Saturday, 31 May 2014

Look at me, looking at you ! MCM ComicCon gains a reluctant visitor


The SouthWest Trains guard on the Woking-Waterloo inter-city out of Portsmouth Harbour announced "Would any passengers carrying guns or replica guns or swords please put them in a bag or cover them up, as they can cause security incidents on arrival at Waterloo."  I quote with loose accuracy as I was frankly quite bemused.  The mandatory repetition of the message made it more clear, "If you are going to ComicCon at the Excel...."  We smiled, inspite of the hour - it was before 0800 on a bank holiday weekend - there was a special message for us, and my 12 year old son and his mate were very impressed.

Games demonstration table

Now, I didn't do double maths A levels or even computer science, which in my school days was the only way you could get your hands on a BBC computer or justify to your parents a need for a ZX80. Honest - the first time I actually used a computer (vs. word processor) was at university, for a forecasting module in my final year, with a floppy disk.   Neither did I partake in the often related Dungeons and Dragons.  Clever/Sporty was my bag.

Brain washing: "No go away and dress up funny !"

So when I was nagged into agreeing to accompany my eldest getting up at stupid o'clock, lingering for 8 hours or worse at the Excel exhibition centre bored out of my brains, and then fight the crowds home again you can imagine just how enthusiastic I was feeling.  Still, having children is the decision in life to be 95% selfless in your existence and this was my turn.  It was going to be duller than washing dishes, gaming geeks playing games, turned into zombies by their screens.  A bit like this..(but note the kid front of shot with a green head set on is actually sporting a false moustache.)

This behaviour is NOT a form of punishment ?


Then we started spotting people in bizarre outfits.  A man with a high school cheer leaders outfit putting his long hair into a net.  Orange, pink, grey, purple wigs worn with Japanese school girl uniforms adorned with lace.  Grown up women in hello! Pikachu hoodies and round red circles on their cheeks.  Themed groups (many I just didn't recognise) of people striking poses so random strangers (also dressed up) could take photos of them.

Strike a pose: you spikey haired gang of boys



Now Royal Holloway undergraduate management student Jess had introduced me to CosPlay (her site link) the idea of conventions (people coming together from far and wide) to spend time with each other having dressed up in a likeness of their favourite cartoon/scifi character.  I must say checking out some of the images I found it all to be a little bit racy for my taste.    Imagine my concern when my twelve year old wants to dress up as a mute character from 'Game of Thrones' and actually attend one of these events.  I guess it could have been worse...

Beauty and the Beast: even cheezie Disney is allowed ?!?!?


So tickets were serious money (not quite the same league as going to watch Northampton at Twickenham at the Aviva Rugby Premiership final) so I wanted to know what we would be getting.  Joel nonchalantly said 'You know, manga, comics, merchandising, gaming and Japanese Ramen noodles for lunch'.   

Look at me, looking at you ?  Alternative identity affirmation
My marketing colleagues enjoy serious counter culture, so I thought it might be good for me to get insights into some of this kind of activity.  Essentially we paid to go into two big rooms to buy stuff from other people, from the useful food and clothes (Maslow isn't all bad !) to the unnecessary, fake tattoos, false eye lashes, cosplay devils horns, masks, the little tail company.  Why is this good ?  We paid extra to have priority access from 9-11 (with cheaper general access tickets then kicking in) but found ourselves queuing for 40 minutes around the building in the rain.  I felt annoyed and cheated - but I was going to be walking around bored inside shortly, so at least this offered fresh air and a nice view of the Thames.




There was a strong Japanese under current and you could buy a range of samurai swords, sign up to learn Japanese in country or even buy the wooden puzzle box that Sheldon in Big Bang Theory used (and others.)  There were sweets and cupcakes galore, with several stores offering mikado sticks (thin long flour sticks covered in chocolate my kids love) and even the fabulously regionally branded Japanese Kit Kat boxes I've blogged about last year.  I love Japan and all things kitsch from this culture.  It wasn't a totally wasted day after all.  


There were serious commercial players present, e.g. a Wii stand and Nintendo in all its corporate glory.  The Tokyo Toy company was making strong sales & promoting its Trocadero retail outlet.

Now, it must be my age, but I'm not sure it is ok to be seen outside the house in these (photo left) kinds of clothes ?  Don't Anne Summers and Victoria Secrets make a fortune selling black and lace underwear like this ?   I think they call it lingerie.  Yet put an outlandish coloured wig on and we were seeing serious numbers of women (and some men) dressing this way. The Japanese doll look or school girl cartoon character ?  In a world obsessed by over sexualisation of children I guess there is room for the reverse, adults dressing as kids.  It feels very creepy to me, you can't just call it innocent fantasy and let it go ?

There were a wide range of genres represented, with the UKGarrison putting in a highly professional show for the Star Wars franchise.  Outstanding static props and a wide range of costumes, that have to be film ready (i.e. exactly the same as the films or you aren't allowed to exhibit).  They have a strong charitable orientation, but seem to enjoy stalking around too !  Star Wars, of course is alright because of its vast popularity, its moralistic (good vs. evil) stance - but doesn't it have counter religious undertones (May the 4th etc) and some strong use of violent fight scenes ?  Can't wait for Disney to bring on film 7, 8 and 9....



There were also Dr Who impersonators, Zombies, Pokemon characters, Victorian Brocage and so, so many more.  I was lost, but amazed.  There were 30,000 visitors the day we went, attendance getting bigger each year.

Manga team photo shoots

From my own rational consumption perspective I could not understand the value in buying a ticket to walk around commercial stalls.  There was a stand giving away free smoothies (I had several, it was hot, I was thirsty) but I don't remember the name of the company to plug it to you.  But pretty much the rest were there to make money, no doubt paying for their exhibition space like I was paying for my hot air and limited personal space too.  However, for motivated attendees, rather than reluctant chaperones, the appeal seemed to come from the voyeurism, the appreciation of effective, striking costumes that many attendees (a large minority perhaps ?) had chosen to wear.  So co-creation of the product - then why not meet in a park for free ?  Eventually I discovered my son had gone outside and spent much of the afternoon at a Yogcast meet, talking with people who enjoy this brand of YouTube video content.  Honestly, there was nearly as much exciting stuff going on outside for free as there was inside, certainly the way the boys engaged.  

More misery ?  Non-participant gamers watching others do it on the big screen

The point was more the gathering than the events at the venues, there were small, fading celebrities signing photos and authors plugging their scifi books, and the stands and some seating areas where stars and panels would engage in Q&A with 'fans' - people who seemed to know who they were and appear to be interested in banal exchanges of personal information.  One Canadian actor from Bones (I think) when asked what she liked watching played the suck up to the mostly British audience and said Luther, Downton and any other reasonably hip UK programming that has broken stateside.  Hollywood trained not to disrespect their audience.

Ninja action héros recording their own activities

I am trying to understand social identity theory at the moment.  I can hardly claim to really have a good understanding, but it appears to me that participants who engage deeply in the role playing activities benefit from peer validation (lots of others are doing the same or similar) and the mutual admiration that bi-annual large conventions (and other smaller ones) can offer the positive, reinforcing feedback that builds self-esteem and encourages more of this behaviour.  

Please buy my manga ?

Social identity theory sees us put our own character into roles that is subjected to the interaction and feedback we receive from our the social structure around us which validates, tempers or rejects behaviours in that context.  The idea being that we have multiple identities that we choose (and choose not to) adopt in various social contexts.    e.g. the friendly/human lecturer is one I try to project in my work place, to various degrees of success.


I also noted a number of individuals (one even scratched on a replica pistol) saying "Free Hugs" that seemed to want to encourage complete strangers to give plutonic embraces and walk on by.  

Still struggling with this one - is it a genuinely open statement of free love, the kind of rhetoric that was commonplace in the 70's ?  Or merely a manifestation of a more relaxed and openly tactile millennial generation.  Or indeed, something else again ?  It feels like a sleazy pick up line to me - wouldn't it be better to 'fess up and state "Single, seeks partner" or "Up for a one night stand" ?  Some of the t-shirt designs came close to this I guess.

I am still slightly bemused by 'cupcakes', I don't understand the source of the popularity, now, why would you pay £4 for a single, sickly sweet iced fairy cake ?    Surely it can't be down to Paul and Mary with their bake off show on BBC ?  In my mind calling someone a cupcake was US movie slang term for mental illness which then morphed into a general, mildly insulting term of endearment.

I wonder what this guy (below) gets out of his cosplay persona ??  

Off loading his aggression ?




I couldn't get the MBA group to visit Brighton together this year - there is no hope of getting them to attend MCMComicCon ?
No cupcakes were eaten or zombies created in the making of this blog post.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Re-launch of the Royal Holloway MBA




Extra curricula launch of the SunKissed digital project

Over the past two years, following some deep market research with current and past MBA students, teaching staff, business partners and bench marking with leading competitors, we have made a number of substantial improvements to the Royal Holloway MBA programme that will commence on 22 September 2014 this year. 

Of course, the core of an MBA remains very much at the core of an MBA and the curriculum continues to cover the essential elements: finance, marketing, management, accounting, economics, strategy, leadership, technology, operations - we have taken the opportunity this major review presents us with to consolidate a number of the innovations that have been trialled over the last couple of years e.g. international study visit, drama ensemble development techniques, digital marketing with some new elements e.g. the year in business option to extend the dissertation into a second year, project management, a shift away from heavy weighting on exams, cross-cultural management and a more integrated, theme based team teaching approach that looks to take a joined up global view of management, rather than a silo disciplined view that has been popular in the past. 

Hogs Back Brewery study visit
Company visits will take place directly related to theoretical learning and assessments with take on a more practical nature that relies on reflective learning and, often, group collaboration (just like in the work place !)



Please check out the 'course overview' tab on this link to see a detailed week by week plan of the programme and a summary of the contents of each of the chunky modules. 



Many aspiring MBA candidates ask me the question "What is distinctive and special about the Royal Holloway MBA" - which being frankly open, is quite a difficult question to answer. (remember above my point about what makes an MBA, means that the skins can look quite similar) 


Airline Industry guest speaker session "Which seat would you choose ?"

The kind of question Prashob (India) fired at me I think... What I have tried to write down here are a summary of key points that I have picked up over the past four years in conversations with a wide range of MBA students (remember we have 100 flexible and distance learning students join us each June for summer school, I talk to a lot of MBAs....) I try to reflect what real MBA candidates and graduates feel about their own experiences...


Why study for the Royal Holloway MBA ?    Read more...



The following link shows the philosophy of the MBA programme ​- I have tried to project some of the feeling of the programme using the MBA Director blog (link below in my footer which includes a piece on Japanese KitKats following Hayata-sans (Japan) in person visit) and the YouTube channel (link below), you can see the smiling faces of students and staff, passionate about what they do, having fun learning and developing. I have tried to put across some of this in words for the web page, please check this page out: 


Learning to look at life differently: Royal Holloway MBA philosophy  Read more...




I do hope you like the look and feel of the new programme, applicant Erik from Norway suggested the new MBA looks very modern. 

Success ! End of Exams

Although potentially quite dangerous, I did walk through some current MBA students (Paola (Colombia) was there & she'll be able to validate this) ​they liked the linked themes, the reduced exam load, the new project management and digital marketing, the part time options (that should see Wednesdays often a 'free' day), the more careful spread of coursework through the year and the year in business option. They felt it involved lots of positives and no particular negatives - although I didn't manage to get them to sign up to do another year..... 


Interested ? Do get in touch directly with programme director justin.obrien@royalholloway.ac.uk


Justin O'Brien 
MBA Director 
Founders East 111, School of Management,
Royal Holloway University of London

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Sun shines brightly as MBAs finish Exams


Royal Holloway 2013/14 MBA candidates mark the end of exams


The sun was shining brightly this week when the Royal Holloway 2013/14 cohort completed their last exam.  After two highly intensive terms of classes that run Mon-Fri from 0900-1800 or 1900 for some of the finance modules, a stressful Easter vacation revising and nearly a month of examinations this years cracking group of work experienced students lingered long enough to be personally congratulated in person by their MBA Director.

Most were shattered after weeks of late night revising but with the international study trip to Sweden, group consultancy and dissertation still to complete, they aren't quite finished.  But it certainly was a milestone in their programme and signals the beginning of the end.

Standing outside the Windsor building in the centre of campus, please note the special degree of cleverness used to 'click' this masterpiece - some of the stunning chimney roof line from Founders is reflected in the shadow on the windows.  

Discussion in the Happy Man afterwards with the tired but happy group centred on what they had learnt - clearly serious answers were off the agenda so stories of learning to cook different international food ensued, topped by the 'how to kill a lobster' and how to put off the campus room cleanliness inspectors ensued, calling "I'm in the shower" insufficient we learn.  Unfortunately, the fine details aren't suitable for public consumption via this blog.  

Hate to think what we are going to learn during the Stockholm visit.....

Monday, 12 May 2014

What's in a logo ? Royal Holloway re-brands

A bit of house keeping has unearthed this (no longer timely, but still worthy) posting I held back lest I changed my mind materially about the College new brand image.  Several months have now passed and the conservative grumbling about a bold burnt brick orange and slate grey new brand statements appear to have gone away.  I am wearing my new brand MBA hoodie with pride - so I guess that is a form of positive endorsement ?

After some extensive market research amongst the student body and wider University stakeholders (including staff) we see a new logo launched, bold and bright using highly contrasting colours of glowing orange and black. 
The 2013 'new' Royal Holloway logo
The college shield plays centre stage, and I know that students have strongly expressed a preference for this.  I am not surprised, with positive associations for a long history the heraldic imagery should reinforce a number of Ye Olde English brand attributes that Universities in new countries struggle to compete with.  When asked to design a hoodie a recent MBA cohort sought to utilise the shields latin moto and lots of the sports teams and student societies use the shield on their uniforms.  I wonder if teams will elect to move of the striking and unusual (bar Wimbledon tennis) and very regal (purple = colour of Roman emperors) green and purple. 
Five years ago, when I started at Royal Holloway the blue and white clock tower relief 'envelope' was in the process of establishing itself.  Although, of course, these things take time and evidence of the previous 'Royal Holloway' with counter pointed blue and orange triangles were in much evidence. Branding is a long and slow process.  Some of my longer serving colleagues have muttered "Not another branding !! How long will this one last ?" and flagging that this will be the fifth (?) re-branding in fifteen years.  Perhaps this one will stick around a bit longer. 


Baroness Thatcher did not approve ! Mail photo
Re-branding can be a tricky exercise to get rigtht.  Remember famous reversals like New Coke ?  Or more recently The Gap ?  Starbucks seems to have got away with dropping words and using just the green mermaid (siren) in a push to become part of a global elite, the image only icon brands (e.g. Nike tick).  Way back, British Airways tried to position itself as a global brand in an attempt to deliberately shed some of the negative British reserve perceptions (stand offish, old fashioned, stiff upper lip and poor customer service) with a daring 'World Images' concept.  I loved it ! Re-branding is an extremely expensive exercise, typically undertaken every ten to fifteen years. Unfortunately BA's highly conservative and influential stakeholder group (that included pilot staff and blue suited business executives in UK) found it all a little bit too racy and it was quickly de-radicalised by the new CEO, Rod Eddington, despite hasty market research 'evidence' that suggested strong, positive responses from customers around the world.  Margaret Thatcher epitomised the home market distain by putting a handkerchief over a model plane sporting the then new decals. Extensive media coverage of her reaction may have been the straw that broke the camels back, although the world image, of waves in union flag colours selected for Concorde remains the universal livery that is still being utilised today. 
However, the FMCG trained brands department knew that a logo was more than just an image.  They sought to symbolise a change in the way the organisation thought about itself and to win the hearts and minds of its 50,000 plus staff by seeking to galvanise an internal cultural change, in addition to the more obvious intended messages to customers.  Shrouded in intense secrecy, seeing need-to-know staff sign confidentiality agreements before being shown the re-brand project, the launch fan fare was a hugely exciting and a memorable event that used large, theatre based staff briefings with senior staff presenting a slick multi-media story that sought to emotionally engage, not merely inform staff about the new image that would be portrayed.  And, the College leadership team has undertaken some useful iPad based market research with its staff to better understand how frontline delivery staff feel about the brand they collectively represent. 
The University operates with a decentralised marketing function, and as befits its not-for-profit status invests relatively small amounts of money marketing itself.  (Of course, with a fast changing context that sees the government encourage direct competition from newly founded private universities and cash strapped initiatives that effectively reduce public university funding, this is no longer a rational assumption going forwards).  Thus the hurrah attached with this change is significantly more muted, no multi-million pound campaign as you might expect with a FTSE-100 rebrand.  Perhaps not of central importance to staff, it is of course immensely important for current, future and alumni students, as the brand (image and wider associations) are profoundly enduring.  Hence my choice of this topic for this blog, which includes a wide audience of future, current and alumni students.
I understand one of the ideas is to put more emphasis on Royal Holloway, which is obvious from the size of the lettering, with the smaller 'of London'. But one of the crucial brand associations that is very powerful outside UK is the University of London moniker.  No one says "London - where is that ?"  So, thankfully, this remains as a source of competitive advantage regional UK universities can not easily match. 
The previous image was highly restrictive, with essentially one, singular creative.  No reverse colour way, no fragmented elements, no watermark.  No flexibility in execution.  It was not designed with social media and co-creation in mind.  In the old days the powerful brand guardians would jealously guard how and where the brand was used.  The fairly static web design, merchandising and various print media would be created centrally and therefore had to be approved.  Unfortunately this straight jacket and unimaginative approach saw many teaching staff reluctant to adopt the constraining powerpoint format they were encouraged to use.  (Of course, there are other motivations/explanations for this behaviour too !)  The opportunities to see staff and students adopt and adapt the College identity come from a choice of creative executions that can fulfil a wide variety of needs, ranging from tiny 'buttons' (like the white B on an orange square that Blogger uses) to cover slides.   Thus I do hope we will see other elements come forward beyond the expected letter heads and business card designs and perhaps linkages to a wider positioning of the Royal Holloway brand.

Exam Season - O'Brien gets an early exit this year !


Exam FRENZY on campus...remember that feeling ?


MBA Director at Royal Holloway University of London

Social Media updated

I was rather swamped at the back end of last term, so my usual make it happen real time news journalism had to take a bit of a back burner. I try to publish something 3 to 5 times a month, usually related to student activities - subscribe via the top right hand white envelope if you want to get push notifications. I have challenged the full time MBA group to compete for Social Media Queen and King using the blog metrics tracker, has made for some interesting insights around co-creation and community amplification. Royal Holloway graduate and one of my Royal Entrepreneurs mentees Kat Bern made a big step in her interior design media personality career, getting a really positively energetic piece published in the Huffington Post. Read it - it's truly inspiring. 
Justin O'Brien, MBA Director, Spouts Forth !

At a very good departmental social media seminar lead by Dr Jane Tinkler (LSE) I was feeling quite good about my two posts on www.theconversation.com and nearly 30,000 hits on this MBADirector blog until I was well and truly trumped by my CSR guru colleague Prof. Laura Spence with her shared piece of glory in the FT.com Are we really moving towards a utopian vision where MNC's (or BigCos) are expected to solve all our social issues in addition to generating wealth, paying taxes, offering exciting career development and trading in an ethically principled manner ? I guess relying on politicians is not a sensible strategy any more.....check out the debates around Scottish devolution and Ukrainian land grabs. Suspect someone has already penned 'death of the nation state' ? 

Brand change


I have been busy re-drafting the content for the full time MBA programme, hoping this will go live with new pictures next week sometime. You may/may not have noticed the gentle nudge towards building a stronger ROYAL HOLLOWAY brand identity, our web address and emails are now primarily (using my examples:) www.royalholloway.ac.uk/mba and justin.obrien@royalholloway.ac.uk although of course the rhul and @rhul 
options will continue to work. Cue certainly for an unapologetic self-promotionary splash 'coming soon near you !" 


Exam season 

We are right in the middle of the annual exam season. Many of you will remember this vividly - I came out of my undergraduate exams, aged 21, nearly two decades of education behind me & I vowed that I'd NEVER, EVER have to do an exam again.... and what a strange feeling that was. 

Some of you are still in the middle of the horrible little blighters...fingers crossed they are going well... 

For me finishing exams felt a bit like Man City winning the premier league on Sunday (my wife is a BIG Citeh fan !), relieved at not dropping the ball rather than excitement or spontaneous euphoria ? 

Related news - I've just finished my exam first marking - wow ! No marking in my hotel room in Stockholm with the MBA international study visit this year !! I was quietly pleased at how few scripts (I can't says students as we have just numbers on the papers and it really does take the human orientation out of it all) made the awful mistake of failing to address the set question. I always feel bad giving low marks for these, as if you really don't know enough about a topic, then it is clear and a low mark is more than justified. But when you see a well structured answer that has tangentially interpreted the question, it feels awful to assign a mark to it. 

BTW - of course I DID sit more exams (two masters and the CIM all required them) and now I quite enjoy the challenge of setting exams - it is quite a weird feeling. 

How were your exams ? Did you love them or loathe them ?


YOLO.


Friday, 9 May 2014

Cold Calling & Networking event

Cold Calling students build business networking experience

 Students from the active Royal Holloway Marketing and Entrepreneur societies joined together under the project management of Celmira Amade, a high flying BSc management finalist student to bring an innovative event to the School of Management.


Celmira Amade: event innovator



With atmospheric piano music playing in the foyer area more than 50 students joined a number of business contacts over a glass of wine to try out their networking skills. 


The highlight of the evening was the award of certificates and iPad prize to the undergraduates who had participated in the innovative 'cold calling' competition.  Celmira introduced the concept, which sees students challenged to connect to the most senior person in a designated organisation using a cold calling approach (ie no prior introduction being given).  The activity was designed to encourage young entrepreneurs to take a risk and to help build their confidence in being willing to look to communicated directly with senior professionals outside the University campus. 


Management academic: Ailson De Moraes
Additionally undergraduate students were able to network with business experienced MBA students and a wide range of participants from organisations in the London area.  

Students and staff at the School of Management are eager to foster relationships with businesses across a range of zero and small cost activities such as guest speaking, problem solving, live issues as assignments, short internships and longer paid placements.  

BSc Management students following the year in business programme take the third year of their degree and quality learning placements are highly sought after.  

If you have any ideas that could involve Royal Holloway students please contact MBA Director Justin O'Brien: justin.obrien@royalholloway.ac.uk

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Hug a Bear !

Take time out to Hug-a-Bear !


Royal Holloway MBA students take time out to undertake some Corporate Social Responsibility with a feel good 'Hug-a-Bear' campaign that brought an extra special happy feeling to campus.  It was so much fun and totally unexpected my usual critical journalistic brain was not engaged enough to discover the real reason behind the activity (was it a digital marketing assignment ?).  

Whilst MBA students often find themselves working a 50 hour week, it is important to bring a balance of fun too !  With a packed timetable of lectures and highly interactive workshops where they get to bring their own work experience and industry knowledge into the class room most students find that their year long programme just races by.   

MBA Students Experiental Study of the Beer Industry


Royal Holloway MBA students visiting SAB Miller, the worlds #2 brewing company



Thanks to the kind invitation from Jonathan Bennett, Director of Corporate Affairs, a visit to the global headquarters of FTSE10 SAB Miller  was offered to Royal Holloway MBA students as part of their professional development programme.

During their afternoon visit they were able to interact with Managing Director Gary Haigh of Miller Brands, the UK arm of the highly successful global brewer.  Gary presented the impressive performance of his organisation, which imports premium branded bottled beers from around the world.  A superb example of a sales and marketing business that nurtures a portfolio of quality brands that include the historic leading Czech Pilsner Urqueller label and Peroni Nastro Azzuro (Blue Riband) from Italy. 

MBA Kelli to this learning/networking opportunity a few steps further and got to experience first hand promotional activity from MillerBrandsUK to link Italian culture with their stylish Peroni beer.



Considering global & local industry dimensions


Reflecting the large and global or small and local structure of the brewing industry students also visited a craft brewer, Hogs Back in Togham, Surrey.  With a highly accessible manufacturing operation, MBA candidates were shown around all the production whilst sampling a range of different products offered in the Hogs Back stable.  It is was tough work, but the MBA group rose to the challenge.  

Located on the foothills of the impressive Hogs Back (a hill shape that resembles that of a pigs profile) and benefitting from local support after twenty years of operation the company possesses an established distribution via traditional casks to pubs and clubs in a 60 mile radius.  Additionally, a function of the emergence of individual bottle sales formats in supermarkets who offer a range of traditionally brewed, small scale (or craft) beers, bottled ale is offered via national distribution. 

Five core products share related bottle imagery and design style, but use different (amusing) names and colours to provide the brewery with a striking 'block' of product at the point of sale (on the shelves of a supermarket, restaurant or even pub).  Tea (T.E.A. more correctly) offers an instant joking opportunity as regulars order a pint of tea !  (One point of sale promotion was an old fashioned ceramic tankard sporting the Hogs Back brand that could be taken for a mug of tea  !)

Subsequent diversification sees a range of unrelated brand images being introduced; Hog Star (a craft lager), AoverT (a bottle conditioned over strength 'barley wine') and harking back to the 1920's heyday of British Racing, a Brooklands brand has been introduced.  There is also a scrumpy cidre brand (but I've forgotten its name).  In under a year the Hogs Back appear to be gearing up for both volume, product and partnership expansion.