Posts Tagged ‘Recession in Ireland’

Flip a Coin

February 9, 2011
Sober Lane, Cork - Flip a Coin

The next round could be free - Heads or Tails

My poor son!

Well, not actually.. Brendan is a great kid and for the most part he has a pretty good time doing exactly what he wants in his life with his multi media course at CIT (he is in his last year), his new website, his films and comedy projects – the world is his oyster and he approaches it in such a positive way. I’m sure he will do great.

One of the things that goes against him is his birthday! He was born on the 4th January, 1989 so there is always a danger that Christmas presents can merge into birthday presents and the big problem now is that very few of us are able for the “birthday celebrations” on the 4th January, typically when we are going back to work for the first time in the new year.

This year we had the same dilemma – Brendan was 22 on the 4th of January and as always we wanted to celebrate his day. The problem was the 4th was the Tuesday that we were all heading to work for the first time in the new year – not practical.

The solution was a gathering of Brendan’s friends and a few of us “older fogies” on the Sunday night before that and we left the choice of venue to him. Sober Lane in Cork was his choice, a place he is always raving about. I must admit that at the very tail end of Christmas a night out wasn’t something I felt like and I know Brendan was worried that most of his buddies would be in the same boat – for them it would be a case of  no “bobs”!

In we headed on the Sunday night and I was really surprised to see a packed Sober Lane pub with a great buzz – my god, what was going on here that wasn’t going on everywhere else? Brendan’s buddies arrived in and he ended up having a great night but on top of this the pub was hopping.

The Marketing Guru’s (I’m taking some licence here – why not!) sense of curiosity was working overtime trying to figure out why this pub, which to be honest didn’t seem to be anything really exceptional was so busy.

Up I went to the bar to buy the first round for the thirsty troop – no surprise it was a large order that came in at about €30 – I was nervous.. this birthday was going to clean me out! After settling up with the cheery bar man he asked me did I want to “flip a coin“?

Excuse me? Again he asked me did I want to “flip a coin”. Two guys perched at the bar supping on their pints quickly jumped in and clarified the matter “Go on will ya, heads or tails – if you get it right you get the same round free next time“. My suspicious mind started looking around for the cameras or I wondered what the big catch was about this – ok, heads it is. The barman flipped the coin and surprisingly enough heads it was!

With no real expression one way or the other the barman handed me a receipt for the drinks that I had just bought, he signed his name to it and explained that when I was ready I could bring the receipt to the bar and I would get the exact round free!! Speechless .. (where is the camera?)

Wow – I went back to our troop and told them of my great “win” – “Oh yeah” they do that here every Sunday night, I was told.

The night rolled on, I won another few rounds, there was great crack with everyone in the bar with a constant murmur of “Did you win?“. When I went to the bar the two guys still perched there were having great banter with me “You lucky xxxxxxx” … you can imagine what they were saying.

Not only did we get great value, but there was a great sense of fun and the place was packed. I noticed a funny thing as well – any time I won I felt obligated to stay and buy another round, not to try and win again but to give them something back – very few people seemed to be leaving – brilliant!

Eventually we wandered home leaving the “young guns” to do their thing – on the way to the car we passed a few pubs, which were all pretty much empty.

What the pub was doing was incredible – I can imagine when the crazy idea was first suggested it would have been shot down straight away. The accountants without a doubt had heart attacks, the managers would have argued about how it could be controlled, What about stock control? What about barmen giving free second drinks to their buddies? What about recording the free stock? What about the margins? (its actually not that bad as on average people will only win every second time – and besides you can’t pay your staff with a better percentage) What about the tax man? What about our Profits?

On top of that the Vintners organisations would have tut tutted this “stupid” idea. This crew made it work, the place was packed – and whatever the drawbacks were they still went for it and enjoy a busy pub every Sunday night when others are empty (Sober Lane is busy the whole time – as you can imagine it’s not the only creative thing they do).

When someone comes up with a crazy promotional idea in your business, look past the problems and the issues and give it a chance – you might actually gain more than you lose ..

Ok, heads or tails? – the next years services could be free!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

The Candidates – Simon Coveney, Fine Gael (Cork South Central)

February 7, 2011
Simon Coveney Fine Gael

Really Impressive Simon - Well done!

As part of the election process I am going to do a “Ronseal” (what does their tin say about them) review of the political candidates literature that comes in through our letterbox and score them accordingly!!

Candidate: Simon Coveney, Fine Gael (Cork South Central)

I must admit this impressed me the minute it landed in my hand – It looks different, it feels different and my only complaint is that I wish Simon was in my constituency!

Design and Layout (5)
This is refreshing, a big glossy A3 sheet (double the size of an A4 page) delivered in a landscape 3 panel format – why not? It looks and feels good and it is totally different to all the other literature I have reviewed – what a great way to stand out!

The other and really important thing? – it is printed in Cork. I just spotted this very subtly, not oversold but a point I appreciate – score 5

Photo (10)
The main photo used for Simon is one of him “in action” – it captures someone with a real task in mind. On the inside there is a casual photo of Simon, showing a more relaxed down to earth guy – this one was just ok, but it does show a different aspect of what he is all about. All in all I would want to vote for the guy in the photo – score 9

Contact Details (5)
He includes both his email address and his personal phone number on his flyer, as well as his own website his Facebook page and his Twitter page .. that puts him in the very progressive box and gives everyone an opportunity to really find out more about what he is like and what he is up to and a real chance to interact with him (tip for Simon: more effort on the profile pic and presentation on Facebook)  – score 5

Background (10)
This is the one area where Simon left me down (I’m sure he will be gutted!) – with such a comprehensive package he didn’t tell me anything about him. Ok, you can see his positive attitude, he gives his opinions and some of his philosophy, which is really strong but what about him? What qualifies him to take a seat, what has he accomplished? – Please let me know, it’s importantscore 6

Sales Pitch (10)
The sales pitch for Fine Gael is really refreshing and strong on the flyer and I would definitely get a sense that this is the way I would like to vote. However it is mostly about Fine Gael and not enough about Simon. I do like the “personal” letter that Simon has written “To every Cork person“, which appears at the back of the flyer and carries his signature. This is really about Fine Gael with just a tiny flavour of Simon as I have already mentioned. As a Fine Gael pitch it excels and I love the avoiding of the blatant Fianna Fail bashing – it is positive and forward looking, more about solutions than pointing out problems – score 8

Big Picture (10)
The big picture arguments are really strong with solid approaches and policies for the main areas. I love the “Irish pride” angle and the sense that we need to work together to drive into the future. Well done here – score 10

Overall Score
I am totally sold, but I would love to have learnt more about Simon – wasted opportunity. The arguments and presentation are strong enough for me to be convinced that Simon means business and is very serious about winning a seat. He makes promises here and they seem to have substance.

As I said in the beginning , I’m sorry Simon is not in my constituency overall score 43 out of 50.

Best of luck in the elections Simon!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

But you have no experience ..

December 20, 2010
Fuzion Christmas Card

Fuzion Christmas Card - Paul Wade

On the 1st October a really bright young aspiring Graphic Designer called into Fuzion to show us his portfolio. This followed a very courteous email about wanting some work experience at no charge.

The situation is really simple – Paul Wade a recent graduate of CIT, the Design & Communications course, like so many other graduates has no practical work experience. He is looking for a job and of course …. he has no experience!

Instead of this being an obstacle he simply removed the problem by asking us to take him on for free in exchange for “experience” – he has been working and learning under Graham our Senior Designer for the last two months. As he says himself, he has learnt more in these two months than he had in his few years at college.

The one thing we can’t teach him is something he had already in bucket loads – a great can-do positive attitude.

The other thing about Paul is that he also has a job in a local supermarket, which pays his bills.

As soon as the workload permits we would like to take him on here – why? He has a great attitude, he is a nice guy, he has integrated with our team and he has learned a lot.

By the way – the Fuzion Christmas card you can see on this blog – that’s Paul’s work!

Well done Paul for making it happen!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

Why we all need to think like Steve Jobs

December 14, 2010
Steve Jobs - We need to think like him!

Steve Jobs - We need to think like him!

When we think about innovation we normally conjure up images of scientists in laboratories working on breakthrough experiments and we think of people like Steve Jobs at Apple launching great new iconic products like the iPad.

While this type of innovation is “in lights” we need to embrace some form of change and innovation in the way we have been doing things for all of us to survive.

In Fuzion we are lucky in that during the course of our work we meet “innovators” on a regular basis as part of our work, people trying to launch new products and services. For example recently we had a guy who owns a company operating in the construction sector who has just developed a new product, which he is looking to launch in the marketplace. He explained to us how excited he is at the moment and how he is now actually enjoying the new challenges that the current environment has thrown at him.

This attitude is great and shows the resolve of people who are not sitting back and innovating, mainly forced due to circumstances. This is all about doing something new but I feel innovation can come in many other ways.

I write this on the Sunday, 28th November, 2010 when the IMF bailout agreement has been put in place with Ireland (and to add insult to injury Liverpool surrendered a good performance and lead and ended up losing to Spurs!). Everyone is up in arms, protesting and venting their fury through angry conversations, online on twitter, with angry editorial in our media and is awful.

We are now paying for terrible excess, lousy governance and mismanagement in “our” country but we need to take responsibility and we desperately need to start doing things in new ways and different from the past.

What kind of innovation is needed from us?

We need to find new ways of running our country efficiently, at a much lower cost and more importantly provide new opportunities for those displaced. There is an opportunity to really sort out the excesses in the Public Sector, which must be embraced.

We need to take a new and responsible approach as to who we vote into power next time round.

We need a new system of government that promotes standards and expertise and not local favours.

We need a new tax system that incentivises risk, investment in expansion and new employment.

We need new approaches to deal with the excess in commercial and residential property in the country. There are solutions that will help here that have largely been ignored. New conditions need new solutions.

We need new approaches to red tape legislation and regulation and adopt a genuine agenda of making things happen instead of “you can’t do that because”. How about “If you do this it will be fine”?

We need a new, but fair welfare system that cares for those who genuinely are unable to work or those who cannot find work but does not reward those who choose to take an easy option.

We need new and honest attitudes towards cheating in this country.

We need new attitudes towards buying products and services from Irish suppliers.

We need new messages about Ireland and start talking up how great this country is to anyone abroad.

We need to be creative and take new approaches to finding work including “try before you buy” and this needs to be genuinely supported by our welfare systems. People who take a risk get rewarded.

We need to start having new conversations about positive things. I can’t take any more of this doom and gloom. It has us all in a very deep hole, which isn’t helping our country.

No one owes us a living, but we owe it to ourselves to reinvent ourselves as true innovators, start adopting new attitudes and new ways of doing things in Ireland.

Ok, it’s not exactly like Steve Jobs this is real innovation that we can all adopt and really need to at this stage.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

Another Crazy Christmas! – Some Tips for Retailers

December 10, 2010
Tips for Retail at Christmas

Tips for Retail for Christmas

Writing a piece about retailing at Christmas should be quite straight forward you would imagine, but writing a piece that it is really helpful for retailers that have been through so many of them at this stage is a little daunting I must admit!

With a backdrop of recession and cutbacks, getting customers parting with their hard earned cash will be more challenging than ever but presents must be bought so let’s roll up our sleeves.

As part of the preparation for this article I decided I should ask my good buddy Mr Google for a little help and see what extra nuggets I could find that would definitely impress the experienced retailers out there.

If you Google “Tips for retailing at Christmas” you will be quite surprised with what you will find! My search actually took me to a website called – can you imagine a website designated to just that topic!

In a way it’s not at all surprising seeing as the Christmas period accounts for a huge % of peoples revenue as well as a huge % of footfall. Even more important the festive period will bring a large number of “new” visitors who could well be trying out your store for the first time – what an incredible opportunity if you really think about it.

I will look at the tips under four broad headings:

Attract the customers into your store

Customer loyalty is as a result of the good work you have done throughout the year and will determine where customers will do their shopping when it comes to Christmas. However you have to do your utmost to attract them in and compete for their attention.

Database Promotions – this is where you use your databases, your invite lists, and your Facebook page for special offers, special customer nights and even Christmas cards as gentle reminders that you are open for business.

Wow Window displays – Christmas windows are really special and if possible push the boat out and really build attractive displays that grab customer attention. (I always get blown away by the window displays in London at this time)

While having an attractive window display is critical, remember that people need complete “solutions” with either their outfits or their gifts – be sure to put your best foot forward at all times with your most attractive and available stock.

Fresh – Have new merchandise arrive throughout the whole festive period keeping your store fresh and if not refresh and rotate the key displays so that the store feels new and vibrant.

Offers – Make sure your promotions are well displayed but in a tasteful way and in keeping with the overall store look and feel.

Clean and tidy store – Allow extra staff time each evening for cleaning, tidying and rearranging so that the store is looking the best as much as possible.


Look after the customer really well when they get there

Research has shown that at Christmas 60% of purchasing decisions are made within the store – once they come in your door make sure that happens.

Christmas is a Floor Show – One of the sites I visited referred to retailing at Christmas as being a “Floor Show”. The game is won and lost on the sales floor and this is where the staff and managers should be spending their time looking after customers, making sure that the part time staff knows what they are doing, spotting trends and sorting out issues – plenty time for the office work in the New Year!

Happy Team – Keep your team motivated and upbeat. Christmas is a happy time and cheery staff are vital for the business. It is your responsibility to keep them happy, plan a Christmas party, bring them coffee and treats and make sure you rotate them so that they don’t get too jaded as this will result in lost business.

Happy Customers – Make sure there is a good atmosphere in the store with nice scents and festive but not “too” typical music. Offering a festive drink or some sweets or treats can put the shopper in a very good mood.


Give yourself every chance of selling to customers and as much as possible

Once you have done the hard job of attracting people into your store you want them to do a lot more than browse and say thank you!

Make it easy – Shoppers want to maximise their time and minimise their decision making so make it easy for them by bundling and coordinating products, labelling them clearly and having relevant accessories within easy access.

Have a Top 10 or Favourites rail – Display the popular lines prominently making it easy for the customer to purchase with confidence.

Show people what to buy – Create displays with the specific solutions in mind such as mother’s gifts, party wear etc

The right staff – You need the right quantity of good staff to maximise your income at this time. Bring part-time staff in during the lead up to Christmas in plenty of time so they are sufficiently up to speed for the rush.

Speedy Gonzales – Have your quickest people on the tills and on wrapping duty – remember Rowan Atkinson (Mr Bean) in the store in the movie Love Actually!

Exchange policy and vouchers – make it as easy as possible for customers to buy by removing obstacles such as “What if they don’t like it?” objections.

Gift wrap – for the guys this is an absolute must as long as it doesn’t take too long and interferes with sales. Pre-wrap fast selling items where possible.


Entice them to return in the New Year

This is the one area that for some reason wasn’t covered in any of the websites, which really surprised me.

Accepting that many new customers visit your store in the Christmas period and many of the other shoppers may just be customers for special occasions, give them a special reason for returning earlier than expected.

New Year Initiatives such as invitations to a special VIP Customer “sale day” or a unique voucher that can be redeemed with purchases in the New Year might achieve this. Brainstorm ideas with your staff to encourage early New Year visits for customers.

Running competitions can be another clever way of building a fresh customer database at this time as long as it doesn’t create delays at the till!

I hope the Christmas tips have been helpful and serve you well into 2011 when we have to do it all over again, Merry Christmas!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications



We need a NEW Green “Irish” Agenda

November 2, 2010
Irish Flag

Irish Flag

To be honest I’m not too concerned about the Green agenda as we know it.

Of course I care about the environment but at the moment I care a lot more about our country, the economy, our people, our children and our attitude towards ourselves’ and where we live.

I feel we are in danger of losing sight of the good things about Ireland or at least forgetting what we have and how it is such a special country.
At the moment it feels like we are all working in a company that is going into liquidation, we have to get on with our work but we know the place could fold any day. As regards being forward looking, what’s the point as who knows if the place will even be open next week?

We urgently need a NEW Green Agenda for Ireland.

As is the case in business with any objective for this to work everyone must be clear about the goal, we must understand it and we must play our part in achieving it.

All of this sounds wonderful but I believe it can be achieved if we do following four things:

Adopt a Make it Happen Approach

We have to get more Irish people working and Ireland making money again and this will happen if everyone in whatever role they have adopts a genuine “Make It Happen” approach.

If regulators, fire officers, planning officials, politicians, bankers, health & safety officials, ESB, phone and broadband installers, approach their jobs with a “Make it Happen” approach then more businesses would open and more events and activities would be possible. I am not saying allow bad practices but approach the problem with a solution mindset instead of a “Can’t do that” one and watch the difference.

Liquidators, bankers, NAMA, regulators – there is an insatiable appetite now to shut people and businesses down (and this does include builders). Work to the Green Agenda – keep business open, keep people who want to continue, open, instead of shutting them down. If this was a genuine objective, then better solutions would be found than those we are seeing currently.

We are haemorrhaging money in the public service and we just can’t afford this anymore. Let’s provide for our people who are sick, let’s give our children the best possible education and let’s provide financial support for those misfortunate enough not to have work. However, don’t rip Ireland (us) off with unnecessary bureaucracy, claiming welfare and other benefits illegally and not working at full capacity. Be honest, have a Green agenda, it’s our country, let’s protect it.

Initiate Real Positive Initiatives

The budget, the budget ..Ok, this will take money out of the system, which is going to affect everyone.

A few things here – If we adopt a Make it Happen approach the fall will not be as hard, if we take the opportunity to squeeze out excess and inefficiency in the public service it will be a great days work, which should have been done a long time ago, if we use the taxation mechanisms to encourage the better utilisation of assets and encourage people who are sitting on Celtic Tiger wealth to start investing then it won’t be so bad.
I’m ok with taking some bad tasting medicine as long as there is an equal package of Real Positive Initiatives. I’m talking initiatives to encourage new business, to encourage investment in capital, incentives to do something with our vast property portfolio, training and investment initiatives as encouragement for new business and real taxation incentives for people who are willing to Make It Happen. (Since the recession has kicked in I have seen virtually no Real Positive Initiatives)

Encourage a Spend Ireland Campaign

We have to encourage people to spend money on Irish products and Irish services, proactively keeping money circulating in the country.
I’m talking a lot more that consumers looking out for Irish products when they are doing their shopping. I am talking about purchasing managers deliberately choosing Irish products and services and retailers making this a priority and giving the Irish products pride of place on the shelves. This isn’t a cop out for Irish suppliers, who have to manage their businesses to the extent that they can compete with foreign alternatives. Besides products we need to choose Irish service providers – have a genuine buy Irish agenda. This money will come back to you somewhere along the way.

As part of this initiative I would encourage all companies to keep as many people working as possible. Not a time for making a few quid extra by outsourcing to India.

Work hard on “Ireland PR”

Finally and most importantly we need to get back to celebrating our fabulous country and start talking it up. It is a great place to live and we need to stop knocking it. In everything we do we need to be conscious of our Irishness and do everything to project the right image. This includes all of us including even Brian Cowen! We should continue and encourage events and activities that showcase Ireland abroad. Quite simply we need to start “Talking Ireland Up”.

Maybe all of this is a little Utopian but I do feel that collectively we need to lift our heads, pull together in the same direction and grasp a NEW Green Agenda, an Irish agenda.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

Buying with a PR Objective

October 12, 2010

When anyone in the retail sector is doing their purchasing they already have many objectives in mind such as:

  • The Margin that is available on the stock
  • Credit terms
  • Reliability of supply
  • Resulting Price points
  • Range of stock
  • Storage
  • Returns policy
  • Ability to compete versus competition
  • Will it sell!!
Buying with a PR Agenda

Buying with a PR Agenda

I know you probably have enough on your plate but (the famous but!), I would strongly encourage every purchasing manager to also include a definite “PR Agenda” as part of the criteria when deciding on which suppliers to buy from and which stock to choose.
If your purchasing is approached in this way then there will be opportunities for valuable Press Coverage, which will be terrific for awareness and for attracting shoppers into your store.

So.. what exactly do I mean when I say purchase with a PR Agenda? – I have a few tips that may help you as follows..

Look for suppliers that have a pro-active PR resource – what will they do to promote the stock you buy from them?
When choosing a supplier look for one that is actively engaged in PR, which when operated properly will result in your store being mentioned as a stockist in Press coverage that is achieved in your locality. Don’t be afraid to ask for evidence of this including copies of press clippings for other stockists etc (make sure your supplier also includes your details on their website as a stockist)

Choose suppliers that have timely press images available of the stock that you are purchasing
If the supplier does not have a PR resource the next best thing is that you are able to do your own PR in your locality and beyond. This will be made a lot easier if the supplier can provide you with timely, good quality, attractive (high resolution) images. With these you or your own PR firm can issue your own press releases. (another tip – include these images on your Facebook page)

Choose products that are exclusive and unique
When deciding on which stock to purchase, try to secure brands or ranges of stock that will be exclusive to your store. A second point here is to purchase “unusual” items that will by their very nature turn heads and achieve coverage. You may be tempted to play it very safe with stock and avoid unusual items that may not sell – take a risk here, even with a small quantity of “PR Stock”. Get this one right and the PR value will well exceed the cost of the stock purchased.

Frequency of PR
Try to plan your buying so that you have new stock and the ability to issue an interesting Press Release as often as possible during the year. The Press will write about your store quite often as long as you have a new story to tell.

National versus loca
Achieving PR is really valuable for your store as we have discussed – will your plan achieve local PR or is it possible to achieve national PR? Try hard to have something that will bring you attention with the press nationally. As discussed already this will be down to you being the “exclusive stockist of unusual items”

For example at Fuzion we have achieved national coverage for small stores as a result of them having quite unusual stock items in their range – this will generate curiosity with customers and press as well as a national reputation for your store.

Overall Review of your purchase plan
Once you have made the bulk of your purchasing decisions in terms of suppliers and stock sit back and review this to ensure that the plan has sufficient “PR Ability” applying the PR criteria as discussed above: PR Resource, PR Images, Exclusive Stock, Wow Stock, Frequency and National versus Local.

Maybe you need to make a few changes or add something into the mix to achieve your PR Objective?

Customer “Wow” & Word of Mouth
Not only will the unusual items of stock help you to achieve Press Coverage but they will also achieve valuable “Word of Mouth” with customers. Help this along by displaying unusual items prominently in your store and by distributing the images on your Facebook pages. Customers could well make the assumption that if you can purchase usual items in the store, then surely there will be a great selection of “other” stock?

At a time when budgets are very tight (or anytime to be honest!) bringing a PR “agenda” into your purchasing criteria could play a very valuable role in attracting new customers to your store as well as  building your reputation as being quite special.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

Bill Clinton – Understanding bread to avoid making toast!

October 5, 2010

Bill Clinton and the Irish Toast

Bill Clinton and the Irish Toast

Bill Clinton made a huge impression in Ireland last week during his visit and scored huge credibility points with his straight talk and in particular his comment that “Ireland needed to get a handle on the Economy and its Finances or else it would be toast

This speech came at the same time as we announced even bigger banking deficits and serious noises about four year austerity budgets. Doom and Gloom in mega portions. Would you like some despair with that?

Bill was quickly compared by the media to our own leaders and we all fell into a hole of depression as we know we are seriously lacking in credible and inspirational leadership that we can genuinely believe in. Bill did say we could take the tough medicine IF we believed in the results that would follow.

He is right – we need to get a handle on our economy before we are all toast.

The big issue is that no one seems to have a clue about bread and how to avoid our bread (or lack of it!) turning into toast – it just isn’t understood. I am getting no sense from anyone that there is anything close to a solution, a definite and a clear believable plan.

I had a meeting this morning with an accountant friend of mine and the subject of Irish toast came up.

Quite simply my friend made a statement “As accountants, both of us we know that you just can’t take any more money out of this economy. People are on their knees so this is an impossible situation.” The elephant in the room was let out! Of course you can’t get blood from a stone, that is so obvious.

There is a tricky dynamic between confidence, spending, investment, disposable income, indirect taxes and direct taxes, which has us barely hanging in there. Without confidence we have not been spending, which has impacted on tax take and look what’s happened.

The feeling and atmosphere I witnessed since last week reminds me of the terror and fear that gripped everyone and resulted in choking the life out of the economy at the start of 2009.

Without a huge package of Real Positive Initiatives (RPI and not RIP!) that help to generate spending and job creation in the economy, some of which we heard about from Grant Thornton last week on Newstalk (for example in Australia 100% Capital allowances were introduced to encourage spending and investment) to go with some necessary cutbacks, where there is still serious excess we will in serious bother.

Do we need to understand about making bread if we want to avoid being toast?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

A Modern Fairytale – The Beautiful Village and the Hole

September 12, 2010
A Modern Fairytale

A Modern Fairytale

There was a beautiful scenic village in the middle of the country that was the pride of everyone that lived there. In fact the village was so beautiful that everyone wanted to live there.

One of the lords who owned land outside the town decided that it was a good idea to make the village even bigger so he asked his friends to buy some of his land and build new cottages outside the town. He asked other friends to give the first friends money so they could buy his land and start building. The builder friend became friendly with the banker friend and asked him if he could lend money to the villagers so they buy these houses and pay for them over 30 years. Even villagers who already had a cottage could buy another cottage if they wanted to and they could pay for them over 30 years.

The lord, the builder and the banker told the villagers that it was a fabulous idea for them to buy these cottages and pay for them over 30 years. They were not to worry as they would always have good jobs that paid good money so they could pay for these cottages and look after their families as well.

The banker friend told the builder friend that he could charge the villagers a lot for the cottages as they had 30 years to pay for them and he was happy to lend them that sort of money. After all the more money he could lend them the more money he would make and that would make both of them very happy and even better friends. The lord and the builder and the banker ordered the finest food and the finest wine and celebrated their new friendship every night in their new castles and planned on building even more cottages in more villages.

All the friends were happy and they started building lots and lots of new cottages outside the village. The heavy machines drove through the town every day as they brought materials to build the new cottages. Every time they drove through the beautiful village a hole opened up in the middle of the village that just got bigger and bigger.

Everyone was confused because everyone was supposed to be happy – the lord, the builder friend, the banker friend and the people who could buy their houses over 30 years. So, why was a big dangerous hole opening up in the middle of the village, that no one was doing anything about?

The other problem was that the beautiful village wasn’t so beautiful any more because of the big hole, which was very ugly. Some of the villagers who wanted to buy the new cottages changed their minds and many of those who had bought them were sorry that they had.

The villagers were worried about the hole so they asked a few labourers to have a look at it to see what they could do with it.

Not able to see clearly to the bottom they decided they better call some experts to see exactly how big the hole was so they know knew exactly what quantity of materials they had better order to fill in the hole.

The materials were quite expensive so the villagers asked the lord, the builder and the banker for money so they could buy them to fix the hole. After all the villagers felt it was ok to ask them as they felt the hole was because of all the building.

Unfortunately and for some reason neither the lord or the builder or the banker had any money. At least that is what they told the villagers.

The villagers were very confused, angry and upset but because the hole was so dangerous, they went to the King of all the land and explained to them how worried they were as the hole was very dangerous and that it needed to be filled in.

The King told them that even though the hole was not their fault he was going to bring in a new “Hole Tax” so that he could collect money from them to fix the hole.

The Lord, the Builders and the Bank friends told the King that they couldn’t pay the new “Hole Tax” because they had no money. He said fine very quickly. They then had some food and wine in his castle.

The villagers who had bought the new houses and were paying for them over 30 years were worried as they had very little money and they felt they couldn’t afford to pay the “Hole Tax”.

One of the villagers went home and was very upset because he was so worried that he would not have any money for paying the “Hole Tax” and feed his family as well.

His little girl saw him crying and asked why he was upset?

He told her the story about the hole and he did his best to explain to her what happened.

“Where is all the money gone?” she said after listening to his story “Someone must have it, after all”

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

The Problem with the hole

September 1, 2010
Brian Cowen

Brian Cowen - Can someone fill that hole please?

I am so angry this morning.

Yesterday I drove through Bandon in West Cork on the way to a client meeting and watched a long queue of men (one woman) outside a Post Office waiting to collect their dole money. Depressing sight.

I watched Alan Dukes of Anglo Irish Bank this morning on Ireland AM in mono tone explaining how the hole gets bigger because the “property” assets keep reducing in value: “we have to protect the depositors!” – who are they, please tell me?

I heard 47yr old Declan Murphy, 4th generation menswear store from Newcastlewest in Co.Limerick passionately talk on Newstalk this morning about how he is taking his wife and 3 kids to Australia because he can’t provide for them here. He is a proud Limerick man but can’t see himself coming back to Ireland.

He made a very simple point, which I believe in strongly ..

Unless we do positive things to generate employment and get things going in this country instead of pumping money into a bottomless pit we will never recover. A “win-win” he called it.

The hole will get bigger unless we treat the symptoms.

We need positive activity (People are more positive but outside of that I see absolutely none, not with banks or government) – that does not mean decisions to pump more money into NAMA and Anglo. It means generating employment, more income for people which will in time generate demand for some of those ghost properties – maybe the hole will get smaller?

Maybe it’s being very simplistic but it does seem very obvious – I wonder what our old friend Willie Sutton would say about it?

Best of luck in Australia Declan, come back and visit your folks sometime.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications