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Marketing Week: Shell reveals plans for challenging Smart writ


Marketing Week: Shell reveals plans for challenging Smart writ

By Tom O’Sullivan

Shell has revealed confidential details of the defence it will use against a High Court writ alleging it failed to pay to credit a sales promotion agency for the idea of the Shell Smart card loyalty programme.

Don Marketing has issued the writ over the disputed idea dating back to 1989, together with a further writ, issued last Friday, claiming that its managing director John Donovan has been defamed in a Shell press statement (MW April 16 and 23).

Shell’s defence claims that an internal project called “Onyx” which began in October/November 1991 created the loyalty programme now known as Smart.

Shell’s solicitors DJ Freeman also claim in a document written in June 1997 that elements of the Smart idea were public prior to the 1989 meeting with Don Marketing, that they were first developed by Shell as part of an internal project called “Nova” in 1987 and that there were talks with other agencies going on at the same time.

The first Don Marketing writ claims that one of the members of Shell’s Onyx team, Tim Hannagan, had a discussion with Don Marketing about a possible multi brand loyalty scheme as early as 1990.

Shell UK retail development manager Mike Harle says: “It is completely untrue and we intend to prove in the courts that the idea of multi-retailer marketing programme using smart card technology was not Don Marketing’s idea.

“It was merely the result of work Shell had done internally and in collaboration with other promotions agencies.”

But John Donovan says the agency has looked at the claims surrounding Nova and Onyx: “I am the one who started this ball (the Smart concept) rolling and have the evidence to prove it. Why would I, or anybody else, write ‘confidential’ on the top of a document (in October 1989) if the idea was already in the public domain?” 

Don Marketing’s second writ alleges that last week a Shell press statement defamed Donovan. It seeks damages and an injunction to prevent Shell from making further claims about him.

Shell says the press statement was “defending” its position.

Photo Caption: “Shell: Disputes Don Marketing writ” (Shows copy of Writ)


Link to Original Article…

Update July 2008: Shell settled the claim three weeks into the trial paying all of John Donovan’s legal costs. Donovan also received a payment as part of the top secret settlement, the terms of which, as Shell General Counsel Richard Wiseman confirmed in an email to John Donovan on 17 June 2008, were not even disclosed to the Judge, Mr Justice Laddie who approved the settlement and made ill informed comments believing he had been given the true facts. A so-called “Joint Press Release” actually issued by Shell Media, contained a false account of the settlement designed to deceive Shell stakeholders, the media and the public. In other words a typical example of Royal Dutch Shell intrigue, deception and cover-up, in this instance personally approved by the then Group Chairman, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, who, prior to the court proceedings, sent a letter to John Donovan containing a threat. His wife, Lady Judy Moody-Stuart, personally intervened in the litigation prior to the trial. A copy of her extraordinary letter and subsequent post card message sent to Alfred Donovan at the commencement of the trial was passed to the Judge.

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

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