A hectic week for GBH with the news that a merger is in the
Our chairman, Lord Bleak, wants to join forces with French-owned drinks
giant Societe Orientale de Boisson, in a partnership of equals that he
says will leave their name over the door - just below ours.
Despite the furore, its been a quiet week for me. Anne Ville, my boss,
doesn’t return from holiday for a couple of days. My research is over,
so I have had the luxury - always dangerous in business - of reflecting
on the morality of what I am doing. And what the company’s doing, come
’I feel like I am trying to peddle drugs to young people,’ I confided
over lunch to my erstwhile foe Donal Crass, brand manager for XYY
’No, no, no,’ he replied in his Irish brogue. ’You are only making them
think that you are selling them drugs.’
Is pretending to sell drugs better or worse than actually selling
Sounds like one of those conundrums on a philosophy finals paper, to
which you give a three-word answer and become feted as one of the finest
minds of your generation. However, it’s a question that a degree in
business studies does not leave me equipped to answer. But it did
confirm my view that Donal has the morals of a seasoned-up Hyena.
’To tell the truth, I don’t really understand why the company wants to
go into psychopops at all,’ I continued. ’Psychopops will never be more
than niche and its contribution will only ever be marginal. What’s more,
it could bring into question the whole business of selling alcohol.’
To my surprise he started laughing. ’Surely, after this week it’s all
become clear,’ he said, as tears rolled from his eyes and peas poured
out of his nose.
’What do you mean?’ I asked. ’SOB,’ he said. ’Societe Orientale, get
it?’ I was still none the wiser. Contempt spread slowly over Donal’s
weasely countenance. ’Where is SOB strong?’ he asked. ’France,’ I
replied. ’And?’ ’The Far East?’ I ventured. ’That’s right. You’ve got it
at last,’ he said.
But I hadn’t. ’I think you’d better spell it out,’ I said. With the
patient air of a primary school teacher he began. ’Of course, there’s no
money in psychopops here; penetration will be too low and the population
is too small. Think of the UK market as a test. The real volume is going
to be in the semi-regulated economies of the Far East. We have no
presence there. But you know who has.’ Could Donal be the first hyena
with a philosophy degree?