Last night’s BBC1 schedule saw peaktime regional opt-out programmes at 7.30pm replaced by a ‘Frozen Britain’ snow special – apposite given the high-profile problems at Heathrow, Eurostar etc, though unlikely to reveal anything new, except perhaps a level of schadenfreude amongst those sitting cosily by the fire as they watched weary travellers suffer. For Dalton Philips however, recently-installed Chief Executive at supermarket chain Morrisons, the programme provided an opportunity to be grabbed with both hands. He was there to talk about the problems faced by stores and their suppliers.
However, for Mr Philips, there were no problems. Everything was fabulous. His stores were ‘in great shape’, his people clearly heroic – with a nice example of a bakery manager at one of the Scottish stores who had walked six miles there and back to get to work, three days in a row. Mr Philips was very adept at using ‘bridging phrases’ to move on from the question he had been asked, to what he wanted to say. So we got from a question a fall in customer numbers to the message that Turkeys were selling well, almost within the blink of an eye.
So, in many ways, a brilliant example of taking the opportunity to get across a positive message and plug the brand to a big audience. And yet .. sometimes you can overdo it. Too much positivity, with barely any hint of any problems, smacks of a lack of realism, not to say smugness. You might say he had been over-media trained. He was so keen to get across all his messages that his answers were on the long side – 40 seconds or so – and had to be cut off by presenter Sophie Raworth. If only Mr Philips could have been a bit less pleased with himself. Next time – and there will certainly be a next time for the articulate CEO who is willing to make himself available to the broadcasters – he can do even better.