Mudlark: This is not just M&S advertising

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Recovery is not the only “R” word that Stuart Rose, chief executive of Marks and Spencer, must find hard to utter, writes Carlos Grande.

For while plenty of ink has been spilt lauding the impact of the retailing chain’s food and fashion advertising on its recent sales pick-up, rather less has been written on the ad agency responsible for the campaigns: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R.

For the record, Mark Roalfe is creative director on the account and James Murphy, the agency’s chief executive, runs the business side of the account, which RKCR/Y&R won in 2000.

Although the agency does not speak about the M&S business, we hope for its sake it is being paid by that other “R” word – results.

Parallel history

When it comes to North Korea and international finance, there can be few people with the record of Colin McAskill, the 66-year- old Briton advising the newly established Chosun Fund on investing in Kim Jong-il’s “socialist paradise”.

Mr McAskill started dealing with North Korea in 1978. In 1987, he held the mandate to restructure the country’s debt to the London Club of commercial creditors, at that time estimated at $900m (£485m).

Making money in one of the world’s most closed economies seems like a thankless task. If experience counts, Mr McAskill has a head start.

A glass, darkly

GlaxoSmithKline may have been a bit taken aback when Tachi Yamada, the head of the drug company’s research and development arm, said he was quitting. All the same, it gave him a stellar retirement present.

The object in question is a thick glass globe. It shows the constellations but its meaning is less clear.

Could it be a reminder that Yamada – an academic for many years who is joining the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the philanthropic organisation – is a star-gazer at heart?

Or will it be a crystal ball for the fate of GSK’s drugs pipeline that he fostered over the past six years?

Carbs and arbs

The “Once a Week Work-out” is our second favourite exercise regime. It is just pipped by the “Never Again” system based on near continuous lolling on a Bedouin divan while being fed tiny white grapes.

Still, we might be tempted to the Holland Park fitness studio of Mark Anthony, the originator of said weekly work-out, to pick up gossip from his City trader clients.

Mr Anthony says there is a six-month waiting list for his sessions, with appointments so closely segued that rival traders can pass each other at the beginning/end of work-outs.

“Bankers are the most reliable clients, much more so than celebrities because they are so motivated,” Mr Anthony tells us.

Mudlark had half-laced a pair of tennis shoes in anticipation of a trip to west London before we found out weekday sessions can start at 5.30am.

“I used to begin earlier,” Mr Anthony said.

For now, we will stick to our loitering in tents.

From FIFA to IFA

The National Association of Pension Funds’ annual conference boasts a surprisingly glamorous guest list. Alongside John Hutton, the work and pensions secretary, and his Tory shadow, Philip Hammond at the event on June 8 and 9 will be the distinctively bald figure of Pierluigi Collina.

Best-known for refereeing football games such as the 2002 Germany vs Brazil World Cup Final, Mr Collina retired from refereeing last year but remains an independent financial adviser.

The event’s closing speaker is one Alastair Campbell, the former Number 10 spin doctor not traditionally associated with the use of the whistle in dispute resolution.

Bon voyage

Few sponsorship requests are accompanied by a hand-written endorsement from the Prince of Wales. So Amelia Fawcett, vice-chairman of Morgan Stanley International, starts at an advantage as she tries to raise £250,000 for the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Generations Appeal.

Fawcett will skipper a 47ft sailboat with a four-man crew from Massachusetts to Falmouth, embarking on June 25. She is underwriting the entire cost of the voyage, so all money raised will go to the charity. www.makewaves4breakthrough.com

mudlark@ft.com

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