Magazine article Marketing

When the Crap Hits the Retailer

Magazine article Marketing

When the Crap Hits the Retailer

Article excerpt

When the crap hits the retailer

Ratners, Rotners or Crapners? As the port flowed at the stately Institute of Directors' annual beano in London last week, Gerald Ratner fired a well-timed firework up its collective behind and said the route to success lies in selling his kind of "total crap". And he walked straight into a PR disaster.

Sure, the 41-year-old earring-wearing entrepreneur got most of his best copy by having Charles Saatchi as his gambling partner. He is his own best audience, and he laps up his own hype. But such a covert statement that Ratner's customers are tasteless morons sees the self-professed king of tack burn the very PR bridges he has laboured so hard to construct.

Ratner -- who proved himself hot on marketing but not quite so hot on cost control -- displays a studied form of honesty. We give the punters what they want, he says. And though profits have just slipped 8%, that's not bad compared to his retail bedfellows. Ratner's "crime" is that he says what others do (but deny).

"It's the add-ons that seem to count at the moment," he says. The implication that his customers merrily swallow rubbish is what most worries watching marketers - forget Total Quality Management, it's Total Crap Management that counts. …

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