Friday Fiver

posted by Edward Jones

Friday Fiver

Soon to be called the Saturday Fiver if we post this any later, please see our take on this week’s news below. Never ones to go for the obvious, we’ve shied away from adding further comment to the ICB’s final report, instead looking at the possibility of a break up of the EU, the anniversary of Lehman’s and the shadow it still casts over our financial markets, the Daily Mail’s new website, a twitter storm at Topman and stat of the week! Massive thanks to Coffey Clare Coffey, Claire Scott, Sallie Bale, Matt Bright and Linzi Goldthorpe for this week’s contributions.

Here they are…

EU can go your own way…

This week there has been a lot of ‘break-up chat’ in the EU: first, over one hundred Eurosceptic Tories turned up to the first meeting of a new parliamentary group on Monday. The group is demanding that the Government uses the current turmoil that pervades the 27 member state club to wrest back powers from Brussels. With the sovereign debt crisis destabilising financial markets the world over, this group could be excused for thinking that they might be pushing on an open door. But alas for them, the Tory members of the Government are hampered by their EU-loving coalition partners…

Elsewhere in the EU, other countries fear expulsion from the Eurozone, namely Greece. Last night on BBC One’s Question Time, Nicola Horlick, the investment fund manager, declared that there was no future for Greece in the Eurozone; that it should leave the monetary union and return to the Drachma. All this said on the day that five central banks sought to assuage market jitters by announcing a co-ordinated move to provide commercial banks with three additional tranches of loans to help ease funding pressures. BNP Paribas’ share price may have risen following this announcement but this seems to have been the only thing to improve.

Drawing parallels between Lehman and the Eurozone

Photo: AP

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the fall of the fourth largest investment bank in America, Lehman Brothers. Three years on, with Greece teetering on the default brink, there seems to be a growing anxiety that we are on course for another Lehman’s. But can we really draw similarities between the sudden and unexpected crash of Lehman’s and the ongoing troubles of the Eurozone? Gordon Brown definitely seems to think so and what’s more the former PM, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Dalian, believes that failure to act now could result in a crisis larger than the one faced by the US in 2008.

Daily Mail launches Right Minds

The dreams of Britain’s rightwing keyboard warriors came true this week as the Daily Mail finally launched its long-awaited comment site Right Minds. Presided over by Simon Heffer, the ex-Telegraph writer, the new site will host such darlings of the right as Richard Littlejohn, Melanie Philips and Peter Hitchens.

The Mail is late to this game, with active right-of-centre community sites already on the Telegraph, Spectator, Conservative Home among many others. But Right Minds’ combination of star writers, hot button issues and simple user participation rooted in the super-sticky ecosystem of the Mail’s main site looks like it will hoover up traffic.

Topman twitter storm

Another week, another brand brought to book by the fury of the Twitteratti. This time it’s men’s high street fashion mecca Topman that has been in the eye of the Twitter storm.

Topman, part of Arcadia group, was forced to withdraw two t-shirts from its stores this week amid claims the slogans featured on them were misogynistic and promoted domestic violence. The social media backlash started on Twitter and soon spread to other social networking sites, resulting in a swift response from Topman. The offending t-shirts were removed from stores and the company issued a public apology for any offence caused.

Company backs down in face of social media storm – so far, so increasingly familiar. But are companies too quick to capitulate in the face of consumer fury? In the social media environment a ripple can quickly become a tidal wave, leaving companies no choice but to act swiftly and decisively to stem the tide. Sometimes, as in this case, it is the right decision. The Topman t-shirts were at best crass, at worst pointlessly provocative.

Brands have come a long way in waking up to the power of social media and most worth their salt take direct engagement with their consumers on Twitter or Facebook very seriously indeed. But when bored office workers with too much time on their hands have the collective clout to fundamentally affect the way companies run their business, you have to ask the question: has the social media love-in gone too far?

Stat of the week

As you may have heard, Westfield in Stratford City opened its doors this week and will see 70 per cent of all Olympic ticket holders passing through its doors. 70 per cent! We reckon this will pose a rather tasty opportunity for non-affiliated retailers to cash in on the Olympic and Paralympic Games next year and beyond.

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