Back to front

Sarantini Davidson of Zeebrugge was found lying prostrate in his wife's roses last Saturday, on the eve of the town's annual face-splitting contest. The annual festival claims the lives of, on average, 19 virgins and 44 farmers every year.

Visage Rages, the local mayor, defended the celebrations: "It's essential to the town's morale. You can't have farmers living for too long, they start laying claim to everything and they won't share their sheds. I personally have 400,000 orphans and they have to sleep in the yard due to those selfish mechanical field people." Mr Davidson was thought to have invented the tractor and had grown depressed after it was announced that all harvesting would now take place on trikes.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH BRITAIN RIGHT NOW?

Far from Rotten words by John Lydon, on Channel Poor's 'Top 10 of Punk': "That's the trouble with Britain right now, everyone runs around and chinwags with each other like they're Blue Peter presenters, "Everything's brilliant, and ooh really terrific‚ - And it isn't. It's why nothing changes." Spot on (Had to disagree with the show putting The Clash third to The Stranglers‚ second though (the Pistols were first of course).

SPORT
BRAND ANALYSIS— MAN U PLC

By Piers Hubris-Arsehole, Mendacity and Hyprocrite Partners

After a stuttering Winter period, the Stretford-based sporting and leisure giant has rediscovered its win-at-all-costs mentality and the Red Devils brand is going from strength to strength in all the major territories.

Such is the positive light that some major marketing drives have cast in the last few years — the world club champions cup in Brazil; the co-branding exercise with charity Unicef — that any negative aspects of a tiny area of the conglomerate’s operation — on-the-field playing activities - can usually be glossed over effectively. Indeed, the board of directors can rely not only on generous officiating but a benign portrayal from the UK media, so overall core values are not affected. Its refusal to participate in the FA Cup because of afore-said Brazilian jolly, or a recent mass pitch invasion (which was cunningly twisted to become an "exuberant display of emotion"), for example, did not damage either the brand or the share price unduly.

Moreover, observers realise that the UK arena is fast becoming less relevant than the global brand presence, which was undoubtedly assisted by telecoms giant Vodafone, whose recent "we’re winning" advertisement drive represented a pertinent fusion of values with United’s. The Red machine is aiming for similar success with its recent US initiatives, a sponsorship deal with Budweiser (ed: presumably the Red hordes will be too stupid to realise it’s undrinkable, a bit like Trafford’s Red Tribe offering; ha-ha) and the joint exercise with baseball team New York Yankees. Observers recognised not that America has little connection or cultural attachment to UK football, but that the conglomerate is aiming to boost presence and revenue in the world’s biggest market/ Saturation coverage is the way forward for this global entity.

Indeed, analysts have drummed home to key Stretford directors that merchandise prevails and drives on-the-field expenditure; 28 million on one player is not possible if Chen Jiong in Shanghai is not buying Man U TV or the wide array of playing strips. Incentive schemes are now in place for such fans to one day join its UK-wide fanbase at the Theatre Of Dreams. For this reason, analysts were puzzled at the recent closure through lack of sales of a superstore in key satellite Dublin.

We can only expect that the reappointment of Sir Alex Ferguson will reap further dividends. While the deal has his doctor’s firm medical authority, his potential keeling over with a heart attack half-way into the extended contract can only have a benevolent long-term affect. Analysts realise that the club likes the promotion of legends, and a messiah-like portrayal would give the brand considerable leverage going forward.

There is still evidence that the PLC is running other areas of Reputational Risk. But the story about the keen Chinese fan, who killed his boss because he wasn’t allowed freetime to go and watch the Red Devils, was successfully dampened down by the national media. David Beckham has also seen some erosion in popularity as people have begun to realise that his wife Victoria Beckham — aka Posh Spice — has no discernible talent, though the duo’s incessant promotion of the cult of celebrity on behalf of themselves and Man U PLC can only be praised.

In addition, the erection of a statue of Dennis Law is likewise seen to carry no adverse connotations: its millions of brand-loyal consumers in the Far East were never told that the Scottish striker once reluctantly relegated the Greater Manchester club while playing for their rivals from the centre of the city.

    Masonic intrigue