Never Mind The Credit Card

Virgin Money

In a classic piece of disruptive innovation in branding, Virgin Money just introduced a credit card based on the iconic logos of the Sex Pistols’ designs for “Anarchy in the UK” and “Never Mind the Boll….cks, Here’s The Sex Pistols”. Virgin Money’s CEO and Marketing Director were talking with me about the card and you can read all about Virgin’s latest move at Never Mind The Bankers.

“We want to get rid of the bollocks in banking and to be simple, open, transparent and fair”

Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Virgin Money’s CEO

As is Sir Richard Branson’s way, Virgin challenges norms, having disrupted British Airway’s cosy relationship with the British Government in the 1980’s when they launched Virgin Atlantic. I’ve been chatting about the credit card concept to people from several walks of life to find out how they see the strategy. It becomes clear that Virgin have succeeded in polarising views from different segments of society:

Some of my “arty” friends are “appalled at the theft of punk’s pure clothes for the purposes of banking”. I guess this is the punk rock version of “Angry of Camden”:

Some of my banking friends are “outraged at the use of street culture to demean the upper class world of banking”. I guess this will soon appear in a letter to the Financial Times from a man or a woman in a bowler hat living in Surbiton:

 

The point of the matter is that Sir Richard Branson has succeeded on every level, gaining publicity through disruptive thinking.

I answer my arty friends thus:

“All good disruption eventually becomes part of the mainstream. Check out the punk fashion in Claire’s Accessories if you don’t believe me”

I answer my banking friends thus:

“It’s about time banking woke up to customers, mainly in terms of substance e.g. convenience, simplicity, but a bit of style would also do no harm”

So, I think this is an incredibly shrewd and clever move on the part of Virgin to cast a shadow on the battleship grey industry that is banking. It’s a marvellous piece of market segmentation that gains publicity and viral value through controversy. Let’s see the masters of controversy in action:

The Virgin Battleship Building – Not Grey

Come to our next masterclass event in Warsaw on 23/24 June, where we’ll be discussing Punk Rock, Disruptive Innovation and The Virgin Way amongst many other things in a day of inspired intelligence and fun. Grab your ticket here.

Peter Cook is author of “The Music of Business” and “Punk Rock People Management” which simplify business leadership, creativity and innovation, strategic thinking and people management for busy people.

Check out the books at Cultured Llama.

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HR Directors Rock in the City

I’m delighted to have been asked to provide the ‘after lunch’ slot at the HR In The City event on May 22 in London, organised by Leadenhall Consulting. Featuring a cast of star speakers and facilitators, led by Professor Adrian Furnham of UCL and author of 78 books on psychology at work:

The bill for the HR Director's forum

The bill for the HR Director’s forum

I have a special offer available as a speaker at the event.  Two free tickets for senior HR people working in the City.  Drop me a line at peter@humdyn.co.uk to claim one of these free places.  I’m also able to offer a discount to readers of this blog on the early bird booking fee for individuals and groups of people wishing to attend.

I’ll be delivering a thought provoking session about becoming a true learning company from the parallel universes of HR and Rock Music. Come along and find out more about what we can learn from Madonna, Prince, Nokia, First Direct, Radiohead and many more about adaptability and improvisation.

The HR Hall of Fame - From Bowie, The Beatles, Madge to Skoda, Nokia et al

The HR Hall of Fame – From Bowie, The Beatles, Madge to Skoda, Nokia et al

Finally some HR related pieces from Madonna on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Prince on Ethics and Systemic Thinking and an interview with Tim Smit, CEO of the Eden Project on Leadership:

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About the Author:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and Organisation Development, Training and Coaching. Contact via peter@humdyn.co.uk or +44 (0) 7725 927585.

Mini update on Fiscal Cliff – where Ian Dury and Spinal Tap meet John Maynard Keynes

It’s really quite exciting to have written and recorded a rock song, so please forgive this brief intrusion into the “Music Business” blog, but I thought I’d post a short update on our progress to make our song on the economy go viral.  There’s also plenty of transferable lessons in terms of marketing, PR and how to use social media.

By the way, here’s all the links in case you feel like sharing any of this.  It all really helps:

Download the song on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play etc.

Watch Fiscal Cliff – The MOVIE

All press updates and the storyboard via SLIDESHARE

When planning a campaign of this nature, most of what happens is unplanned and if you want to create a viral campaign, the key move is to adapt and learn quickly.  Here’s some of the strange and wonderful unexpected things that have happened through our interventions in social and traditional media:

Management Today picked up on the song, thanks to it being played at a Garden Party with Dr Andrew Sentance, former Monetary Policy Committee Member at The Bank of England:

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 13.04.49

We’ve had some people finding the video by accident on youtube and they are loving it’s quirkiness.  Here’s an example:

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 09.57.18

The Church of England have also picked up on the song, as have the Catholic Church after I tweeted The Pope and Madonna with a message:

“Papa Don’t Preach … on the Fiscal Cliff” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfTgzMwq8CY

More surprisingly I am being followed on Twitter by a growing number of evangelical Christians in the Mid West of America and in the US more generally.  Some seem to love the song, others want to ‘heal me’ 🙂  Here’s Paula White who loves the song:

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 13.21.04

I’ve just sent the piece to Lembit Opik, the controversial MP who dated the Cheeky Girls.  I’m rather hoping we may record a dance version of our follow up piece “Forward Guidance” following the new Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney’s recent announcements on reforming the way we think about the economy.  I can foresee a wonderful dance routine arising from this collaboration! 🙂

In need of Forward Guidance from The Cheeky Girls .. Mayor Boris Johnson

In need of Forward Guidance from The Cheeky Girls .. Mayor Boris Johnson

Since I wrote this post today Don Richardson in Canada has contacted Bachman Turner Overdrive, Bryan Adams, Avril Lavigne and Celine Dion to ask them to collaborate with me and Bernie Tormé on “Forward Guidance” !! 🙂  So, two weeks into the process, articles in The London Evening Standard, City AM, Management Today, Innovation Excellence in New York, Entrepreneur Country, various local newspapers and radio shows.  We have programmes booked with the BBC World Service and meetings arranged in New York on September 6th.

If you have any ideas on how to make the song / video go viral, I’d be delighted to hear from you.  If you have a blog that you would like a guest post for etc. just mail me with some Q’s.  It just might change the way we think about boom and bust economics!  I would like to get Sir Richard Branson, Cliff Richard and President Obama to hear the song, and possibly George Osbourne or Ozzy Osbourne !

Thank you for all your support and please excuse this exuberance !  I hope it’s also instructive in terms of your own approaches to marketing and dealing with the media.   If you have not seen the MOVIE, here it is – produced by Val and Errol Whitter of i54newmedia with illustrations from Simon Heath:

Sex and Pay and Rock’n’Roll

Introducing Ian Davidson, a compensation and rewards specialist with a difference.  Ian worked on the MBA programme with me some years back and approached me recently for an interview for his own podcast.  This episode contains a number of fascinating insights on rewards and remuneration, which drive the UK’s economic position in the world:

  • Banking remuneration – Comments on the UK banking standards report
  • Executive Pay – discussion on the MM&K survey on Executive Pay
  • Strong Analytics – using and presenting reward data
  • Rewards in the Middle East
  • Oh, and a live interview with me ! 🙂

Here’s Ian’s podcast.  Click on the picture to listen in.

Sex, Reward and Rock'n'Roll

Sex, Reward and Rock’n’Roll – Click to listen

Ian is a commercially astute, passionate, MBA qualified Compensation & Benefits specialist.  With a sustained record of success within financial services over 15 years, Ian is a nationally recognised expert in reward.  He is currently looking for a role in a commercially driven organisation in London and or the South East.  Contact him if you have such a position by e-mail at administrator@mauritius.demon.co.uk

And whilst we’re on finance and reward, here’s the video from Fiscal Cliff, a hard rock anthem about hard times and the hard rock to recovery.  Feel free to share the video, comment on it and download the single, available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play etc..  It will be the first time a hard rock economics anthem has reached the charts !

The making of “Fiscal Cliff”

Click on the Cliff to buy the song on iTunes - also available on all other outlets

Click on the Cliff to buy the song on iTunes – also available on all other outlets

Thursday 25th July marked the day when I received the final mix of the song I wrote about the economy – “Fiscal Cliff”.  I just met up to collect the master mix with Bernie Tormé, who played for Ozzy Osbourne and Ian Gillan, the Producer of the record – what an exciting day!

The song is available on i Tunes, Amazon, Google Play and everywhere else.  I’d be made up if you are able to buy a copy and tell your friends.  “Fiscal Cliff” is a rock anthem about economics, banking, fake suicide, false Gods, false hopes, repentance, renewal, environmentalism, sustainability sex, drugs and rock’n’roll …  It is the first song ever to feature the words Quantitative Easing, John Maynard Keynes, Northern Rock etc. in the lyrics …

The First Verse of the song as illustrated by Simon Heath - "Fiscal Cliff - The Film will follow shortly

The First Verse of the song as illustrated by Simon Heath – “Fiscal Cliff – The film will follow shortly

We recorded the single last Saturday at Bernie’s Barnroom Studios in the heart of the Kent countryside.  Roll the credits:

Bass and expert musical direction by Andee Price of Scarlett Rae and The Cherry Reds

The enourmously talented Andee Price eclipsed by her double bass

The enourmously talented Andee Price eclipsed by her double bass

Vocals by Dave “The Poet L’Oreal – cos’ he’s worth it” – A Swiss Banker who likes Swiss Chard

Drums by Mike “Animal” Grigson – a good friend of mine

Illustrations by Simon Heath, social media’s “Quick Draw McGraw” – a corporate artist who works with us round the world at our seminars and events – We’re next off to New York to work on an innovation summit – who knows, we may perform the song there…

Video work for the film by Val and Errol Whitter of 154newmedia – where “Lordswood meets Hollywood” in Kent.  We have some awesome video in the ‘can’ including the burning of a Stonehenge monument and destruction with a burning guitar and the moment when Bernie Tormé felt he had to attack me in the studio when I made a mistake on the guitar solo!!

I’m also grateful to Dr Andrew Sentance, former Monetary Policy Committee Member at the Bank of England, who has provided excellent informal support and insights into Keynsian Economics, horse racing and Prog Rock – the ‘usual’ combination of interests beloved of world leaders 🙂   Looks like we are going to launch the song at his garden party in August – big fun!

Oh, and I wrote the song …  I guess that makes me Fiscal Cliff Richard …

funny-fiscal-cliff-richard-100-dollar

So, watch out for further announcements – we have been asked to perform the song on the BBC World Service, so this may be the World’s First Global Economics Hit!  🙂  If you are able to help once we have released the record, please let me know.

The First Chorus Line

The First Chorus Line – Click to buy the song now

Bankers, Economists, Politicians, Accountants – lend me your ears …

and some money would be nice … 🙂

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About the Blogger:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching.  Contact via peter@humdyn.co.uk  His latest book “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise” is available direct or in the usual places by clicking the relevant link in the slideshare presentation below:

Can rappers save us from macro-economic ruin?

I was struck by a fascinating piece of video that digests 200 years of economic history through the power of rap music. Now, words like John Maynard Keynes, Schumpeter, fiscal control and the economic theory of the firm are not part of the normal rapper’s lexicon, so I was intrigued. Check the video out:

Lest we forget, here are the main arguments: John Maynard Keynes is the economist responsible for the currently popular belief in the western world that we should intervene to find our way out of economic recessions and depressions. His thinking has been at the centre of banking bail outs and the use of quantitative easing as a mechanism for recovery.

The Austrian, Friedrich August Hayek argued for classical liberalism and free market capitalism. In other words, markets should be freed to find their own level, using the price mechanism as a means of spontaneous organisation. Keynes was not keen on Hayek’s idea that self organisation and a more organic approach could replace an interventionist outlook with strong planning.  And so the economics pendulum swings.

Joseph Schumpeter argued that Keynes’s ideas expressed “the attitude of a decaying civilisation”. He saw Keynes’s approach as short-termist and unable to consider the economic problems of other nations. In a global village, it is certainly true that we are at the mercy of other economies’ troubles. Does that however mean we should lay down and pretend to be dead when boom turns to bust? This was predicted as early as 1974 by pop art group 10 CC with their stern warning ‘Wall Street Shuffle’:

So, who can we trust to lead us into a new world economy? If seems that, if you laid all the academic economists in the world end to end, they would not reach a conclusion. More of the same is likely to lead us into a debt fuelled prison. Is it time to mix macro-economics with a bit of sociology, courtesy of the rappers and systemic mappers?