Thursday, 27 September 2012

Between the Beatles and Dickens


While I usually report on events where I represent the Marketors, there are many where I am invited  because of my connection with the Company, but not to represent it, the last two days being a good examples. Having started the week with the opening of the Beatles "Let It Be" at the Prince of Wales theatre, my first semi official event was Tuesday at Cass Business School where I attended a seminar led by the Ehrenberg Bass Institute of Marketing on the subject of "Marketing is a Science: it can be measured, predicted and explained". My own Masters in Marketing being an MSc I immediately warmed to the various arguments. The new message I took way with me was that segments and products tend to be similar amongst competitors so don't search for the USP or the differentiators, create a distinctiveness that raises you above the rest. The one question I asked was  regarding neural marketing, a topic that had not been covered, and in which I have an interest. Was it a science, hype or voodoo? The feeling amongst the experts was that it was hyped science and in its infancy. My view - watch this space.

And so to Wednesday which started at 8:30am in Glaziers Hall; only a short walk from where I live. The subject was "Can Brands be Trusted to take a larger role in Society" An impressive array of speakers, including people from PwC, Deloitte and MediaCom, mainly covered the subjects of truth, trust and reputation in the context of brands. There was much talk of the views of the millenials (those born in the 80's) and the diminishing importance of profit, and how social morality should be a part of an organisations DNA. And then James Woodhuysen of De Montfort University spoke, brushing aside, in his words, "ethics / shmethics" and "sustainababble" and concentrating on what he believes really needs to be done in terms of society, namely to address the larger issues of energy and water, topics which should be led by government. With regards to charitable activities I later had the chance to point out that Companies such a the Glaziers had been supporting communities since the days of Charles I and that all 108 Livery Companies had the objective of sustainability which in their case meant longevity - the ability to continue to do good. I, of course mentioned The Marketors.

And so from Glaziers to Plaisterers for a Marketors Court Meeting. I cannot report here on the content of the agenda or the outcome, but can report that there were two important and lengthy topics which took us until 8:30pm to address. This left me with a mad dash to catch up with the Mistress at the Playhouse theatre in time to see the second act of "The Mystery of Charles Dickens", a one man show by Simon Callow in which he played the many Dickensian characters brilliantly. A delightful end to a hectic day.

John Flynn
Master Marketor     

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Customers, Farmers and Choristers


Today was a triple header, that is breakfast, lunch and supper. Or to put it another way, what might be regarded as mammon, meat and music.  The first event started at 8:00am at the Southbank offices of IBM where I attended a seminar hosted by Criticaleye. Preceded by breakfast, well bacon and sausage rolls and coffee, the subject of the morning was "Who Owns the Customer Relationship?" and was addressed by an impressive line up led by the IBM VP, CRM, Global, Bill Payne. An excellent Q&A followed which, as might be expected from a hand picked audience, raised many important questions, and even a few answers. My un asked question was, will the CCO take precedent over the CMO? I doubt it, but time will tell. And so, at 10:30, on to the office to sign things and thence to the Farmers.

The Worshipful Company of Farmers hosted a luncheon for Masters and Clerks of other companies at the Farmers Fletchers' Hall close by Smithfield, the meat market. In all, over 100 people were in attendance representing companies ranging from the great twelve to the modern liveries. Clearly thought was put into the seating plan in that one of my neighbours was a farmer who is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. The highlight of the speeches was a presentation by a young farmer, and Nuffield Scholar, who had been sponsored by the Farmers to carry out world wide research into the marketing and business growth of niche food and other products. The final appreciation must go to the meal and particularly the beef, but then the hosts were The Farmers.

And so home and then on to St Paul's Cathedral with the Mistress for a recital by the choristers of St Paul's. In addition to the delightful, and at times very moving, singing under the dome, there was also an open Q&A session with choristers, the youngest being eight years old and the oldest twelve. The reception, hosted by St Paul's Cathedral Foundation which followed, was held in the Crypt- a most impressive space. This was to thank those who are supporters of St Paul's, amongst whom is of course the Marketors. 

John Flynn
Master Marketor

Saturday, 15 September 2012

... in a Brewery


Some would see this as the ideal end to a hectic week, a tour round a brewery followed by the perfect English pub lunch. The location was Fuller's Brewery nestled by the Thames in Chiswick. A brewery has been here for 350 years old and it is one of the oldest in London. The current ownership was established in 1845 and members of the Fuller family are still actively involved in its management.

The tour, led by two fonts of knowledge, guides Jane and Geoff, took us through every aspect of beer brewing, both ancient and modern, and gave us insights into not only the complex production process but also the business history of the company and the industry. Interestingly they also identifying many of the business challenged faced today and how they are being addressed. Needless to say there was time for a tasting session where we had the chance to sample some of their many excellent and varied brews ranging from pale ale to porter.

Next from the Griffin Brewery to the adjacent Mawson Arms and a fine lunch, including beef and ale pie. This was of course accompanied by delightful company including one Liveryman who had flown back from the US for a board meeting this afternoon and so was able to fit the event in. Finally, my thanks to the event director Edward Fullbrook for arranging such a fascinating event.

John Flynn
Master Marketor       

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Modern Mistress


The role of a Worshipful Company Mistress can be a tough one as amongst their many tasks is that of supporting the Master and attending a variety of events where they too are representing their respective Companies. Ocasionally they are the sole representative as was the case today when a number of the Mistresses of the Morden Livery Companies met at the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists hall by Smithfield where the Mistress of the Worshipful Company of Tax Advisors, Cynthia Gravestock hosted a Modern Mistresses' Luncheon.

While I was, quite rightly, not invited, I can imagine the scene in that the Information Technologists is my other Company, and was my first Company by 5 months back in 1993. I am sure that the main hall was alive with discussion on such subjects as the future of the Worshipful Company movement, particularly as Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE was the key note speaker. Having been responsible for the very first of the Modern Mistresses' Luncheon I am sure that Alderman Woolf is rightly proud of the development of this important initiative.

John Flynn
Master Marketor

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Thoroughly Modern Liveries


Every spring and autumn all the Masters and Senior Wardens of the thirty one modern livery companies, those formed since 1978, plus a few of those Guilds aspiring to Worshipful Company, dine together. The last gathering was organised in March by the Marketors (see appropriate blog), but unfortunately I was elsewhere and so unable to act as mine host. On this occasion it was the turn of the Actuaries with there Master, Bill Smith, greeting us. The location was new to me in that it was at Staples Inn Hall, the home of the Chartered Institute of Actuaries, which is located in a delightfully ancient and secluded square behind the Tudor fronted shops in High Holborn.

As always it was fascinating to talk to people from other companies, but even more so as they were at different points in their progression through the ranks. Topics ranged from their company's past history through to future strategies, and were of course seasoned with anecdotes relating to both our roles and our careers. The speaker for the evening was Alderman & Sheriff Elect Jeffrey Evens someone we will be hearing a great deal more of over the next few years.

With future dinners already planned out until the spring of 2021, and the increasing number of Modern Livery Companies, it will be some time before the Actuaries, or indeed the Marketors, host an event again, but future Masters and Senior Wardens can look forward to many years of excellent dinners in delightful company.

John Flynn
Master Marketor   

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A Charter and the Olympians


And so the year lifts off again with four events this week. Two for me, one for the Mistress and one for both of us. The first is the Worshipful Company of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, Royal Charter Banquet at The Guildhall. Amonst the 530 guests at this magnificent events were just seven Company Masters and so I was double honoured to be invited to represent the Marketors.

The Pikemen & Musketeers, Honourable Artillery Company were in attendance in their splendid regalia while the Royal Yeomanry Band accompanies the whole event from the balcony of this magnificent hall which dates back 800 years, the current building having been erected in 1411.

As we Marketors now know, receiving a Royal Charter is a great occasion for a Worshipful Company and so its presentation by the Lord Mayor, David Wooton, to Chartered Accountants was a moving moment. This was not the Lord Mayors only speech at the Guildhall that day. He had, in the morning, greeted our Olympic athletes prior to their parade through London which started at the Mansion House and ended at Buckingham Palace. Apparently the streets were lined with over a million well wishers, a figure I can well believe having been near Charing Cross in the morning when they passed by. For those who know Villiers Street, the crowd were half way down it so about thirty deep at that point. Fortunately my destination was a theatre about half way up the street, but I did get a glimps of the athletes.

As always the company at the table in the evening was delightful with, on this occasion, the familiar faces of such as Murrey Craig the Clerk of the Chamberlains Court, and Hew Dundas the Master Arbitrator. By coincidence Hew is the host of tomorrows Modern Livery Dinner. But more of that in the next blog.

John Flynn
Master Marketor