I’VE long been cynical about the profession, trade or calling of marketing.
Often, it seems to me, to comprise pressuring the gullible and weak into buying third rate goods or services, they can’t afford, against their better judgment!
Either that or the job is a pure sinecure.
I knew the regional marketing manager for an area the size of Scotland and Wales who spent hours talking gobbledygook, chivvying returns and reports from under-strappers and addressing endless sales conferences and marketing seminars of his be-suited peers.
His product: Heinz foods!Â Messrs HJ Heinz couldn’t possibly manufacture sufficient of their inestimable 57 varieties of baked beans, beans and franks, spaghetti in tomato sauce or ditto in cheese sauce, baby grub etc to satisfy the demand of the palate-less couch lizards who ate the stuff, but my china was the whiz-kid demon ‘King of the Cans’ sales manager, with a big, larney company car, expense account – and premature ulcers – to match.
I always claimed his job wasn’t marketing: it was order taking!
At the other end of the success scale, I also knew the area marketing manager for Cutty Sark’s extremely pale-blond whisky.
Despite being the then Scotch brand leader in North America, it was a product you literally couldn’t give away in his district where more robust, harsher, much darker brands of “Presbyterian altar wine” were preferred.
His hopeless and thankless task tied in with the definition of marketing by Edward Land (the Polaroid inventor): “Something done when the product’s no good!”
But some marketing works.
At about 3.30 on Thursday my mobile ‘Message Received’ bleeper beeped an unsigned message from blue@2 Wine Bar, Aberdeen Road inviting me (and presumably scores of others) to spice up our week.
Resident chef Desmond would be serving his “wonderful home-made beef curry from 6pm to 9pm that night.”
Hmm…short notice, but that didn’t need much marketing in my case. The day was ‘dreich’, grey and chill, over a week after the theoretical end of winter.
I would be working fairly late and a plate of good curry could tick several of the right boxes.
I immediately replied that I was enthusiastically up for it, but was working in shorts and probably wouldn’t have time to change. The unspoken comment was that if I did go home, I possibly wouldn’t venture out again in longs….no matter how excellent and mouthwatering the curry.
“No problem” was the still anonymous reply (but I think shorts are usually verboten there.)
I have been to blue@2 several times since it opened last September. Danielle Hartmann, the attractive ash-blonde daughter of a dispossessed Doma tobacco farming family first invited me, although soon afterwards the Australian-trained photo-journalist disappeared to the Far East teaching English as a Foreign Language.
Mum, Daryl, and pop, Hennie, were left in charge. Recently they brought in Kelly Allison, a svelte, switched-on cookie who trained at, amongst other places, The Savoy, London, and has run blue-chip safari lodges in the game-rich Botswana deserts.
I first knew her running Blue Banana, then Symphony and most recently at Taverna Athena.
Kelly was in the kitchen putting final tweaks to Desmond’s curry (he was off); Kelly’s incredibly youthful mum, Rose, greeted and seated.
I responded with alacrity to the call for curry, but, sadly, few others did.
At any time there were no more than nine present: but what we lacked in numbers was made up in conversational skills. I found a senior school’s veteran music mistress and three AirZim pilots especially interesting.
The curry was spectacular looking; wonderfully flavoured and textured with an interesting mÃ©lange of herbs and spices which formed an appealing lingering, sophisticated, slight after-burn.
Beef was chunky, tender, melt-in-the mouth cooked through and gristle, bone and fat-free. It was also plentiful, as was the yellow long-grained rice and a wide range of sambals including a nice pappadum.
This was the second “sizzler” night. The previous Thursday, which I couldn’t make despite slightly longer notice, featured piri-piri chicken. The third such event, scheduled for last night, I was hoping to attend.
A very fine plate of food cost US$6, but I saw several signs of dismay in the body language of punters on spotting that imported (only) beers and most drinks had risen to $3.
This may reflect increased import duty, or be an attempt at exclusivity which could backfire in a recently dollarised economy where even the most generous spenders and high-roller earners are now watching cents.
I couldn’t photograph Desmond Makiyi as he was on leave, but thought I had a snap archived from his days as sous-chef at Thai-themed Blue Banana and chef-de-partie/grill cook handling fusion food at Symphony.
I didn’t, though. Sorry, mea culpa!
Less than a week before the curry supper I had taken 11 guys for late-afternoon drinks/sundowners at blue@2, to find it no longer opens for lunch Wednesdays and Fridays as it did in early months, trading through the afternoon if demand so warranted.
Did I feel a prize Wally?
They now open Tuesday to Thursday 5-10 and Friday (when there is often a band) 5 until midnight.
An on-site wine shop, currently handling only Mark Oxley’s Latilla products from Portugal and the Cape, operates from 10am-1pm each day.
The wine bar’s anniversary party is September 19; from October 1, it will run as a members’ only club.
blue@2Â Â 2, Aberdeen Road (off Second St). blue@firstname.lastname@example.orgÂ telephone 0912 251 752