The chairman discovers the true meaning of Christmas
'In three words, what does Christmas mean to you?' asked the chairman of the insignificantly-sized investment company SmallBlue Planet.
'You've been watching too much telly,' I said. 'In which case, Tedious Ad Campaign springs to mind. But I suppose Tenuous Press Releases are a big feature too ' like the one Marks & Spencer sent me about how their strategy behind the Three Words campaign was to capture the emotion surrounding Christmas and make theirs the destination shop for Christmas.'
'Destination shop?' asked the chairman.
'No idea,' I shrugged.
'No matter,' he replied. 'But you've reminded me, I really ought to get to work on our traditional seasonal press release. Any thoughts on what it should cover this year?'
'As far as I can work out, there are some fairly set rules governing the Christmas press release,' I said. 'If you're an insurance company, you either take the _Beware burst pipes' or _Don't let burglars nick your Chrissy pressies' routes. This year, going by More Than and The Research Department, the latter seems to be in fashion.
'Credit card companies tend to warn against consumers paying too much for credit, as GM Card have done ' along with the cost of the 12 days of Christmas for good measure ' while banks go on about how much we spend at Christmas ' HSBC being this year's case in point. Intermediaries usually take the _New Year financial resolutions' approach ' Sedgwick has come up with 10 of them, no less ' and I've even had something on seasonal expenses from automated clearing house BACS, bless _em.'
'So what's the form for investment companies?' asked the chairman.
'You're stuck with predictions,' I said. 'You know, the Mystic Meg act: outlook for world markets, how the UK is going to shape up, why growth/value/aggressive/ themed/style ' pick one to suit your company's investment delusions ' is going to clean up this year.
'Oh yes, and why we're all going to have such a miserable Isa season ' if we have one at all. That last one seems to be quite prevalent at the moment ' at least in conversation.'
'Well, it's not looking good,' said the chairman. 'What do you think about it?'
'I think you're just playing down expectations in the hope things turn out all right in the end,' I said. 'I also think you enjoy trying to scare us.'
'Is it working?' asked the chairman.
'Now that's not really getting into the Christmas spirit,' I said. 'Speaking of which, I know this is meant to be the season of goodwill to all men ' and, presumably, women ' but did you see that New Star are sponsoring something called Untamed Exhibition in the Year of the Predator?'
'We thought about doing that ourselves,' said the chairman. 'It's a splendid idea ' a real statement of intent. But what's that got to do with the season of goodwill?'
'Oh come on, what do they think I am ' some sort of charity case?' I said. 'Do they believe I need help writing these columns? I mean, they had a reception where there was a huge model of a poisonous spider and a shark. Are they trying to write this column for me?
'Then there was the spiel that accompanied the invitation to the reception. It said things like _In the animal world, success depends on determination, skill, a desire to survive and the ability to adapt. Predators combine these instincts with stealth, cunning and speed of response to ensure they survive and prosper in a fiercely competitive environment.'
'It also had _Predators succeed because they are more resourceful than the herd. In our business, this is also true.' I suppose if they were part of the herd they'd be Gnu Star ' but, either way, the next thing you know David Attenborough will be trying to make a programme about the company.'
'Please don't mention that man's name,' said the chairman. 'We still haven't sorted out our little disagreement about the title of his last series. You'll never convince me he came up with _Blue Planet' by himself. Anyway, if you don't do the untamed predator ' not to mention the exhibition ' what will you write about instead?'
'Oh, you know me,' I said. 'I'll think of something.'
'Then I'll leave you to it and go and dust off my crystal ball.'
'Merry Christmas,' I said.
'You too,' said the chairman.
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