You may have noticed that to all intents and purposes I stopped
working on Mutant, the putative psychopop, some months ago.
I could tell that the moment for such a product was past almost as soon
as I took up my job here. What could I do? I had just uprooted and moved
200 miles. I was hardly in a position to say, ’Sorry I don’t think you
need me anymore, I’ll just slink off quietly now to the back of a dole
When I started the job I supposed that there would be other NPD projects
on the boil or that at least I would be responsible for developing a
coherent NPD strategy. But most of GBH’s product launches are neither
new nor developed.
’Far too expensive, drawn out and risky,’ according to the almost
infinite wisdom of the managing director.
Instead the company favours a ’rolling programme of Darwinian
What it means is taking successful products from one market - usually
another country, and flogging them unchanged in a few pubs to see how
they go. If they sell well they expand distribution until they cease to
This approach has the virtues of speed and thriftiness. You don’t spend
years developing something people used to want when the project started,
but no longer desire. No precious shareholder value is squandered in
abortive investments. The company is never tarred with the brush of
failure. And there is always the possibility, no matter how remote, of
success. Billy Bolleaux can stand up in front of his peers and boast
about how he expects a quarter of his turnover to come from new products
within three years.
But it leaves me making no significant contribution and feeling
increasingly windy about it. So, I have decided to seize the time and do
something about it. I am embarking on a one-man work-creation scheme
I suppose it’s called intrapreneurship.
The other day I was talking to Donal Crass. He was complaining that no
matter how lazy he was, no matter how unimaginative or inefficient, no
matter how much the company under-invested in his XYY premium lager,
sales just keep going up and up.
’Couldn’t cock up if I tried,’ he boasted. ’The premium sector is going
bonkers. No one drinks cooking lager anymore. They just can’t get enough
and they just can’t pay enough.’
It dawned on me that there could be an opportunity if you could graft
some of the super snobbish connoisseur type values of vintage brandy,
champagne and wine onto a lager product, you could create an entirely
new ultra super premium deluxe vintage lager sector. The volume wouldn’t
be huge but the contribution would be immense and it could have some
fantastic brand extensions.
After months of drifting, I finally have a purpose. I’m going to start
some discreet lobbying, put a presentation together and go for it. I’ll
keep you informed.