The Perils of Re-Branding

March 11, 2007

The Brit Tory leader David Cameron is engaged in a marketing exercise known as re-branding. History shows that doesn’t work, so expect Blair’s New Labour to govern for a while yet.

Cameron’s analysis seems to be based on focus grouping showing that Tories are regarded as “toxic” by Brit voters – the party of “sleaze” (corruption), tax cutting, nationalism and libertarianism.

But focus groups are good at picking up moods, and poor at detecting their underlying causes. So it’s quite likely the people surveyed just don’t like the sleaze part, while supporting core Tory values – low taxes, national independence, strong defense etc. Indeed the comments section in conservative Brit newspapers show many hold those values.

But Cameron has dumped those folks. He won’t commit to cut Brit taxes (now more than Germany’s), he backs the EU (widely hated in the UK), he doesn’t support grammar schools, and has embraced the Global Warming scam.

So he’s committed himself to picking up another voter base.

Retailers often try this, always fail, then after much anguish revert to their original customer base. Brit examples are Bhs and M&S; Americans are The Gap and Nordstom.

The retail re-brander is always a new CEO who goes after a new customer base because the existing one is shrinking or competition for it is fierce.

But moving base is tough, since retailers must focus obsessively on their target customers – good buyers (the core of any retailer) can give you a thumbnail description of each of their top customer types. For example a fashion retailer might target “women aged 25-30, with kids, married, working part time, household income £X”. They’ll know what customers in this group buy, why they buy, how much they spend, what they aspire to.

So when the CEO decides to move base, the entire organization has to replace its deep customer knowledge and that can take years. And while that’s going on, sales tank.

That’s how this happened:

New Coke was the unofficial name of the sweeter formulation introduced in 1985 by The Coca-Cola Company to replace its flagship soft drink, Coca-Cola or Coke.

Public reaction to the change was devastating, and the new cola quickly entered the pantheon of major marketing flops. The subsequent reintroduction of Coke’s original formula led to a significant gain in sales.

David Cameron is attempting a New Coke, and it won’t work, so look for Brits to elect New Labor until the Tory Party gets itself a leader who respects its base.



March 11, 2007

LGF has the video of the splendid Brit demolition of The Great Global Warming Swindle here.

To balance these crazed Climate Deniers, the opposition Tories are launching Operation Greenfly – the rationing of Brit air travel.

This post has further Green suggestions for the Tory leader, David “Sapsucker” Cameron.


Harsh new taxes on air travel, including a strict personal flight “allowance”, will be unveiled by the Conservatives tomorrow as part of a plan that would penalise business travellers, holidaymakers and the tourist industry.

The proposals, to be disclosed by George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, include levying VAT or fuel duty on domestic flights for the first time as part of a radical plan to tackle global warming.

The Conservatives will also suggest – most controversially of all – rationing individuals to as little as a single short-haul flight each year; any further journeys would attract progressively higher taxes…

This is probably a plant (pun intended) by the evil Blair to discredit the Tories, but just in case it isn’t, here are some other Green suggestions.


Each evening the power will be cut for 6 hours to one of the 13 EU regions that make up the old UK. To minimize economic impact, the greenouts will take place between 6 PM and midnight, and in only one region each night. To ensure fairness, the National Lottery will select the region.

The measure is expected to reduce UK electricity consumption by 25% divided by 13 – a whopping 2% – saving the need for 2,000,000 windmills.


British residents will be limited to an annual maximum of 10,000 text and email characters. Citizens will be able to purchase “top ups” from any of the 69 ID Card Interview centers, at the rate of £1/character, provided they supply a DNA sample.

While not producing significant savings, this leadership measure is expected to humiliate the face-conscious Chinese into stopping building one new power station each week


As an energy saving measure, all privately owned eating places in the UK will be closed, to be replaced with Green Kitchens serving only the nutritionally balanced Greenwich.


Brit railway track width will be reduced from four feet eight and three eighths of an inch to a Euro-centric 1 meter (called the greenguage). This will cut locomotive energy use and simultaneously provide a 30 cm wide bike lane next to every rail track.


This ID card will be required by any Brits wishing to travel more than 5 miles from their homes.


These will cost £5 each (reductions for pensioners), and be required for all postal communications originating in the UK.

Go for it, sapsucker!