Marketing Matters May/Jun 2018 ISSUE 62. Thank you for your continued support, you can find more articles on

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Italy has become the first European country to ban all advertising for gambling.

TV, radio and internet promotions will be halted from January next year, and sports clubs barred from having gambling sponsors, amid evidence that 400,000 Italians were problem gamblers (last year's figure) an increase of 400% over the last ten years. Commenting on the growth of the gambling industry in Italy deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio told the press "I think this is an industry that has become a bit too big at the expense of people's health and dignity. We are going to cut it down in size".

In the UK our Treasury, assisted by our chancellor Phillip Hammond, has slowed down the rate of progress on the dropping of the maximum bet on addictive Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, FOBT's, from £100 to £2, a measure which they have delayed till April 2020 over concerns they will lose the substantial revenue they make from problem gamblers. Advertising of gambling has also come under increased fire when it exploits sports events, such as the current World Cup, uses cartoon images to sell to the young and pays BBC football pundits such as Alan Shearer and Robbie Savage to promote gambling.


British Airways has apologised for cancelling the flights of 2,000 passengers after it discovered that the cheap fares offered were a mistake made by BA.

The airline rufused to honour the bookings made to destinations such as Dubai and Tel Aviv for around £195 return, instead refunding the money and offering a £100 voucher for a flight that costs £1,000 with BA.

Customers let down have said that the cheap price was not so cheap that it was obviously a mistake, a reason for BA to legally cancel their bookings, and have cited fares to Tel Aviv for £215, just £20 more than the BA price. However it is thought that only a successful legal challenge by a let-down BA customer would be likely to persuade BA to "do the decent thing" and let passengers fly at the price booked.


Concerns over the editorial credibility of the London Evening Standard and its editor George Osbourne have increased in the wake of the launch of "editorial" package London 2020 reportedly offered to six major companies.

Apparently the six, which include Google and Uber (in which one of Mr Osbourne's employers, BlackRock, have a £500million stake) are being offered "money cant buy" positive news and "favourable" comment pieces for £500,000 each. One company that says it was approached in this way is Starbucks, which says that the deal on offer did amount to buying biased reports, which would be "PR death", and that they didn't need to buy their reputation in this way.

George Osbourne's paymasters at the Evening Standard are Moscow-based oligarch (definition in Russia, a very rich business leader with a great deal of political influence) Alexander Lebedef and his London-based son Evgeny.


More shoppers are stealing from supermarkets by putting loose avocados and other expensive fruit and veg through self-service tills and weighing them as loose carrots, and other cheap veg.

The easy theft was first noted in Australia where some shoppers were apparently buying 18 kilos of carrots in a single visit and self-service tills were recording sales of more carrots than the store ever had in stock.

Store managements are also aware that shoppers using self-service tills switch labels on items, as well as simply putting items in their trolley that they haven't passed through the till. This last theft type was successful for likeable celebrity chef Anthony Worrall Thompson in Tesco in Henley-on Thames in 2012, until he was filmed stealing wines and cheese on a number of separate visits and was arrested and cautioned by police.


The price of a 7-day stay at a Center Parc holiday park in the UK can be double that charged in some European destinations, and prices in the on-site chain restaurants can be extortionately high.

The August price for a family of four staying in a basic Woodland Lodge in Woborn, Beds is £1,958, as opposed to £909 at a German equivalent, with travel adding less than £250. Prices in the chain restaurants on-site in the UK include £9.50 for a breakfast at Cafe Rouge, which costs £5.95 in the chain's High Street outlets.


Retailers W H Smith have won yet another least-liked position in the annual Which? survey of customer satisfaction, the eighth year it has made the worst two.

The chain scored 58%, way below stores such as Lush and Savers (81%), Bodycare (79%) Waterstones (78%) and below Rymans (66%) and Clintons (60%)

Smiths were recently pilloried for their exploitation of the vulnerable at their hospital based shops after a 75ml tube of toothpaste was found to be costing £7.99. After being challenged on the price Smiths claimed it was a pricing error, with the correct price being £2.49, and have donated the £711 raised from the sale of 89 tubes to charity.

Given that the same 75ml tube of toothpaste is 80pence in Tesco and £1 in Boots, Smith's marketeers need to be told that they are still more than two and a half times more expensive in their 129 hospital shops, which serve a captive market, and that exploiting the sick is not great PR.


A whistle-blower at Capita, the firm paid £59million a year by the BBC to collect TV licence fees, has told the Daily Mail that large bonuses were paid to their 30-plus area managers to encourage them to take consumers to court.

Capita had told MPs investigating concerns over the way it collected licence fees that bonuses were only paid on sales of licences, which, given the above, was untrue .The BBC claimed that this was the same story they were told by Capita.

Last year MPs on the Public Accounts Committee savaged both the BBC and Capita over bullying methods used to collect licence fees. Threatened with investigation of their business premises some businesses have advised Capita/BBC that they do not need a licence, only to be told by Capita/BBC that since some business types lie about this they will continue to investigate them anyway.


This month sees the selling of more British drinks and less from the other countries in the EU at Weatherspoon’s.

The 880 pub chain will be selling more UK beers from Thornbridge Vera in Derbyshire and SA Brains Atlantic from Cardiff, along with sparkling wines from Denbies in Surrey. These will be cheaper for Weatherspoon’s customers, says Chairman Tim Martin, and replace wheat beers and champagne from Germany and France. This, he says, is the start of Wetherspoon's transition to non-EU trade.

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

Peter Cotterell
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