Tesco’s return to form last week with some good figures was cut short by an outcry over an advert promoting cheap beer and cider with a strapline which said: “Good Friday just got better.”
The supermarket chain managed to upset Christians who felt Good Friday was already good enough as a celebration of their faith.
Vicar and BBC broadcaster, the Reverend Richard Coles, said the advert was “extraordinarily and unnecessarily ignorant”.
It reminded me of an incident some years ago when I worked in the offices of the National Coal Board.
One day a female worker opened a window and shouted down to a noisy gathering of protesting miners: “Get back to work. If it wasn’t for us you wouldn’t have a job!”
Needless to say, her comment was somewhat flawed. If it weren’t for the men toiling hundreds of feet below ground in dark and grimy conditions she would not have been able to enjoy her air-conditioned office flooded with natural daylight.
The point is that we all have a tendency at times to get so focused on our own little world that we do not see the bigger picture.
All these years later I wonder if the woman who yelled from the coal board office window ever accepted that the coal industry could have operated without the office workers, but would have struggled without the men digging the stuff out of the ground.
Likewise, the managers at Tesco – which apologised for its advert – may have realised that were it not for the son of God being crucified there would be no Good Friday. And no opportunity to sell cheap alcohol.
After pulling off one of the best deals of the year, crowning themselves multi-millionaires and assuring the future of their business on a global stage one would think the guys who run BrewDog would want to enjoy the fruits of their labours.
Not so. Founders James Watt and Martin Dickie have allowed themselves to be drawn into an unseemly spat with their customers over their ‘punk’ credentials.
Behind the corporate wheeler-dealing which led to a £200m+ investment in the Aberdeenshire company there has been some simmering discontent among the brewer’s army of fans.
As Daily Business has reported over recent weeks, some of those who bought into the maverick culture cultivated by Watt and Dickie are less than happy at recent events.
It all began with pressure on a Midlands pub owner (Daily Business 29 March) to drop his plan to name his bar Lone Wolf because it was the name BrewDog had adopted for its spirits business. After a public outcry Watt called off the dogs (lawyers) and sent the Brummie barman a peace offering.
Unfortunately, it was not an isolated incident. BrewDog has become embroiled in a dispute over its claim to own the word punk (Daily Business 4 April) with one group representing the “punk community” urging it to “cease and desist”.
Instead of easing off, the BrewDog pair have come out fighting, posting pictures of the Ellon-based staff on its website declaring their punk credentials.
Why? Some of BrewDog’s stunts were clever and they certainly got the company noticed. Dropping stuffed cats over the City and spoofing Guinness adverts helped them make their point about doing things differently.
The joke is now wearing a bit thin. Stunts also helped Richard Branson and Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary. Both also knew they had to take their customers with them.
When Branson’s Virgin Money launched its punk credit card it did so with some justification because he had been there when punk was in its pomp.
Watt and Dickie are in danger of playing the punk card for the sake of trying to be hip, while clearly upsetting those who think they are being a bit disingenuous.
Let it go, boys, and stop being ashamed of your new-found wealth.
Goodwin in court
It may not be the trial of the century, but certainly a mouth-watering spectacle is in prospect when former RBS chief executive Fred Goodwin appears in court (Daily Business 11 April) over allegations that the board misled investors in 2008.
Making it more intriguing is that two Scottish heavyweights will be opposing him: former RBS vice-chairman Sir Angus Grossart and Stagecoach founder Sir Brian Souter, are among the plaintiffs.
Altogether some 27,000 shareholders and 100 institutions claim they lost out because the bank failed to disclose its true financial status when it launched a £12 billion rights issue, the biggest of its kind in Europe at the time.
RBS denies the allegations and has been trying to head off a court showdown.
It will mean a rare public appearance for Fred who was stripped of his knighthood and has said nothing about the events that led to the bank’s and his own downfall.
The case opens next month and he is due to appear on 8-9 June.