are running out of time.

And we know that, with every day that passes, the nearer we are to the next General Election in May 2015. And the more our politicians will be looking to score points against each other.

We know this because it has started already. Read More »

A master class in the art of chairing a meeting

Lord Kingsdown died last month. He was best known as Chairman of the NatWest and then Governor of the Bank of England. I knew him as Robin Leigh-Pemberton and through playing cricket on the private ground at his estate in Kent.

They were happy days and a throwback in time.

Driving into the estate, and through a field to park in the long grass surrounding the ground; changing in the musty warmth of the ‘pavilion’ which, with no running water, was not much more than a shed; ambling slowly to the wicket to inspect the pitch; buffet lunch washed down with pints of freshly delivered Shepherd Neame (in the garage); and all in an air of genteel civility and the polite behaviour that Robin himself personified. Read More »

The difference between a product and a service

In my last post, I shared my experience of pouring hundreds of cans of beer down the drain in Vietnam due the high level of care Heineken take to ensure that every can of their lager meets their strict quality standards.

I mentioned several more of my favourite brands that, presumably, are managed in the same way: Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, Weetabix, Marmite, Heinz Baked Beans, Guinness, Laphroaig.

I am sure you have your favourites too.

Brands like this are known in the trade as Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) – and the CV of anyone who is anyone in marketing is strengthened by FMCG experience. Read More »

The difference between a commodity and a brand

An abiding memory of my career is sitting on a pavement in Saigon pouring hundreds of cans of lager down the drain.

As an expert in the potential of the Vietnam market, having been there once before, I was with a regional director of Heineken. He carried a widget on his key ring by which he could identify the origins of every single can of his beer, including full details of when and where it had been brewed.

Yet, even if the beer was only marginally out of date, we bought it from the shops at full price and into the gutter it went. Read More »

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