CAREERS: The Secret Diary of Brian The Brand Manager

You may have noticed that to all intents and purposes I stopped working on Mutant, the putative psychopop, some months ago.

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

queue somewhere.’

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

sell well.

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

within GBH.

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.


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