Royal Dutch Shell Group .com


(Modified April 2018: Relevant Shell executives name changed to initials only "AJL") 

It had seemed that our business relationship with Shell would continue for many more years. However, things were about to take a turn for the worse when, in 1992, a tall, thin young man, AJL, (a bit of a Sean Penn look-alike) became Shell UK’s National Promotions Manager. John and Roger presented a succession of promotional ideas to him in strictest confidence between May and November of that year including the following:- 

  1. A proposal that Shell should rerun our Make Money matching halves game that had been a stupendous success in 1983 and boosted Shell petrol sales into the stratosphere.
  1. An instant win game with a Nintendo theme - we went to the trouble of obtaining approval from Nintendo before we disclosed our proposal to Shell.
  1. A movie themed collection type scheme whereby motorists could collect vouchers and exchange them for movie related gifts. We called it “The Hollywood Collection”.
  1. A multibrand promotion that could be executed as a game or as a loyalty device - the consortium concept that we had been pushing Shell to adopt for a number of years and on which Shell had already retained an option.

AJL was interested in the Make Money game and asked a lot of questions. He thought that the Nintendo idea was too child orientated but would put it forward for possible research and possible development along with the Hollywood concept which he also spend some time discussing. 

His greatest immediate interest was in the multibrand concept (and Make Money). He was made aware of the Shell option and of our contact with Sainsbury’s and later asked to see some of the correspondence. He was happy for us to make a further attempt at organising a consortium of retailers for the game version. Consequently, with his approval we approached Woolworth, Safeway Supermarkets, the Sun newspaper, Little Chef (who were willing to fund and redeem up to 150 million menu items as prizes) and Universal Film Studios, who were willing to fund between 10 and 15 family holiday packages to California & Florida.  

After spending months working on the project, to our astonishment, in a letter notifying us of his decision not to proceed with the multibrand concept for the time being, Mr AJL casually mentioned that he had been speaking to a variety of potential partners. This was a flagrant breach of the terms on which we had disclosed the concept to him and the first warning of his lack of respect for other people’s intellectual property. We later learnt to our horror from “discovery” (documents Shell was eventually forced to supply to us as part of the litigation process) that AJL had been speaking directly to Sainsbury’s about the multibrand loyalty scheme – which explained his great interest in our contact with them. This was despite his assurances that if he took the project forward it would be with Don Marketing. We also noticed in discovery documents a comment by David Watson that forging a promotional relationship with a supermarket was nothing less than the “Holy Grail” for petrol promotions.   

New ideas are not dreamt up on the spur on the moment. A great deal of creative work and expense is often involved, sometimes amounting to several thousand pounds per proposal in terms of market research and the production of colour visuals and presentation documents of the high standard required when dealing with multinational clients such as Shell.  The ideas that we put to Andrew therefore represented a considerable investment.  

Andrew advised us Shell was still considering making a fundamental decision on their future promotional plans. He hoped that we would remain patient. We were not to know that one by one, he would surreptitiously develop each of these concepts without our knowledge or approval through an agency with whom he had a special relationship. 

In November 1992 Paul King sent a hand-written letter addressed to Roger and John, on Shell headed paper, advising that he was leaving Shell because it was not the company he had joined. They were invited by Paul to his leaving “do” at an Italian Restaurant opposite Shell-Mex House and were surprised to find that they were the only people in attendance. Paul made it clear that he was disillusioned with Shell and unhappy with Andrew’s unethical methods of doing business – the main reason for his departure. Paul made similar comments when the two John’s (John Donovan and John Chambers) had a meeting with him at his request after he had left Shell.  

Towards the end of February 1993, John faxed a letter to AJL reminding him about two of the promotions which Lazenby had indicated might be put forward for research and development (the Nintendo game and The Hollywood Collection). A paragraph was devoted to each concept. AJL faxed the letter back with a hand-written message at the bottom saying: "Thanks John. I'll be back in touch when we've made any further progress. Cheers. AJL”.   

Andrew later claimed that he sent the response to fend off John who was pestering him on a regular basis. AJL was still advising John that a decision on whether Shell was going to go with short-term or long-term promotion activity was imminent – a much repeated refrain.

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