Dan Brown and Tesco: Reputational variations

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ON THE 14 AGAIN — It’s been a while since I have been on a bus. Sorry.

This morning’s paper has two great stories opposite each other:

Tesco leads ‘league of shame’ on cleanliness


Codes, symbols and conspiracies: You’ve read it all before, but who cares?

The first publishes the results of a survey from Transparency Data which puts Tesco at the lower ends of comparisons between Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons. The story includes some horror stories about food service.

I know people who collect these kind of stories. They can be scary.

But what effect will this have on Tesco’s mighty grip on retail food sales in the UK? None.

Tesco’s grip on the food market is not based on cleanliness. It’s not based on services, or range or price or even quality. Tesco is just there. Everywhere you look, whenever you find that you need something, there’s a Tesco.

They are consistent and present. It’s an amazing real estate deal really. Wherever you are there’s a Tesco.

Dan Brown, well that’s something else. His reputation is based on consistency, but of a different kind.

Brown mixes a brilliant combination of things. He’s got mystery, history and conspiracies. Mark Twain said a lie can travel half-way around the world while the truth is still putting its shoes on. And in a world where we can get access to any information we want by typing it into Google, something secret is all the more exciting.

Of course the same anoraks who love Dan Brown’s novels will also have already set up detailed websites to examine the claims, and “find the truth”!

In debates about what reputation is and where it comes from there are perhaps more nuances than we think.

Will I go to Tesco today? Yes.

Will I look to see if it’s dirty? Probably not.

Will I read Dan Brown? No.

But I am an exception. I already know that the Masons control everything.


P.S. Another one I like today: in a 2006 survey in the USA only 14% of adults thought that evolution was “definitely true”. How did rational thought get such a bad reputation?

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