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What will Virgin brand boss Catherine Salway do next?

Set up her own marketing business according to a report in Marketing but precisely what kind of business she’s not saying (yet).

Salway started at Virgin 15 years ago as a press officer for Virgin Cola which must have been quite an introduction to the Virgin brand as boss Richard Branson’s opportunistic bid to take on the likes of Coke and Pepsi proved to be an unmitigated disaster.

But the point about Virgin, Branson apparently calls Salway his ‘brand guru,’ is that it’s made of india rubber, bouncing back from all sorts of disasters to profit mightily from the wheezes that do work out.

Branson also has the gift of timing, getting into businesses at what one might call the mezzanine level (when someone else has done the heavy lifting) as he did with fitness studios (Virgin Active) and getting out before the messy stuff hits the fan as he did with music retailer Virgin Megastores.

And he, or maybe Salway, is brilliant at persuading other investors to put up the hard cash, using the Virgin brand as his own corporate credit card. This is one reason why Virgin Money has so far failed to muscle in to the banking industry, a big down payment is required rather than just an appealing brand.

One of the largely unremarked successes of the UK marketing scene is the brand consultancy sector, companies like Added Value and Clear which have managed to make themselves very useful to everyone from brand owners (including buyers and sellers) and the smaller private equity houses who fund deals.

This, presumably, is where Salway is likely to start.

With Virgin as her first client of course.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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