September 29, 2007

Three Blind Mice

I read recently (thanks to my morsel-a-day from Delancey Place) of Blind King John of Bohemia who "loved fighting for its own sake, not caring whether the conflict was important. He missed hardly a quarrel in Europe, and entered tournaments in between, allegedly receiving in one the wound that blinded him."

Barbara Tuchman (who wrote A Distant Mirror, the book from which the piece is taken) suggests that "fighting filled the noble's need for something to do" and was his substitute for work, eventually leading to the establishment of tournaments where he might re-enact the fighting role that had been made redundant by government and diplomacy.

There is, of course, something in this that echoes the need for twenty-first century business men and women to do fake battle in arenas as far apart as the corporate box, the online coliseum or the golf course. For the brand owner, it might be useful to remember that not too far below the thin veneer of corporate respectability beats a heart that sometimes yearns for a fight just for the sake of it. Businesses that recognise and feed this need (rather than scoff at it as "silly boys' games") will likely find that concerns around budget and rationale play little part in the purchase as far as the buyer is concerned and make for a relatively easy sell.

And with his or her bloodlust sated, it's also far less likely that the 'workless noble' will need to pick a fight elsewhere.

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