OPINION: MILLS ON MARKETING

Even though I never really understood Lloyds Bank’s mysterious ’tales from the Black Horse’ campaign, I would bet a pound a penny that it was all about presenting the bank as a customer-friendly sort of place which provides tip-top service and all that.

Even though I never really understood Lloyds Bank’s mysterious

’tales from the Black Horse’ campaign, I would bet a pound a penny that

it was all about presenting the bank as a customer-friendly sort of

place which provides tip-top service and all that.



Now the Sunday Times has uncovered a nasty practice at Lloyds TSB- a

memo instructing staff not to move customers’ money from current

accounts into higher-interest accounts, thereby saving the bank millions

a year in interest payments. At a stroke, you might say, Lloyds has

undone all the hard work the banks have put in since the early 90s to

change their image. Cut away the marketing hype and the bank has

revealed itself as a greedy institution with no care for its customers

It is ironic that the Cheltenham & Gloucester, whose tagline, ’run to

make you richer’, is one of the best in the sector, is a sister

organisation.



But imagine the mood in the Lloyds TSB marketing department, where a

mass slitting of the wrists is probably taking place as you read this.

For not only has the memo undermined all their hard work, it also

reveals the true status of marketing in the bank - ie near the bottom of

the pile, and certainly well below that of operational staff like the

author of the memo. Like all other service companies coming to terms

with deregulation and competition, banks have struggled to integrate

marketing and customer care into the heart of the organisation.



The Lloyds gaffe is a salutary reminder that merely hiring a marketing

director and giving him a big budget does not, by itself, make an

outward-focused organisation.



First there was Flora. Then came the RAC, which thought that using her

name in a seatbelt ad might help it recover the ground lost by its

disastrous TV campaign. Now Hasbro wants to do a Diana doll. Tacky?

Almost certainly. Commercially sensible from the marketer’s point of

view? Yes.



Of course, it is easy to be too critical. The very act of establishing

the Princess of Wales Memorial Fund legitimised the idea that her name

and memory were available for commercial exploitation. No-one should

therefore be surprised at some of the ideas that are floated.



The trick is going to be in balancing the aims of the Fund - to raise

money for the good works with which Diana associated herself in the

latter stage of her life - with those of its partners. They may not be

mutually exclusive in all cases, but they are very different. However it

is dressed up by the likes of Flora or Hasbro, they are interested only

in selling more products.



What, though, does a commercial partner buy? If it’s certainly not her

endorsement - how could it be? - then it is at least association. But

association with what? By definition, the nature and quality of that

association will change with each additional licensing deal. Unless the

fund is careful, the currency of that association will diminish.



It may be a fanciful comparison, but would Eva Peron or Marilyn Monroe

still have the same value more than 30 years on if there had been an Eva

or a Marilyn doll?



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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).