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How a Formula One racing car designer could help repel the floods

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:

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.

Immigration: the lesson of 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Household energy: what gas and electricity suppliers must learn from the oil companies

Here we are again.

Great Britain, I can report, has descended to the yaboo politics of yesteryear. Inept career politicians, none of whom have ever managed a business, biff-baff each other with naïve and unrealistic ‘policies’ to the detriment of us all – especially the old and needy.

Biff. Last week the Conservative-led Coalition government privatised the Royal Mail, a move which runs the risk of devastating rural communities and which, with a bit of forethought, was completely unnecessary.

How the UK Government ignored the most basic law of advertising

The Rt Hon Theresa May, Secretary of State for the Home Office has announced that she wishes to create a ‘hostile environment‘ for illegal migrants to Britain. But early attempts to do this run the risk of alienating those of us who have every right to be here.

In July, the Home Office, led by Ms May, launched an advertising campaign against illegal immigrants to the UK. The chosen message was as follows:

Max Mosley: are you an amateur or a professional in life?

These days, television programmes come round and round like race cars on a track. Gone are the days when, if you missed them, you missed them. And you can pause and rewind programmes too which means, if anyone says anything sensible, you can think about and transcribe what has been said.

This week, I have done this with an interesting interview with Max Mosley on Sky’s F1 channel.

You may not know Max Mosley but he has long interested me. I described my meeting his half brother Nicholas Mosley last year but have never met Max Mosley. Having said that, I feel I have known him since the mid 1970s – not least as the constructor of the car that Vittorio Brambilla crashed at the end of the Austrian Grand Prix which I attended in 1976 and described in my last post.