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Soft soaps

By Alan Gilmour on Jun 28, 12 07:35 AM in Communication

Now here is a mystery.

Why are there no soaps set in the Midlands? London has East Enders, Manchester 'Corrie' and Liverpool has 'Hollyoaks'. We don't even have any of the constructed reality programmes set in the Midlands like 'TOWIE, 'Geordie Shores' or 'Desperate Scousewives'.

I have no idea why this is, though not sure it's much of a loss. But did you know that watching the soaps is can help build strong brands.

Prisoner 46664

By Alan Gilmour on Jun 19, 12 05:02 PM in Communication

All this week in The Mailbox there has been a celebration of the Midland's great design heritage and of the region as the home of some of this country's great brands-Jaguar, Triumph, Land Rover, Aga, JCB and even Marmite. If you haven't already been to this celebration get down there quick.

In my job I spend a lot of my time trying to design and develop brands. I don't do the creative work on brands but instead it is my job to come up with the underlying definition of the brand. I try to define what it is going to stand for; the promise it is going to make, and to try to keep, to its customers; and how it should present itself to its market. Someday it is my hope that the brands I am working on will feature in an exhibition of great brands.

It took me a wee while to find inspiration for my first blog but I found it in a place not renowned for its inspiring qualities.

And from this unlikely beginning, the intention is to provoke debate and stimulate thinking on the business of marketing and the marketing of business. Hopefully you will enjoy sharing and discussing my views.

Last week I had to leave Birmingham for the delights of London. Fortunately this gave me the opportunity to travel with my favourite train company and to meet up again with the people working there who make travelling a real pleasure.


Twenty-seven minutes before mainstream media broke the news of Whitney Houston's death last Saturday the story was on Twitter.

The news was first tweeted by @ajaDiorNavy, with a mere 14 followers at the time, who's "Aunt Tiffany", an employee of Whitney's, found the diva dead in her bath.  An hour later it had been re-tweeted 2.5m times.


Tradition dictates, in my last missive of the year, that I review the technology predictions I made in my first post of January. Unfortunately, it seems to have been deleted, so I'll have to stick to what actually happened instead!


Last Thursday was national 'unfriend' day on Facebook, in the US at least! Although instigated by a comic, the now annual event has gained some resonance.

I, for one, am old enough to recall the real meaning of the word "friend" and know that having any more than six real friends is a right pain.

read more....

facebooks-grim-reaper.jpgEver wondered what happens to your Facebook profile when you die?'

Don't worry, I'm in good health, my morbid fascination is prompted by Facebook's, soon to be released 'TimeLine' feature, currently in Beta.

TimeLine produces a sort of scrapbook of everything that has happened to you since you joined Facebook, at the press of a button.

To see a chronology of your life, automatically generated, is a spooky reminder of just how much data is kept about our online activity and is more than a bit creepy.


It's been a bad couple of weeks for TripAdviser, as the Advertising Standards Authority started investigating allegations of endemic Astroturfing on the famous hotel review website.

"Astroturfing", in an online context, does not mean the replacement of a lawn with synthetic grass, but the attempt to artificially create "grassroots" opinion on review websites in order to promote products or services.

The recent financial disaster at UBS brought another UBS story back into the news. Back in January a detailed dress code guide for UBS staff was leaked to much hilarity.

There was also advice on how to apply body lotion and perfume, on not eating garlic and not to have tattoos.

This was held up as an example of an organisation obsessed by detail and interfering in its employees lives.

fondleslab.jpegA "fondleslab", for those not down with the kids, describes any portable touch screen device so beloved by its owner that it is incessantly fondled in public.

I swapped the faithful fag packet and lighter combination (which served a similar social purpose) for an iPhone a few years ago, but now, to keep down with the kids, I need an iPad 2.

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Chris is MD of social media strategy company Friend Digital

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John Clancy

John Clancy - Birmingham City Councillor and director of and
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John Samuels

John Samuels - Professor of Business Finance, Birmingham Business School
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Chris Tomlinson

Chris Tomlinson - Chris Tomlinson is the founder of social media and online PR agency Friend (
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Andrew Whitehead

Andrew Whitehead - Senior partner at law firm SGH Martineau, leading the firm's Energy & Climate Change practice.
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Keith Gabriel

Keith Gabriel - A Birmingham-based PR Account Manager
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Beverley Nielsen

Beverley Nielsen - Lecturer, Design Management, at the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design, BCU
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Mike Loftus

Mike Loftus - Director of News from the Future Ltd. Writing on the trials of setting up your own business
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Richard Halstead

Richard Halstead - Midlands region director for EEF, the manufacturers organisation.
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Karl Edge

Karl Edge - partner at KPMG in Birmingham, specialising in automotive, manufacturing and house building sectors.
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Peter Owen

Peter Owen - Managing director for construction firm Willmott Dixon Midlands.
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Dr Steven McCabe

Dr Steven McCabe - director of research degrees for Birmingham City Business School.
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Francis Greene

Francis Greene - Professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, at the University of Birmingham.
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Alan Gilmour

Alan Gilmour - Director at Cogent Elliott, experienced in marketing, brand development and customer relationship management.
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Paul Noon

Paul Noon - Paul Noon, OBE, West Midlands International Trade Director at UK Trade & Investment.
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