Contrary to the received wisdom of the smart alec, Father Christmas does not owe his look to the Coca-Cola company. The oft-repeated myth has it that the enterprising ad-men of the 1930s branded the big man in colours sympathetic to the soft-drink giant, and he’s stayed that way ever since. In fact, Father Christmas enjoyed wearing red clothes long before Coca-Cola got its hands on him but the strength of the story speaks to the success with which Coke seized on the festive season as an advertising opportunity. Today, author and former brand consultant John Grant says it’s retailers who’re hoping to take similar advantage of the seasonal springboard. His advice to those looking to stand out from the competition is to remember it’s supposed to be fun: “I think some people forget; the ones who remember do best.”
Deutsche Bahn isn’t exactly filling its customers with Christmas cheer. This week the German rail giant (it happens to be the largest European rail operator) announced that it will discontinue its classic Schönes Wochenende (Have a Nice Weekend) ticket next summer as part of restructuring efforts. For about 23 years the offer allowed Saturday and Sunday travellers to discover the country with unlimited access to trains, buses, trams and metros. Once a prided institution, the company has faced harsh criticism over the past month for cancellations, delays and failing infrastructure; at one point only a third of its trains were running on time. The German government has asked for a new strategy to be laid down until March, with meetings between the two parties expected as early as next month. Here’s hoping the new year brings an end to chilly relations.
You’ve already waved goodbye to plastic straws; now bid farewell to plastic cutlery and crockery too. After a 12-hour discussion, EU legislators have agreed to ban single-use plastics; member states will also be expected to reduce the use of plastic bottles. Disposable knives, forks and plates – which often rear their ugly heads at this time of year at office parties – won’t be missed at the Christmas table. Foregoing them is just one of the ways to avoid excessive plastic use at this time of year: swap plastic bows for fabric ribbons when wrapping presents and bear in mind that a plastic tree is more than twice as polluting than a real one – and nowhere near as perfumed or characterful.
For those already planning their post-Christmas lunch walk, Historic England has added an impressive line-up of newly listed places to its roster this year. In 2018, 952 buildings, parks, gardens and sites were given protected status – meaning they’re now protected from demolition or destruction as they’ve been deemed to be of historical importance. From a memorial bus shelter in Osmington, West Dorset, to the wing-test hangars in the Hucknall branch of the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust in Nottinghamshire and the Central Hall at the University of York in Heslington, no matter where you’re spending Christmas in England, you’re certain to find a listed landmark nearby.
Grenade is one of the fastest growing brands in the massive sports-nutrition market. The brand was started by Alan and Juliet Barratt, who created their first product in their home kitchen in 2009, later launching the company with just £27 in their business bank account. Grenade now has customers in more than 80 countries, with plans to expand further after a huge stake in the company was sold last year to Lion Capital for £72m.
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