Men and Moisturisers

The rise and rise of male grooming


Beards are back, and with them a whole new industry of grooming preparations and paraphernalia. But it’s not just the beards that are getting cleaned and moisturised these days. Male grooming is blooming in all areas, and we are currently spending a whacking $60 billion a year with the hope of looking and feeling good. But if men’s behaviour in and out of the bathroom has changed enormously in the last hundred years, it hasn’t been without the need for strong encouragement. Branding has played a vital role and over the years, brands have used a variety of arguments to tempt, cajole and persuade us chaps to adopt new habits of toilette.

A close shave has always been a good place to start, and King Camp Gillette first offered up the best a man can get in 1904, when he launched his newly patented safety razor. Soon afterwards, a whole plethora of specialist preparations were available and becoming mainstream. One of the most popular was Old Spice which offered a fragranced shaving soap and after-shaving lotion that was packaged with a reassuringly nautical theme. There were many other brands which helped promote a smart turnout, all with solid establishment names like Jaguar, English Leather and British Sterling.

Get the girl was a rather more explicit approach employed by several brands. Brylcreem, which claimed it could make even the dullest head more debonair and “get the gals to pursue ya”, has had several moments in the sun, from its days selling its eponymous bounce to its re-invention in the 1980s as the official hair gel of the New Romantics. But the explicit selling of fragrance’s pulling power reached its climax in the 1960s with brands like Musk (the pack said Extra Strength Body Lotion) and Hai Karate, whose memorable demonstrations of product efficacy were fronted by Valerie Leon. “Be careful how you use it” the telly adverts warned.


The Lynx Effect was another long-running campaign which used this story: but this time, the boy gets the girl thanks to the power of the shower in a can. In my experience, there are many mothers who prefer the smell of Lynx to the smell of teenage boy.

But men were not easily persuaded of the benefits of the fragrant life, which is why a whole grandstand of sporting heroes was recruited to show that smelling of perfume was a perfectly normal alpha-male behaviour. Henry Cooper famously encouraged us to “splash it all over.” In this exhortation to over-splash Fabergé Brut, he was assisted by a curious bunch of 70s sporting stars including Barry Sheene, David Emery and Harvey Smith. Play and spray proved to be an excellent marketing stratagem and is still very much in evidence today: “The essence of David Beckham” has been bottled and is now sold as Instinct.

David Beckham is of course the doyen of the metrosexuals, and these dedicated followers of fashion first appeared in numbers and in Esquire in the early 2000s. They needed little encouragement to try the ever-expanding range of male grooming products. Innovation played any important role too. Brands like Clinique and Nivea now stressed science- based skin-care benefits and found ways of translating their existing female product inventory into male acceptable versions.

Today we have come far from the simple soap and water regimes of yesteryear and there is a huge assortment of products now which in their labels mix the language of the pharmacy with the language of the DIY store. But this emphasis on functionality is not as new as you would think. 100 years ago, a brand called Aqua Velva was selling the benefits of scientific shaving to the hipsters and metrosexuals of the day.

We have always just needed an excuse.


Paul Christopher Walton
The Brand Historian:
Forays into the annals and archives of the brands we grew up with.

The Story of Cif or is that Jif?

Picture1Europe, household cleaning and the politics of brand harmonisation

One of the Brand Historian’s less glorious moments – at least as far as his mother is concerned – was the part he played in the rebranding of Jif to Cif.

One small letter perhaps, but a whole lot of trouble for me. Not to mention all that talk of the betrayal of Great British virtues like cleanliness in favour of something foreign and distinctly dodgy sounding.

To understand why feelings ran so high and tin hats were de rigour in the marketing department, we have to go back in time to when Jif first came twinkling into our kitchens and bathrooms.

Jif was the world’s first LAC. Marketing folk love a good acronym, and LAC stands for Liquid Abrasive Cleaner, and as such – cue fanfare – it is a minor technological miracle to boot. Until Jif arrived, the heavy artillery in the war against kitchen and the bathroom crud were scouring powders. These were cardboard tubes full of white-speckled chemicals with names like Ajax and Vim. On good old-fashioned building materials like enamel baths, they did the business without fuss, even if they were rather unpleasant to handle. But in the 1960s, as man-made materials became more popular in bathrooms and kitchens, old guard scouring powders could easily scratch and ruin that new avocado bathroom suite.

This is where Jif scored. Jif consisted of a thick cream in which were suspended small micro-particulates which cleaned surfaces effectively without scratching them. Some will remember the launch advert which featured a manic, twizzling ice skater whose blades cutting through ice demonstrated, at least metaphorically, the damage scourers could do to baths. Soon Jif garnered a gleaming reputation as the housewife’s favourite and essential partner in the war against grime. With the addition of a little elbow grease supplied by the user, Jif could be relied upon to work wonders on even the most unappetisingly carbonised hobs.

Interestingly, the product had been originally launched in 1969 in France where it was called Cif. But as the brand was rolled out across Europe and because think local was the prevailing strategy of the day, it resulted in an array of minor variations to the name which included Viss, Vim and of course, Jif. At least the familiar white and green packaging was more consistent, but not completely: In the Netherlands, the bottle was orange and red in honour of the Dutch Royal family.

Thirty years later, attitudes to cleaning had changed considerably and in what was becoming perhaps a less fastidious age, Jif Cream Cleaner was being made redundant by a range of modern and more convenient solutions like trigger packs and cleaning wipes. Jif’s owner, Unilever, decided the brand was having a mid-life crisis and needed to be shaken up a bit.

At that time, there was a fashion in marketing for brand harmonisation. This is where for reasons of cost saving, manufacturing simplicity or marketing efficiencies, similar products with differing identities across countries are converged towards one name and pack design. Famous name local favourites started to to be replaced by unfamiliar new brands. In the UK, Marathon lost out to Snickers, and Opal Fruits became Starburst.

So back now to what my mum calls my far-from-finest-hour. Because in focus groups consumers were saying that heavy duty cleaning was old hat, a whole new strategy was built based around more convenient products that seemed to better suited to the zeitgeist. And to make sure the consumer spotted this important news about the brand’s evolution, a key part of the marketing plan was to tell the consumer that Jif’s name was changing to Cif.

The consumer did indeed spot this news and she, in the guise of my mother, immediately sent me straight to the naughty step. “What’s all this, Kif?” she said. And she wasn’t the only one who let Unilever know what they thought of the new name. Little Englander anger was sharp and loud in Lever’s postbag.

But here’s the surprising thing: just six months later, despite all the sound and the fury, Cif was growing strongly again in the UK. For the first time in years.

Today my mum still loves her tough but gentle LAC chum in the war against crud. And, yes, she does still call it Jif – but perhaps there’s a big idea there?

Will Boris’ Big Bold Britain see another rebrand? ‘Let’s do Jif, ‘ did I hear someone say?

A bientôt!

Paul Christopher Walton

The Brand Historian:

Forays into the annals and archives of the brands we grew up with.



How the accountants drove us to vodka

We live in the age of Ginoflation when hotel, bar and supermarket shelves are stashed precariously with eccentric designer bottles whose labels proclaim some new angle on botanicals or an ingenious method of hand-crafted distillation. Seriously expensive tonic waters are now lining up as appropriately well-bred consorts. The resurgence of the market, after years in the doldrums, is in part the story of how hipsters have chosen gin to be one of modern life’s things in which to show expertise.


Gin like coffee and bottled ales are products stuffed full of interesting ingredients which make brand building based on what marketing folk call product intrinsics very simple. 50 years ago, vodka was the hot-shot spirit of the day, but its success had very little to do with product intrinsics.


In Moscow the 1860s, Pytor Smirnov built his reputation for distilling vodka by filtering it through charcoal. His grandson, Vladimir, massively expanded sales before getting mixed up in the Russian Revolution and having to make a fast exit for Paris via Istanbul. In 1939, the US importer Heublein bought the rights to what was now called Smirnoff, and as the first and only American vodka for many years, the brand can be given most of the credit for creating a new drinking habit.  Americans were encouraged to call it white whisky (‘No taste, no smell’) and the brand did well after the war as the go-to-spirit for a number of fashionable cocktails which showcased vodka’s perceived potency. These included Screwdriver (with orange) and Bullshot (with beef consommé) and the celebrated Moscow Mule which was created by an enterprising LA bar owner with a glut of ginger beer in his cellar.


In post-war Britain, sales also grew well but were beginning to plateau in the early 70s. The consumer knew the basic product facts about vodka – it was flavourless and colourless and filtered through tonnes of charcoal for purity, but this failed to cut any ice with the drinker. Vodka was seen as characterless as well as flavourless.


What really jump started the brand’s momentum was an engaging ad campaign by Young and Rubicam for their client IDV which emphasised the brand’s extrinsic qualities. Based around the theme ‘The effect is shattering’, which echoed the popular belief that Russian drinkers display their vigour by throwing their empty shot glasses to the floor, the campaign consisted of a series of vignettes which dramatized the-before-and-after conditions in which the product was drunk. The ads always worked best when they set up extravagant and unlikely contrasts. One of my favourite posters featured a louche dude with panama hat and cheroot confessing: ‘Accountancy was my life until I discovered Smirnoff.’ Another featured the obviously colourful and sybaritic life enjoyed by a public librarian who had also made the discovery.


Like all great ad campaigns, the slogan set-up soon entered the language and inspired many unpublishable derivatives. Sales of Smirnoff trebled and in the late 1970s, vodka became the trendsetter of the spirits market. But all good things come to end and pressure from the anti-alcohol lobby forced the client to adapt the campaign.


Sales of vodka remained healthy in the outer-directed, glitzy 80s, and a ‘large V.A.T’ was the signature drink enjoyed by Arthur Dailey in the Winchester club – which mine host, Dave, of course always had to put on the slate.


We still drink a lot of vodka, but in these inner-directed days, it is difficult, although not completely impossible, for it to play the product intrinsics game. Perhaps, we must wait for an end to Puritan austerity before we see the inevitable return of Cavalier high spirits and the extrovert world of vodka.


Paul Christopher Walton

The Brand Historian:

Forays into the annals and archives of the brands we grew up with.



Toujours Provenance!

 How the Shotover brewery got its name


Provenance is one of the most fertile sources of inspiration for the brand builder and one of the most powerful tools in the armoury of positioning. Consider Parma ham and Amalfi lemons; Champagne and Roquefort; and even closer to home, Melton Mowbray pork pies and Aberdeen Angus beef. In today’s hypercompetitive world, protected geographical status provides an important barrier to entry and it’s interesting to note that Italy (267) and France (217) currently well outnumber the UK’s 65 registrations.

Even closer to home, anyone walking down Broad Street or The High will see and experience what a very valuable brand *Oxford* has become thanks not just to the University and its colleges, but also to Alice, Morse and Harry Potter, amongst others. But whilst Oxford is justly world famous for its University, it was also known until recently for being something of a real ale ‘desert’, especially after Morrell’s ceased brewing in 1993.

But one beer enthusiast’s problem is another’s opportunity. In this case, the enthusiast was Ed Murray, and the opportunity was to bring craft beer to Oxford. Ed is one of the few people I know who can be truly said to be a Renaissance Man and an artful strategist. In a long career, Ed has been a teacher, electrician, aid worker and business consultant and when I first met him, also a home brewer of some repute whose Horspath home-shed brews carried a friendly Black Cat label.

Following his passion, and frankly against the advice of a number of experts, including me, Ed was determined to ride the wave of the microbrewing revolution and in 2008 with some funding from the EC, started realising a bigger brewing venture. Extending the shed was never going to be a serious option, and Ed and Pip, his wife and business partner, started a search in the locality for suitable premises. They soon spotted a 200-year-old stable-block  in Horspath in the appropriately named Cooper’s Yard, and immediately began the necessary renovations to install a brand new 8 bulk barrelbrewery.

The new brewery was situated on the eastern border of Shotover Country Park which over the years our two families had much enjoyed, especially the circular walk from and to Horspath via the Avenue and Wheatley. A long walk on Shotover is the perfect dose of mindfulness for any stressed out executive.

With the countdown proceeding fast to commissioning the kettles and brewing the first production samples, the marketing plan had to be finalised. As acting Chief Marketing Officer, I was invited with Babs, my wife, to a Sunday lunch with the Murrays where the brand plan would be brainstormed over a huge pork roast.

Whilst I’ve launched many products in my marketing career, I have to confess not all of them have been something to be proud of: the yoghurt cream liquor is a case in point. But working with Ed on his new brewery was a genuine labour of love and allowed me to atone for some of the shockers which bore my finger prints.

Ed and Pip were fiercely committed to the idea of local products for local people, and so it was inevitable that we would draw on the local landscape to tell our brand story. We were not interested in cut-and-pasting the standard Oxford clichés. Our challenge was to find the right balance between respecting traditional ale and beer codes and expressing them in a contemporary way.

Shotover provided a wonderful and timeless world for us to explore for our brand story: the Kimmeridge Formation geology; the ancient forest; the myths and legends like Empress Maud’s fossilised tears or John Copcroft’s throwing a volume of Aristotle against a charging wild boar; the beautiful Bluebells battalions on the move in May…. Shotover had it all.

Thus, it was in the course of one epic Sunday afternoon lunch that The Shotover Brewing Company was born, and its story sketched out on an A3 layout paper splattered with gravy.

Soon afterwards, Ed’s first two beers Scholar (with the blue label) and Prospect (red) were available sporting the distinctive identity of the dreaming spires created by Guy, our designer. These have since been joined by Trinity (yellow) and Porter (black).


Shotover bottles 2

Today Shotover beers are available throughout Oxford and the county and can be found in over 30 pubs. Shotover ales have now become another great reason to visit Oxford, not to mention its ancient country park, once more underlining the power and value of place and provenance.



Paul Christopher Walton

Chief Marketing Officer (Hon)


A version of this article appears in the Summer 2018 edition of The Shotover Preservation Society newsletter.

‘Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.’ Vincent Van Gogh

A pilgrimage to a great Artful Strategist….

David Bernstein: Creative Businessman


 Paul Christopher Walton remembers working with one Adland’s Greats


I am proud to have been David Bernstein’s straight man.

I had joined The Creative Business in 1980 to set up a planning department and I was soon immersed in David’s unique credentials patter. Introducing our line up to senior clients in the Neal St boardroom, David would say “I’m Creative” and pointing to Laurence, his partner, “He’s Business” and then looking at me, “And oh, he’s Limited”. It always got a laugh and set the tone for some memorable new business meetings.

Working for David was never limited in any sense, but rather a wonderful mix of marketing and stand-up comedy; of smart management consultancy and improv; of high culture and low music hall.

David was the presenter’s presenter and his opening stich remains as fresh today as when I heard it for the first time:

“Hello, my name is David Bernstein, MA FRSA – that’s a funny way of spelling Bernstein. It gives me great pleasure [Pause] and no money to be with you this evening….”

But David was much more than a drole minister of pun. David knew everyone, including Ronnie Kirkwood who popped up in his anecdotes like a long-lost friend.

As one of Adland’s great Creative Directors (McCann, Ogilvy) he won all the glittering prizes and wrote some famous lines (The Esso sign means happy motoring) He was also one of the Outdoor industry’s biggest advocates, making a series of well-respected films and masterminding a notable conference in Nice.

As an entrepreneur, he was one of the great challengers of the industry and founded The Creative Business, whose media neutral philosophy was years ahead of its time. He was very proud of the Agency’s core belief that an understanding of the problem should dictate its solution.

But above all, David was a great writer who wrote with an elegance and wit that was always delivered with a fine command of rhythm and timing. Creative Advertising (Longman, 1974) remains one of the most readable texts on the art of business persuasion. Later in his career, David developed a fascination with corporate reputation and his book Corporate Image and Reality (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1984) became the essential primer of corporate communications. As usual, David had a great way with rhetorical hairpins:

“Product brands take minimum differences and set out to magnify them. It’s a shame that corporate brands too often take large differences and end up minifying them.”

As I can attest, David was a marvellous teacher and had a knack for making even the most difficult subjects accessible and fun. He loved mnemonics. In evaluating creative work, David said there were four things to look for:

  • Visibility
  • Identity
  • Promise
  • Simplicity

He called this his VIPS model, which he explained gave you SPIV when spelt backwards.

David Bernstein is one of the giants of British advertising and was awarded the Mackintosh medal in 1982. He last great service was as a tireless supporter and Trustee of the History of Advertising Trust.

The boy from Croydon who was as old as Mickey Mouse inspired a whole generation of business people to be more creative, and I’m so proud to be one of them.

His was and is a highly distinctive brand – which reminds me of one other classic Bernstein routine:

Looking at a rough ad, David would ask with just a hint of a wicked glint: “Is brand evident?”, and while the team were formulating a response, smiling, he would add: “Which is, as I’m sure you have worked out, an anagram of David Bernstein. Boom! Boom!”


Paul Christopher Walton

The Value Engineers


Planning Director and Straight Man

The Creative Business



Marketing of the beat and track #1

Learn the Art of Positioning from British History

Brands are notoriously difficult to summarise, but are dead royals any easier to data- reduce and distill? Thanks to Penguin Monarchs, a new series of books from Allen Lane, you can now learn about positioning whilst you’re studying our kings and queens. Breezily written by some of our best historians, this ever-growing series of slim volumes with characterful book jackets all sport a catchy proposition.

William IV was in more senses than one A King at Sea. We should really understand the significance of the reign of Henry VIII with all those failed relationships as The Quest for Fame. Henry V journeying From Playboy to Warrior King seems to be a great example of successful brand visioning. Sadly for the kingdom, his saintly boy, Henry VI was A good, simple and innocent man whose weakness precipitated the Wars of the Roses. But what exactly were the qualities that made Charles II The Star King? And is The Red King the best that William Rufus can offer us? Or is he just the King of Bland?Marketing IMG_4407

Marians on The Mawddach

An English school’s love affair with a beautiful estuary in Wales

In one eventful weekend in November  1963, the President of the United States was assassinated, The Beatles launched their second album, Dr Who exited his Police Box to confront the Daleks for the first time and a convoy of Walsall grammar school boys arrived on the Mawddach to spend their first weekend at Farchynys. This was Queen Mary’s newly acquired adventure centre, an old coach house on the Mawddach estuary lying in the shadow of Cadair Idris, just 4 miles from Barmouth and its iconic railway bridge.

Every week for the following fifty years, successive generations of QM folk have made the hundred mile journey to the coast and have promptly fallen in love with this special place, discovering that estuaries can be wonderfully productive eco-systems for personal growth. Marians on the Mawddach tells the stories of pupils and their teachers and also of the people they meet as they explore this highly contrasting landscape to their home in Walsall.

Marians on the Mawddach 

A Social History of Farchynys, The Welsh Centre of Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Walsall

Conceived and compiled by Paul Christopher Walton

See more at

Published, May 2017 by Strategol Publishing @Strategolpub     #MariansontheMawddachbeautifulestuary

Good strategy needs the white stuff

The Artful Strategist discovers white space with the help of Irving Berlin and Robert Frost.

You must have noticed the amount of colour imagery that makes its way into our calendars as we head towards the Winter Solstice. It starts in November with Black Friday, the official kick-off of the post-Thanksgiving season of shopping and good-deals-to-all men, and followed six weeks later by Blue Monday when our flagging spirits are devastated by the arrival of prolific credit card bills and the prospect of living on skint rations. But in the middle of this shop-to-stop cycle is the enticing promise of a warmly opaque holiday pause that thanks to Irving Berlin we all know as a White Christmas.

Berlin’s song White Christmas is not just the biggest holiday song, it is also one of the greatest songs of all time. Holding the presumably un-beatable Guinness Record for being the biggest selling single disc, White Christmas is the definitive festive anthem that touches our emotions and transports us back to the re-assuring warmth of Christmases Past. But when Berlin first wrote the song, it had an intro that never made it into the recordings we recognise today.

This is the ‘lost intro’ of White Christmas:

The sun is shining, the grass is green,

The orange and palm trees sway.

There’s never been such a day

in Beverly Hills, L.A.

But it’s December the twenty-fourth,

And I am longing to be up North.


Somehow a lush and balmy Southern California just provided the wrong frame of reference for the initial launch of the song. Shortly afterwards in 1942, with the United States at war, Bing Crosby’s intimate crooning about jingling sleigh bells and glistening treetops in Norman Rockwellian white spaces proved to be a brilliant morale building way in which soldiers on active service could re-connect with home.

White space of course is a very fashionable concept today and much sought after by wannabe disrupters and new model entrepreneurs of all kinds, who like to use the phrase as a shortcut for areas of uncontested opportunity in the lands of the unknown Unknown. With flat market places and margins zapped by competitors from all directions, today’s scramble for white space appears both urgent and haphazard.

Back in the 1940s, at roughly the same time that Bing was hogging the holiday airwaves, white space was a phrase that was just beginning to gain acceptance in the niche world of printing. Printers define white space as those parts of a page left unmarked: margins, gutters, and the space between columns, graphics or objects drawn or depicted. The idea of white space is universally considered to be a good thing as too much type crammed into too little space will result in poor reader experience. Advertising art directors like plenty of space because it can give their layouts a premium and elegant appearance. But white space is not just about aesthetics, it’s also an important means of creating emphasis and revealing the meaning of a text; in this way, blank areas should not be thought as inert but rather an active part of the story.

Which is why poets love the idea white of space.

Consider the following text and if you can do so without causing a stir, try and read it aloud:

The way a crow shook down on me the dust of snow from a hemlock tree has given my heart a change of mood and saved some part of a day I had rued.

This text is in fact a wonderfully compact poem consisting of one sentence of thirty-four words called Dust of Snow written by Robert Frost and published in 1923 in his collection New Hampshire.

Here is the actual layout Frost used in the published version and please look out for how the poet uses a combination of hard line breaks and a hinterland of white to set a rhythm and reveal his purpose:

Dust of Snow


The way a crow

Shook down on me

The dust of snow

From a hemlock tree


Has given my heart

A change of mood

And saved some part

Of a day I had rued.

Frost loved featuring wintry themes in his poetry, much of which was inspired by the same New England landscapes that feature in Berlin’s holiday songs. But while Dust of Snow is darker than White Christmas – after all there are no sleigh bells and children playing in Frost’s poem, only the menace of a crow in a hemlock tree – the crow did actually work his magic on the poet, just as much as Bing’s crooning did on the GIs away from home. Both show – albeit in very different ways- the functional and emotional effects of finding white space and the well-being benefits it can confer.

My trusty thesaurus tells me that white space belongs in the same Club as allowance, gap, headroom, and margin which are all relevant concepts today. In these turbulent times those who are faced with tough choices and scarce resources will find a keen appreciation of white space is mindfully bang on the money.

So after all your alarums and excursions of the year, God rest ye, gentle reader, shake off that dust of snow, and may your days be merry and bright, and may your Christmas space be white.



Who can name the three most important rules of strategy?

The Artful Strategist visits MIT, gets Haxed, but lives to tell the tale.

The Power of Three (TP3) is one of the most popular rhetorical devices in use by public speakers today. Psychologists tell us there is something magical in the rhythm of three connected strands that helps audience understand and recall the core message. Somehow I came, I saw, I conquered has a better narrative ring than I came, I saw, I conquered, I put it up for sale.

Revolutionaries have always known that TP3 is a brilliant way of summarising a complex manifesto. Visit France and note just how many times you will see Liberté, Egalité, Fratenité carved into the fabric of every town and village.

Admen love copywriting TP3 inspired slogans: how many of us were brought up knowing that a Mars a day helps you work, rest and play? Or can you taste the difference in snap, crackle and pop? I’m lovin’ it.

And above all leaders who want to sell us their vision can’t resist punctuating their speeches with TP3 sound-bite triplets like blood, sweat and tears or yes, we can!

Perhaps this is why one of my favourite strategy teachers deployed TP3 extensively against the business big shots he regularly came up against.

In the mid 1990s, I was a bit part player in a Unilever epic about new sources of growth and upgrading the strategic planning skills of its senior team was identified as one key enabler. Already working with a variety of Unilever’s operating companies on brand and innovation projects, I suddenly found myself being drawn like an asteroid into the powerful orbit of Arnaldo Hax , the Sloan Professor of Management at MIT, in Cambridge MA.

Arnaldo Hax is a charming Chilean with a razor sharp mind and an irresistible wit to match, and was the perfect choice for the job of building a framework and set of tools for improving strategic thinking in Unilever. At that point, Unilever was trying to modernise fast and was on the lookout for more joined-up sources of competitive advantage it liked to refer to as Unileverage.

Arnaldo’s shtick was perfect because it involved the combination of hard-core process discipline (mission, opportunities, competencies, principles, thrusts, actions and so on) with generous amounts of hilarious observational stand-up.

‘You have some very interesting work cut out for you now’, he said to one group who had failed to impress him with their homework. To another poor performing syndicate who said they had just finished brainstorming their response, he replied ‘In my experience, brainstorming usually involves a lot of storm, and very little brain.’

There was one group I remember in particular which consisted of extremely strident business unit leaders whose time in the breakout session had been spent largely in positioning and posturing rather than actually doing any work who were told in the plenary session: ‘I am sure you have more intelligence in your group than you have written on your charts.’

Arnaldo was an adept at understanding the psychology of his audience and knew how to sell a rigorous soup to nuts process with just the right amount of playful banter to keep the grumpy VIPs attentive and on-board.

But beyond the lecture room sizzle, there was plenty of content sausage to appreciate. His approach always put the customer at the centre of the strategic universe: ‘The essence of competitive positioning’ he told us, ‘is to attract, satisfy and retain customers’. He also recognised the increasingly important challenge of solving protecting differential advantages. Here, he preached the doctrine of system lock–in which he explained involved identifying strong functional as well as emotional mechanisms to control and maintain customer fidelity. Today, we would recognise the Apple brandworld as a defining manifestation of this principle.

Arnaldo was also a power user of TP3. On one occasion, he teased the Unilever strategic élite with a question: ‘What do you think are the three most important rules of strategy?’ Not surprisingly, this provoked all manner of answers, some predictable and many pretentious, the latter to be categorised as the latest thoughts of the Senior Vice President of Mumbo Jumbo.

But for Arnaldo, the arch exponent of focus and specificity, the three most important concepts of strategy were in fact: segmentation, segmentation, segmentation.

According to him, the paramount task for any business was to decide where exactly it would choose to compete. So segment, segment, segment became the first, and arguably most important of all what became known as Arnaldo’s Haxioms.

In the fading orange glow of those Fall days at MIT, there was plenty to harvest from my masterclass with Arnaldo. Of course, there were those who said there was too much process in Hax and too many templates to fill in (and there was a torrent of templates), but for those who listened attentively to the top notes of his score, there was also a stirring right brain theme that has certainly stayed with me:

‘Planning without measurement is just poetry.

But planning without poetry is just measurement.