Marketing Matters Mar/Apr 2019 ISSUE 66. Thank you for your continued support, you can find more articles on


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Those responsible for marketing hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei have some serious thinking to do after their owner announced that gay sex and adultery in the Sultanate would be punished by stoning to death, in line with the Sharia law now in operation there.

The move has sparked an international outcry as the inhumanely cruel Biblical punishment is seen by many as just extreme and sadistic torture. Victims are buried up to head and shoulders and the stones, which are specified as having to be "large enough to cause real damage but small enough to do it slowly", are thrown by a number of individuals so that no one person can be accused of the killing.

The association with stoning to death is a deeply uncomfortable one for those operating the Sultan's luxury hotels, which comprise The Dorchester and 45 Park Lane in London, the Colworth Park in Ascot, the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, USA, the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, USA, Le Meurice and the Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris, France, the Hotel Eden in Rome, Italy and the Hotel Principe di Savoia, Milan, Italy. A spokesperson for the group has claimed that it "did not tolerate any form of discrimination" and that "Dorchester Collection's code emphasises equality, respect and integrity in all areas of our operation, and strongly values people and cultural diversity amongst our guests and employees. Inclusion and diversity remain core beliefs", all of which now comes across as hypocritical and hollow PR.

Starting off what will be a long campaign against the Dorchester Collection, celebrities such as George Clooney, Sir Elton John and Ellen Degeneres have called for boycotts of hotels in the group, an activity that could also be effected against those organisations booking them for business purposes.


Marketeers at bookmakers Betfred and Paddy Power have been accused of continuing to target problem gamblers with new, addictive, roulette-style games that allow victims to lose up to £15,000 an hour.

The new games were launched on Monday April 1st, the same day that the maximum bet on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOTBs) termed "crack cocaine" for gamblers by campaigners, was reduced by law from £100 to £2. Paddy Power's Pick' n'36 game allows losers to wave goodbye to £100 every three minutes, or £2,000 an hour, while Betfred's Virtual Cycling game can take £500 every 2 minutes, or £15,000 per hour.

Following criticism from the Gambling Commission, which has the power to sack bosses of bookmakers by revoking their right to hold a management position in the industry, Betfred and Paddy Power have withdrawn their new games.


MPs have called for the break up of KPMG, Deloitte, PwC and EY, following the collapse of Carillion and BHS.

In particular the business committee have noted that the client relationship and conflict of interest have "undermined the professional scepticism needed to deliver reliable, high quality audits". It is proposed to separate the accounting and auditing functions to "ensure that audits deliver what businesses, investors pension funds and the public expect".

The "big four" accounted for more than 95% of audits prepared in 2016/17 for FTSE 350 and FTSE 100 companies.


The European Commissioner for Competition has fined Google £1.3 billion for abusing its monopoly on online advertising over the last 10 years, acting illegally by barring its clients from displaying any advertising from rival advertisers. This, said the Commissioner, prevented Google's rivals from growing and deprived consumers the benefits of free competition.

This is the third such censure of Google by the Commissioner, totalling fines of £7.1 billion. Last year Google were fined £3.7 billion for abusing the dominant market position of its Android operating system, and in 2017 were fined £2.1 billion for artificially boosting its own "Google shopping" price comparison service in search results.

The fines, representing 1.29% of Google's 2018 turnover, are still a long way shy of the 10% of turnover the Commissioner could impose on Google.


British singer Ellie Goulding has not renewed her contract with Proctor and Gamble to promote Pantene shampoo.

Whilst no-one is saying why it is thought that P&Gs supply of 55% of the haircare market in China and the fact that all shampoos have to be tested for irritation by squirting them into the eyes of live rabbits before they can be sold in China likely has something to do with it, Ms Goulding being known as a staunch animal lover.


If so there is a lot of sinning going on, going on the fact that sales of the Mother's Ruin have nearly doubled in the last two years, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA)

Unlike whiskey (Irish), or whisky (Scotch) which only makes you frisky gin only takes a few days to make, against anything from 5 years up for a decent dram or two of Scotch or Irish.


Amusing to hear that Ryanair's Michael O'Blarney attempted a joke about British Airway's ill-fated flight to Dusseldorf that ended in Edinburgh offering them a copy of a book, "Geography for Dummies" on Twitter.

This side-splitter was answered by some Twitter wits who tweeted that one book the leprechaun could definitely use would be "Customer Service and Employment Law for Dummies".



Someone else making a joke that rebounded on him, and his company was Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess.

Diess, or his speechwriter thought it would be a hoot at a recent company meeting to slightly amend the slogan "Arbeit macht frei" (Work makes you free) found at the entrance to the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz, Poland to "EBIT macht frei", the EBIT being an accounting abbreviation for Earnings Before Interest and Taxation.

No doubt this hilariously clever play on words had Volkswagen underlings wetting themselves with glee, but it hasn't played so well outside the firm where the links of Volkswagen to Germany's shameful Nazi past have been recycled. Such as the fact that Adolf Hitler laid the foundation stone for their first factory in 1938, and that Volkswagen exploited concentration camp internees and prisoners of war as cheap slave labour to help build the wealth Diess and his firm enjoy today.

Time for a new speechwriter.

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Peter Cotterell
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