Gordon Douglas explains:

I ran Presight, Europe’s longest-established innovation and new product development agency, for many decades. Our philosophy was that market research and creativity should always work in tandem and in harmony.

Now that my business partners have retired, in some cases to distant shores, and I myself am enjoying semi-retirement, I still reman still active in:

  • Offering “second opinions” on marketing campaigns, new product ideas, or brand strategies.
  • Creating new brand names, a long-standing Presight speciality.
  • Interpreting past market research, and “reading between the lines” of the findings.
    (After all, consumers do not always mean what they say, nor say what they mean.)

What has Presight achieved?

Over the years, Presight developed many successful new products in food, drinks, beverages, household goods, toiletries, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, restaurants, and financial services. A few highlights:


Vodafone "Pay as You Talk"

Remember the first pay-as-you go mobile phone? We pioneered this sector for Vodafone with "Pay as You Talk", hugely expanding the mobile phone market by attracting customers who did not qualify for a contract and also those who simply liked to ration their (or their family's) expenditure.


Cuvée Napa by Mumm

Long before the success of Prosecco, we expanded the sparkling wine market with Cuvée Napa by Mumm, a highly-drinkable Californian champagne-style wine. Research showed that adding the "by Mumm" tag-line (the Mumm brand belonging to an American company at the time) greatly increased the product's perceived value, whereas simply presenting the product as a line-extension of Mumm champagne ("Mumm Cuvée Napa") risked causing the new product to be seen as "passing off as real champagne".


Marlboro Classics

Working for Philip Morris, Presight's research showed us that the Marlboro brand had a very powerful (American, outdoor, cowboy) image, even after decades without advertising and even amongst non-smokers. So we created a range of rugged, outdoor leisurewear: Marlboro Classics, which went on the become a stand-alone business.


Natrel Plus

Remember when people were suspicious of anti-perspirants? In spite of their effectiveness, many consumers preferred to use "ordinary" deodorants (and many still do) because they thought that anti-perspirants were unnatural. For Gillette, Presight created a long-running success: the first anti-perspirant using natural ingredients and with a gentle, natural image: Natrel Plus. The branding was apt: "Natural" cannot be registered as part of a brand name, but an invented word, such as "Natrel", can.

PG Tips

PG Tips

How can a tea-bag be improved? Virtually all tea-bags were identical and the market was crying out for some innovation. For Unilever, under the PG Tips brand, Presight developed a novel pyramid shape that not only had emotional appeal (fun) but also rational appeal (the "more space to infuse" story). Pyramid tea-bags have consistently been No1 or a No2 in the huge British tea market ever since.



Presight’s pre-launch sales forecasts for new products, based on the tried and tested Presight Forecasting Model, have proved, over the years, spot-on: take the skin-care range Sanex for example: not only did the the forecasting model predicted first-year sales but also subsequent annual growth with uncanny accuracy.

Forecasting the future: Presight has never made wild claims about predicting the future, but, over the years, we've proved to be rather good at spotting trends ahead of the game: the speed at which remote banking would grow, the rapid switch in attitudes to debt (from almost horror to ready acceptance), the take-off of heavily-branded clothes, the switch away from washing powders to other forms of 'dosing' the machine, and the huge growth of text-messaging. When mobile phones first appeared, texting was seen as something to which consumers could resort if it was too loud to talk in a restaurant or bar. Presight predicted that text messaging would become massive and should be treated as a key revenue-stream.

About Gordon Douglas

Gordon Douglas

Gordon was educated at the King’s School, Canterbury and St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, where he graduated in philosophy & psychology. (At Oxford he met Jeremy Cook, who went on to be a key partner in Presight.)

He started his career with Nestlé, working in London and in Switzerland, and was a member of the team which created the successful Nescafé Gold Blend instant coffee.

He founded Presight a few years later. He now divides his time between London and Switzerland, and is a keen golfer and skier.

He works closely with his wife Louise (“Luisa”) Fortunato in their design business, Fortunato Interior Design (louisefortunato.com) and its new subsidiary for smaller residential projects: Fortunato Design Solutions.

He is a founding member of Douglas & Antonetti, a professional translation business (www.douglasandantonetti.eu) Gordon is also co-president of the Montreux International Business Club in Switzerland, where he spends much time organising top speakers for the club’s monthly events (www.montreuxinternationalbusinessclub.ch).

The King's School Canterbury
St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford
Nescafé Gold
Fortunato Interior Design
Douglas and Antonetti
Montreux International Business Club

About Jeremy Cook

Jeremy Cook

After obtaining a degree in PPE from St. Edmund Hall, Oxford (where he met Gordon), Jeremy’s first job was with the Ministry of Transport (now the Department for Transport) in London as a statistician.

He then joined BBDO’s London arm, where he worked on new product development and forecasting. Shortly afterwards he joined Gordon in running Presight.

He still lives in London with his wife Lesley, who have between them become sort-of experts in financial investment and financial litigation.

Jeremy is also an author. His novel GHO$T TRAD€R is set in the Credit Crunch of 2008. He is currently finalising another financial novel, about a speculator at the time of Abolition (of the slave trade), written in the style of Jane Austen.

Formerly a marathon runner, he still runs (slowly!) every day except for the days he doesn’t.

St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford
Ghost Trader by Jeremy Cook
Department for Transport

About Roger Wisdom

Roger Wisdom

Roger gained a BSc and MSc in Chemistry. Discovering that scientific research progresses too slowly to be rewarding, he moved into business – joining Unilever. During his time there he focused heavily on innovation, leading to the development and launch of many successful brands, such as the Lynx range of male toiletries (branded as Axe in some countries). He later joined Gordon in Presight to focus on what he enjoyed.

Roger is a keen cyclist and skier (though, now being based in the tropics, rarely skis nowadays). He is a qualified canoeing coach. He also holds a Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults.

Although regularly returning to London, Roger now lives for most of the year with his partner in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he is busy as a producer of television programmes. This involves research, negotiation, script-writing and vocal coaching for performers for whom English isn’t their first language.

Roger continues to work with Gordon on ad-hoc Presight projects