Monday, March 27, 2006


I have a mystery benefactor! Yesterday I popped out to get a sandwich, and upon my return there waiting for me was a drink and piece of cake, with the message ‘A small present for an eco-warrior alone in such a consumerist environment Enjoy!’. All the guys around the stand deny all knowledge and don’t recall anyone, so to my very own Emerald Pimpernel, should you read this: ‘thank you!’.


That didn’t take long. Just reading a review of the budget with the heading ‘Efficiency Drive’, indicating that spending by four Whitehall departments ‘will be scaled back… to cut waste’. Eyebrow time! As there is no mention of how this waste will be trimmed, why do I suspect that all will happen is essential services get reduced still further before anyone gets around to reducing waste? I was talking to a ‘mole from the ministry’ just now, who was having a quick scope around on their day off, and my suspicions where pretty much confirmed: the EU gives the Gov some money to address waste; the Gov gives it to a not-for-profit quango, who then use it to build an empire with a nifty head office building, highly paid directors and staff with regional officers throughout the land (all with nice pensions), and lost of lovely research and investigative (conferences all around the world) budgets. And once that little lot has been established, they set about doling out the minute fraction that’s left to those initiatives that may actually make a difference. If I may paraphrase an old saying: “will the last person left who is not measuring, assessing, taxing or otherwise feeding off the economy, please find some way to generate the energy so all those riding on their backs have any lights at all to tick their target projection boxes’. In a world where all are chiefs, the Indian (Native American) may just get fed up and leave them in the lurch.


This didn’t take long either. Entitled ‘UNFurGIVEABLE’ I came across a fashion section. Actually quite a sincere, passionate piece pointing out that ‘the industry’ has a pretty short memory when it comes to fur. Apparently most designers have decided it is a fad whose time is over. Bad time to be a mink again, then. And if they can forget about ripping skin off live animals so quickly, I’m not too encouraged that ethical items will get much of a run either.

But to fingerpoint a tad, just by way of an eyebrow twitch let me quote the intro line from the vegetarian animal lover columnist’s introduction: ‘… Having just seen four weeks of ready-to-wear’ shows in London, Milan and Paris,…’. Now, I know this is how she makes her living, and her articles are part of how the paper sells, but it was... quaint… how this was the day after a piece by another columnist on how our predilection for scooting around the world at the drop of a haberdasher wasn’t helping too much. And as I didn’t see it claimed on the page (which if it was, it would be), I’m guessing these trips were not carbon neutralised. In the great scheme of things, would an animal be more worried about being hunted for its pelt or made extinct along with all other life on the planet? Just a thought.

Anyway, to lighten the mood a bit, here’s a new experiment as I’m at a remote location - my first Word.doc cartoon! - which I hope the girls can capture as an upload (yes Peter, it is placed at the start of this blog!, Emma)


Pretty busy, though I am fading again. I was looking forward to having the family for company. But typically there was another lesson to be learned about where we headed. After 3 hrs in a jam only a few miles away from Earls Court, PJ called to say she was turning back. That must make over 50% of the trips made here a complete bust. I really look forward to getting home, and not even trying to commute, by car or otherwise.

I did have an interesting chat with a lady about plastic caps. She was telling me that in her area a recycler said that if they collected caps equivalent to the weight of a wheelchair they were trying save up for a disabled resident, they would come and collect… plus donate the wheelchair! Not quite sure about the logistics, but this has to be worth pursuing. Sadly my caps collection is not going too well, but it was too little, too late and not coordinated or supported well enough to work. But I reckon we could turn a show like this into tons of pre-sorted items that would make any recycler salivate. I can’t believe no one has thought of this before, so there must be financial/logistical/inertial reasons why not, and it is worth finding out what they are and overcoming them. All of which is possible, but the ease of which will depend on the level of territorial, political and greed obstacles that stand in the way.


I just liked the title, which was in the Mail about a new Rolls Royce. A bit of a stretch to get to ‘green limo’ as they claimed, but it was interesting how elegantly engineers who are at last motivated to do so can harness wasted heat from car engines to provide more power and, hence, greater fuel efficiency. Shame they waited until now.


Another prompted by our PM-in-waiting. Seems Gordo is asking the EU to raise the duty-free threshold for long haul travellers. This seems uncharacteristically philanthropic of him. Especially as it will tend to be of benefit for those in the higher income brackets.

And perhaps more pertinently, I am unsure how encouraging people to jump in an aircraft to do their shopping is helping global warming.


I’m not sure, but I have to say that not only are there not as many people coming in as before, but those who are don’t seem to be the same either in terms of engagement. Having paid for the stand I should be as equally concerned, but the guys who tally up the tills each night are livid, and rumours abound. Some of these guys have been here for several years, and the consensus is that the numbers are down, and the wrong audience is being brought in. In fact, there is talk that a lot of free tickets have been issued to keep the numbers up, and people who don’t pay to get in tend not to buy either, and only hunt around for freebies. Then again, it may just be fourth week paranoia creeping in!

PJ & the boys did the Cap ‘N Cork round this morning, and it was not very encouraging. I fear that was an idea that either did not have wings or more likely the necessary oomph to get it off the ground.

The stand continues to attract quality over quantity, though it is getting wearing to be the one copping the frustration of those who visited specifically for the ‘Sustainability & Recycling’ theme. That said, at least they end up with us and no one else! Big fish, small pond ‘n all.

Popped across to see Oliver Heath do a talk. He’s another TV celeb who is in the eco-arena, much like Penney Poyzer. And a perfectly charming and interesting chap he is too. I bought his book (this is not working out quite the way I intended. The whole point was we would be given money having invested so much in the stand; not running around forking out more!) and we have another testimonial to add at least.

I must say that I believe I could do the job he did. It’s easy to forget that living this industry as we have does give one a fair spread of knowledge. Of course, I still sadly lack the ‘as seen on TV’ cachet, which is what really makes one worth the speaker gig.

And at the end even he was pushing products, which is where we have fallen down all along. We need something to sell.


Well, it was tempting. Come in earlier at 8.30am and pay peak fares to be told how we can secure a slot at next year’s event… or… stay in bed. I look forward to finding out if anyone attended, and if they did whether they were armed.

It will be interesting to see how they spin this, as the tumbleweed blowing down the corridors so far today has outnumbered the visitors. And I rather recall being told this last week is ‘when it really all picks up’. Having been held to keeping a presence on stand by the requirements of the contract, despite it actually detracting from its effectiveness, I’m wondering if there may not be some pressure that can be brought to bear for such a massive failure to bring in the right numbers of the right kind of people. The few that have come in because of the supposed eco-them have felt mighty cheated, as have I.

Some are blaming the marketing. I can’t really comment on the media planning or spend, but it does seem to have been all over the various papers I’m exposed to (Mail, metro, Evening Standard – all owned by the same guys, I believe), plus tube posters etc.

But, oh, the creative! Three executions (one with Zoe Ball, one with Graham Norton and one with Sharon Osborne) rehashed over and over, and with the most facile of headlines. Utter tosh. I could have done better in a heartbeat. Which, of course, I must now plan to do. Back to the day job!

So I’ve started to look at ads again quite critically, and we do seem to be in an era of truly woeful work, so maybe there is a chance… if the world is actually up for the odd notion of actually achieving something. Not just in creative, but ROI. Especially in the world of environmental promotion marketing. Sure you can hit a target if your throw enough money at it, but does anyone actually assess how much it takes to get there, and how efficient the media and/or messages are in doing so?


I have to say I look across at the npower stand(s) with some envy. For sure they have spent a lot on infrastructure and personnel, but their little Perspex towers are fair bulging with signed forms from people willing to make a huge (and not necessarily sound) decision on their energy supplier based on two free fluffy toys.

On balance I think should at least have had a system in place to capture on the spot registrations encouraged by some form of prize draw. The quality may not have been there, but at least we’d have had some numbers to float past a bean-counter.


Nice to see a ‘proposal’ that micro-power stations are to be encouraged across the land (ST article link ‘Homes to become mini power stations’). This I like for all sorts of reasons, especially as there are to be incentives attached. We must try and locate energy minister Malcolm Wicks and see just how all this will be happening in practice.


And oldie but a goldie! But it is hard to worry much about offending those who may be off help to us when we simply can’t seem to even get arrested when it comes to a product/service that so warrants mention when the issue of junk is discussed, as it is often these days.

I was reading a piece in the property section of the Sunday Times [,,176-2095505,00.html] about taking waste from London households. Most of the piece focussed on one Jason Mohr, and his company Any Junk? Sounds like a worthwhile idea and good luck to him. But how did he get such coverage? Reading his CV (City, solicitor, MBA) I rather suspect he has that crucial thing that still eludes us: who he knows. I think he may be worth a call to explore synergies. Any Junk? are already on our website. I just hope that he doesn’t already have a few layers of people in the way already.


I don’t know if it’s even true as a piece of zoological behaviour, but thanks to a lifetime of Looney Tunes cartoons I have a vision of the ostrich (under the misplaced illusion of) concealing itself from harm by sticking its head in a hole.

This came to mind with the latest religiously-inspired banning of something in the media, this time an episode of South Park. It is pretty amazing that it has taken this long for them to actually get so censured, but it seems that of all people the Scientologists have managed it.

Oh-no, they killed free speech!