Loyalty to What? To Whom?
Do you remember when something called brand loyalty existed? Or indeed loyalty to anything? This was back in the days when you stuck with a particular product or service because it had value for you and you were happy to support it in whichever way was appropriate.
For example, and I want you to shudder with horror: my mother smoked cigarettes until she finally manged to kick the habit at some point in her 50s. She smoked Embassy cigarettes – I have no idea if they still exist as I managed to stop smoking in my early 20s so know little about what’s currently being sold behind the closed cupboard doors in the supermarket.
In each pack of Embassy cigarettes there was a coupon. You collected the coupon and built up your stocks until you had enough to exchange them for something in the Embassy gift catalogue. My mother must have smoked at least 20 a day, so these coupons accumulated quickly. My brother and I were tasked with bundling the coupons with rubber bands into packs of 100. And those bundles soon were piled high. The fun bit was selecting what would be the next essential household item from the ever-expanding catalogue.
All well and good, if you overlook the deleterious effect on my mother’s lungs. She stayed loyal to Embassy until the end of her smoking life. We are so different nowadays; why maintain loyalty when the service is usually rubbish or increasingly expensive with no perceived additional benefits? Who now stays with the same household insurance when at the point of renewal the company has slapped on what seems to be a vast extra sum?
The same goes for car insurance; if I have managed to drive safely all year why should I pay more for the same product? I know that when it comes to insurance we are all paying for each other’s mistakes, but even so I do end up feeling cheated.
Then there’s shopping; what is the point of consistently buying a hair conditioner that controls my unmanageable curly locks when the blasted company decides, on what appears to be a whim, to discontinue it?
What about causes or charities? Oxfam has been part of my life for as long as I can remember; it has always been one of my favoured charities while there are so many clamouring – rightly so – for my support. Then a few years ago we started hearing reports of their staff abusing local workers. How could I remain loyal in the face of such betrayal?
Finally, and because this is damesnet, I want to turn my ire onto Theresa May and Priti Patel. You may well ask what this has to do with loyalty, but I feel this is yet another opportune moment to requote Madeleine Albright, the first female US Secretary of State: ‘There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.’
I mistakenly thought that the more women took the reins of power, the more equitable our society would come; May and Patel, with their creation and refinement of ‘the hostile environment’ that now exists in the UK, have done the reverse. Many women have suffered terribly due to their immigration and detention policies. These two have created a highly toxic brand which deserves the complete opposite of loyalty – pure contempt.