Canadian Pride

A few months ago when we were still hopeful that the Blue Jays might make it to the World Series, I thought I might have to stop watching the coverage.  No, the problem wasn’t that the game was too exciting for me.  No, I wasn’t overly annoyed by the clearly biased American play by play announcers.  Then, what was it?

I was viscerally offended by the Hockey Night in Canada commercials.


Voiced by Ron McLean, the super sappy text, replete with dramatic pauses in its delivery, told the story of the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast as the ultimate in Canadiana.

“This is the story… of a love affair.  Between a country… and a game.  If you want to try… to teach someone about Canada…, you go to the television Saturday night…, and it becomes crystal clear.”

Huh?   Are you kidding me, Ron McLean?!  I love hockey as much as the next average Canadian, and I’ll agree that Hockey Night in Canada has earned icon status, but seriously….. the gossipy, macho banter between you and Don Cherry is going to teach a newcomer all they need to know about Canada?  I assure you Ron, that’s not MY Canada.

MY Canada is the one reflected in a little page 16 news story about the police department in tiny Kensington, PEI who posted a warning to anyone considering driving while impaired this holiday season.  The post on Facebook, promised that those caught drunk driving, in addition to the standard penalties, would also be forced to listen to the Alberta band Nickelback during the ride back to the station.

HA!  When I first heard the story earlier this week, it struck my funny bone.  I too, am a non-fan of this Alberta band’s music so, for me, the tongue in cheek joke was a good one.  And from a marketing standpoint I thought it was a stroke of brilliance.  An angle like this generated press that your standard “don’t drink and drive because you’ll ruin the lives of yourself and others” public service announcement never will.  I admired the small town police department for its’ out of the box thinking and creative approach to getting a big bang from a non-existent budget.

Resourcefulness + Sense of Humor = Canada

The undertone in this story deals with the relationship between Canadian citizens and their police forces.  The Nickelback threat wasn’t a threat of force; while it was intended to be unpleasant it wasn’t intended to cause harm.  There’s something decidedly human about a police force thinking this way, and an understanding that the perpetrator of this drunk driving crime is also a human being with human emotions that are moved by music.

Resourcefulness + Sense of Humor + Human Empathy = Canada

But that’s not the end of the story.  Later this week, the Kensington police department DELETED the post and replaced it with an apology to Nickelback!  It seems that the author of the post, surprised by the attention it attracted, started to feel like a bully.  As the original post had gone viral, the Don’t Drink and Drive message began to be dwarfed by a “love vs. hate” debate about the band.

On Friday the Kensington police department posted: “I am sorry to (band members) Chad, Ryan, Mike and Daniel.  Not as just members of Nickelback, but more importantly as fellow Canadians.  I’m sorry guys because I didn’t take a moment to think of you AS just guys.”  The post acknowledged the charity efforts of Nickelback, in particular surrounding the efforts to bring relief to victims of the Fort McMurray wildfires, and expressed regret about thinking of the band as an entity rather than the band members themselves.

People from other countries might look at this part of the story and say that political correctness is taking the fun out of everything.  But for me as a Canadian, this is EXACTLY what our country is all about.  It’s the strength of character of Canadians to admit our mistakes, learn from them, and strive to do better by each other in the future, that really makes my prideful heart sing.  It’s the exponent in that equation.

We may not agree on what makes good politics, and we may not agree on what good music sounds like, but we all agree that we’re in this together.  One team.  Team Canada.


LEGO, Parenting Mistakes, and a Stroke of Marketing Brilliance

With the Oscars just a one more sleep away I’d like to say I’ve spent the last week filling gaps in my 2013 movie viewing repertoire.  Unfortunately, the polar vortex and its ensuing cabin fever resulted in the Lego Movie as my last visit to the cinema.

In my opinion, most movies for kids are best viewed after the DVD release.  This way, the kids can watch while we parents do something else.  Those few kids’ movies that earn box office success, do so thanks to reviews that endorse them as bearable for the parent audience to endure.  The very best of these include a hearty helping of pop culture references and adult innuendo to elicit frequent laughs from grown-ups, and the Lego Movie was one of these.  Of COURSE the Batman Lego man is cloaked in a looming aura of doom and will only build with black or “very dark grey” blocks.  Ha!

But for me, the brilliance of the Lego Movie is in its marketing genius. 

When I was a kid, my Lego kits promised that I could build two or three things; maybe a couple of simple houses.  Inside the box were various colours of big rectangles, squares and ‘the little ones.’  If the kit was fancy, I might find a few flat shapes and maybe a window or door.  That was it.  The instructions were simple, which was a good thing because in those days children were expected to amuse themselves with their toys without parental assistance.  Once I finished the structure pictured on the front of the box and used it to elicit praise from the nearest adult, I felt no hesitation in tearing it apart and making something else.  Eventually, the instructions would be tossed and the pieces would be added to my jumbled bucket of mixed shapes and colors from kits gone by. 

For years, I found entertainment in that bucket, never constructing the same thing twice, mixing and matching pieces to build something new every time with only a vague idea of the end game.  I loved my Lego, and so it’s been a bit of a disappointment that my kids don’t share this devotion.   

Lego kits today contain what feels like a million different, highly specialized pieces in every box.  No longer can you simply ask a friend to help you find all the ‘flat-white-eight ones.’  Now it’s a search for the ‘little clear button shaped one with a hinge’, and finding it is like seeking a needle in a haystack. 

Neither Craig nor I would ever claim to be engineering wizards, but we’re not dummies either, and I’m not ashamed to admit that the instructions in Jack and Taylor’s Lego kits can baffle us.  The designs are so complex that following them feels a bit like tackling homework.  There are frustrated voices, garbled comments thrown in from people on the sidelines and occasionally angry tears.  More often than not, a parent takes over; eventually the kid gets bored watching and wanders away. 

When the thing is finally finished though, it’s fantastic.  One of Jack’s kits turned out a garbage truck that was completely operational.  The driver, glorious in his five o-clock shadow, was able to grip the steering wheel, the garbage compartment cantilevered perfectly and the wheels swiveled to produce a remarkable turning radius.  It was so fantastic that today, more than five years later, it remains intact and on display in Jack’s bookshelf. 

And therein lays the issue.  The garbage truck was too good, and the idea of tearing it apart felt sacrilegious.  It took us SO long to assemble!  Where would we put the pieces if we tore it apart?  Certainly we couldn’t fathom mixing them in with other pieces from other kits!  If that one, critically important, unique piece was difficult to find in a kit of 500 pieces, imagine trying to find it amidst a mountain of 5,000!  Never mind the risk that the whole search might be futile, should that special piece have been long ago sucked up by the vacuum cleaner.

When we realized that a finished Lego structure was simply too big to store, and we could finally bring ourselves to disassemble it, the pieces were carefully separated and hermetically sealed in a kit-specific Ziploc bag along with the instructions.  The idea was that one day we would assemble it again.  But once you’d assembled it once, and undergone all of the associated stress and crying, who in their right mind would want to do that again? 

Trying to build something else out of those pieces seemed like a waste of time.  It was patently clear that anything else we might try to assemble from that special mix of highly engineered pieces would be inferior to the thing that was pictured on the box.  In the absence of achieving this level of perfection the entire exercise felt useless.

And so my kids’ Lego collections sit, gathering dust either as completed display models or in collections of lonely pieces in the backs of cupboards.

My kids have Lego because my generation loved it.  While my childhood reaction to Lego was ‘yay”, the mention of Lego to my kids is much more likely to elicit an ‘ugh.’  I hazard to guess that my kids will not be rushing to buy Lego for the next generation.

The future of Lego looks bleak.  A marketing conundrum for sure!

Enter the Lego Movie.

The plotline of the Lego Movie involves an evil overlord that insists on the creation of distinct Lego worlds.  The Lego space world shall remain separate from the Lego cowboy world.  The Lego big city world shall remain separate from the whimsical Lego circus world.  No mixing allowed.   The Lego people in the various worlds follow strict instructions as to how to navigate through their day.  They must ALWAYS follow the instructions. 

Every evil overlord these days needs a weapon of mass destruction and in this story, that weapon is the dreaded Kragle (aka Krazy Glue).  Once an army of ‘Micro-managers’ gets every piece in the perfect position, the plan is to Kragle them in place so that eventually the worlds will be permanently sealed in their most perfectly, perfect state.

As you can imagine, a hero emerges to save the Lego worlds from this grim fate.  He sets out on a mission to free the Lego people, encouraging them to unleash their inner ‘Master Builders,’ casting instructions aside, and intermixing pieces from various worlds to create unlimited construction possibilities.

For parents of my generation, the movie connects with our memory of the Lego of our youth and the sadness we feel about how Lego isn’t as fun as it once was.  Interestingly, although it’s us parents that mourn the loss of that historic Lego experience, it’s also us that, like the evil overlord in the Lego movie, are robbing it from our kids. 

It is us that demand instructions must be followed (‘at least once!’).  It is us that feels compelled to save that remarkable item once it’s built.  It is us that shudder when our kids dump the pieces on the living room floor and some of them tumble under the couch.

From a marketing perspective, the Lego Movie is admirable in its potential to drive demand for a decades old product.  However, its true brilliance lies in consumer insight into the barriers that will inhibit sustained demand. 

It was my kids who wanted to see the Lego Movie, but the more I think about it the more I realize that perhaps it wasn’t intended for kids after all.

Target Practice

I pretty much stopped clothes shopping three years ago, when I decided to leave my job.  Economy was the name of the game and so I made do with the many things I already had in my closet.  The long neglected casual part of my wardrobe began to get more regular circulation and in time I lost touch with our local dry cleaner.  I revelled in the comfort of my new best friends; my Lululemon yoga pants. 

My consulting work was done largely at my dining room table so there was no need for office wear.  Teleconferences rendered my clothing choices open to my colleagues’ imagination and even the odd Skype meeting only required semi-professional clothing from the chest up.  However, this summer a consulting project came my way that required a fair amount of face to face client meetings. 

After months of professional isolation, dusting off my career wear was fun; I felt like I was getting ‘out there’ again.  But I couldn’t help wondering if some of my career separates had seen better days.  My friend Georgina has been working on a couple of blog posts around the topic of returning to work after a career hiatus, and more than once she’s referenced the ‘faux pas’ of showing up to interviews in dated outfits.  No one wants to look like they’ve fallen behind the times.

So with Christmas behind us, The Williams family took advantage of a free day last week to travel across the border to gorge ourselves on gross consumerism and some American size meals. 

After a full five hours trolling the Fashion Outlets mall, accumulating a gaggle of shopping bags full of stuff we did (and didn’t) need, and stuffing ourselves overfull at Applebee’s, we were ready to go.  But there was just one more item on our list… a pharmacy product.  Weighing the various retail options, we found that there really only was one answer in all of our minds…  Tar-get! 

Indeed, the addition of Target to our Canadian retail landscape is something we’re all eagerly anticipating.  I think of it as a fancy Wal-Mart full of stylish merchandise at affordable prices.  Every time I drive by their illuminated logo on the slick head office building off the 401 in Toronto, I find my gaze drawn to it, wondering what merchandising delights they’re cooking up for us inside.  Even the least enthusiastic shopper in our family, Taylor, was eager to say she’d been there.  It might even warrant taking a photo of her ‘in situ’ that she could then post on social media with the hope that her friends would be jealous. 

Target Canada has been doing a simply fantastic job marketing their brand in this pre-launch phase.  Their pop up stores have attracted crowds of Canadian fans and garnered media attention.  What impresses me most about Target`s efforts so far, is the degree to which they are taking a regional approach.  Oddly some Canadian retailers forget this simple fact, but Target has recognized that Canada is not Toronto and have embraced the vastness of our country in their marketing plans.  Check out the coast to coast Holiday Road Trip promo they ran in the weeks leading up to Christmas:

Unfortunately, our first human interaction at Target in Niagara Falls, NY was an intoxicated hobo shuffling through the foyer.  I suppose that can happen in any store, but you know what they say about first impressions.  Our second impression was one of disarray.  Far from the ‘healthy mess’ merchandising strategy of legendary retailer Jean Coutu, this could only be described as a dirty mess.  Shopping carts were tattered, and staff wore wash weary red pinnies.  Merchandise lay strewn on the floor, having tumbled from half empty shelves, and Taylor slipped twice on a slimy substance in the middle of the aisle.  Unlike the spirited crowds we had encountered at the Fashion Outlets, only a handful of desolate looking shoppers wandered this sad store. 

Having secured the item we were looking for from Target’s half-hearted effort at a pharmacy department, we continued around the perimeter of the store.  There’s nothing more American than baseball, right?  Surely the sporting goods section would be better and Jack would find something to satisfy his growing baseball obsession.  But sporting goods was just as threadbare and, to my dismay, so was the selection of home goods.  The clothing section was so disturbing that we felt compelled to avert our eyes as we passed by. 

Before we left, I dictated that everyone should visit the washroom on the premise that crossing the border might take a while.  I’d call the condition of the Target washrooms the icing on the cake, but just thinking about that analogy makes me gag a little.

If this is the Target that is coming to Canada then we`re all in for some serious lunchbox letdown. 

My humble prediction though, is that this won`t be the case.  My marketing spidey senses tell me that the first Target stores that open in Canada this spring are going to be awesome.  Their pre-marketing activities have primed us to Expect More (the first part of their customer promise) and I can`t imagine that they will disappoint us.  My fear is that in time, the second half of their customer promise, Pay Less, will make it impossible to sustain.  Trying to out-discount the competition can prove a slippery slope, squeezing margins until inventory is so tight that shelves become sparse and the cleaning regimen begins to slip.  With this, the upscale clientele begin to drift away and the product selection begins skew to a discount mindset.  Until…. voila!  We`ve got our crummy Zellers back again.

To Serve and Protect

It’s on those windy autumn days, when just looking at the ice cold rain outside sends a chill to the depth of my bones, that I’m grateful we’ve managed by some miracle to keep our garage clear enough to pull the car inside.

Our garage door had opened and closed almost 20,000 times over thirteen years, far outlasting many of the other builder-installed add ons in our home, when even the most generous squirts of WD-40 would no longer silence the ear-splitting squeals of failing mechanics.  One day it refused to open at all.

Our new model came with an exterior keypad so we could open it without the ‘clicker’ by punching in a series of numbers (which I can never seem to remember).  I didn’t think we needed this feature and in keeping with my reputation for frugality, I tried to negotiate a better price to exclude the keypad.  What if rain causes a short circuit and the thing goes berserk, opening our garage door while we’re out one day?  The salesman reassured me that a protective cover on the keypad would keep this from happening.  The price was a package deal with no option to omit the external unit.

So you can imagine my dismay when I returned home last week, in the middle of a driving October rainstorm, to find the protective cover lifted and the keypad exposed.  A plastic bag containing a “Water Analysis Data Form” and a small plastic bottle had been hung from the unit.

I was alarmed by the prospect that there might be something wrong with our water.  But reading more closely I realized that this wasn’t a public health initiative.  It was a marketing ploy.

The form read like an official notice and carried a number of logos, including the Canadian Water Quality Association and the Better Business Bureau, along with instructions for collecting the sample.  A series of questions asked, ‘When was the last time you had your water tested?’ and ‘Is drinking water quality important to you?’

Looking beyond my own driveway, I could see that my neighbourhood was littered with these bags.  They were hung on garage door keypads, garage door handles and even the odd light fixture.

This kind of marketing really bugs me.

Years ago, while chatting to our neighbours we learned that they had signed up for a long term fixed price gas contract.  Debating the merits of fixed versus market pricing for gas, we quickly came to appreciate that this seemingly bright and well-educated young couple had entered into the contract with little thought.  The salesman had seemed official, and gave the impression that everyone in the neighbourhood was making the ‘obvious choice’ and signing on.  I had often wondered how these door to door companies stay in business; doesn’t everyone know to shut the door in their face?  Apparently not.  It’s not just elderly grannies who get duped.

At the very bottom of the “Water Analysis Data Form” there was a telephone number.

“Yes, I’m calling to complain about the marketing materials that your company has littered throughout my neighbourhood.”

“One moment please.  I’ll put you through to the marketing manager in charge of that program.”

Several minutes of on hold beeps gave my blood ample time to reach a rolling boil.  While I waited, I dropped the bag of marketing materials into the kitchen trash can.

When the marketing manager finally took my call, I gave her a heady blast.  I criticized the company’s marketing practices and called them unethical.  And I fumed about distribution people having the nerve to fiddle with my private property and expose my garage door keypad to the elements.

“I am so sorry!” she said.

She really sounded sorry.

“The delivery team should never have touched that.  It is most definitely not the way we want our materials to be delivered and I completely understand why you’re upset.  On behalf of the company, I want to sincerely apologize.”

Well, that really took the wind out of my indignant sails.

“I want you to know how much I appreciate you calling to let us know.  I’m sure there are many people in your neighbourhood upset about this, but it was you who took the time to pick up the phone and call us.  You see, we hire distribution companies to deliver the materials and although we give them instructions as to how this should be done, we would never know they weren’t following our instructions if it wasn’t for you.  Thank you so much for calling.”

I didn’t quite know what to say in response – you’re welcome?

“We’ve been in business for many years and have a reputation to protect.  I want you to know that we will make this right.  Can I ask your address so that I can contact the team responsible right away?”

This woman was AWESOME at her job.  In just a few minutes she managed to completely diffuse my anger and endear herself to me.  She was just the kind of authentic, empathetic and articulate person I enjoy working with and she was incredibly passionate about the company she works for.  In fact, I was so taken with her, that after I hung up the phone I reached into the trash and retrieved the flyer to look up the company name.  And I started to wonder, “Maybe we should get our water tested.”

Now, I’ve come to my senses since then.  I still think the best water out there is the stuff continually monitored by municipal water professionals that pours straight out of my kitchen faucet for practically nothing.  But I share this story because it’s an illustration of the power of fantastic customer service.  There is no more difficult job than that of the complaints department.  The people who do it really well have a special gift, and the potential to save a company from damaging word of mouth that can render marketing efforts useless for years to come.

I worry about the future of customer service in a world where it’s farmed out to faceless call centres.  It’s easy to tell when someone is reading from a script; there’s no heart baked into the words they say.  When customer issues become ‘transactions’ billed by the minute, with the objective to mark the issue closed as quickly as possible, the true nature of customer service is lost.

And marketing for these companies, gets a whole lot harder.

Has it Really Come to This?

I simply couldn’t believe the commercial I had just witnessed was for a real product.  I described it to my husband but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t manage to paint a picture that fully conveyed its weirdness.  After months of keeping my eyes and ears alert every time there was a television on in the house, I had almost convinced myself that it had existed only in my twisted imagination.

But a couple of weeks ago, Taylor finally got the iPad she had long been saving for.  Eight months of assembling community newspapers and delivering them in all manners of inclement weather, combined with birthday and Christmas requests for Future Shop gift cards finally culminated in her becoming the first kid in her class to own the newest iPad.   And it has led her to re-discover YouTube.

Yesterday she came thumping down the stairs to share her latest find….   the commercial I remembered from so many months ago…  it wasn’t just in my head…. it was REAL!

Here it is.

Isn’t it every married person’s nightmare that at some point their spouse starts wearing stuff like this?  I used to think that wearing track pants to the mall was a sure sign that someone had ‘given up’ but the Forever Lazy sets and entirely new standard.

I don’t buy for a minute that anyone would wear the Forever Lazy outside.  This is a product for the self imposed shut-in.

The phone rings: “Hey Joe, a bunch of us are playing darts at the bar next door.  We were just saying we haven’t seen you in a while.  Want to join us?”

“Gosh, I don’t know if I can,” Joe replies, stroking the soft plush of his Forever Lazy.  The thought of wriggling out of his fleece zipper suit and squeezing into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt seems like a lot of work.  He isn’t even sure his jeans still fit.  “I’ve got a few things to do around here.  I’ll maybe catch you next week.”

As I have learned from my Lululemon yoga pants, it’s a slippery slope when you make a habit of wearing stretch fabrics on a daily basis.  But at least Lululemon hints at athleticism of some sort.  The Forever Lazy screams slovenly.

I can’t even think about that butt trap door without giving myself the shivers.

But there’s a market there.  Judging if only from the parody videos I found on YouTube, people are buying them.  I got a particular giggle from this girl’s ‘product review’ video.  She says she doesn’t own a Snuggie because she thinks it’s like wearing your bathrobe backwards, which of course is true, but she did buy a Forever Lazy… four of them, in fact!

News flash — the Forever Lazy sucks.

Long Live the Creative Torture Test

At the moment my favourite TV commercials are for Febreze.  They’re the ones where blindfolded subjects are led into rooms full of disgusting objects that have been odour neutralized with Febreze and are asked to describe the smell.  I bust a gut every time someone nestles their face into sink full of greasy dishes or a filthy throw cushion and declares that is smells like the beach!

So why do I think this campaign is so brilliant?  It’s not just because it’s funny, which it clearly is.  It’s because it’s a fantastic demonstration of the product benefit done in such an engaging way.  And sadly, it’s something that we don’t see much of anymore.

In marketing lingo we call this type of ad the torture test.  You’re never really going to use Febreze as an alternative to taking rotting garbage out of your house, or as a means to avoid ever having to wash your son’s sweat socks, but these extreme rooms of stink are meant to demonstrate that there really isn’t anything in your home that is too stinky for Febreze to de-stink-ify.

In the annals of advertising history there have been a few great ads following this model.  Anyone with a formal education in marketing will likely have studied the Acapulco cliff diver ad for Timex as part of  Advertising 101.  “It takes a licking, and keeps on ticking.”

Does anyone remember the American Tourister commercial from the 1970’s where a gorilla abuses the crap out of a suitcase?  Airline baggage handlers aren’t really a bunch of savage apes but the ad clearly demonstrated that American Tourister luggage could handle the toss and smash that can only be expected when you have a workforce earning minimum wage spending eight hour shifts in a dank terminal unloading the luggage of rich vacationers.  If there’s one miss in this ad, it’s the branding.  When I originally searched for it, I searched Samsonite.  Oooops!

Luggage is one thing, but what about a fragile computer?  Toshiba illustrated the durability of their Notebook computer a number of years ago with a great ad featuring a hapless businessman who mistakenly checked it with his baggage.  “I checked my Notebook?!”  At one point we see him using the in flight oxygen mask to keep from passing out.  “I checked…. my Notebook.”  Who hasn’t experienced second thoughts about checking something fragile in their baggage?  I clearly recall the warm rush of relief I felt many years ago, opening my suitcase and finding the bottle of red wine I had packed in haste on a trip home from Germany still intact, amongst my favourite clothes.  Similarly, the Toshiba guy gushes when he retrieves his computer from the luggage belt and it powers up without incident.  “It’s alive!”

Done well, the torture test is an advertising device like no other.  But the key is to infuse it with real drama and genuine human emotion that makes it impossible for the viewer not to watch it through to the end.  And perhaps that’s the tricky part.


Inhaling Your Dessert ….. literally!

I have never understood the Red Bull phenomenon.  It’s clear that these high octane caffeinated beverages are selling like hotcakes; I see end aisle displays piled high every time I stand in the Tim Horton’s lineup at my local Esso station.  Perhaps the crackdown on drinking and driving that has compelled twenty-something men to resort to these as a means to demonstrate their macho-ness during the day?

But now there’s a whole new way to get a hit of caffeine without the calories.  It’s an inhalable product called AeroShot.   $2.99 gets you a lipstick sized tube that contains three pumps (doses?) of various B vitamins and 100mg of caffeine, about the same amount you would find in a large coffee.  Don’t ask me what B vitamins have to do with caffeine but the concept is made only stranger by the fact that the puff is delivered in the form of a lemon lime flavoured powder.

I wish them good luck.  Somehow I can’t imagine that holding this odd looking device to one’s lips and tooting down a powdery puff is going to be nearly as satisfying as pounding back a can of Rock Star or savouring a Starbucks.

The maker of AeroShot is a UK based company called Breathable Foods.  In April they’re set for the European launch of ‘Le Whaf,’ a line of drinkable dessert clouds that you pour into a snifter shaped glass and breathe in instead of consuming the calorie laden alternative.

Now maybe I’m old fashioned but I like my sweets eaten with a fork.

I’ve seen this before in new product development.  Smart and capable scientists can spend their entire career optimizing existing products, never developing something truly ‘revolutionary.’ So when someone comes up with a product that is completely unique it must be overwhelmingly exciting.  But just because something can be done, doesn’t mean that it should be done.  Take, for example, spray on hair.  Or the related, but equally ill-conceived, spray on grass.  Whether it’s your head or your lawn, it’s simply a bad idea.

There’s no doubt that calorie free dessert is an appealing concept.  But just like painting over one’s bald spots is no match for real hair, a whaf of lemon tart or a puff of caffeine is never going to match the enjoyment of real food and drink.  But that’s just my opinion.

The CEO of Breathable Foods happens to be a twenty-something business phenom who at age thirteen founded Soccernet, a football results database that sold for £25 million.  So I suppose it is possible that he knows something I don’t.

We’ll see.