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Saturday, 30 May 2009

Great pizza, really stupid marketing

The late Gary Halbert was "introduced" to me by David Ogilvy, shortly after Ogilvy and Mather bought my ramshackle agency on the grounds that no matter how clueless we were, their London direct agency was ten times worse.

(The certainly were: some of their clients wanted their money back!)

David sent me one of Gary's newsletters and asked what I thought. I thought it was extraordinarily good, and used an example from it in a book on how to write a good salesletter.

Gary was the maverick to out-maverick all mavericks, and quite a few people have thrived by copying his stance of the fearless, no bullshit, warts-and-all guy who tells it like it is.

Sadly, we only started corresponding just before his early death. I really regret I never got to know him, because the world is too full of dull people.

He had an admirably simple approach to matters, exemplified by his definition of the one marketing weapon you really need to succeed if you're opening a restaurant. It is a starving crowd.

Well, where I live in Chelsea there is a starving crowd, and one restaurant is being amazingly dumb in not catering for them.

Lots of Italians live here - and unlike the ones I live with many are filthy rich. One in our block spent far too much money buying a three bedroom flat which was in perfect condition, ripped the whole lot out including the beautiful floorboards and spent another fortune remodelling the whole place.

So what do Italians like? Pizza. Where does the best pizza come from? Napoli. And today my fair companions squealed with delight when they learned that across the river in Battersea - three minutes away by car - Pizza Metro, an excellent Neapolitan restaurant, does home delivery.

But not to Chelsea - far richer than Battersea, with the biggest crowd of starving Italians you can imagine.


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