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children. She busied herself by ‘volunteering like a nutter’ to be the class rep (‘a totally thankless task!’). Rachael identified her as someone different from herself, someone with a serious career and the drive to plug away at something without promise of instant financial reward (or any, in the case of being class rep) – an excellent pedigree to launch a new business.


I ask tentatively if their business might rely on sexist stereotypes, and suggest this might be a little ironic given each of these women’s high-flying careers to date. Rachael is quick to stress that they are not playing to the ‘all men are Neanderthals’ myth. ‘We’re offering a problem-solving tool, not man-bashing. Our whole business is founded on the idea that men and women communicate differently. When it comes to buying us presents, to spoiling us, so many men struggle, but it is not because they don’t


and he wanted her to be safe. Somehow this noble spirit got lost in translation. Same story with the top quality electric toothbrush he bought her the year she’d talked about having her teeth whitened – ‘I just thought I had bad breath,’ she says.


‘Men try with gifts, but often they just can’t do it. We’re asking them to do something they aren’t programmed to achieve. There were only so many times I could have the argument about James not knowing me. I decided I needed a solution or a divorce.’ Luckily, she went with the former, and here we are sipping coffee in west London.


BULL’S EYE


THE PROBLEM IS NOT THE SPENDING BUT THE CHOOSING


know or love us. Their idea of thoughtful is our idea of unromantic.’


Rachael relates her personal experiences with husband James (now the ManBuysPresent finance officer, and co-owner with her and Marco Pierre- White of two London restaurants) that planted the seed for


ManBuysPresent.com. One birthday he bought her a bike light. Yes, a bike light. She looked at it in horror as he enthusiastically extolled its virtues. ‘It’s top of the range!’ His rationale was simple. He was showing his love in this way because she likes mountain biking


While the site’s product pages are populated with carefully-selected feminine fancies, the look and feel are naturally geared to be attractive to men. ‘Men are linear and need a straightforward, straight-talking solution to


women’s mixed messages, like the fact that we’re


always on a diet but we love self- indulgence.’ Marketing collateral takes the form of branded business card holders containing plastic branded cards, but word-of-mouth is the key to their marketing strategy. ‘We’re not advertising, and because it’s a service rather than a product it’s easier to be more experiential, more creative with promoting ManBuysPresent.com.’ They have also printed a newspaper, complete with columns authored by brand ambassadors like Olympic gold medallist Nick Newland, hairdresser Adee Phelan, Marco Pierre White and some firemen – a myriad of modern


These she'll like...


men about town. Men tend not to engage with direct marketing but pay attention to branded content with an interesting angle.


Of course, no concierge service can do its job if it doesn’t have basic data to work with, so ManBuysPresent.com places at the disposal of each client a Cyber Assistant, which stores memorable dates and sends email reminders about anniversaries and birthdays. It’s sexily intuitive and goes to show that Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox were right. Well almost. To adulterate their words, behind every great man buying a present for a woman there has to be a great woman. Or two.


BF


...this she won't.


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