This week has been notable for former corporate darlings suffering from some serious reputational damage. BP got hammered with a big fine after admitting price-fixing and environmental damage charges in the US, and also admitted to a huge fall in profits. GlaxoSmithKline also saw profits slump amid the continuing row over its diabetes drug Avandia, and like BP, announced a major restructuring.
But for Michael Bright, it’s too late for that. The founder and former chief exec of Independent Insurance (at one stage Britain’s biggest insurance company) got seven years in prison for his fraudulent part in the company’s demise.
Elsewhere, some other big names have been banking on technology to stay ahead of the pack. Microsoft bought a minority stake in Facebook that valued the social networking site at $15bn, while on a smaller scale the Post Office revealed plans to launch a broadband service aimed at first-time users. And IBM’s prowess in this area helped it to snatch the London congestion charge contract away from Capita.
It was also a big week for image. China’s Communist Party showed the world its future top brass – all decked out in a matching black-suit, red-tie ensemble that reminded us of another ‘great leader’. But if the Chinese were looking to the west for inspiration, at least they didn’t follow the example of Holiday Inn. The hotel chain marked the unveiling of its biggest ever revamp - which includes piping soft rock into its hotel rooms - by chief exec Andy Cosslett playing bass to Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’.
There are of course more extreme ways to turning heads. Wealthy clients of Hari’s salon in London’s Knightsbridge have to take the prize for the week’s most experimental, having been encouraged to try an unusual new facial cleanser. Made from nightingale excrement. At least with Michael Bright around they won’t be the only ones left with muck on their faces.