In the US, obese customers of an online clothing brand Forever 21 have been receiving Atkins Diet Bars with their orders. It’s unclear whether the site is to rebrand as Forever 21 Stone, but either way it’s safe to observe that this ‘affinity targeting’ campaign has backfired.
It is impossible to understand how this marketing “idea” got through all those meetings without somebody suggesting it was the silliest notion since square wheels, but it’s not unique. I was in Los Angeles during the 1990s at a post business-pitch lunch with four colleagues, during which we consumed two bottles of wine over three hours. The receipt at the end was wrapped around a card for Alcoholics Anonymous.
Stupidity is, in certain cases, not really a matter for debate. It’s a good idea to call a clothing chain designed for obese customers Outsize Man, and a bad idea to call it Blob Threads. The issue comes down to one that everyone forgets these days: the difference between IQ, creativity/innovation, and wisdom. They are only telling elements of one human being’s make-up in a minute proportion of cases…and knowing the difference between the three is crucially important when considering the rise of Boris Johnson to the Premiership.
Against a background noise of robotic sloganising along Whitehall, the new UK Prime Minister made a pretty good fist of suggesting he would represent a break from the recent Tory past. Brexit, he said, was about being able to elect and remove our politicians. He guaranteed the security of UK tenure to all EU citizens, and declared that it was “absolute”. He wanted a free trade deal with the EU that was “only common sense for both sides”. He delivered several stunning promises about education, health, safer policing and equality before the Law.
The part where it all fell short was when he vowed to “unite Britain behind a new Brexit deal”. Hold that thought.
Words aside, if the MSM are to be believed, Johnson’s first actions will in turn add to the sense of a major sea change. In addition to those Japanese jungle-fighters who fell on their swords after Boris accepted the Queen’s offer to form a Government, the new Prime Minister is about the announce a clean sweep or a bloodbath, depending on your metaphor of choice.
Some thought he would try to appease the Huntists. Instead, Jeremy has been summarily fired. Also about to receive their P45s are Penny Mordaunt, Liam Fox and Chris Grayling. In all, we are told, 17 Ministers will return to the back benches. Few deserve that fate more than Fox.
James Brokenshire, Greg Clarke, Karen Bradley, Damian Hinds, David Mundell, Mel Stride, Caroline Nokes, Jeremy Wright and Claire Perry have also been sacked.
The appointees, meanwhile, are all obvious Boristas in one form or another: Sajid Javid, the previous Home Secretary, becomes Chancellor of the Exchequer. Dominic Raab replaces Hunt as foreign secretary, and also becomes first Secretary of State, aka Johnson’s deputy. Priti Patel, the former international development secretary, becomes Home Secretary.
“The time has come to act, to take decisions, to give strong leadership and to change this country for the better,” Johnson asserted outside Number Ten. For once in politics, actions are reflecting words….for the time being at least.
Whatever europhile Conservatives might feel about Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, the mere fact of him becoming the national leader has been a shot in the arm for the Tories: in just one week (according to YouGov research released today) his lead over Corbyn as ‘the best PM’ gives him twice as many votes as the Labour leader.
It therefore behoves the likes of Hammond, Hunt, Grieve, Clarke et al to think twice before bringing premature ejaculations of No Confidence before the House. Death, as they say, concentrates the mind wonderfully.
However (as I have opined endlessly in these columns) Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is a chap who has shown himself capable of the worst kind of crony capitalism, crooked cover-up and Capital Mayoral cock-up imaginable. He is without doubt a populist who got Londoners on his bikes: but there is a massive United Kingdon out there far removed from SW1.
To be fair to BoJo, he recognises this – and indeed, referenced it in his Downing Street address today by talking about the need to “energise” the regions.
But at heart thus far, he has been a man who polarises rather than unites.
It is no longer possible to unite Britain behind a Brexit deal.
Come what may, the Remain Establishment will do everything in its power to either airlift Boris onto its Titanic, or bring him crashing to Earth like some latter-day Icarus. It remains to be seen how he will react to that kind of pressure. If Brussels remains hopelessly intransigent, it will only play to the new PM’s appeal to what’s left of British independent nationalism.
My suspicion is that we will see a half-hearted display of insults and triumphalism from senior European Commissioners, followed fairly quickly by behind the scenes activity from the Brussels/Berlin/Paris/Frankfurt Realpolitik tendency.
Boris Johnson is my Prime Minister, because I do not suffer from the cancer of denialist ideology: I think it is sad that he is the third PM out of the last four not to be confirmed by a popular vote. However, if one looks at Conservative Party democracy, he has a better claim than either Brown or May.
But that doesn’t make him a uniter of the less than United Kingdom. Somewhere in his all-new Cabinet, BoJo needs a voice of Reason who is good on the detail, and brave enough to remind his boss of the difference between IQ and wisdom. IQ tells a person that tomatoes are a fruit, but wisdom suggests it would be a bad idea to use tomatoes as a topping for ice cream. Creative IQ gives leaders new ways through old problems, but grounded common sense dictates the reality of social acceptance.
I think Boris Johnson will run into trouble, and there is every likelihood that he may need resort to a General Election. But for the time being, I remain open-minded enough to give the blond Turk the benefit of the doubt. He remains, after all, a ramrod to smash through the EU portcullis. If he does that and nothing else, I will be a happy man.