Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Even a nobody can make 50,000 sales!

No Easy Road by Patsy Whyte
Patsy Whyte, author of No Easy Road
So says unknown Scottish author Patsy Whyte (57), whose gritty memoir, No Easy Road, has spent over a year in the Kindle best-seller charts on both sides of the Atlantic.

And nobody is more surprised at the success of the book than Patsy herself.

"Kindle has made it all possible," she explained. "When I first wrote my book, I made a conscious decision to publish it myself rather than waste time - possibly even years - trying to get a mainstream publisher interested.

"I'm glad I did even although I only ever expected to sell a few dozen paperback copies at most. After all, I'm a nobody. Who wants to read about a nobody?"

But everything changed when Patsy 'discovered' Amazon's Kindle wireless e-reader.

"Of course, I knew about it. But I didn't take any of it too seriously. I thought Kindle was nothing more than a fad which would quickly pass out of fashion. How wrong can you be!"

Not only did Patsy realise Kindle was an avid reader's best friend, Amazon also made it incredibly easy for any would-be author to turn their manuscript into a file which could then be downloaded onto any Kindle device within seconds.

"Best of all, it was all free and I made money into the bargain, too, for every download. Incredible!"

If Patsy found the whole Kindle publishing process easy then so have thousands of other authors right across the world. The competition is fierce, conceded Patsy.

"That's why I spent a few months promoting my memoir online on various Kindle, book and author forums. But the effort was really worth it.

"I can still remember the feeling of pure joy at the end of 2010, just a couple of days before Christmas, when No Easy Road first crept into the best-seller list."

Patsy's memoir is still selling well even after 18 months in the charts. To date, No Easy Road has had more than 50,000 sales.

However, a note of caution is in order, says Patsy.

"When your book and maybe your personal thoughts and experiences become public property, criticism is bound to follow. You won't be able to avoid it.

"Accept both the good and the bad criticism gracefully. You can't please everyone. It simply comes with the territory."

No Easy Road tells the story of Patsy's life as a young child and teenager growing up in a children's home in Aberdeen, Scotland. One of a family of 10 traveller children, torn apart by the state in the 1950's, Patsy recalls a childhood scarred by years of mental and emotional abuse, prejudice and hatred.

Patsy left the home at the age of 15, angry, naive and ill-prepared, but with a will to survive which would be tested to the limit. She rubbed shoulders with the rich and powerful and the poorest in the land, and drifted into a world of violence, prostitution and drugs which almost claimed her life.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

£1m television production scheme aims to boost Scotland's TV industry

Scottish Enterprise and Creative Scotland announce
the launch of the Television Production Scheme. 
Scotland's independent television production companies should soon be gearing up for a world-wide push thanks to a new TV scheme.

The launch of the £1m Television Production Scheme, announced today by Scottish Enterprise and Creative Scotland, is aimed at providing a significant boost to the Scottish broadcast TV industry.

By providing co-investment, alongside a private sector investor, the new scheme will increase the ability of Scottish TV producers to secure UK network commissions that can then be sold in international and secondary markets.

This direct support to independent production companies in Scotland will give producers access to finance to make high-quality, high-value programmes with national and international appeal, enabling them to more effectively exploit their intellectual assets in different territories.

Scottish Government cabinet secretary Fiona Hyslop said the Television Production Scheme was a welcome boost for production companies located in Scotland.

The Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs added, "By providing access to finance, it will improve the scale and quality of Scottish productions, making them more attractive to broadcasters at home and abroad and helping to enhance our nation’s reputation for creative excellence.

"Television and digital media support 42,000 jobs and are an important part of our creative industries - a thriving sector of the Scottish economy with tremendous potential for growth.

"This Government is creating the right conditions for the creative industries sector to flourish and I am pleased to see Scottish Enterprise and Creative Scotland working closely with the television production industry to ensure appropriate support is in place."

Jane Muirhead, Chair of PACT in Scotland and Chair of the TV Working Group said, "This important initiative has been designed by listening to the independent TV sector and responding to some of the challenges that currently face the industry.

"This scheme will serve as a lever to get content made, and to exploit and take that content global. It will support business and creativity and safeguard jobs, while building a strong skill base for the future.

"I'm really excited about this scheme and it's a real achievement for everyone on the TV Working Group. A huge thank you to Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise for their collaborative approach and for providing a well-structured and meaningful initiative that is open to all independent producers in Scotland."

PACT (Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television) is the trade association in the UK representing independent television, feature film, animation and new media.

Linda McPherson, director of Creative Industries at Scottish Enterprise, said, "We're keen to support the independent production sector in Scotland achieve significant growth in new markets and territories.

"Through our work with Scottish companies, we know there's a huge opportunity for them to tap into this growth, especially in overseas markets.

"This new fund will provide a way for businesses to fully exploit their intellectual property throughout the world and allow them to accelerate their growth.

"Our industry partner PACT recently announced 12 months of growth in international sales of TV and related content by UK independent production companies, with a 13% annual increase in revenue from £1.25 billion in 2009 to £1.41 billion.

"The US is still the largest export market for UK producers with sales growing by 13% to £526 million. The international market is ripe, and we want to support independent TV production companies in Scotland to access it."

Caroline Parkinson, Director of Creative Development, Creative Scotland welcomed the partnership with Scottish Enterprise and said, "This scheme will provide Scottish producers with key strategic investment into their television projects, which will allow them to leverage significant co-investment and will lead to an increase of quality programmes from Scotland that will reach a global audience."

Creative Scotland, who will be managing the scheme, leads an industry group that sets priorities and ensures a clear and integrated approach to the development of the television sector from broadcasters, independent companies, trade associations, support agencies and government.

The Television Production Scheme was a key recommendation of this group and was designed in consultation with them. Full details are available at

Scottish Enterprise and Creative Scotland will be hosting a workshop to provide further details on the scheme at Creative Scotland's Glasgow offices. For more information, check out

Monday, 2 July 2012

Dramatic rise in UK online ISA searches

Leading independent digital
 marketing agency Greenlight.
Online searches in the UK relating to ISAs have soared.

According to the latest quarterly report by digital marketing agency Greenlight, searches using just the term 'ISA rates' jumped a staggering 82 per cent.

Meanwhile, the search term 'savings accounts' took an 18 per cent dive.

The dramatic rise may indicate consumers shopping around for the most competitive rates and ISA offerings, says the agency in its report, Retail Banking Sector Report - Issue 12.

Greenlight's report profiled the most popular keywords consumers used when they went online in April to find mortgages, loans, credit and debit cards and bank accounts.

It found that the total number of searches for retail banking-related products during the month totalled 2.4 million, down from 2.5 million in January.

The number of searches pertaining to loans (792,741), mortgages (719,593) and credit and debit cards (298,535) saw a dip on January's level.

Bank account-related terms were the exception. Search volumes for the subsector totalled 592,926, up 14 per cent on January's 521,172 total. Searches pertaining to ISAs were the key contributor to this volume increase.

'ISA' was the most popular search term in the bank account subsector and was queried 57,400 times in April, up 16 per cent on January.

Although search volumes for the terms 'ISA rates', 'best ISA rates' and 'cash ISA' were far lower by comparison, they saw the highest increase since January - 82 per cent, 58 per cent and 28 per cent, respectively.

Interestingly, the second and third most queried search terms, 'cash ISAs' (46,600) and 'ISA savings' (45,100), did not feature in Greenlight's January top 10 bank account-related search terms.

Greenlight's report also ranked the 20 most visible sites for bank account keywords in natural search, in relation to the most popular search terms.

The league table reveals that three of the top five were comparison sites. MoneySavingExpert was the most visible, achieving a 79 per cent share of visibility. Halifax, the most visible high street bank, ranked third with a 48 per cent share of visibility.

Greenlight is a leading independent digital marketing agency, the largest of its kind in Europe and the fastest growing. With over 100 blue-chip clients including Santander, New Look, Sky and ghd, Greenlight is a leader in the digital marketing space, and is recognized worldwide for its commitment to delivering record ROI for its clients and investing in the future of search.

The agency is considered the premier thought leader in the sector, publishing widely read industry reports, original research and speaking at trade events. Founded in 2001, Greenlight is headquartered in London, with offices in New York.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

UK construction workers missing out on £180 million of income tax refunds

RIFT radio ad campaign
RIFT first-ever radio ad campaign.
Construction workers in the UK could be missing out on £180 million of unclaimed income tax refunds every year.

Now a radio advertising campaign has been launched to help them claim what's rightfully theirs.

The radio-based campaign is being run by UK-based tax refund company RIFT and is a first for the company.

The 20 second "hostage" ad spots are aimed at construction workers who don't realise they can claim a tax refund from HMRC on travel expenses incurred during the course of their work.

RIFT managing director Jan Post said, "Our research shows that £180 million of annual tax refunds could be going unclaimed by workers in the UK construction industry as a whole. We are using the radio ad to raise awareness of the money owed to plumbers, ground workers, crane operators, carpenters, electricians and labourers."

Unlike self-employed workers who deduct travel expenses as part of their annual self-assessment tax returns, many of these construction workers are not claiming these expenses back. To raise awareness RIFT chose talkSPORT radio for the ads, which run until Sunday 8 July.

talkSPORT is airing RIFT ads on the Alan Brazil Breakfast Show programme; Drivetime featuring Darren Gough; and Weekend Matchday Live with Stan Collymore.

Jan Post explained, "We discovered that our target market are avid radio listeners. It seems that while our clients are driving to and from their construction sites, they are all listening to talkSPORT and so it was the natural place for us to advertise."

The radio spots are part of a campaign also to be seen on washroom panel posters and beermats in 400 pubs across the country.

Jan Post added, "We are pleased with the overall feedback on our latest campaign. We claimed £11 million back for construction workers last year. Let's hope these ads will get even more tax refunds back in the pockets of construction workers."

More information on tax refunds can be found at

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Explore the Highlands of Scotland by hopping aboard the bus!

Explore the Highlands Of Scotland by bus.
Andrew Donaldson (Comrie Croft), Catherine Huber (Morenish
Mews self-catering accommodation), Bob Stevenson (partner
 at Bridge of Lochay Hotel) and Ken Chew (also from Morenish
 Mews) at the Ring of Breadalbane Explorer bus service launch.
Exploring the incredible history and spectacular scenery of the Highlands of Scotland just got a whole lot easier thanks to a pioneering hop-on bus service.

The Ring of Breadalbane Explorer bus service is the brainchild of the Breadalbane Tourism Co-operative (BTC) - a collection of businesses working together to promote the wider area.

Now visitors and locals alike will be able to explore the rich culture, heritage and landscapes of Highland Perthshire, passing through some of Scotland’s major attractions such as the Scottish Crannog Centre, the Famous Grouse Experience and Auchingarrich Wildlife Park.

The hope is the new venture will not only breathe life into rural communities, by providing viable public transport, but also increase the number of visitors to this hidden tourism gem.

It is believed to be the first time a tourism group has collaborated in this way to secure funding from two different Scottish councils.

The Breadalbane group was originally formed by the Rural Team at Scottish Enterprise over four years ago as one of its 'Planning to Succeed' groups.

Since then the group has secured funding from Stirling and Perth & Kinross Councils, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, Scottish Enterprise, Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust (Big Tree Country) and from a number of local businesses within the Explorer's 'Ring'.

BTC chairman Ken Chew said, "The Ring of Breadalbane Explorer is a pilot hop-on hop off timetabled bus service which will allow visitors and locals to experience all that is on offer in the wonderful Breadalbane area.

"We are very excited about this new initiative. As far as we know this is the first time a tourism group has collaborated in this way. We have successfully sourced funding from both the private and public sector and secured buy-in from two different councils in the area."

Support for the scheme has come from Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) - a subsidiary of Scottish Enterprise.

Sarah Deas, chief executive of Co-operative Development Scotland, said, "Breadalbane Tourism Co-operative is an excellent example of what can be achieved by the consortium business model.

"It allows businesses in the area to come together and launch this exciting new route which will put Breadalbane on the map in every sense.

"It seems especially appropriate to be launching this exciting scheme in the UN-designated International Year of Co-operatives and we wish it every success. By setting up a consortium BTC has been able to secure funding and buy-in from two different councils as well as a range of businesses in the area."

Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Member of the Scottish Parliament for Perthshire South & Kinross-shire, said, "This new hop-on bus service is a really exciting development which will be an excellent addition to the wonderful facilities, scenery and attractions that the beautiful area of Breadalbane and Strathearn already has on offer and I personally am looking forward to using it as soon as possible.

"The business model on which this venture is based with the co-operative being owned by the businesses who will benefit from the service is one I welcome.

"I am sure that this route will prove very popular indeed with visitors and with locals as well and I wish the operators every success and look forward to the Ring of Breadalbane becoming established as not just a bus service but a tourist draw in its own right."

The service, operated by Kingshouse Travel of Balquhidder, will run six times a day, four days per week from the 17th of July through to the 16th of September. The complete circular route takes about three hours with fares to be priced at £9 per adult for an all-day ticket or £15 for a two-day ticket.

BTC was formed in 2012 by 10 founder member businesses as part of a pilot for the Scottish Enterprise Planning to Succeed Rural Development Programme. Members included owners of accommodation (hotels, self-catering, hostel, campsite), food and beverage outlets, a coach operator, shops, activity operators and visitor attractions.

The group developed an action plan based around areas of common interest and met formally as a group during the year and informally between members on numerous other occasions. Based on a Scottish Enterprise evaluation of group collaborative activities and successes, the group was successful in being awarded a two year extension (2011-2013) under the Planning to Succeed Programme.

Group Members (and Directors) are: Alba Virtual Tours, Alistair Barclay; Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre, Andrew Scott; Bridge of Lochay Hotel, Amanda Clark (Director & Treasurer); Comrie Croft, Andrew Donaldson (Director); Dalchonzie Farm Shop, David Burberry; Dal Riata, Thomas McGonigle (Director & Secretary); Do It Outdoors, Ian MacFarlane; Kingshouse Travel, Graeme Courtney; Morenish Mews, Ken Chew (Director & Chair); Old Smiddy Killin, Michael Crow; Portnellan Lodges & Cottages, Cameron Taylor (Director); Scottish Crannog Centre, Barrie Andrian.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight debut at Farnborough International Airshow

Boeing 787 Dreamliner
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Aerospace giant Boeing is to fly its passenger-carrying 787 Dreamliner airplane for the first time at the Farnborough International Airshow next month.

The long-range, wide-bodied, twin-engine jet, which can seat up to 290 passengers, is regarded as the most fuel-efficient airliner in the world.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner will take part in flying displays at the famous airshow, which runs from July 9-15 outside London.

Boeing will also present its Enduring Awareness Pavilion showcasing a comprehensive display of advanced command, control, communication, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities.

Tom Downey, senior vice president, Boeing Communications, said, "We are showcasing a full range of innovative new products, systems and services from our commercial, defense, space and security businesses. We're looking forward to the opportunities the show provides to meet with customers, partners and other stakeholders."

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Qatar Airways livery will be on static display July 9-11. Boeing plans to fly the 787 in the daily show displays. The airliner will be open by invitation only.

In addition, Korean Air will display its newest Boeing 737-900ER from July 9-12. Boeing will feature the new 737 MAX with a program update, and a full-scale model of the 737 MAX Advanced Technology winglet will be on view in the Boeing static display area.

The Enduring Awareness Pavilion is an interactive exhibit focused on C4ISR across every operational domain – air, land, sea, space and cyberspace. It will showcase more than 20 technologies – including the P-8A Poseidon, Space-Based Space Surveillance system, Airborne Early Warning and Control, eXMeritus HardwareWall, unmanned airborne systems from ScanEagle to Phantom Eye, and other capabilities.

The Pavilion, at location OE/5 and adjacent to the Boeing Chalet, will be open during normal air show hours for all visitors.

During the show's daily flying display, Boeing will demonstrate the capabilities of its advanced, multi-role F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter. Also on the flying program are the innovative Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor and the tactical and strategic C-17 Globemaster III airlifter.

The company and its customers will display several other systems, including the F-15E Eagle fighter and the AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter. Visitors will be able to see these aircraft until Sunday, July 15.

Together with the Royal Aeronautical Society, Boeing is presenting airplanes built by students at the Yateley School (Hampshire) and the Marling school (Gloucestershire).

They are the first two complete planes among the six being built by schools participating in the "Schools Build a Plane Challenge" – an initiative providing young people in UK secondary schools with the opportunity to build an operational light aircraft from a kit.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

FSA imposes largest fine in its history

The FSA bares
 its  teeth.
If the UK's financial services watchdog was ever determined to go out with a bang it has surely done so by imposing the largest ever fine in its history.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) bared its teeth yesterday in no uncertain terms by fining Barclays Bank £60 million for manipulating interbank lending rates - rates which ultimately determine high street mortgage and loan costs.

Reaction to the news has sparked outrage, if radio phone-in shows and online forums are any kind of a measure, further undermining the public's already rock-bottom confidence in the banking sector.

Indeed, calls from the public, politicians and the business world for Barclays Chief Executive, Bob Diamond, to resign over the scandal have been growing by the hour, despite his assurance of forgoing his annual bonus.

The record FSA penalty, along with penalties imposed by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the United States Department of Justice Fraud Section (DOJ), formed part of a total fines package of £290 million for the bank.

In a statement, the FSA - which is due to be replaced by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority in 2013 - said Barclays was fined for misconduct relating to the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (EURIBOR).

The breaches of the FSA's requirements encompassed a number of issues, involved a significant number of employees and occurred over a number of years.

Barclays' misconduct included:

  • making submissions which formed part of the LIBOR and EURIBOR setting process that took into account requests from Barclays' interest rate derivatives traders.  These traders were motivated by profit and sought to benefit Barclays' trading positions;
  • seeking to influence the EURIBOR submissions of other banks contributing to the rate setting process; and
  • reducing its LIBOR submissions during the financial crisis as a result of senior management's concerns over negative media comment.

In addition, Barclays failed to have adequate systems and controls in place relating to its LIBOR and EURIBOR submissions processes until June 2010 and failed to review its systems and controls at a number of appropriate points.

Barclays also failed to deal with issues relating to its LIBOR submissions when these were escalated to Barclays' Investment Banking compliance function in 2007 and 2008.

Tracey McDermott, acting director of enforcement and financial crime, said, "Barclays' misconduct was serious, widespread and extended over a number of years.  The integrity of benchmark reference rates such as LIBOR and EURIBOR is of fundamental importance to both UK and international financial markets.  Firms making submissions must not use those submissions as tools to promote their own interests.

"Making submissions to try to benefit trading positions is wholly unacceptable.  This was possible because Barclays failed to ensure it had proper controls in place.  Barclays' behaviour threatened the integrity of the rates with the risk of serious harm to other market participants.

"The FSA continues to pursue a number of other significant cross-border investigations in this area and the action we have taken against Barclays should leave firms in no doubt about the serious consequences of this type of failure."

Barclays pointed out in a statement the bank had received credit for co-operating with the FSA and the other authorities, and for taking action over its systems and controls in response to the identification of the past issues which had given rise to the resolutions (fines).

Mr Diamond said, "The events which gave rise to today's resolutions relate to past actions which fell well short of the standards to which Barclays aspires in the conduct of its business.

"When we identified those issues, we took prompt action to fix them and co-operated extensively and proactively with the authorities. Nothing is more important to me than having a strong culture at Barclays. I am sorry that some people acted in a manner not consistent with our culture and values.

"To reflect our collective responsibility as leaders, Chris Lucas, Jerry del Missier, Rich Ricci and I have voluntarily agreed with the Board to forgo any consideration for an annual bonus this year."

Barclays Chairman, Marcus Agius, said, "The Board takes the issues underlying today's announcement extremely seriously and views them with the utmost regret.

"Since these issues were identified, the authorities acknowledge that Barclays management has co-operated fully with their investigations and taken, and continues to take, prompt and decisive action to correct them.

"In addition, the Board welcomes the example set by Bob Diamond, Chris Lucas, Jerry del Missier and Rich Ricci in recognising their collective responsibility as leaders of Barclays."

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

London and Shanghai a tale of two cities for next-generation leaders

Common Purpose
Next-generation leaders meet in London for the inaugural
 Dao Xiang Venture organised by Common Purpose.
It'll be a tale of two cities when next-generation leaders from both London and Shanghai get together in the UK's capital.

The 30-strong group of the brightest and the best young leaders aims to tackle the social challenges common to both cities.

And they'll have the support of the mayors of London and Shanghai, Boris Johnson and Han Zheng.

The inaugural Dao Xiang Venture, run by international leadership development organisation Common Purpose, will take place early next month at Devonport House and City Hall.

During the four-day Venture, beginning July 2, participants will be set the challenge of developing collaborative practical methods to tackle social challenges caused by ever increasing urbanisation in the two cities.

The group will also meet Mayor of London Boris Johnson at City Hall where he will host a reception for the participants.

Mr Johnson, who is also a member of the Dao Xiang Advisory Group, said, "Dao Xiang is a great project. Bringing together the brightest and best young leaders from Shanghai and London is a fantastic way to learn from each other and strengthen the developing bonds between our two great cities.

"I know previous Common Purpose Ventures have delivered some creative, innovative solutions to different problems and I can't wait to see the ideas that are produced this time."

Julia Middleton, Chief Executive and founder of Common Purpose, said, "Both London and Shanghai have long history, dynamic entrepreneurs, young and growing populations and huge challenges in common.

"Getting the next generation of their leaders together to tackle common problems seems only right. The outcome will strengthen relationships which defy the cultural differences. Our Ventures reveal just how small the world is."

Participants are from organisations including UBM Sinoexpo International Exhibition Co. Ltd, Constructing Futures, UBM China, UBM London, British Council Shanghai, Small Axe, Shanghai Cultural Square, PwC, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Southbank Centre, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group and CBN weekly.

International sponsors supporting the Venture include Cisco, PwC, UBM and GlaxoSmithKline.

Jennifer Duvalier, Group People and Culture Director at UBM, said, "For UBM, supporting the development of leaders of our businesses in China and in the UK is an important enabler of our strategy for growth.

"We also believe that experience is the best classroom, and that bringing leaders from different cultures and backgrounds to learn together is very powerful in creating positive outcomes. Dao Xiang is a great vehicle for this kind of development experience, and UBM is proud to be involved."

For more than two decades, Common Purpose, an independent international leadership development organisation, has designed and delivered courses helping people at all stages of their career to become more effective leaders in society.

It was founded by Julia Middleton in 1989 and currently delivers leadership development opportunities in nearly 40 cities across 12 countries, including France, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, MENA, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey and the UK.

There are 35,000 Common Purpose alumni around the world and each year, 3,000 people complete a Common Purpose course. To attract the widest range of potential participants from a diverse range of backgrounds, Common Purpose provides approximately 600 bursaries a year for those who could not otherwise afford to attend.

The courses give people from the private, public and not-for-profit sector the inspiration, skills and connections to become better leaders both at work and in society. Common Purpose helps people, organisations, cities and regions to succeed, by broadening the horizons of their leaders and developing their ability to work together and lead complex change.

Dao Xiang, meaning 'direction' in Mandarin, is part of a series of Ventures run by Common Purpose to expand, enrich and energise relations between two or more locations.

Other Ventures Common Purpose is currently delivering include Dishaa (India, UK), Itijah (Europe and the Arab World), and Kompas (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania), with further Ventures in development including Phambili (South Africa, UK), Yon (Turkey, UK), and Dou Heung (Hong Kong, Scotland).

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Scotch whisky holy grail to be unveiled!

Lagavulin distillery on the island of Islay.
Lagavulin distillery on the island of Islay.
Photo by Michael Schaap.
Scotch whisky's 'holy grail' is to be unveiled today on a remote scottish island.

Whisky pilgrims and enthusiasts will journey to the Lagavulin distillery on the island of Islay to pay homage to the world's only known bottle of Malt Mill new-make spirit.

Malt Mill is the basis of the plot for the award-winning Ken Loach film, The Angels' Share.

Charles Maclean, the world's leading whisky writer, says the bottle is priceless.

He said, "Malt Mill is legendary, and is viewed by many as the holy grail. It is an extremely significant moment and I'm delighted to be part of it."

Dr Nick Morgan, head of whisky outreach, Diageo, the world's leading premium drinks business, said, "In my twenty years as an historian and archivist, I've always wanted to see this unique bottle of Malt Mill go on display. We are thrilled to share this precious artefact with the many whisky enthusiasts who visit Lagavulin every year."

Rebecca O' Brien, The Angels' Share producer, said, "It is wonderful to think this bottle has been passed down from distillery manager to distillery manager for fifty years here on Islay. Our film hinges on the auction of an imaginary cask of Malt Mill precisely because everyone agreed it was so rare. Now the very DNA of Malt Mill has been brought to light."

The bottle of Malt Mill came to light after the Lagavulin distillery manager, Georgie Crawford, heard about the film. Involving some whisky related shennanigans, and based on an auction of an imaginary last cask of Malt Mill, she brought out the Malt Mill from its secret location. It had been passed on to her by her predecessor, the former Lagavulin distillery manager.

The Angels' Share, which is currently on general cinema release, was written by Scot Paul Laverty and was filmed in various locations around Scotland last summer. The film was a hit at this year's Cannes Film Festival where it won the coveted Jury Prize.

Malt Mill was produced at a small distillery on the Lagavulin distillery site from 1908; production ceased in 1962 and this bottle is from the last fill in June 1962.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Chelsea FC and Delta Air Lines in major sponsorship deal

Delta Air Lines and Chelsea FC strike sponsorship deal.
Delta Air Lines and Chelsea FC strike
 a major sponsorship deal.
Chelsea FC and Delta Air Lines have joined forces in a UK footballing-first sponsorship deal which brings together two major international brands.

Chelsea FC are the football champions of Europe. Delta is a major global airline with a raft of sponsorship ties to top sports teams in the United States.

The deal will see Delta exclusively designated as the "Official Airline Partner of Chelsea FC", with numerous benefits including LED exposure at each home game, and exposure on the Chelsea FC web site.

The Delta logo will also be included on media backboards for interviews conducted at Chelsea's stadium around Premier League home matches.

Additionally, Delta will benefit from entitlement space at Stamford Bridge's Millennium Hotel. This will enable the airline to entertain guests at Chelsea's home in a Delta-branded environment.

Delta is synonymous with sport in the United States where the airline is the official airline sponsor of leading US sports teams, including baseball's New York Yankees, hockey's Los Angeles Kings and American football's Minnesota Vikings.

This summer, Delta will welcome the Chelsea FC team as they tour the United States.  In July, they will play the French team, Paris Saint-Germain, at the new Yankee Stadium, which is also sponsored by Delta.

Perry Cantarutti, Delta's senior vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said, "We're delighted to sponsor Chelsea FC, a top-flight London club with a fan base of millions throughout Delta's worldwide network.

"Partnering with a leading club in the English Premier League is an exciting way to strengthen our brand both in the UK and around the world while a tie-in with Delta will help build Chelsea's brand in the U.S."

This year's winner of the Champions League and The FA Cup, Chelsea FC is one of the best-supported clubs worldwide and allows Delta to reach an international audience of more than one billion.

Chelsea FC Chief Executive Ron Gourlay said, "It is a fantastic opportunity for Chelsea Football Club to partner ourselves with Delta Air Lines, an industry leader in aviation.

"Their passion for innovation and first-class service around the world make them a perfect match for us and we look forward to working together as we continue to develop the Chelsea name across the globe."

To celebrate the Delta-Chelsea FC partnership and help kick off the team's U.S. tour, customers can visit Delta's Facebook page to vote for a U.S. city to host a fare promotion from the United States to London this summer.

Delta Air Lines serves more than 160 million customers each year. During the past year, Delta was named domestic "Airline of the Year" by the readers of Travel Weekly magazine, was named the "Top Tech-Friendly U.S. Airline" by PCWorld magazine for its innovation in technology and won the Business Travel News Annual Airline Survey.

With an industry-leading global network, Delta and the Delta Connection carriers offer service to nearly 350 destinations in 65 countries on six continents. Headquartered in Atlanta, Delta employs 80,000 employees worldwide and operates a mainline fleet of more than 700 aircraft.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Scrap gold life saver for cash-strapped Britons

"Selling gold is all about trust. Speedy Cash 4 Gold
 works hard to gain customers' trust."
Scrap gold is proving a financial life saver for thousands of cash-strapped Britons.

More and more of the UK's "working poor" are cashing in on the precious metal's soaring value in a bid to make ends meet.

Around 7 million people are classed as working poor, according to leading credit reporting agency Experian, meaning they have a tough time meeting bills at the end of each month.

But the scrap gold for cash market, warns, is full of unscrupulous dealers ready to rip off people who are often in desperate straits.

That's why the company has introduced revolutionary new features on its website, where the value of gold calculated is done so on the live spot price.

Its cash for gold calculator is now an industry leader, giving the most accurate prices for scrap gold in any hour.

Recognizing, too, the scrap gold market is full of people looking to take advantage, customers can also have a video of their gold being weighed.

This open policy, coupled with the live spot prices, is aimed at making sure customers feel their cash for gold value is fair.

When selling scrap gold, says the company, it is very important to understand the difference between the scrap gold price and the retail price for gold. In principle it is a very simple concept but it is one that a lot of people forget. This leads to disappointments and a feeling that they have been hard done by, especially if they have sold the item to a cash for gold website or postal gold company over the internet.

The scrap gold price is based wholly on three numbers. These are the international gold price, the carat value of the items in question, and the total weight of the gold alloy parts of the item in question. Nothing else influences the scrap gold price and generally it is lower than the retail gold price.

The retail gold price really has very little to do with the weight or the global price of gold, although sometimes the carat of a particular item can have a bearing on the retail price.

The most important factor when it comes to the retail price is how much a jeweller could sell the item for in their shop window – this is the retail value. Factors that influence this are the design, who designed the item, who made the item, does the item have gemstones, and so on.

Secondly, the retail price is always higher than the scrap gold price for a particular item. The reason is simple; the jeweller must cover their cost of sale and so they add a profit margin to the price.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

OEICs set to benefit from automatic enrolment

 IBISWorld offers a comprehensive database of unique
 information and analysis on many UK industries.
Open-ended investment companies (OEICs) look set to benefit when automatic enrolment of workers into pension schemes in the UK begins rolling out later this year.

That's the view of respected London-based industry research firm IBISWorld.

According to the company, which provides independent, accurate, comprehensive, and current research on hundreds of UK industries, OEICs have weathered the financial storm well compared with other pooled investment schemes because of better asset selection and portfolio construction.

OEIC revenues are expected to decline at only an annualised 0.4% over the five years through to 2012-13, to £33 billion.

Although not imune to the same systematic risk that caused the FTSE 100 to experience its largest decline in decades, the recent poor financial market performance has not deterred investments in OEICs.

Fund sales suffered a minimal dip in 2007-08, but remained popular with investors despite risk appetites diminishing, says IBISWorld.

Although most OEICs survived the financial crisis unscathed, several were forced to liquidate due to questionable asset selection. However, several trends emerged even during the financial crisis.

IBISWorld industry analyst Ee Jen Lee said, "Although numerous investors were forced to withdraw from the financial markets entirely, other investors were shifting their wealth from risky equity securities to less risky fixed-income securities such as corporate and government bonds".

But persistent volatility has dampened revenue growth, with uncertainty permeating from Greece and other heavily indebted eurozone members creating waves of market speculation detrimental to steady, stable market growth. As a result, industry revenue is forecast to grow at a relatively subdued rate of 5.0% in 2012-13.

However, OEICs can look forward to tapping into the growing institutional market over the next five years, with automatic enrolment in pension funds, which will be introduced from October 2012, anticipated to affect nine million people.

Ee Jen Lee adds, "OEICs with a strong distribution network and a good track record of performance will be well placed to benefit from an expected surge in demand from institutional investors."

As such, industry revenue is forecast to grow strongly over the next five years to 2017-18.

For more information on the Open-Ended Investment Company Activities industry, including latest industry trends, statistics, analysis and market share information, purchase the full report from IBISWorld.

ScotRail alcohol ban is widely welcomed

Anti-social behaviour fuelled by alcohol has
 no place on our trains, says ScotRail.
ScotRail's decision to ban the drinking and carrying of alcohol on its trains at night has been universally welcomed around Scotland.

The move, which comes into force on July 20, next month, aims to stop the drunken anti-social behaviour of a small minority of passengers spoiling the train journeys of the majority.

The decision follows hard on the heels of a survey of 1,000 people in Scotland who were asked whether they agreed with banning alcohol on trains at night. Some 730 people, from all sections of society - 84% - said they did.

The train operator's tough stance, following a year-long review by the company, and growing pressure from the Scottish Government, is designed to send out a clear message that anti-social behaviour at stations and on trains is unacceptable.

Steve Montgomery, ScotRail's managing director, said, "Anti-social behaviour fuelled by alcohol has no place on our trains or at stations. Customers should be able to travel in a safe and friendly environment.

He added, "It’s time to call a halt on the irresponsible minority who spoil journeys for the majority. These individuals disrupt services, abuse staff and fellow customers, and cause accidents."

Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said, "We want everyone to enjoy themselves on nights out, but consideration for others is also vitally important. A journey home on a train shouldn't be a worrying or upsetting experience for any passenger.

"I welcome the decision by ScotRail to act on those concerns, which will greatly benefit and reassure responsible passengers and encourage more people to use public transport. It sends out a message loud and clear that drunken, loutish behaviour on our trains will no longer be tolerated.

"Tackling alcohol misuse is a priority for this Government and this is a development we welcome as we continue working to rebalance Scotland's damaging relationship with alcohol."

In the past six months alone, the ScotRail review uncovered at least 260 occasions when British Transport Police had to respond to drink-related incidents, an increasing number of trains delayed due to anti-social behaviour - affecting customer perceptions of the railway and damaging ScotRail’s reputation, and at least one accident a week caused by excessive alcohol.

Chief Superintendent Ellie Bird, area commander for the Scotland Area of British Transport Police, said, "Crime on Scotland’s railways is at a record low. However, combating anti-social behaviour and disruption to the rail network remains a priority for us."

Ms Bird, who was instrumental in successfully introducing alcohol restrictions for TfL on the London Underground, added, "It is well documented that excessive alcohol consumption can be a pre-cursor to anti-social behaviour.

"The Scotland area of BTP wholeheartedly supports ScotRail’s plans and we will enforce the restrictions under the current Railway Byelaw or other legislation at our disposal.

"All passengers and rail staff have the right to travel unhindered and without the threat of encountering any kind of criminality. The enhanced restrictions will go a long way to helping reducing the opportunity for disruption.

"The consumption of alcohol is prohibited on other forms of public transport, such as buses, and trains should be no different."

The ban will run from 9pm to 10am although it will not affect the overnight Caledonian Sleeper train to and from London.

ScotRail will now launch a four-week campaign to make customers aware of the impending ban, to be followed by a fortnight-long ‘softly, softly’ stance.

BTP has also pledged to enhance its station and on-train patrols during the initial phases of the campaign to mitigate the possibility of staff assaults and other offences.

ScotRail stressed that customers' bags will not be searched before or during their journeys. 'Last orders' will apply on trains with catering services. Alcohol will not be sold from 8.30pm and customers will be asked to finish any alcoholic drinks by 9pm.

BTP will be alerted if passengers refuse to leave after being declined access to trains or if behaviour causes concern to train crew or customers during a journey.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Looking for a job - what about sales?

Looking for a job? Check out Sandler Training.
Looking for a job? Check out Sandler Training!
With thousands of young people looking for a job in the United Kingdom, any employment initiative, no matter how small, is to be welcomed.

A case in point is Sandler Training, a sales, management and leadership training organisation, which is launching a UK wide competition for 18-24 year olds interested in kick-starting a career in sales.

Up to 50 places are up for grabs in over 20 of the organisation's UK centres, where interested young people will learn the skills needed to enter the sales sector and become successful in their quest for employment.

Sales is a viable career option for unemployed youth of today, says Sandler Training. For in the UK alone, over two million people work in sales, a figure which represents 10% of the overall workforce. But employers have a clear criterion - ambitious, driven and personable individuals that can sell themselves and the company they represent.

Sandler Training's "sales explorers" training, worth a total of £400,000, includes an initial three months of Sandler's weekly President's Club - including the Sandler Sales Skills Foundations Programme. This takes the trainees through real life scenarios and best practices, such as how to develop a prospecting plan, setting goals and the importance of attitude in building a successful career.

The successful candidates will receive certifications and references. A further year's weekly sales training and support will be offered to the candidates.

Shaun Thomson, Sandler Training in the UK CEO, said, "The job market can feel like a brutal place - consecutive knock-backs can impact a young person's confidence and motivation.

"However, recession or not, businesses always need good salespeople. For today's lost generation it provides them with an opportunity to be a master of their own destiny - they just need a helping hand to make it happen.

"We all remember what it was like to hit the job market and we want to be able to give something back to people that just simply need the confidence to get the job they deserve - this support could be the first step of their journey to become business leaders of the future."

Interested? Looking for a job? Go to the Sandler Training web site to find the nearest participating training centre and online application zone.

As part of the application process, candidates will be encouraged to think about "why a career in sales" would suit them.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Jessica Ennis thrilled by British Airways London Olympics 2012 giant artwork

Jessica Ennis
Jessica Ennis, image courtesy of the BBC.
An artwork on grass larger than 15 tennis courts and featuring world champion athlete and Team GB Olympic gold medal hope Jessica Ennis is set to greet visitors flying into London's Heathrow Airport.

The British World Champion heptathlete said she was "thrilled" by the painting which is located in Thornbury Playing Fields in Hounslow, about three miles from Heathrow.

Over 600 litres of red, white and blue weatherproof paint was used, taking two days for painters to complete, and the image will be displayed for five weeks until July 17, 2012.

Alongside the image of Jessica Ennis are the words "Welcome to our turf", a reminder to Olympic athletes from overseas that only one country has home advantage. The Twitter hashtag #HomeAdvantage also accompanies the athlete's portrait to generate buzz and capture excitement.
British Airways
British Airways - Flying Britain Home.

The artwork, created by British Airways to welcome home Team GB and ParalympicsGB supporters, measures 53 by 75 meters - space enough to park the equivalent of 193 London buses!

British Airways estimates that it will fly 50,000 ex-pats back to the UK this summer. The airline has also launched a 'Flying Britain Home' campaign offering a quarter of a million pounds worth of flights to Brits that live abroad to fly back for the Games.

A further 50 flights to London are available to Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes to bring home their friends and family for an extra boost during the Games.

A proud Jessica Ennis said: "I'm thrilled to be the first face that people will see arriving into the UK for the London 2012 Games. I hope it brings excitement to homecoming Brits, and reminds international athletes that we're ready and prepared. We have the most dedicated fans in the world, who will get behind us every step of the way to give us a home advantage."

As official airline partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the airline has supported over 1,500 UK sport athletes and their families from 28 Olympic and 20 Paralympic sports with flights to train and compete abroad. The airline is also the partner of the British Olympic Association, British Paralympic Association, UK Athletics, British Swimming, Disability Swimming, Diving, Synchro and Water Polo teams.

British Airways sponsorship manager, Luisa Fernandez, said: "Whether you're a Brit coming home, or an athlete arriving in for the London 2012 Games, this celebratory message reminds us all of the power of the home crowd and how important it is to get behind Team GB and ParalympicsGB."

During the Games, the airline will host 'Park Live presented by British Airways' at the Olympic Park for fans to come together and get behind our athletes. Already dubbed the 'Hoy Hill' of the Games, it offers a place for fans to go before or after watching an event, or as a destination in itself. The parkland area can accommodate up to 10,000 visitors at any given time and offers giant screens showing the live action, as well as a BA Stage for interviews.

Beginning of the end of the Facebook revolution?

Award-winning market research
agency Conquest
Are we seeing the beginning of the end of the Facebook revolution?

Could be, given the findings of a study out this week into the social media habits of 14-24 year olds.

The study, by top ten award-winning independent market research agency Conquest, appears to show Facebook's core teenager audience may be falling out of love with the web site.

Activity may have peaked, says the London-based agency, amid a mounting groundswell of dissatisfaction and concerns over privacy and bullying.

While Facebook's pre-eminence is assured in the short term, "Fuicide" (the attempted or successful deletion of the account) is on the rise as are complaints about the damaging impact of regular and prolonged Facebook use.

Grievances triggered by Facebook's culture include obsession with appearance and acceptance of sexually provocative behaviour, increased negative self esteem, vulnerability to bullying, depression caused by jealousy and comparing one's life to peers, and inability to project one's true self. Conquest used its avatar driven methodology Metaphorix™ to capture respondent's authentic feelings about social media.

The Evidence

- Over 30% of the group have had sufficiently bad experience online to recently attempt or succeed in deleting their accounts, with 13% of regular users planning to lower their presence over the coming 12 months.

- Concerns about privacy, bullying and Facebook 'making me feel down about life' are the most cited reasons. Specifically, vulnerability to bullying was stated by 44% as reason for feeling unhappy about using the site, as well as increased negative self esteem (28%); depression sparked by unfavourable comparisons with other people's lives (25%); and plain jealousy of others (24%). 

- Nearly half of all young women (45%) felt that Facebook intensifies an obsession with appearance. Moreover, 33% of males concurred, with over a quarter stating that it boosts the acceptance of sexually provocative presentation.

- A growing frustration was articulated with the Facebook culture's inability to enable authentic expression of character. This is offset by young men's relish at the opportunity afforded to exaggerate the facts about themselves, with 44% admitting to this.

- Generally speaking it is unsurprisingly young women who suffer more from the adverse effects of Facebook than their male counterparts with more female deleters and complainants of harmful consequences.

New and different sites (like Pinterest and Fashism ) have experienced phenomenal growth in 2012 while Myspace has remained a stalwart for those musically minded, challenging Facebook's monolithic status.

David Penn, MD of Conquest and inventor of the Metaphorix™ methodology, said, "Could the future of social media be more niche networks catering for particular interests - those which users select in order to feel more comfortable, more inspired and ultimately more themselves?"

The agency canvassed 300 regular Facebook users aged between 14 and 24 years old, equally balanced by gender and nationally representative on region.

Conquest carries out quantitative and qualitative research for Heinz, Pizza Hut, L'Oreal, GoCompare, ITN News, Nationwide, Lever Bros and KFC. It is a pioneer of innovative online research methodology, welding neuroscience, communications theory and cognitive linguistics.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Businesses can turn future energy storm into profits

PA Consulting Group specialise
 in management and IT consulting,
 technology and innovation.
Rising energy prices are hitting the profits of UK businesses.

London-based independent and employee-owned consulting firm PA Consulting Group says over the past 15 years, the compound average annual electricity price increase for a medium-sized business is nearly 4 per cent, twice the rate of inflation.

And with The UK investing £30 million each day in a bid to replace some 30 per cent of its power plant by the end of the decade, combined with more extreme weather, energy use and energy prices are set to rise.

Government announcements on Electricity Market Reform demonstrate a clear commitment to increasing use of low carbon energy but this, too, will add to energy costs.

However, rising prices have brought opportunities for companies to secure a competitive advantage, says PA Consulting Group. Business leaders can take action now to manage their energy use and bring long-term profitability improvements to their business.

According to PA Consulting Group, these are four key areas for opportunity: 

Invest in energy efficiency

The key for businesses is to recognise that they need to spend money to save money. Where energy efficiency requires upfront investment, a carefully designed strategy can deliver significant returns. Marks & Spencer claimed that its "Plan A" CSR strategy yielded a 23 per cent improvement in energy efficiency in 2010/11, including £13.5 million of energy cost reductions in stores and distribution centres and fuel savings of £2 million. BT invested significant sums to accurately measure its energy use and saved over £18 million in 2011 across its networks, data centres and buildings.

Embrace 'smart energy'

The commitment to deploy 'smart metering' nationwide can be expected to have a significant impact for smaller businesses and residential consumers that only have one accurate energy reading every few months. Business leaders need to be aware of how smart metering can empower them as energy consumers and to be proactive in requesting this from their energy supplier. More accurate and timely information of electricity and gas use will help businesses to shop around for the very best tariff plan.

Mark Livingstone, PA energy expert says, "Expect forward thinking energy suppliers to introduce new innovations that will provide further opportunity for saving. BT's investment in its own smart energy control is an example of the benefits on offer. Annual savings of £6.2 million were claimed in 2011 through identification and resolution of wasted energy via real-time smart metering data. Really understanding your energy use, and smart ways of changing, holds the key to reducing costs."

Participate in demand-side management

The UK Government is committed to 'demand-side management' - the ability for demand reduction at critical times to play a strategic role in improving market efficiency. Mark comments, "Today some industrial customers have contracts with their electricity suppliers that give them a price break in exchange for offering the flexibility of reducing load in times of pressure. In the future, expect this capability to extend much further as smart energy and electricity market reform increase the incentives on offer."

Adopting a crisis mindset

Embracing market changes and investing in new energy efficiency is an option, but more immediate action is needed. In 1992, New Zealand's lack of rainfall caused a crisis in energy, given the dominance of hydropower. The government moved into crisis mode and instigated a campaign instructing New Zealanders to reduce their electricity use by 15 per cent. Extra vigilance and innovative action enabled a level of saving to be achieved to avert the crisis.

In reality, energy use does not get the focus it deserves. Reliability and reasonable cost are enough to tick the boxes for most. Mark concludes, "As the future storm clouds gather, there are opportunities that today's business leaders can turn to their advantage and make a difference to a company's profitability."

PA Consulting Group is a firm of more than 2,000 people, specialising in management and IT consulting, technology and innovation. The firm operates globally from offices across Europe and the Nordics, the United States, the Gulf and Asia Pacific.

PA Consulting Group works with businesses and governments to anticipate, understand and meet the challenges they face. The firm has outstanding technology-development capability and a unique breadth of skills, from strategy to performance improvement, from HR to IT. Its expertise covers energy, financial services, life sciences and healthcare, government and public services, defence and security, transport and logistics, telecommunications, consumer goods and automotive.

Spread betting investors stand to profit from market volatility

Finspreads, a leader in online
 financial spread betting. 
Spread betting investors could stand to profit because of market volatility driven by the unexpected fall in UK inflation figures.

That's the view of leading online financial spread betting firm Finspreads, which offers access to thousands of instruments on the world's financial markets.

The inflation figure fall of 2.8% announced yesterday saw the FTSE 100 respond with a rise of 1.7% on the day as the markets seemingly forgot the woes of the Eurozone crisis - at least for the moment.

With the FTSE 100 closing at a one-month high of 5589.16, May's drop in inflation, inching closer towards the government's 2% target, fuelled speculation of another QE announcement by the Bank of England as early as next month to help jumpstart the stalled UK economy.

The fall in the CPI figure comes on the back of a fall to 3% in April, caused, in part, by lower fuel, energy and food prices and the diminishing impact of the VAT rise last year.

Tuesday's inflation data offers spread betting investors a chance to profit from the sudden jump on the FTSE 100, says Finspreads, enabling them to profit irrespective of whether the index climbs higher, or falls lower in the coming days.

With spread betting, investors can profit not just when markets are rising, but when prices are on the decline as well.

This means, says the firm,  that as an investor, if you believe that the current upswing in the FTSE 100 is short-lived and that the markets will tumble lower in the days to come on account of the Eurozone crisis, you can take a short position on the FTSE 100. If you were right and the FTSE moves in the direction you had expected, you stand to make a profit; else you make a loss.

Similarly, if you expect that the stimulus package will have the desired impact on the UK economy, jolting it out of the recession, you could go long (or buy) on the FTSE 100 index. You would then make a profit for every point that the index moves in the direction you had indicated. Else you would make a loss.

A spokesman for Finspreads said, "Spread betting is a tax-free alternative to conventional trading and presents an excellent way of taking a position during volatile markets conditions, such as the present."

However, the spokesman warned, "Spread betting is a leveraged product which can result in losses greater than your initial deposit. Ensure you fully understand the risks.

"Spread betting is exempt from UK stamp duty and Capital Gains Tax (CGT). However, tax laws are subject to change and depend on individual circumstances. Please seek independent advice if necessary."

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

"Brave" world premiere launches VisitScotland's biggest-ever marketing campaign

Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, and Mike Cantlay,
 Chairman of VisitScotland, in Los Angeles to launch
 VisitScotland's biggest-ever global marketing campaign.
Scotland is set to benefit by more than £100 million following the world premiere of "Brave" in Hollywood.

The premiere also signalled the launch of the largest global marketing campaign by VisitScotland, working alongside Disney-Pixar, the creators of the much-anticipated epic animation action adventure.

The campaign, which will showcase every corner of Scotland through a new TV and cinema advertisement, a new website and extensive marketing and events activities in countries ranging from the US and UK to France and Germany, aims to reach millions of people - and turn many of them into potential visitors to Scotland.

The TV and cinema campaign, costing in the region of £7 million, will reach around 80 million people in the UK and abroad and is expected to boost the Scottish economy by around £140million.

The campaign will see the airing of VisitScotland's first TV advertisement in North America for 10 years - thanks to a major funding boost by the Scottish Government. The timing of the campaign is crucial, with this market showing encouraging signs of recovery. The number of American visitors increased by 15% last year and it is Scotland's biggest overseas market, with more than 400,000 visitors spending £311 million every year.

UK audiences will also be treated to the new advertisement in cinemas and TV in a special UK version which will launch when the film opens in August.

The new 30-second advertisement, which is voiced by Neil Oliver, will be broadcast on some of the world's largest networks and in cinemas before the film, taking creative inspiration from the theme "Scotland. Where legends come to life."  

The advertisement will be translated into four languages: French, Spanish, German and Italian, and will showcase the drama and spirit of Scotland through its landscapes and natural environment.

VisitScotland and Disney have worked together on the advertisement to showcase the country that inspired the filmmakers with images from the film interwoven with real life scenes from Scotland. World-famous Scottish landmarks such as the Ring of Brodgar in Orkney, Castle Kilchurn on Loch Awe and Eilean Donan Castle feature in the advertisement. Carradale-born Piper Lorne MacDougall plays on the advertisement - as he does on the soundtrack of the film.

Other marketing activity will feature every part of Scotland based on six key themes, including ancient Scotland, myths and legends, castles, landscapes and forests, clans and culture and wildlife and nature. VisitScotland is working with more than 20 partners across Scotland - from Historic Scotland to Scottish Archery - to further promote the country.

As part of the new campaign there will also be a worldwide prize-draw to win a luxurious four-day trip to Scotland, which will encourage viewers to visit the new VisitScotland devoted website. The Library of Scotland website is designed to inspire, inform and convert web visitors into visitors to Scotland.  This will be complemented by activity on Facebook and Twitter.

The launch of the campaign coincides with the world premiere of the film, which took place yesterday evening (June 18) at the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard where Scotland natives Kelly Macdonald, Kevin McKidd and Craig Ferguson walked the Highlands green carpet. VisitScotland's marketing team has played an integral role in ensuring that the magic of the real Scotland was captured.

Alex Salmond, First Minister, said, "Tourism is worth £11 billion pounds Sterling to Scotland, employs 270,000 people and is one of the industries bucking the economic downturn - with visitor figures increasing by 9% last year.  The fact that we are seeing growth in visitor numbers from America means that this couldn't be a better time to promote Scotland in conjunction with the largest entertainment company in the world.  Not only will this have a significant short-term impact, there is a legacy for the future with families being inspired to come to Scotland for years to come."

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said, "The launch of the new advert represents a pivotal moment in our campaign with Disney. With the advert going live coast to coast, the hard-work can really begin by converting moviegoers and fans of "Brave" into visitors to Scotland. This is one of the biggest opportunities we have ever had and "Brave" will be shown in 72 countries across the world. The film is about changing your fate and I believe it will change the fate of Scottish tourism in a significant and positive way."

VisitScotland and Disney officially joined forces in March to jointly promote the film and the destination across the world, marking the first time Disney has worked with a country's tourism organization on such a scale.

Set in the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland, Disney-Pixar's "Brave" follows the heroic journey of Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald), a skilled archer and headstrong daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to change her fate, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the unruly and uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane), unleashing chaos in the kingdom. When she turns to an eccentric witch (voice of Julie Walters), she is granted an ill-fated wish and the ensuing peril forces Merida to harness all of her resources -including her mischievous triplet brothers - to undo a beastly curse and discover the meaning of true bravery.

Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and produced by Katherine Sarafian, "Brave" is a grand adventure full of heart, memorable characters and signature Pixar humour. The film takes aim at UK cinemas in August 2012, and will be presented in Disney Digital 3D™ in select cinemas.

Two out of three UK rich-list billionaires are non-doms!

Alisher Burkhanovich Usmanov,
courtesy of 100wealthiestpeople.
More foreign billionaires are setting up home in the United Kingdom than ever before, according to the latest rich list.

Two out of three of the top 15 richest individuals in the UK are non-domiciled, coming from a diverse range of nationalities and backgrounds.

Alisher Burkhanovich Usmanov, whose stable of companies and investments range from Metalloinvest to MegaFon and Kommersant, has replaced previous incumbent, Lakshmi Niwas Mittal, at the top of the Wealth-X list. More popularly known as part owner of English football club, Arsenal, Mr Usmanov is worth at least US$ 16.4 billion.

Mr Mittal has seen his net worth estimate decline along with the stock price of ArcelorMittal, losing at least US$ 30 billion in recent years. He now sits second on the list. At third spot is Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club and Millhouse Capital.

Old money is represented by Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, the sixth Duke of Westminster, who is fourth on the list. The wealthiest property developer in the United Kingdom, the family business traces its roots to 1677, when ancestor Thomas Grosvenor married Mary Davies, who had inherited 500 acres of land in West and Central London.

Women are represented on the list with the Heineken heiress Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken at No. 10.

The list was compiled by Wealth-X, the global UHNW (ultra high net worth) prospecting, intelligence and wealth due diligence firm.

Stephen Morison, Vice President of Global Research at Wealth-X, noted, "The fact that the top 15 are mostly non-domiciled UHNWIs with diverse nationalities and backgrounds, reflects the attraction the United Kingdom holds for the ultra affluent, who are increasingly global in their outlook and lifestyle."

Mykolas D. Rambus, CEO of Wealth-X, commented, "The growing trend of the ultra wealthy choosing to establish residences in the most cosmopolitan cities around the world has implications for all professionals operating in the financial services and luxury sectors. Professionals need to understand these ultra wealthy clients, who defy being categorized by geographical location, should they wish to create consistent strategies of approach."

Wealth-X provides its members with qualified prospects and intelligence on ultra high net worth individuals, along with the privately held-companies they control. The company works with 8 of the top 10 global private banks, leading educational institutions, not-for-profits and luxury brands.

The firm's online business development solution profiles individuals who represent US $10.7 trillion of the world's net wealth. The Wealth-X database additionally offers exclusive details on ultra wealthy individuals, including their wealth, income, passions, philanthropic interests, affiliations, politics, advisors, families and biographies.

Wealth-X is the global leader on UHNW individuals and the worldwide standard for professionals working with the ultra affluent. Headquartered in Singapore, the company has offices in Beirut, Budapest, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, London, Lugano, Madrid, Mumbai, New York, Sydney.

The Wealth-X Rich List:
Net Worth Estimate (US$ Billion)
Alisher Burkhanovich Usmanov
Lakshmi Niwas Mittal
Roman Abramovich
Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor
Leonard Valentinovich Blavatnik
John Fredriksen
Hans Rausing
Willard Gordon Galen Weston
Srichand Hinduja
Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken
Nicholas Oppenheimer
Gopichand Hinduja
Richard Branson
David Reuben
Charles Cadogan