Captain Vigilante

CELEBRATE. The significant difference about the My Shop Is Your Shop marketing campaign, supporting wholesalers’ core independent retailer customer base, is its constructiveness.
In contrast to the doom-laden lobbies which emphasise the struggling retailer and forecast the end of the world as we know it, MSYS is positive, optimistic and realistically helpful commercially to the independent.

National Independents’ Day (NID) was a huge success when more than £1m of media coverage – in equivalent costed advertising terms – was achieved promoting the value of the local family store in the community.

HITS. In other words a big brand would have spent over £lm on an advertising campaign to achieve the same exposure on television, radio and in the press.
This gave the MSYS campaign more than 33 million “consumer hits” with its message of community, community, community.
The FWD PR Action Group (PRAG) deserves the congratulations of every wholesaler and every independent retailer for the way in which, in year two, it has steered this campaign.
It’s about creating noise. June l is becoming established as NID. Now the task for wholesalers, suppliers and retailers is to create more noise – on-going.

DAFT. A special National Independents’ Day medal goes to a presenter on BBC Business Breakfast for the daftest question ever asked on a serious news programme.
The lady in question, Sally Bundock, asked MB-L independent retailer Jonathan James if his prices were lower than Tesco.
Jonathan, who left his Cambridgeshire home very early to get to the studio, handled the matter with a calm professionalism. Jonathan pointed out that he offered his community value in both price, range, convenience and service terms.
Are we being ungentlemanly and unfair to Sally? Was she the victim of some sloppy briefing by her editor who was also awake very early but perhaps not as clear-headed and composed as Jonathan?

MEMO. Yes, it needs a memo to all early morning BBC staffers – next year please read the excellent guidelines to the MSYS campaign produced for journalists.
National Independents’ Day, the centrepiece of the on-going MSYS campaign, is not an anti-superstore activity as such.
Why bring the giants into it when PRAG is setting out to remind the shopper, the person who matters most, about the community value of the genuine independent local store supplied by cash and carry and delivered wholesalers?
The campaign is commercially based. It seeks to energise independent retailers into developing their community links, their interface with the neighbourhood, because this will increase turnover.

EXPERTISE. Members of PRAG have been given a rare insight into the thinking and the actions of a top PR consultancy. Nexus is the name and it has become intertwined in the activity, instead of merely standing on the touchline.
The small but perfectly formed Alan Twigg, the irrepressible Nexus pro who attends PRAG meetings, has given group members much objective advice and service – and he gets stuck in himself.
Yes, it was he who was tieless and stubble-chinned giving it BIG on your early morning television news on that sunny morning as June was breaking out all over.

DISTANCE. The local retailer, living with his family “over the shop” is at the centre of the community. This puts distance between the independent and the manager of a multiple c-store whose agenda is set by distant uncaring bean counters.
There are thousands – who knows exactly how many – of genuine one-man or family financed retailers without whom the cash and carry and delivered wholesaler would not survive and it is crucial that this difference between the owner-managed store and the giant mults is recognised.

DRINKSUMMIT. A great FWD event again covering the issues in off-licence that matter. The star subject was the Take Home Blueprint which has become the industry standard for category management.
As the new licensing reforms begin to be implemented, with more focus on the off-licence than ever before, the answer to every independent seeking an absolute guarantee of increased sales of beers, wines and spirits is to hand.
When a depot manager is seeking a lift in off-licence sales for one of his independents (and his own depot), all he has to do is call 0161 440 2770 to press the Blueprint button.
The retailer will receive objective advice – in contrast to a plan drawn up by a sole company marketing department – with the unique Blueprint cash-back guarantee of a sales increase which no other plan offers.

POINTLESS. Which is a cue for a question on what kind of PR does the wholesale/retail sector need? Vigilante will not identify the Surrey independent store which was featured in half a page of The Daily Telegraph, a few days after the great NID celebration.
“Licensing red tape may force corner shops to shut” screamed the headline – hardly one to encourage the four million readers of The Daily Telegraph to believe in the future of their local store.
Worse, the story damagingly revealed that lack of alcohol profit and the costs of applying for a new licence under the reforms, may “force the shop to stop selling alcohol”.

KNIFE-EDGE. If the target of this story was the Home Office, then why was the hapless store used in such a negative way in a national broadsheet read by typical local store users?
The Home Office could be lobbied without revealing, to customers who could not possibly affect the new legislation or its implementation, the knife-edge on which the shop is said to be operating
Will customers rally round to pay more for their booze to help the store into a financial position where it can meet the new legal requirements? Answers on a postcard please.
Or should lobbying be confined to the proper channels leaving individual store owners to be promoted to the consumer in the positive My Shop Is Your Shop culture?

RESPONSE. Vigilante congratulates Wm Reed on its promotion of the responsible drinking campaign. Supporters responded in word and deed when confronted by the dangers of drinking in soaring temperatures.
This occurred when the searing July heat of a House of Commons reception was rapidly evacuated – in favour of more responsible drinking at the nearby cooler Red Lion.

LEAN. And mean. Vigilante hands it to the NFRN. It is manfully fighting its corner on the current competition issue using its in–house resources only.
NFRN is up against the most expensive battalion of barristers, economists, lobbyists and other opponents that money can buy. That’s true grit and self belief.

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