Exactly a year ago today, I laid into Burger King for running a promotion for kids upwards of three around Transformers, a film for over twelves. Hollywood seems to me to be the last refuge in the scandal of junk food marketing to kids.
So it is just great news to hear now from Anna Fielder (NCC’s star international adviser) that “Burger King now say they’ve now abandoned ALL advertising of foods to kids, including abolished the children’s section of the website and stopped any tie-ins (such as toys and films) for the future.” Hurrah!
There are 630 hedge funds investing in energy markets, with, last year, $8 trillion of futures contracts in oil. There is a growing movement arguing that these speculators are not the ‘secondary’ markets they are supposed to be, improving the market for everyone, but rather a rentier class cashing in at everyone else’s expense. Hazel Henderson is an eloquent critic of the global casino economy and is worth reading on whether it is time to rein in the oil speculators…
Here is a great take on customer service in Britain today – the author Simon Silvester, from Young and Rubicon, and I worked together on debt campaigning many years ago, when he authored perhaps the best pamphlet on third world debt, called Piggy Banks.
Meeting up with Claudio Pollack today from the communications regulator, Ofcom to talk about mobile phones. Ofcom have really upped their game when it comes to protecting consumers – here is Claudio and team smiling when I last said this to them. But there’s a lot more to do … photo of grim determination now required.
I am meeting up with Derek French, who leads the campaign against bank branch closure. He tells me about Shirley Road Croydon which has lost its Post Office, HSBC and Barclays branch… and now the pharmacist is threatened.
We talk about whether the Postwatch ‘code’ on closure that operates for post offices (in normal times) could have relevance across these lifeline local services and how the new organisation could perhaps support communities that are faced with sudden threats like this to their high street and economic life. He says “don’t organise a public meeting, because if it is not packed out, they will hold it against you”, “don’t do a petition as they will say ‘these aren’t in fact our customers’” but individual letters do work well. All the more reason to have a local post office …
It caused a big conversation at home around the kitchen table when Gordon Brown urged us all not to waste food, earlier this month. The fingers waved in the air and then to a wife and 3 children pointed at me as the top food waster of the family - because I religiously throw anything away that is even minutes past its sell-by date.
Big red face for me then when the report that Brown was launching lands on my desk – 124 pages of brick, thickanalysis on the future of food and listed in the expert advisers on their panel… one Ed Mayo.
Elizabeth France is one of Britain’s Ombudsman and I visited her operations in Warrnington as she will be taking on a wider role in energy complaints. Ombudsmen (not sure a gender neutral version has caught up yet) deal with 150,000 cases a year for consumers, according to Brookerpedia.
We have been busy running events with different groups to get their input into the forward work programme for the new organisation – this morning with regulators. Lots of new ideas, but best advice so far – “start small but think big.”
This is Merling Preza, a small-scale coffee farmer from Nicaragua, who I met at the Fairtrade Foundation. She describes how families are torn apart with no jobs locally, so that young people migrate to Mexico and the USA, sending money home. The fair trade market gives a living wage, so she asked me to tell consumers here that “behind every product is a family.”
It is not just coffee, as you will know. One in four bananas now sold in the UK is fair trade certified.
Great article in Business Week on the new generation of ethical businesses who position themselves as against brands and globalisation – aiming particularly at younger consumers. They have been dubbed the ‘anti-preneurs’.