Ted Baker founder: ‘The public hates to see CEOs like Sir Philip Green flaunting their wealth’

Having a famous CEO – in the mould of a Mike Ashley or Sir Philip Green – can hurt the way the public perceives a brand, according to Ted Baker founder Ray Kelvin.

When a CEO tries to behave like a celebrity it looks “ugly and smells of money”, according to Ted Baker’s CEO and founder Ray Kelvin.

Speaking to Marketing Week at the launch of Ted Baker’s new ‘Mission Impeccable’ shoppable video, Kelvin claimed that public-facing CEOs often do more damage than good when it comes to a brand’s public perception.

“The world has made too much out of business people becoming celebrities. This whole Dragons’ Den and The Apprentice wave – I don’t buy into that,” he said.

“I don’t like it when I see CEOs out there in the public eye. It smells of money. I don’t want to think about how much someone owns and how much they make – it is ugly and the public don’t like it.”

A recent ‘CEO Uncovered’ study, which polled more than 2,000 UK consumers and 200 business decision-makers for the UK Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA), found more than 60% of British consumers believe it is now more important than five years ago for CEOs to appear visible and engaged within the public eye.

However, Kelvin – who refuses to have his full face printed in the media, preferring to take a backseat role – is clearly not in agreement. And he pointed to Sir Philip Green – chairman of the Arcadia group, which owns the likes of Topshop and previously owned the now defunct BHS brand – as a negative example of a celebrity businessman.

“All these people – like the person you mentioned [Sir Philip Green] – all he wants to do is show off how much he’s got. That turns people off. I want to turn them on. People don’t like it. People don’t want to see people flaunting their wealth. I’ve never been that way, my kids would kill me. Yes, I am comfortable with my lot [in life] but that isn’t what this is all about.”

He added: “I don’t sell shares, I am not interested in boats, planes or trains. I am a design man. It is all about the clothes.”

In the 19 weeks to 11 June, Ted Baker saw an impressive 32% rise in online sales. It is currently prioritising international expansion after recently opening new stores in cities such as Beijing, Ottawa and Seattle.

A full interview with Ray Kelvin will be published in a future issue of Marketing Week.

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  • John Pawson 13 Sep 2016 at 1:09 pm

    I found a typo – it should read “People don’t want to see people (who have robbed a whole load of others from their pensions and destroyed a long-standing high street brand, while personally profiting and siphoning money off for themselves and their family) flaunting their wealth.”

    A celebrity is someone to be celebrated. That is not Phillip Green.

    True, people don’t want to see CEO’s lording it about, splashing money everywhere… but they might be a bit more cool with it if the CEO in question wasn’t a corrupt arsehole who has sold so many others down the river, just so that he can sit on his super-yacht at the top of it.

    The public want to have CEO’s more in the public eye because big corporations seem untrustworthy… and with examples such as Phillips Green, its clear to see why.

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