The Man Who Bought a Rolls-Royce But Never Used It

Leslie and Florence Greensted 1934

Leslie and Florence Greensted, 1934

My paternal grandfather, Leslie, started life as a butcher on the north Kent coast.

He was a good businessman, and soon had a chain of butcher’s shops from Herne Bay to Broadstairs. He diversified into farming, bought an abbatoir, and made lot of money. He had a house in Herne Bay and another in Westgate On Sea, a son at Rugby School, and an active role in Herne Bay society. He was also instrumental in setting up The Herne Bay Building Society.

Eventually the time came when he had enough money to indulge himself, and that meant treating himself to a brand new Rolls-Royce motor car, which he did.

But his wife, Florence, pictured with him here, was Not Happy.

“What,” she asked, “will your customers think when they see you driving around Kent in this car? Don’t bother answering, because we both know they will either delay paying their bills or start buying their meat from someone else who hasn’t acquired the airs and graces of a duke.”

So, the car was put in a garage away from the prying eyes of Herne Bay, and was eventually sold without Leslie ever having driven it. He went back to providing the populace of north Kent with saveloys and sausages, and no more was said about the matter.

What, you might be wondering, has this got to do with digital marketing?

Digital marketing works best when it pitches itself at exactly the same level as its audience. Burger King’s brilliant Whopper Sacrifice does this.

But the people whom digital campaigns target don’t judge a company just by its goods and services. They judge it also by its behaviour and ethos. Consequently, most have a very clear idea of what Microsoft, News Corp, Google, Apple and so on are like. Some of this they get from the media but most of it comes from observing the behaviour of these companies. It works both ways. News Corp might not be everyone’s favourite, but Apple certainly seems to be at present.

MySpace no longer behaves like its users, so its users are migrating to Facebook.

News Corp’s need to generate money to pay for the acquisition of MySpace has noticeably changed the focus of the service. If News Corp could find a way of putting the Rolls-Royce back in the garage, MySpace might have a brighter future.

If you want to see a brief case history for Whopper Sacrifice, you can find it on YouTube here:

Finally, I recently sent an email to the office of a butcher on the north Norfolk coast, asking if it is true that he owns two or three Rolls-Royce cars, which he never drives. I think these cars are garaged close to Wells Next The Sea. I didn’t receive a reply to this enquiry, but I wonder if he is, is some weird way, related to me?