Shell Make Money
By John Donovan
In 1979, the company I co-founded, *Don Marketing, created and supplied promotional games that were used to promote petrol sales on the forecourts of all major petrol brands in the UK, including Shell.
In June 1981, we moved into a direct contractual relationship with Shell as a result of a presentation I made at Shell-Mex House in The Strand, the then London HQ of Shell UK Limited.
I put forward a proposal for Shell to launch a legal version of a promotional game called Make Money that Shell had abandoned in the 1960‘s out of concern that it was in breach of UK lottery laws.
The name of my Amazon Kindle book – “John Donovan, Shell’s nightmare” is not an ego-driven title dreamt up by me, but the headline of an article by an award-winning newspaper journalist, Christoph Giesen published across the EU in ten languages.
A broadsheet German daily newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung published a major article about me on 20 March 2012 under the headline “Konzernfeind No. 1.”
The article by Christoph Giesen told the story of my epic feud with the oil giant Royal Dutch Shell, a former client of the multinational company I co-founded, Don Marketing.
Over a decade of spectacular mutual success followed by two decades of hostilities, including sinister episodes of cloak and dagger activity by Shell against my father and me.
The English translation of the above newspaper headline: Shell’s enemy No.1
It was republished on 27 March 2012 by the European Journal/VOXeurope in ten languages under the headline: “John Donovan, Shell’s nightmare.”
A related TV documentary feature filmed in the UK and Russia was subsequently broadcast across Europe by Deutsche Welle (DW) the leading German TV international public broadcasting channel. It included an interview with former Russian Deputy Minister of the Environment, Oleg Mitvol, named in a Guardian newspaper article as a “Kremlin attack dog.” Film footage of President Putin appears in the feature.
The peace did not last for long. Shell offered information about me to a third party company that could only be construed as being damaging to my reputation. I served notice on Shell that this breach by Shell amounted to a repudiation of the agreement. Shell threatened to take related legal action, but tellingly, did not do so. Hostilities resumed with subsequent news coverage, including the above Sunday Times article.
In 2001, a third party company approached Shell to confirm that Shell would not object to the launch on the Internet of a paperless Make Money type game. My involvement as a consultant to the company was disclosed to Shell.
Shell took the opportunity to offer information to the company that could only be construed as being damaging to my reputation. I had hoped that the project would restart my career, but Shell’s intervention torpedoed that prospect.
The information Shell brought up and offered to supply to the company was the “Judges Comments.”
Some Don Marketing Games from the 1980s
COPY OF INFORMATION PUBLISHED ON Don-Marketing.com and “Images File” webpage (with more images added in 2020)
An article published by Prospect Magazine in February 2007 authored by Derek Brower, senior correspondent of Petroleum Economist, provides an overall background to the disputes between Royal Dutch Shell and Alfred Donovan and his son, John.
Picture of John Chambers and John DonovanJohn Donovan (right) and John Chambers at Don Marketing Hornchurch offices in 1984 For more photos see Don Marketing Photo File donmarketingphotofile.html
Don Marketing was founded by Alfred Donovan, Bob Donovan, John Donovan and their fondly remembered friend and business partner, chartered accountant, Don Redhead (deceased). Alfred, Bob and John are all retired from commercial activity. John Chambers was managing director during the most successful years of Don Marketing which, following a series of court actions with Shell, ceased trading some years ago.
A small sampling of the thousands of retailers and major global brands that were all clients of the worlds No1 Promotional Games company, Don Marketing.
Whitbread Scoop the Pools promotion.
Don Marketing co-founder John Donovan photographed in October 2020 with a Whitbread “SCOOP THE POOLS” poster.
Nabisco Shredded Wheat Space Invaders Promotion.
Approx size: 22 x 30 cm portrait.
Don Marketing co-founder John Donovan photographed in October 2020 with a Nabisco Shredded Wheat Space Invaders poster.
Copy of archival information
HIGH COURT TRIAL JUNE/JULY 1999 Case No: DD04199 Court 58
John Alfred Donovan v. Shell UK Ltd
SHELL SMART MULTI-PARTNER LOYALTY CARD SCHEME
HIGH COURT TRIAL INDEX PAGE
(Modified 23 April 2018 when all references to relevant Shell executive changed to “AJL”)
Further modified 21 Oct 2020 with the green text added immediately below and further references to the same Shell executive spotted and changed to AJL)
The judge himself admitted in open court that he had lost control of the trial. The following is an extract from a transcribed comment he made to Shell’s barrister Mr Geoffrey Hoobs QC on Tuesday 29 June 1999:
MR HOBBS: Your Lordship said was there any other matter. I do not know whether your Lordship wishes to know about the open correspondence that has passed between the parties.
MR JUSTICE LADDIE: Mr Hobbs, it may come as a surprise to you but I am not running this case. That is very apparent. If you wish to make any submissions to me or bring anything to my attention that is a matter for your choice. I have decided there is no point in me making further enquiries of my own volition.
Two decades before co-founding Don Marketing, John Donovan was in the petrol retailing business with his father Alfred Donovan operating a chain of petrol stations and garages in East London and Essex. Their main garage, known initially as East & Donovan and later as A & J Donovan, held Standard-Triumph and Leyland light commercial franchises.
In 1967, Alfred and John Donovan founded Jackpot Promotions, which launched a Freeline Football petrol sales promotion at garages throughout the UK, including Fina, Cleveland, Amoco and independent petrol stations. The computer-printed football coupons – examples below – were printed by Thomas De La Rue. Each contained a different pre-paid entry on Zetters Pools.
Freeline Football used Australian football teams in the summer season.
In 1979, Alfred and John co-founded Don Marketing with Bob Donovan and Don Redhead and launched a modified Freeline Football promotion on “no purchase necessary” basis.
DON MARKETING PROMOTIONAL GAMES FROM 1979 ONWARDS.
(Left to right) Roger Sotherton (Managing Director), John Donovan (Chairman) and Ken Brown (Operations Director).
Some Don Marketing staff including Steven Donovan and Lisa, smiling.
DON MARKETING OCCUPIED THE ENTIRE TOP FLOOR OF CRITERION HOUSE IN CHELMSFORD.
The Game pieces displayed below are not actual size.
GAMES FOR SHELL
SHELL MAKE MONEY GAME 1984 FOR SHELL UK
Don Marketing supplied the Make Money game on an international basis for Shell, including Shell Singapore – poster immediately below.
Fast flowing Don: Marketing Magazine 16 February 1984
Shell Make Money full page advert: Daily Express 21 February 1984
Shell Make Money full page advert: Evening Standard 21 February 1984
Shell is back making money: Incentive Marketing and Sales Promotion March 1984
Anatomy of a Shell winner: Campaign Magazine 27 April 1984
The Shell Mastermind promotion was launched Monday 2rd July 1984
Large Shell Mastermind forecourt poster. Approx size: 35 x 45 cm portrait.
(John Donovan with Shell Mastermind poster, October 2020)
Front cover of Marketing Magazine published 6 September 1984
SCREENSHOTS FROM BBC TV MONEY PROGRAMME ON BBC TV (presented by Brian Widelake and Valerie Singleton). PACKAGE FOCUSSED MAINLY ON SHELL MASTERMIND. THE BBC FILMED DON MARKETING’S SUPERVISION OF THE PRINTING OF THE SHELL MASTERMIND GAME IN NORTH WALES.
SCREENSHOT OF JOHN CHAMBERS FILMED INTERVIEW ON “THE MONEY PROGRAMME” WHEN THE SHELL MASTERMIND GAME WAS STILL IN PROGRESS AND MORE MASTERMIND GAME PIECES WERE BEING PRINTED.
TWO SCREENSHOTS SHOWING SHELL MASTERMIND GAME PIECES BEING PRINTED BY DOBSON & CROWTHER PRINTERS IN NORTH WALES
DON MARKETING CO-FOUNDER DON REDHEAD, FILMED SEEDING THE MAJOR PRIZES DURING THE SHELL MASTERMIND PRINT RUN OF 96 MILLION GAME PIECES
KEN BROWN CARRYING OUT PRIZE VERIFICATION OF SHELL MASTERMIND MAJOR PRIZE CLAIMS
SCREENSHOTS OF DON MARKETING MANAGEMENT TRAINEE SWEN OLSEN FILMED OPERATING A VIDEO VERIFICATION CAMERA DURING THE MAJOR PRIZE VERIFICATION PROCESS OF THE SHELL MASTERMIND GAME
MAGNIFYING DEVICE BEING USED ON A SHELL MASTERMIND GAME PIECE CLAIM FOR A £500 PRIZE
SCREENSHOT OF FINAL INTERVIEW SEGMENT WITH JOHN CHAMBERS ON “THE MONEY PROGRAMME”
SCREENSHOT- CLOSING MAIN CREDITS FROM “THE MONEY PROGRAMME”
Shell Press Release for Shell Mastermind Promotion July 1984, plus FULL RULES and Game Piece (Promotion launched Monday 2rd July 1984)
EXTRACT FROM PRESS RELEASE:
John Smeddle, Sales Manager, Shell UK Oil said: “The success of Make Money, which we launched in February, is now a matter of record. It increased our trade and helped to change the petrol market from one concentrating almost exclusively on price to one where we could create interest and excitement for the motorist buying petrol at a fair price.
Shell has run three versions of the Shell Make Money game in the UK.
THE 1966 VERSION
The first, in 1966 (above), offering cash prizes of up to £100, was created and supplied by Ralph Glendinning of Glendinning Associates, an American marketing consultancy. The game was a huge success but there were grave doubts about the legality. Shell was concerned about the possibility of being prosecuted in the UK for conducting an illegal lottery. Shell was also rightly concerned about the security of the half-note currency.
More information further down this page.
THE 1984 VERSION (THE MAIN SUBJECT OF THIS ARTICLE)
The second version was launched in 1984 (envelope above) offering cash prizes of up to £10,000. It was created and supplied by Don Marketing, a UK promotional games company founded by John Donovan, his family, and Don Redhead, a Chartered Accountant/mathematician. Don Marketing supplied a QC’s opinion to Shell confirming legality. The promotion, known internally as Operation Leo, was a huge success.