Back in the day, Mad men Part 2.


OK, so David Reid was given a Fashion Police type doing on this very page not a week ago.

He took it like a man I have to say so it’s only fair that he gets the right of replky.

Here’s my own fashion disaster of the 80’s when I had hair, oh boy did I have hair, and specs.

My God did I have specs…

Mad men?


If the TV series Mad Men positions the ad industry as one of the great bastions of style in the 50′s and 60′s, what on earth happened in the 80′s?

This is what happened in the 80′s.

One of Scotland’s leading creative directors turned up for a Bass Ale shoot in the Crown Bar, Belfast, looking like…

Actually, words fail me.

Certainly some sort of Kajagoogoo reject.

I mean, where to start?

The shorts probably.

The T shirt?

The haircut?

The come to bed expression?

The boots?

And I then went on to form a business with this Gok Wan nightmare.

Ooooffft!

Thirty something rerun on Sky Atlantic


It’s quite scary how the world dates. This advertising based drama series was, unquestionably, Jeana’s and my favourite TV show back in the late 80’s and now it has returned on Sky Atlantic.

And, oh God, Mad Men it is not. Now, in its defence, it was capturing the zeitgeist of the time, not looking at history, and it does that perfectly.

The zeitgeist was quite clearly; how to be a total tosser.

Horrible, embarrassing in so many ways; in the fake Joi de vivre; in the competitiveness; in the dress; in the pursuit of money.

The whole thing reeks of pish and ham and the office based hoop shooting just makes you cringe.

This is pond life, cliched TV from hell.

How did we love it so?

Perhaps we were pond life competitive shit ourselves.

Deary me.

Oh and the theme tune fucking sucks now. (loved it then.)

Oh, and I wore specs like those fucking dorks.

John Hegarty – a proper legend


In my business development role at STV I have had the pleasure this year of putting on events with Trevor Beattie of BMB, Mark Waites of Mother and now Sir John Hegarty, founder and creative director of BBH and the nearest you can come to a living legend in our industry.

He was spellbinding and bewitching.

So, so relevant.  And a perfect gentleman.  Not for him a trawl through the old BBH ads (of which there are dozens of gems to showcase); no,  he talked a lot about the digital world (and how it fits so well with TV which remains at the heart of any really succesful brand campaign) and the opportunities it held in the midst of a deep recession where the guard could easily change fundamentally.

He waxed lyrical about X factor and the renewed vigour of ITV (and STV) as a vibrant and exciting audience builder.

It reminded us that this is not a bad time to be in advertising and that we just need to remain in touch with the media landscape and prepared to harness new technologies not be afraid of them.

After all when Guttenberg reinvented bookmaking in the 15th century what was the first book he printed?

The bible!

Think Hard in the News. Two days running!


Well.  Two days in a row I featured in stories in The Scotsman.  How odd.

Yesterday it was a story about branding…

Sweet tooth helps fight the recession

Published Date: 09 June 2009
By Erikka Askeland

WHEN the going gets tough, the tough are reaching for cakes and fizzy drinks to make themselves feel a bit better.

In recession-hit Scotland, consumers are splashing out on sweet favourites, and sales of familiar brands such as Irn Bru and Tunnocks tea cakes and caramel wafers are on the rise.

There are plenty of signs the shopper is cutting back on big-ticke

with Investec, one of the reasons for Barr’s strong performance was the cosy familiarity of the Irn Bru brand,

“There seems to be a resurgence of people going back to brands they trust,” says Mallard.

Mark Gorman, head of thinking at Think Hard believes that Irn Bru is a “fabric brand”, which has survived the test of time and is “fixed in the commercial psyche”.

These are not the cheapest in the shops but to consumers they signal reliability. Scottish brands which he believes make the grade include Irn Bru, Mothers Pride bread, Tennent’s lager, Lees’ macaroons , and of course, Tunnocks.

“Although people will cut back and look for cheap brands, you do tend to find in a recession they are still willing to pay more for branded goods in certain staple ranges,” Gorman says.

Can a fizzy drink really be considered a staple food? In Scotland, he says, it is.

“They are the important things in life, because they do trust those brands. You wouldn’t want to drink own-brand Irn Bru, would you?”

Fergus Loudon, the sales manager for teacake makers Tunnocks, says the group has come back from a slower-than-normal start to the year and its factory in Uddingston is “back to seven days a week”.

He adds that it is the trust people have in the brand as well as the need for a little sugary comfort that drives sales.

Loudon says: “To a degree, it is confidence in the older brands. The likes of ourselves, Barrs, Baxters, Walkers – they are all iconic Scottish companies and they have been around for a long time. I think the consumer can relate to that and they have confidence in the stronger brands.

“They think: ‘Ah, that is good – I haven’t had one of those for a while.’ It is comfort eating. In times of hardship, people will always treat themselves to a treat, whether it is a caramel wafer or a can of Irn Bru.”

However, Roger White, chief executive of AG Barr, takes a different view. He dismisses the “comfort factor” although he agreed people reach for the brands they know when they are feeling shaky.

“It is not about comfort eating or drinking, but people stick to what they know when they are lacking in confidence and they stick to things which are relatively affordable.

“Our brands are just known or affordable. It is easier to turn down things you are less certain of if you lack confidence. You tend to stick with something you know,” White maintains.

Mark Bradford, managing director of James Allan Bakeries, a traditional seller of pies and cakes in the West of Scotland, is surprised by the growth in demand for treats – as long as they are cheap.

Bradford says that sales of savoury pies have enjoyed a resurgence but it is the cream cakes that have sold particularly well.

“Good sellers at the moment are cream cakes, which until recently were not that popular. But they have grown in popularity. You could call them a comfort food, I think people are treating themselves to low-cost treats, which our types of products are.”

In addition to selling sugary sweet nothings, AG Barr also enjoys the benefits of having a strong core market – loyal Scottish consumers.

Gorman believes that loyalty in the home market is a key benefit to companies such as AG Barr which has expanded in the UK and more recently, into Russia.

“It gives backbone to your balance sheet if you know that come what may, you are still going to hold brand leadership in your original territory. That gives you some confidence to build from there. Irn Bru have done that brilliantly in the last 20 years,” said Gorman.


And today it’s a Story about Ellis Watson’s move to First Group…


Watson swaps Menzies post for key role at FirstGroup

It is understood Watson is being groomed as a possible successor to FirstGroup’s founder and chief executive, Sir Moir Lockhead, 64, who is expected to retire within the next couple of years.

Last month The Scotsman reported on the gap in the First- Group’s succession plan following the departure of chief operating officer Dean Finch.

But the appointment of Watson, who has turned Menzies around in his four years at the company, will increase speculation that he is in line to succeed Lockhead. Reinforcing Watson’s high standing, Menzies yesterday made it clear how highly they regard the former Mirror Group executive.

John Geddes, group comp any secretary for Menzies, said he was “sad to see Ellis go”.

Geddes refused to comment on Watson’s role at FirstGroup, which has been in and out of the blue chip FTSE 100 index of top British companies.

But he added: “Ellis is going to join a company which is pretty much FTSE 100. Ellis is an ambitious guy and I am sure he has got a plan.”

William Thomson, chairman of Menzies, gave an unusually effusive tribute to Watson in the company’s statement to the Stock Exchange, crediting him with having “revolutionised” Menzies’ distribution business.

Thomson also welcomed Watson’s replacement, David McIntosh, who has been with Menzies for 19 years.

Watson joined Menzies four years ago from Trinity Mirror where he was managing director, national newspapers, under chief executive Sly Bailey.

A close friend of former Sun editor Kelvin McKenzie, Watson was also involved in firing Mirror editor Piers Morgan after the Iraq prisoner photo hoax. He was best man at Morgan’s wedding weeks later.

Lockhead said Watson, who will take up the position in August, would be of “great benefit” to the group’s plans for future growth. Paul Moore, First- Group’s communications director, yesterday played down speculation that the company’s plans to eventually replace Lockhead.

“I think it looks like another great member of the senior management team,” said Moore.

But Moore said FirstGroup was “excited” about how Watson would promote the FirstGroup brand in addition to his management of the group’s operations.

Watson said in a statement last night: “I’m as flattered as I am excited to be joining FirstGroup. It’s an enormous and successful company and I’m pleased to be joining a team that seem intent on making it even more so”.

FirstGroup is one of the world’s largest public transport companies, operating trains and buses in the UK, US and Europe.

Trading in FirstGroup shares was up slightly to 382.25p while shares in Menzies were up even further – 2.7 per cent – to 133p.

‘Ellis is empathetic … and funny’

MARKETING “guru” Mark Gorman last night predicted that new FirstGroup director Ellis Watson can make the bus and train business “sexy”.

Gorman, the “head of thinking” at marketing consultancy Think Hard, praised FirstGroup chief Sir Moir Lockhead, as “brilliant”. But he insisted Watson would bring something different to the Aberdeen-based business.

Gorman told The Scotsman that people “love” Watson and like working for him.

He explained: “First Group are a great group. They are fantastically acquisitive, creative and dynamic. They export well. They have done really well in the States. They are one of the companies Scotland should be most proud of. Moir has been a brilliant leader for the business.”

He continued: “Bringing someone like Ellis in is a really interesting move. He is empathetic. And funny, he is a great speaker. If anyone can make travel sexy it would be Ellis.”

Gorman, who is head of business development at STV, said that First with Watson on board could challenge the major UK transport groups including Richard Branson’s Virgin, Michael O’Leary’s Ryanair or British Airways.

He added: “The problem with First is they built their brand in quite a product-based way, in a functional way.

“For the size of the business, they have disproportionately under-invested in building the corporate brand.

“I don’t think it has a massive amount of brand equity, not like a British Airways Not even like Ryanair and Michael O’Leary.”

Gorman said there were “a lot of great people and individuals in the travel sector” including Branson and easyJet found Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

He continued: “There’s four big brands that have got very high-profile brand leaders. First has done it much more under the radar.”