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Posted on Fri 8th Nov, 2013 in: Industry Comment, Influence by Tim Downs

This week's influencer has been a tough decision between an individual and an organisation, but with them essentially being one and the same, it hasn't been that hard. How do you really separate CEO Malcolm Walker from Iceland? Ultimately the influencer is going to the business because BBC2's Life in the Freezer Cabinet, which broadcast its final episode this week, wouldn't have been the huge success it has been without the whole Iceland family. Undoubtedly Malcolm has been the leading man, but his supporting cast of characters, including the accidental PR man Keith Hann, under the cosh technical manager Trish, senior buyer and Bubble Bobble Prawn inventor Alastair, and his 'enthusiastic' head of security Duncan, have all played their part. Even the walk-on extras have added to the enjoyment, from the couple catering for their own wedding, to the creative agencies Karmarama and the Tom Reddy Agency, slugging it out for the summer advertising campaign. So what have they managed to influence? In short, improving public perception and in creating a real sense of what an often questioned brand actually stands for. They've created the fabled 'reservoir' of goodwill that PR professionals often reference, so when the next 'Horsegate' scandal erupts, Iceland might just ride out the storm better than some of its competition. Seriously, look at #icelandfoods on Twitter if you want proof. Against the odds, against what would arguably be best-advice let alone best-practice, they have demonstrated a business that cares about and trusts its staff, listens to its customers and what they want (apart from Leg-of-lamb Man and Prawn Man), and lives by its values and ethics. And at the very least they coined a not insignificant number of catchphrases that I'm already hearing being repeated. "The JFDI school of business"?, "Get the robbing bastards down to the Co-op"?, "Good Red Wine, Good White Wine."? They might not quite achieve one stated aim of creating the 'Aldi effect' and influencing the middle classes to switch from the big four, but hands up who wants a job at the Iceland centre of mediocrity?

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