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Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Don't have your copy written by a speak-your-weight-machine

My old friend Glenmore sent me something interesting today, as he often does, about a campaign aimed at "40-plus" women.

After making sure this referred to age not measurements - you never know, do you? - I went to see more.

I read a message from the excellent Patti Boulaye saying that "a wonderful woman Caryn Franklyn is trying to fight the battle of ageism in the fashion and media industry" and has convinced Debenhams to "lead the way"

It is many years since Debenhams led the way in anything, and certainly no battle. So being translated I suppose this means they scent the possibility of making a few quid.

But they are pushing at an open door. M & S started using Twiggy years ago with much the same thinking in mind.

And what a shame Debenhams ruined it so comprehensively with copy opening in the following crass way:

"As a department store we pride ourselves on offering a great range of clothing for all ages. That's why we've launched an incredible new project called The Style List, in partnership with fashion expert Caryn Franklin."

Is that really the way your customers speak, Debenhams? Is it really "incredible"? "Utterly predictable" would be more like it.

The other week I heard that agencies have found a new way of extracting money from clients by helping them with their "brand conversations" - jargon, I guess, for how to speak to their customers.

On the evidence of this, there is a big market out there. Now I think of it, we did some work for one of Sir Philip Green's store chains a while back to help them in this

I advise these folk to bear in mind the motto of perhaps the greatest retailer of the 20th century, Julius Rosenwald of Sears, who said "My ambition is to stand on both sides of the counter at once".

And I recall that Feargal Quinn who built up Ireland's best supermarket chain by attending to customer service used to spend much of his time in the stores watching customers.

You won't learn much sitting in meetings talking rubbish about social media, believe me. Watch the customers. Talk to the customers. They are the only profit centre. They will tell you.

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