Monday, 15 September 2008

Boris Johnson's team: ever so quietly expensive

Over at the Guardian, Dave Hill answers the question on everybody's lips, which is whatever has happened to Munira Mirza?

Boris Johnson's cultural Director, has been rather quiet of late, ever since she told us how to 'do anti-racism for real'.

Mirza's approach to 'doing it for real' was apparently to stop doing it at all, and you would be forgiven for thinking that this was her approach to the rest of her job.

But according to Dave, Mirza has in fact been hard at work. We just hadn't noticed it yet:

"She does still have a job and is, I'm told, working very hard at it in a mostly low profile way. She was at the launch of the Thames Festival alongside The Blond and attended the event itself. She also attended Simcha and said a few words to those in attendance. What else can I tell you?"

What else indeed. But if Mirza is 'low profile' then what does that make his new Director of Marketing Dan Ritterband? 

Ritterband who was not formerly known for his demure nature, was given a six figure salary at City Hall earlier this year but not deemed worth even so much as a press release. 

So while his unpaid 'food champion' Rosie Boycott and his unpaid 'sports commisioner' Kate Hoey, got the full fanfare, one of the Mayor's most senior and high-paying appointments was ushered through the door without so much as a squeak.

Now why ever could that have been?

Could it be perhaps that championing food is just that little bit more appealing to voters than that more expensive business of championing yourself.

Who knows? But whatever the reason, let's take a look at what he has to show for his two months in the job?


Well without any official updates I can only go by his recent efforts to secure sponsorship for the Freewheel cycling event.

The event, which had been intended to attract 100,000 people has been scaled back to 45,000. And the reason for the change? Tory thrift? Elf and safety? Afraid not. No the real reason was insufficient sponsorship.

Of course whereas under communist era Ken, the dangerous lefty cabal secured £300,000 from capitalist overlords Hovis - under Ritterband, the true blues secured just £100,000 from Sky Sports. 

And while other sponsors could potentially been brought in to fill the gap, under Ritterband, the deal came with free-market bunking exclusivity.

So with loss of sponsorship threatening to close the curtain on other events, and with consultant costs still riding high, just what kind of value are we still to expect from our 'bang for your buck' Mayor.


Rob said...

Isn't it just quite likely that as we're in a period of economic uncertainty, companies - like the rest of us - are having to be a bit more restrained with their outgoings.

Hovis has just announced a year on year fall in its pre-tax profit of nearly 30%, by the way, and increased debt of £1.8bn. I think even the last lot would have struggled to get another £300k out of Hovis this year.

The Troll said...

Yes this is quite true. However, perhaps other companies would have wanted to have sponsorship as well were it not for the exclusivity deal.

Of course it is just these problems which make Boris's increased emphasis on corporate sponsorship all the trickier and makes these kinds of events all the trickier to put on. Some will inevitably fall as funds tighten, but losing sponsorship (be it through exclusivity, or through political dogma with Rise) does not make it any easier for them to survive.

Anonymoose said...

Maybe we could sponsor Boris. Those locks of his would make an excellent awning for a sandwich board.

Tom said...

"Isn't it just quite likely that as we're in a period of economic uncertainty, companies - like the rest of us - are having to be a bit more restrained with their outgoings."

Quite, all of which makes it rather unfortunate that Iain Duncan Smith et al are proposing to hand things over to the voluntary sector. This has the obvious flaw that when their services are needed most they have the least resources...

As for Hovis, they're running a rather expensive looking advert featuring a boy running through the ages of modern Britain carrying a loaf. Rather good, and not exactly cheap looking.

I still think that only getting £100k when the event was wildly successful last year and now has a high-profile champion is a rather poor effort, though.

prj45 said...

IIRC Sky sports aren't really sponsering the event either, they're just supplying the dayglo bibs.

Anonymous said...

you need to get a girlfriend mate...

The Troll said...

Is this general advice, or aimed at anyone in particular?

Generally speaking, I have to agree that girlfriends are nice. I'm very happy with mine. You?

Bobbin said...

I don't like girlfriends. They're rubbish.

barry rochford said...

Public expenditure, rather than relying on private sponsorship, is all the more important now in keeping services afloat - budget cuts will see London decline (collapse would be a strong term).
You can see the stupidity of the sponsorship strateg, even though Boris can't be blamed for the decline.
In the summer, Boris as talking about getting premier league football clubs to contribute to fighting knife crime. With all their own shirt sponsors going bust, they're hardly likely to come up with the dosh.
If you want to make it work, you have to have your own money - which means a real budget levied. Give Boris his due - he's not sponsored by the Lehman Brothers (as far as we know)

angelneptunestar said...

I had to fight off a whole raft of suitors and am co-habiting, just to show you all I am not left out. However lots of men pursue me to hear more of my astute opinions.

Hasn't Boris saved £7.5MILL so far, I thought that was the figure he gave at the last QT?

The Troll said...

Surely even you can't take that figure at face value?

Tom said...

"Hasn't Boris saved £7.5MILL so far, I thought that was the figure he gave at the last QT?"

He spent £9.4m on the BTP police teams alone. Remember, saving money at the GLA, which has a tiny budget compared to, say, TfL, doesn't really make a lot of difference.

Actually, he apparently said he was going to fund 400 policemen out of the savings at City Hall. £7.5m isn't going to pay for that.