In absence of a plan

Posted on November 10, 2010

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Che Guevara (c) http://pyrosarco.com

Che Guevara (source) http://pyrosarco.com

Most of the time when I write something on this blog it just, sort of, happens.  I write a title and off I go, letting the turbulent currents of my mind traverse across a, let’s say eclectic, assortment of topics and I see where that takes me.   More often than not I just make it up as I go, but sometimes when I post I do actually have a plan of what I am going to talk about.  I say a plan, but a short list of words is really the long and short of it.    This only happens if I have an idea about a topic but don’t have time to write about it.  In that case I’ll save a draft post with a title and a few words to jog the memory when I do come around to write the post.

So, strap yourselves in and get ready as this should be a great post, because I have a plan for it and therefore there is a chance it might follow some sort of order leading up to a happy climax and a comfy dénouement for all involved.

The trouble is of course that I wrote the ‘plan’ a while back and now, as I come to write the post, I have absolutely no idea about where my head was at when I typed the following:

Title: Tescopoly Key story elements: Cuba, Nike, Bernard Matthews

(Interestingly WordPress – maybe because it’s American – didn’t suggest links for the words Cuba and Bernard Matthews. One being a rogue communist state and the other being what we’d all think was a delicacy if we lived in a rogue communist state.  I once holidayed in Cuba and got into a discussion with a barman about Fidel Castro (I was always on a sticky wicket there).  I said I’d read a book that suggested that Castro had worked with the CIA to aid in the killing of Che Guevara as he didn’t like the attention that Che was getting – all that capitalist merchandising should have been about him, not Che! The barman responded, in a quite threatening manner for a young barman at a Sandals resort now that I reflect on it, “Burn the book!”)

Now, although at first glance those look like an eclectic set of words, I’m sure there is some meaning in there.  I wouldn’t necessarily put them together – although I obviously have (I’ve not been well) – but now that I look at them again I can kind of understand what I might have been getting at.

I once read a book called Tescopoly.  I say I read the book, I read half of it before I tired of the same point being regurgitated in vaguely different scenarios.  Anyway, the premise of the book was that Tesco was not a force for good and that as the brand extended into new markets at the expense of the existing competition the knock-on effects would manifest themselves in the wider community.  So, for instance, the role of the local shop keeper as a force for social good, checking on the wellbeing of his or her customers was being removed and not replaced by the new Tesco superstore.

Tesco Logo (source) Wikipedia

Far be it from me to suggest that Andrew Simms (the author of Tescopoly) was aggrandising the role of the local shop keeper, but my experience of most local shop keepers is that they are sullen, penny-pinching, miserly folk that can’t wait to get you out of their shop so they can go back to reading the latest Woman’s Weekly.

Anyhow, I do agree with a lot of what Andrew says in his book, but what’s the alternative?  Cue awkward transition into comparison with shops in Cuba!  See what I did there?  If I was following my plan I’d now talk about what the shops were like in Havana (bars of soap behind glass counters), but let’s throw out the plan and go with the flow.

The reason Tesco is able to do what it does so successfully is well covered by a lot of authors, so I’m not going to get into that, suffice to say that the Tesco brand translates across a number of markets and audiences well.  Tesco Mobile, Tesco Finance, Tesco Home, Tesco Utilities etc  I’m not saying that Tesco plastic surgery has a future, but who knows?

This is where Nike comes into the story (if I can call it that?).  You see, I think Nike is a very under-utilised brand.  It sticks to its core areas of sports apparel and equipment, but it could do much more I think.   Nike Finance conjures up an image of nimble and agile services for the younger audience that can’t be bothered to read terms and conditions.  Nike ready meals strike me as a healthy and tasty microwave option and I bet their sandwiches are great if you’re going to the gym.  Nike condoms sound playful don’t they and they could include the famous “Nike Swoosh” shape in the Bill Clinton condom – which would be a good seller I’d imagine.  (If that makes no sense then Google, “Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky” and you’ll find out)

Some brands can transition across all sorts of products and markets, think Virgin here, and some can’t – think Bernard Matthews.  Aha, I managed to tie it all together with only the slightest amount of manipulation.

Bernard Matthews (source) thesun.co.uk

Bernard Matthews (source) thesun.co.uk - BOOTIFUL!

Can you imagine Bernard Matthews holidays or  Bernard Matthews clothing for that matter?  It doesn’t work does it.  That said, Bernard Matthews plastic surgery does have a great strapline ready to go – “bootiful”-  and despite that it still doesn’t work, unless of course you want to look like Winston Churchill and there’s always one isn’t there.

I’m glad I had a plan in place there (all marketers like a plan), I can’t imagine where this post might have ventured without the plan.  Right, I’m off to Tesco to buy a turkey – thank god for capitalism!

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Posted in: Marketing