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Spearmint Rhino chief strips off PR facade to reveal warts and all

Wheely good speakers. The team from Leeds Media\'s Refuel event.

Spearmint Rhino Europe Chief Executive Simon Warr last month surprised delegates at the recent Leeds Media “Refuel” conference with a “Ratneresque” insight into the company’s PR strategy.

He referred to the 6,000 dancers who work for the chain of clubs as “the product”, revealed how some of his lap-dancers were deliberately linked with Simon Cowell at a time when there were rumours about the star’s sexuality and claimed the club’s male clientele did not understand the value of money.

Explaining how the company, which is to launch new clubs in more cities, including Leeds and Harrogate, has retained Max Clifford Associates to handle its crisis management, he told the audience, “Sometimes, when you sleep with the dogs you catch fleas – and perhaps that has been the case with us using MCA.

“However, they have been very useful, particularly when it comes to keeping stories out of the papers. How many stories have been kept out is difficult to quantify but Max would certainly argue it has been a lot.”

When questioned by the audience about media training, he gave further insights into how stories can be engineered.

“We have a very volatile product, which is our dancers. They are susceptible to alcohol and other issues, because at the end of the day they are focused on making a living. So most of the media problems we have involve the product. As a result, we do invest in training – such as dancing and general etiquette. However, only one or two of our dancers have had media training. But that was just when Max Clifford was on a bender and trying to link some of our dancers with Simon Cowell.”

Later, when asked if Spearmint Rhino would set up a ladies’ equivalent, Warr was unequivocal.

“Women are far more sensible than men – and have a better idea of the intrinsic value of £20. Men have a drink, a good time and are quite happy to spend, despite the fact that at the end of the night they will have nothing to show for it, except perhaps a smile. But when we have tried ladies’ nights we have found they are far more rowdy, unruly, tend to tear at the dancers, but do not actually spend any money.”

The event, which was held in the Royal Armouries, attracted around 200 delegates and featured an exhibition as well as a conference programme consisting of numerous high-profile speakers.

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