Michael Parsons wants to create another brand like Virgin, Richard Cook
How does Strata grab you? As a brand name, it’s perhaps a bit too 70s,
but certainly seems serviceable enough. It is not immediately clear how
you get from the functionality of a name like that to Goldfish. Yet
Michael Parsons makes it seem so straightforward.
Parsons is the managing director of Goldbrand Development, the company
set up to launch the Goldfish financial services brand on to a nation
already overfed on credit-card launches.
Strata was among the names first mooted for the launch, only to be
swiftly rejected. Parsons has his sights set far higher. ‘Financial
services branding has all been very boring,’ he says. ‘We wanted a name
that wasn’t and that would be portable into a range of new product
areas. We want to create a brand like Virgin.’
Which would make Parsons Goldfish’s answer to Richard Branson.
Certainly, he sports a natty line in casual wear and lists racing his
Porsche on the sports car circuit among his hobbies.
But can a credit card spawn a whole industry? So far, Goldfish offers
consumers money off their gas bills. A major supermarket chain is poised
to sign up and offer money off shopping as well, Parsons says. By the
end of the year, the card should be able to offer money off four or five
key areas of what he refers to as household necessities. All that, and a
pounds 30 million launch marketing budget that should give us a more
than passing acquaintance with Simons Palmer Clemmow Johnson’s campaign
and adland’s favourite Scottish comic (Campaign, last week).
‘Billy Connolly was wanted by BT to front its new campaign but chose us
instead,’ Parsons says, ‘while we picked Simons Palmer over Saatchi and
Saatchi on the strength of its work for Nike, which had a real cutting
edge, and for the work it did for Sony.’
But Parsons is not content with wowing the UK. He has international
ambitions: ‘We want this to be a global brand. The goldfish is, after
all, regarded as good luck in many Eastern markets.’ Connolly and all
those money-off offers will have to convince us over here first.