The MD of Unilever enthused 5 years ago to a conference of school teachers and chlldren that creativity is essential for business success. He suggested that creativity should be at all levels of the business, “not just the top”. He referred to various examples – Virgin Airlines (apparently an airline which makes you feel special every time you travel on it), Top Shop (“many of you go to top shop and can now buy high fashion at affordable prices” and the café chain Patisserie Valerie (which makes you feel like you’re in France allegedly).
He said that Unilever needs to recruit people who think differently, people who can work with you, not for you, and leaders at all levels of the organisation whose task was to ‘clarify what was wanted, be a voice from the front, encourage risk taking and awaken peoples passion.’ An example of what he meant by passion followed on film – a 5 minute advert for Findus foods which was to indicate how his employees were having their passion awakened by the generation of new products and ideas: frozen vegetables.
He finished his sequence with questions from the conference panel: ‘are schools doing enough to generate creative ideas for business’ and ‘how could you make sprouts more appealing to children?’ His final comment, in some joking aside about the issue of school dinners… ‘our frozen food is fresher than fresh food… Frozen is the New Fresh’: now makes a lot more sense 5 years later with the recent horse meat scandal.
Now we know that ‘creativity’ is often an excuse for all sorts of linguistic shenanigens and that teachers at conferences on creativity and education often have to swallow a lot of frogs when it comes to assessing what is ‘good practice’. But in the era when Frozen can be the New Fresh and Horse can be the New Beef then I can clearly become the Count of Monte Cristo.
The porkie pies that Findus have been unashamedly peddling for years are at least out in the open although you might reasonably wonder whether there is something else other than pork in those pies. Over-enthusiastic marketing is built upon a lot more than reconstituted delusional seaweed.