Marketing Matters Sep/Oct 2017 ISSUE 58. Thank you for your continued support, you can find more articles on

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Top PR firm Bell Pottinger, founded by Thatcher guru Lord Bell, has apparently been impressing their client, the Gupta billionaire brothers, and South Africa's president Jacob Zuma with some clever strategies for diverting attention away from the controversially close relationship between Zuma and the Guptas.

Allegedly, for £100,000 a month from the Gupta's Oakbay Capital firm Bell Pottinger employees cleverly set up a fake blog and false Twitter accounts to stir up anger against wealthy white South Africans. Twitter users were secretly paid to spread propaganda, and to troll journalists who questioned the false claims, sexually smearing some.

The clever PR tricks of Bell Pottinger came to light earlier this year when a trove of information about their impressive methods was published anonymously. Since then their clever CEO, James Henderson has resigned and dozens of major firms in South Africa and the UK have dumped them, although it is understood that, at the time of writing, they are still being used by Bloomsbury Publishing, Cineworld and Waitrose.

In the UK the PR trade body, the PR and Communications Association is most unimpressed with Bell Pottinger's cleverness and has banned them from membership for five years claiming that they have "brought the PR and communication industry into disrepute".

Lord Bell appeared on a "car-crash" BBC Newsnight interview with Kirsty Wark earlier this month where he first claimed that the debacle was nothing to do with him before being shown one of his emails in which he promised to "oversee" the Gupta account for clever Bell Pottinger. In 1977, when Bell was 36 he was fined £50 for indecency after he allegedly cleverly pleasured himself at the bathroom window of his Hampstead house in full view of female passers-by.


An estimated 400,000 passengers booked on Ryanair flights have had them cancelled as the company admits that it has mismanaged its pilot and crew rotas And some passengers, when trying to rebook flights have had additional charges heaped on for extras they had already paid for, while others have been charged up to £25 for the premium rate call(s) they had to make to sort out the mess.

Ryanair's CEO, Michael O'Blarney has admitted that this latest passenger nightmare has cost him "reputational damage", though there is a view that very little can further damage an airline that has a well-deserved reputation for not giving a toss about its customers.


Unhealthily skinny models will need to start eating properly again if they want to work after Gucci, St Laurent and Vuitton et Dior announced a ban on US size-zero/UK size four models on catwalk shows and photo-shoots. The belated French company's action follows similar steps taken in Italy and Spain in 2006.

The previous endorsement of ill-health as glamorous by the global fashion industry has been blamed for eating disorders and death in girls and young women trying to emulate.


A proposed reduction in the amounts that can be gambled on high-street located FOBT's (Fixed Odds Betting Terminals) has been shelved by Chancellor Phillip Hammond after the Treasury expressed fears that reducing the amounts from £100 every 20 seconds to £5 or less would reduce their £400 million a year revenue from the gambling addiction.

Meanwhile it has been coincidentally revealed that bookies top the list of donors supplying free gifts, meals and booze to MPs, with Ladbrokes Coral listed 15 times more than any other donor.


A 2004 episode of the children's cartoon character Peppa Pig was banned in Australia for being dangerously spider-friendly but then accidentally aired there last month.

In the episode the character, frightened by a spider, is told by its father that "spiders are very, very small and they can't hurt you", whereupon Peppa picks up the spider and tucks it into bed.

In fact Australia is home to a number of highly poisonous spiders that no-one should touch, including Redbacks, Mouse spiders, Wolf spiders and the lethal Funnel Web, as well as dangerous Cone snails, Eastern Brown snakes, centipedes, mosquitoes, Saltwater crocodiles, sharks, Blue-ringed octopus, Stonefish and Box jellyfish, all of which should be avoided.


Carling lager is weaker than advertised, the brewers Moulson Coors have claimed in court.

Sold as having 4% alcohol by volume (ABV) Carling, once Carling Black Label, has been brewed at 3.7% for the last five years, to cut the tax to be paid say Moulson Coors. The brewers were responding to a court case brought against them by HMRC for the extra £50 million owed on a 4% lager over a three year period, and said the reason they had not gone public with their tax-cutting policy was due to fear that their wholesalers and retailers would demand a cut.

Presumably the Canadian firm will now belatedly advise their customers of the ABV reduction.


Sales of lamb have fallen by 25% over the last fifteen years as less families enjoy a Sunday roast, citing a lack of time and inclination to spend two hours cooking.

The majority of lamb bought is enjoyed by the over-55s, with the under 35s accounting for just 12% of the market. Shoppers in London account for 25% of the £845 million of lamb sold with only 6% bought in Scotland and the Borders.


George Osbourne, former chancellor, banker's friend, money-lover and editor of the London Evening Standard has been attracting some brickbats for his "disgraceful" published attacks on the Prime Minister, who coincidentally sacked him.

However there is a feeling that "Toxic Georgie", who has reportedly said to colleagues that he "will not rest until Mrs May is chopped up in bits in my freezer" is poisoning himself more than others as he demeans both politics and journalism pursuing his personal vendetta.

Question is, how long it will take the Standard's owner, Evgeny Lebedev, to realise the damage this sad, unimpressive and embittered man is doing to his once-respected and trusted newspaper, and let him go.



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The views of the editor are not necessarily those of the publishers.

Peter Cotterell
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