Michele Martin asks the man behind the Goldfish launch whether it’s sink or swim for this affinity card

Michele Martin asks the man behind the Goldfish launch whether it’s sink

or swim for this affinity card

Mike Parsons

Age 37

Appearance A bit like Nicholas Soames

Lives Ashdown Forest, East Sussex

Children One son, Adam, ten

Income band Confidential

Current occupation Managing director, Goldbrand Development

Where were you before Goldbrand?

At Ernst and Young, where I had worked as a consultant on Goldfish since

May 1995.

Just what is Goldbrand Development?

It is the joint venture between British Gas and HFC Bank that has just

launched the Goldfish credit card. It offers discounts on gas bills

according to how much is spent using the plastic.

Why have you called your card Goldfish?

Because every other card on the market has a corporate name and we

didn’t want ours to be an ego statement. Goldfish is homely,

unpretentious and embodies 90s values.

Sounds good. What does it mean?

Our strategy focuses on household essentials because market research

told us people didn’t want cards that gave them collectible points

towards useless catalogue items. They wanted help with big bills.

But the card only knocks money off gas bills, doesn’t it?

We want to move it into areas like food and clothes. We’d also like the

Goldfish trademark to be as portable a brand as Virgin. I wouldn’t rule

out going into totally unrelated markets such as travel, retail or

health insurance.

Tell me more.

It’s a truly integrated launch and we’ve brought together some of the

leading specialist agencies in their field. There’s advertising through

Simons Palmer Clemmow Johnson, direct marketing through David Poole and

Associates, public relations through Ludgate Communications, branding

and design by Wolff Olins and media planning and buying by Manning

Gottleib Media.

So there’s a lot riding on the pounds 30 million marketing launch. Do

you ever wake up in a cold sweat in case it bombs?

I would do if we hadn’t done a hell of a lot of research first, and the

early response has been very good. We want to be one of the UK’s top

three credit cards in the next two or three years.

What was it like being the man who kept Britain guessing with that

teaser campaign?

Quite exciting. After all, a lot of money was resting on people not

knowing. Only three or four people knew that Billy Connolly was


Is BT baying for your blood after the Big Yin defected to Goldfish

instead of replacing Bob Hoskins?

I hope not, though I think its ad agency may feel differently!

I think Billy just had some concerns that BT might take over his life

and he really liked our idea.

A big star can’t have come cheap. Have you scrimped on below the line to

save a few bob?

Not at all, in fact that’s where we’re spending two thirds of our total

budget. Working with DP&A and CCN, we’re undertaking eight million

mailshots before Christmas - and we’re not using the British Gas

database for that, whatever misconceptions there have been in the press.

There will also be in-store promotions this year with two or three

chosen partners, including a supermarket.

What credit cards do you carry?

Goldfish, of course. I’ve cut up the rest.

What phrase are you most likely to use?

‘Sorry darling, but I’m going to be late tonight.’

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