I spent a fair amount of time working with a leading Israeli food and coffee company in the 1990’s. At the time, everyone talked about living in the bubble – Tel Aviv – which was renowned for having the fastest adoption curve of any new technology in the world. Working and living in the bubble was a heady and addictive cocktail of constantly changing bars and restaurants serving fantastic culinary experiences. Change was truly was the norm. As were the girls with guns on the street corners, the Scuds and Hezbollah missile strikes.
I then spent time working on some interesting brands in the UK drinks market, such as Sailor Jerry and Hendricks Gin and my own co-creation Monkey Shoulder Whisky. What was interesting (or perhaps ‘authentic’) about these brands was that they were positioned as an antidote to life in the bubble. The world of the London cocktail bar and mixologist bore little relevance to what people were drinking in the ‘real world’. In fact, new ideas in the bubble were instantly devalued as soon as their ‘newness’ wore off, and as I began to ‘deep hang out’ in the bars of various towns and cities in the UK, the views of the bubble were largely irrelevant to the so-called regions.
Starting a brand outside of the bubble required new ways of working – lead by an innovations manager at Grants who has since gone on togreater things but who was ruthless in looking for ways to stay one step ahead – and new ways of branding.
We now face the same problem with our money. The world outside of the City has been largely excluded from the debate about how money should be produced and used as a result we have created a ‘bubble’ from which we must now venture forth into the unknown of the ‘real economy’. Bankers are the mixologists of money – creating ever more expensive cocktails of heady liquors and flavours which only the rich and well connected can access but which leave even them as distinct hangover. By the time such products make it to the supermarkets of our retail banks they have not only lost their freshness and value – they are almost completely alien to the world which the retail customer lives within.
So now the essay question which is being asked in various circles – sociological, political and economic – how will the world of money outside of the bubble lead the recovery and how can we balance the relative importance of what happens inside the bubble of the City with what happens in the real economy?
Answers on a postcard gratefully received. : )