Toasting the Tower: The Brandy of Napoleon

Toasting the Tower: The Brandy of Napoleon

Probably the drink most associated with the launch of something is champagne, so you would perhaps expect that the opening of the Eiffel Tower would have been toasted with a glass of the bubbly stuff from the North East of France. You would, however, only be half-right, because on the night of 31st March 1899, […]

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How Coca-Cola took over the world

How Coca-Cola took over the world

My new book of stories “How Coca Cola took over the world… and 100 more amazing stories about the world’s greatest brands” will be published in April. The story behind the title tells one tale of how Coke celebrated its worldwide fame. This is a different story but on a related theme – so as […]

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Cauliflowers for Tourists – A Fair Exchange?

Cauliflowers for Tourists – A Fair Exchange?

They say fair exchange is no robbery, and trading tons of cauliflowers for thousands of tourists seems to be a perfect example of the idiom. It was an exchange inspired by a visionary Breton, Alexis Gourvennec. Gourvennec was a Breton pig farmer who became an economic and social leader and would play a major role […]

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The brand named after a tattoo

The brand named after a tattoo

The sources of inspiration for a brand name are many and varied. The most obvious is to use the founders’ name and examples include Woolworths, Kellogg and Birds Eye. A slight variation is to use the name of the founders’ son or daughter, as is the case with Mercedes. Other brands are also based on […]

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The Tinkerman: From Stealth Bomber to Super Soaker

The Tinkerman: From Stealth Bomber to Super Soaker

So, what do you do with your evenings if you’re an Air Force engineer and working on the Stealth Bomber during the day? Well, if you’re Lonnie Johnson, you invent a new type of high-powered water pistol and give it to your daughter. “I gave the plastic gun to my seven-year-old daughter, Aneka, and watched […]

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Bounce-back Barbie

Bounce-back Barbie

At the beginning of 2015, there were a number of jokes going around about a new Barbie – Retirement Barbie. Mattel had just announced that sales had fallen by 14 % in 2014, the third year running where sales had dropped by more than 10%. Barbie, who had been unveiled during the New York Toy […]

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Evoking an Emotional Response: The Birds Eye Way

Evoking an Emotional Response: The Birds Eye Way

The best brands should appeal to more than your rational self; they should evoke an emotional response. So while it might have started with a Birds Eye Beef Burger and gone through an awkward phase over a Ready Meal, who could have thought that the humble Fish Finger could end a romance? In the 1970s, […]

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The Purr-fect Model for the Sophisticated Sell

The Purr-fect Model for the Sophisticated Sell

The latest high-earning French model has long, silky, white-blonde hair and brilliant sapphire-blue eyes. She has over 100,000 followers on Twitter and like all the best models appears regularly on Instagram. She is very particular about who she works with, “She doesn’t do foodstuffs, she is too sophisticated for that” says her manager. In fact […]

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When Armand met Octave: Two Famous Belgians

When Armand met Octave: Two Famous Belgians

It is often jokingly said that there aren’t many famous Belgians and that the most famous ones are only fictional – Poirot and TinTin. There are, however, two other Belgians who deserve some recognition – Armand Desaegher and Octave Aubecq. Both were successful industrialists in the early twentieth century, but their claim to fame arose […]

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Mr Bucket’s Mascara

Mr Bucket’s Mascara

In the British TV comedy, “Keeping up appearances”, the lead character is a social-climbing snob called Hyacinth. She insists her surname is pronounced ‘Bouquet’ even though it is spelt ‘Bucket’. However one Hyacinth, or rather Hyacinthe, who could more rightly have claimed ‘Bouquet’ as his surname was Hyacinthe Mars Rimmel. Hyacinthe was trained by the […]

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Two Countries Divided by the Same Brand

Two Countries Divided by the Same Brand

“Two countries divided by the same language” is a saying credited to George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde and Winston Churchill, but whoever said it, I’m choosing to paraphrase them as “Two countries divided by the same brand” for a story about Mars’ Milky Way. Click here for the full story.

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Hoovering Up An Unbelievable Offer

Hoovering Up An Unbelievable Offer

Store janitor, James Murray Spangler, invented the first upright vacuum cleaner in 1908. Spangler suffered from asthma and suspected that the carpet sweeper he used at work was triggering attacks. He decided he would have to do something about it. He mounted an electric fan motor on a Bissell carpet sweeper and added a soapbox […]

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I Vont a Zoot Like Zat!

I Vont a Zoot Like Zat!

“SWIM 2.4 MILES! BIKE 112 MILES! RUN 26.2 MILES! BRAG FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!” Sounds like quite a challenge but, on February 18 1978, 15 people decided they were up for it and they descended on Waikiki to attempt the feat and compete in the inaugural “Hawaiian IRON MAN Triathlon”. Honolulu-based Navy couple […]

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Why ALPHABET should be a good investment

Why ALPHABET should be a good investment

On Monday August 10th 2015, Google announced a major restructuring, creating what was effectively a new holding company with Larry Page and Sergey Brin at its helm. The new entity would represent a collection of companies. The largest of which would be Google, slimmed down a bit. The others would be further away from the […]

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Music On The Move: Thanks To The Opera Loving Chairman

Music On The Move: Thanks To The Opera Loving Chairman

Created to answer a personal request of the honorary chairman, deemed unlikely to sell because it lacked a key product feature, with a name that senior management actively disliked, it went on to be a worldwide success that has helped shape the music industry, selling millions and millions of units worldwide. The name, like Hoover […]

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A Very Russian American Brand Icon

A Very Russian American Brand Icon

One of the most famous American brand icons of all time wouldn’t exist today if it wasn’t for the Russians, or more particularly one specific Russian – Jacob Youphes. Even those amongst you who might have correctly guessed at the brand being Levi’s 501s and who know their jeans history would be forgiven for still […]

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Tell Them To Go Do Something Else – The Pinterest Story

Tell Them To Go Do Something Else – The Pinterest Story

Most companies don’t have a mission statement which explicitly states that their aim is to get you doing something other than what the brand is about all, but then Pinterest isn’t ‘most companies’. Its origins, however, can be traced back to Des Moines in the early noughties when Ben Silbermann abandoned his long held plans […]

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When a Brand Nearly Stopped the Band

When a Brand Nearly Stopped the Band

It is May 1970 and the classic pop song “Lola” by the Kinks is about to be released. A lot is riding on the song; the Kinks haven’t had a top ten hit for a number of years. But on the eve of its release, the band are informed that the BBC are going to […]

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Building a Truly Great Construction Company

Building a Truly Great Construction Company

The fact that D-P-R aren’t the initials of the three founders’ surnames is the first of many differences of the DPR brand. They are in fact the three initials of the founders’ first names – Doug Woods, Peter Nosler and Ron Davidowski – a more personable and accessible way to name your brand. Doug, Peter […]

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It’s not a Problem, it’s an Opportunity.

It’s not a Problem, it’s an Opportunity.

As featured on www.marketingsociety.com.   Henri Alméras, the legendary perfumer of Grasse, was getting exasperated. Over the previous two days he had taken designer Jean Patou and his confidant Elsa Maxwell, the society columnist, through just about everything in his workshop. Picking up one last sample, he said, “If you don’t like this, I’ll get […]

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Advertising for Good

Advertising for Good

Advertising has a mixed reputation. For some people it is manipulative, even evil; persuading people to buy what they don’t need at inflated parties. Many in the industry would however argue that advertising per se is neither inherently good nor bad; it is what it is used for and how it is used that defines […]

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The Eyes Have It: The Alternative Origins of Maybelline

The Eyes Have It: The Alternative Origins of Maybelline

The origins of some brands have been lost, while for other brands they are blessed with a number of alternative stories of their beginnings. One of these brands is Maybelline, which has two stories. Both stories have similarities, including the presence of Tom Lyle Williams, sometimes referred to as T.L., and his sister Mabel Williams. […]

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Don’t Mention the Lady Days: The Origins of Kotex

Don’t Mention the Lady Days: The Origins of Kotex

Even 100 years on, it is hard to imagine the true scale of death and injury caused by World War One. During the heaviest periods of fighting soldiers were getting wounded in such large numbers that the medics often ran out of bandages. To try help overcome this problem, Kimberly-Clark offered the army a new […]

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A Story about Storytellers with a Storybook Ending

A Story about Storytellers with a Storybook Ending

About a decade ago, Disney Animation nearly came to a premature end. After a series of poorly performing films, the corporation was considering closing down its famous studio; instead, they bought the newer kid on the block, who was on perhaps the hottest streak ever in animation – Pixar. Now, 10 years later, Disney is […]

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How Peugeot Took a Detour via the Kitchen Table

How Peugeot Took a Detour via the Kitchen Table

The story of how Peugeot travelled from corset supports in dresses to motor cars is one of the better-known tales about the brand. However, a detour via the kitchen table that led to the development of a design classic and the acquisition of the famous lion logo is another enjoyable trip… To read the full […]

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A Family Obsession – Spreading a Little Luxury?

A Family Obsession – Spreading a Little Luxury?

Everyone in Piedmonts had hazelnuts, lots of hazelnuts. The region has long been famed for its production of the delicious nuts and, even just after the war, they were available in abundance. Reflecting that human truth that you don’t always value what you have and instead covet something that you can’t have, what many of […]

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