Archive for March, 2012

At last our First Minister Carwyn Jones has taken the initiative on a vital part of the region’s infrastructure – our airport.

Come fly with us: Carwyn Jones stated he believes Cardiff Airport can surpass Bristol, its closest rival.

I read in the Western Mail yesterday of his desire to form a stakeholder group of interested parties to look at the future of Cardiff Airport, which he believes does have the potential to overtake its nearest rival, Bristol.

Without a truly international airport in Cardiff, those attempting to bring new inward investment and more tourism to Wales are really up against it.

Lets up that Carwyn’s group meets quickly and develops a strategy which can deliver real results. Well done, Carwyn, and good luck!

It struck me on the train to and from London yesterday as well as travelling on the underground that so many of us, especially the younger generation, rely so much upon our mobiles.

'Cocooned' consumers: Are we becoming too dependent on our mobiles?

It was refreshing to arrive at a reception in the magnificent Merchant Taylor’s Hall in Threadneedle Street before the annual NCWE Awards ceremony to actually mingle and talk face to face with people, communicating with body language, eye movement, gestures, as well as listening and waiting before answering questions. It was a delight to engage with Nikki and Hannah from Holiday Extras, one of the NCWE sponsors, who told me more about their organisation and themselves that I would have gathered from their company’s website.

It does worry me that in our digital age many traditional ways of communicating are becoming lost to younger generations. As marketing advisors we have to be so very careful of giving clients the right advice on using digital media – using it as part of a multifaceted communication campaign, not as the only method, which seems to be the vogue for so many at present. Indeed, as I read in yesterday’s Evening Standard, M&C Saatchi credit the soaring demand from clients wanting to create apps and buy advertising on mobile devices with helping them double their annual profits to a record £16 million! As Chief Executive David Kershaw said, margins are better in sectors such as digital as “clients are prepared to pay more for that which they know less about.”

Network failure: a multifaceted approach to communication is vital.

So while it appears there is no stopping the rise of digital promotion, marketers should remember that as research from the Consumer Knowledge Centre says, “the cocooned consumer is looking to brands for resonance, nurturing, and genuineness; brands must offer support and transparency.” I doubt that this can be done solely in messages of 140 characters. The case for a multifaceted approach to campaigns is vital in both the short and long term for all advertisers.

Thank goodness, otherwise I would have to admit defeat and never step out of my front door, do all my networking, and communicate by iPhone, emails, etc. I would save a lot on clothes, cleaning offices and in other areas, but would miss the social interaction and genuine enjoyments of meeting people face to face.

As we all recover out composure following Saturday’s brilliant result for our rugby aces it is somewhat sobering to read

Fasten your seatbelts: Effective infrastructure is vital if Wales is to be a true player on the world map.

in today’s South Wales Echo of the Welsh Government’s report, showing that the New York air link could bring in 10,000 business visitors and boost exports by over £40 million.

I understand that the airport was very busy with excited French fans over the weekend. Why can the findings of this latest WG report not be used to further the cause for the investment needed to get this New York – Cardiff service up and running?

Sion Barry’s piece last week highlighted how non-direct subsidy of the airport could be a way around the EU problems identified. I really do think it is the role of the WG, its politicians and its civil servants, to find a way around this problem. Please do not let yet another report on the vital necessity of an international airport to the Cardiff region be allowed to gather dust in some library.

I am convinced that the psychological benefits to Wales, let alone the financial ones, from having a regular service from Cardiff to New York will help put Cardiff and Wales firmly on the world map. Can you imagine the publicity around a President of the United States arriving at Cardiff International Airport? Or the New York Yankees coming to play at the Millennium Stadium?

If Wales is to succeed on the world stage we have to get our transport infrastructure rights, and a successful airport is at the heart of this.

As our rugby heroes of last weekend have shown, we Welsh can beat anyone on the world on a level playing field. Unless we get our infrastructure and the airport right, we will never attract the inward investment which Wales so desperately needs to grow.

With Hull’s victory over Cardiff City last night still a sore point for some attendees, it was perhaps less than timely that a Hull graduate should address the Breakfast Club this morning. However, Jonathan Ford, CEO of the Football Association of Wales (FAW), impressed supporters of both Welsh football and Welsh business with his inspiring and dynamic presentation, firmly demonstrating the sport’s transition from ball game to business.

The game is undoubtedly the UK’s most-watched sport, with the least-watched game in 2004 still garnering significantly more viewers than the year’s other defining sporting moment, Kelly Holmes’ Olympic gold.

In Wales, too, the default to rugby is not as clear-cut as one may assume. There are 100,000 registered football players in Wales, and 1500 clubs. In comparison, Wales has 50,000 registered rugby players, in 340 clubs. While Jonathan acknowledged rugby’s immense popularity was a particular challenge to football in Wales, interest in Welsh football is not that far behind. He praised the incredible show of support for Cardiff City’s recent Carling Cup final, and also highlighted the fact that the media coverage it received was comparable to the same weekend’s rugby match against England.

Jonathan stressed the fact that in him the FAW were appointing a businessman, not a footballer; a break from tradition in the sporting world. The business model he has put in place is reaping rewards, and is no longer reactive, but proactive. An example that sparked questions from the floor concerned the FAW’s revenue streams. 35% of the FAW’s income is generated through television coverage of games, yet coverage received is directly dependent on the team you are drawn against – a game of chance

'Innovating, evolving and getting stronger' - FA Wales

that causes significant financial “peaks and troughs”. With similar problems experienced by other UEFA countries, a centralisation process has been put in place to allow a much steadier return – and greater long-term planning and investment.

Jonathan firmly believes in the power of football to “improve people’s lives here in Wales”. FAW profits are ploughed back into the development of the game at all levels. Having “torn up” the previous strategic plan, Jonathan’s centres the new FAW around team work, communication, evolution and, of course, “winning more”. Ultimately, it is “all about qualification”, with sights firmly set on the Brazil World Cup 2014 and the Euros in 2016.

With Jonathan’s “forward-thinking, modern FAW” laying the building blocks,Wales should have no problem capitalising on our players’ undoubted talent when qualification comes. As one attendee said after the presentation – “See you in Brazil!”


The next Breakfast Club meeting will take place on the 27th of April, with Suzi Clay of Land Securities. If you would like to reserve a place, please email 

First Minister Carwyn Jones came under fire yesterday for "talking down" Wales' only international airport

How very sad and strange to read in today’s Western Mail that our First Minister made comments in the Senedd yesterday about not wishing to bring visitors to Wales through Cardiff Airport, due to the bad impression it would give.

As AM Eluned Parrott stated last night, it’s “bizarre” that he should make such a statement only a couple of weeks after talking about subsidising flights between Cardiff and China, something I totally applaud.

While I do understand the problem of the Welsh Government (WG) being able to directly help underwrite some of the costs of supporting the airport in its negotiations with Delta Airlines, to create a direct link with New York, ways must be found for the WG to invest in the airport if its Spanish owners will not.

The recent talk of City Region status and bringing back the WDA brand becomes academic in my eyes, as someone who has been involved in marketing for many years. Without an effective international airport; the key ingredient of a sales proposition for selling Cardiff and Wales to the world, everyone’s efforts will be wasted.

Jonathan Ford, CEO of the Football Association of Wales (FAW) inferred as much in his very impressive talk to the Cardiff Breakfast Club this morning. He discussed the need to do more to ensure we attract global football to Wales and his desire to hold major international tournaments here, but stated that we do have infrastructure problems – i.e. the airport, through which visiting football teams and fans would travel.

From sport to education, tourism, business and entertainment, if we had more direct flights to influential destinations we all know what could happen to our economy. Let’s hope the First Minister’s remarks were part of a well thought out strategy to raise debate on this crucial subject; an issue that it is vital we resolve if we are to truly compete on a global stage.

Cardiff Airport: a vital first impression for visitors to Wales

How refreshing to read in Sion Barry’s piece in the Western Mail yesterday that the group considering the potential role of city regions in delivering more jobs and improving prosperity in Wales is calling for evidence.

The group, established by Business Minister Edwina Hart and chaired by Dr Elizabeth Haywood, says that it has found no evidence to support any negative impact on areas outside city regions in other parts of the world. Rather the contrary – they tend to benefit! They are now engaging in wider public consultation on the subject.

What fabulous news for those like me promoting the Cardiff City Region. I really feel that this is valuable momentum being created on this vitally important issue, and look forward to reading the group’s report at the end of May.

In the last 24 hours I have attended two business events where speakers from totally different walks of life emphasised to the audience that whatever successful organisation you analyse it is the quality of the people in them that make it work.

Adam Crozier, Chief Executive of ITV

Last night I was one of around 200 guests of the Cardiff Business Club who listened to the lecture given by Adam Crozier, Chief Executive of ITV. I was enthralled by his clear, honest appraisal of what has been achieved by the organisation since he took over as Chief Executive in 2010. He explained how he has gone back to basics, and once again ITV are producing award-winning content. One example is the incredibly successful drama Downton Abbey, which is being sold around the world, giving valuable additional income to advertising revenue which had been hit by the recession.

He told the Cardiff audience that ITV was committed to regional programming and news / current affairs. All the changes he described had been brought about by a talented group of people who now had a clear direction, ensuring ITV a sustainable future.

This theme of talented, committed people was echoed by an inspiring and yet humbling lecture given by Lt. Col James de Labilliere of the 1st Rifles Regiment,based in Chepstow. He related to an audience at the M4 Breakfast Club in the Celtic Manor in some detail the work undertaken in extreme conditions by his regiment during their last tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Lt Col James de Labilliere of the 1st Rifles Regiment

He paid tribute to all his regiment; their bravery, commitment, camaraderie and selflessness, as well as the strength and support of their families, friends and communities back home.

When two injured riflemen came round to collect money for their ‘Swift and Bold’ (the 1st Rifles’ motto) wristband appeal, I was genuinely embarassed not to have any money on me. Hence I have made a donation to the appeal today. If you would like to donate, you can do so at – or by clicking here

The common theme for me in both lectures was the great importance of not only inspiring leadership, as Adam and James exemplify, but also the importance of their recognition that without disciplined, highly trained, high quality, committed, passionate, creative people, neither organisation could succeed in their separate missions.

I was truly impressed by both men who really did remind me that however good leadership is, without good people an organisation can never prosper.

Biotech entrepreneur Sir Chris Evans - "We have to get noticed."

How refreshing to read of Sir Chris Evans’ commitment to Wales, and that he would be ‘sticking around to ensure the success of the biotechnology industry in Wales’, as reported by Robert Llewellyn Jones in today’s Western Mail following the ACCA’s St David’s Day Breakfast.

It is my strong opinion that successful entrepreneurs like Sir Chris must be encouraged to lead the way for their sector in Wales. Their experience, commitment and passion for Wales must be harnessed so that we can all benefit and help our fragile economy grow and be successful in the future.


Well what a great week I am having.

Firstly, while recovering from another hard session in the David Lloyd gym on Monday night, who should I find queuing behind me to get a shower but one of last Saturday’s Triple Crown rugby champions, Jamie Roberts!

Momentarily struck dumb I recovered my composure to utter what a wonderful weekend it had been for Welsh sport. We chatted for a while and I was struck by how well he conducted himself talking to anyone who approached him. What a super ambassador for Welsh rugby and Welsh sport.

Secondly, I was truly delighted to read in today’s Western Mail that Business Minister Edwina Hart has launched a £6 million fund to support the growth of microbusinesses.

How refreshing to see a practical response from the Welsh Government to the report published in January by the Micro Business Task and Finish Group, chaired by Institute of Directors director Robert Lloyd Griffiths.

At last it is being recognised how much of a difference supporting our 124,000 micro enterprises can make to the Welsh economy. Lets hope that this support will lead to new sustainable jobs in this important sector.

Thirdly, a delightful surprise to find that my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter are on their way to spend part of St David’s Day with us. Join the St David’s Day parade at 12.30 outside City Hall and you may well spot me with my brothers, David and Michael.

Diwrnod Dewi Sant Hapus – Happy St David’s Day!