Television is still the king

Television is still the king

Breaking Bad, a fully paid up member of Kevin Spacey’s ‘Third Golden Age of Television’ The legendary Steve Henry once told me a joke about advertising awards. He said that he had hailed a cab from outside the Grosvenor or some such venue and the cabbie had enquired what he...
Maths and magic - the secret of Bletchley

Maths and magic – the secret of Bletchley

Colossus was the World’s first electronic digital computer. Built from Post Office spare parts, it was operational from February 1944 at Bletchley Park, the British Government’s code breaking headquarters. Colossus followed on from the work that Alan Turing had done decoding the signals encrypted by the German Enigma machines. It...
Facebook's nineteen billion admissions of defeat

Facebook’s nineteen billion admissions of defeat

Why did Facebook acquire WhatsApp for $19bn? For the same reason dog’s lick their balls, because they can. There are few organisations on earth that could rustle up $19bn dollars (mainly in cash) for anything let alone a service that at a maximum can only be turning over $450m a...
Should CSOs become CEOs?

Should CSOs become CEOs?

In the 1990s Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse performed an appallingly misogynist sketch series called ‘women know your limits’ in which mock mid-century public information films advised women not to mess with things like driving and intellectual debate. And I wonder if sometimes the same advice ought to be given...
Independent London

Independent London

Separatism appears to be the flavour of the month in the UK. The SNP can’t bear to be British, UKIP can’t bear to be European and the BNP can’t bear to be anywhere near their fellow countrymen and women. But if you are hell bent on separatism why choose the...
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Oxbridge is not the problem

Oxbridge is not the problem

I went to a very nice industry do recently full of some really smart people taking about youth, including the wonderful Shaun Bailey. For some reason the conversation got onto what the advertising business is doing for young people given the appalling levels of youth unemployment in the UK. And two things really pissed me...
Advertising's moral responsibility

Advertising’s moral responsibility

Advertising and ethics have never been close bedfellows in the popular imagination. When I entered the industry it was characterised by a culture derived from the bar (not the agency one the legal one) – that all businesses deserved representation as long as their product was legal. This may sound perfectly sensible to you but...
Supermarket success - it's a question of class

Supermarket success – it’s a question of class

For a time of loving and giving this Christmas saw a bloodbath in British supermarket retailing. As retailer after retailer reported their fourth quarter trading figures we have become used to the sight of a shamefaced chief executive mounting the podium to rustle up this excuse or that about why they haven’t met analysts’ expectations...
In defence of war

In defence of war

  The first recorded use of the acronym OMG doesn’t appear in a text from an over enthusiastic adolescent but in a letter from a crusty old sea lord to a future Prime Minister. In 1917 Winston Churchill, then Minister of Munitions, received correspondence from John Arbuthnot Fischer complaining about the progress of the war...
Brands should be needed not needy

Brands should be needed not needy

Needy is a wonderful word to describe someone that craves rather too much of something from us rather too much, whether attention, help, love, sex or friendship. Someone who is needy exhibits desperation for attention that is inappropriate given the relationship that we have with them. They crave and cling and in short their neediness...
Trust: Every brand wants it but few know how to get it

Trust: Every brand wants it but few know how to get it

One of the murals depicting the Battle of the Bogside (August 1969) in Derry Londonderry, an enduring records of the conflict in Northern Ireland. Image courtesy of Paddy’s Wagon. Trust. There can be no rarer and more eagerly sought accolade in the world of brands and businesses right now than the trust of our people...
Guest Post: Can advertising be too good?

Guest Post: Can advertising be too good?

In this very rare guest post John Shaw, Chief Strategy Officer at WPP’s Team Red, asks whether sometimes advertising can be too good, not for the brand but for the consumer.   Long, long ago in the mid- 1980’s, Levi’s 501’s created a moment for me – a fashion moment, a music moment, an advertising...
Trust teaser

Trust teaser

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about trust over the past year. And a lot of time becoming truly frustrated at orthodox approaches to trust – the endless league tables of most and least trusted brands and the sterile alliterative advice from PR firms about how to be trusted. So I called...
Give brands what they deserve not what they want

Give brands what they deserve not what they want

In 1964 the new headquarters of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) opened its doors, the fifth building the venerable organisation had inhabited since its foundation in 1518. Not only was the location at end one of the Nash Terraces in The Regent’s Park, somewhat of a departure for the College (having previously inhabited buildings...
Why 'always on' is such a turn off

Why ‘always on’ is such a turn off

When you have fireworks like this who needs bonfires. Image courtesy of Fernando Castaneda. In recent years the business of marketing has been assailed by a litany of new buzzwords and phrases that often gain extraordinary momentary popularity and spawn a slew of new job titles and agency offerings. However, increasingly this ‘new marketing’ jargon...
Stop confusing targeting with relevance

Stop confusing targeting with relevance

Advertising is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, for most of us inside and outside the industry, advertising is seen as commercially vital, economically important and culturally essential – funding and subsidising vast tranches of the media and many other facets of our lives. But there is a big if. And that is if advertising...
If you can successfully avoid tax you know your brand is healthy

If you can successfully avoid tax you know your brand is healthy

  From horsemeat in the lasagne to Libor fixing in the blood, not to mention industrial scale tax avoidance, brands have to put up with a hell of a lot at the moment. By which I mean that brand reputations, painstakingly pieced together over years, suddenly seem on the line in a way they have...
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