Orthodoxy is toxic

Orthodoxy is toxic

All my heroes are equal but George Orwell is more equal than others. I’m not taken to affection for old Etonian propagandists, after all there are enough of them stuffing the country up at the moment. But I make an exception for George. You may love him for his life-long...
The real genuis of 'and'

The real genuis of ‘and’

There is one word the advertising industry really hates. In this word lies the root of all perceived evil. It’s only a little word but its sends shivers down our collective spines. The advertising industry hates the word ‘and’. Instead, if we are really honest, we much prefer the word...
We need to think more about advertising

We need to think more about advertising

Adam Lury, one of the founders of the late, great and greatly missed HHCL, is perhaps one of our least recognised planning legends. The exponent of a radical approach to strategy that helped make the agency’s work so distinctive in the 1990s, like many great planners, he was also immensely...
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No more 'millennial' twaddle please

No more ‘millennial’ twaddle please

Peter Mead, the co-founder of Abbott Mead Vickers, had a profound dislike for one particular word. An old school ad man from a modest background, Peter had huge respect for the ordinary people that bought his clients’ products. And as such, he absolutely hated those that worked for him calling people ‘punters’. It wasn’t quite...
Why hire an advertising agency?

Why hire an advertising agency?

David Ogilvy famously asked clients of his agency wanting to write their own work, “why keep a dog and bark yourself?” Half a century later it appears that for some clients the answer is “who needs a bloody dog?” Which brings us to the thorny question of why use an advertising agency at all. One...
The year ahead in planning

The year ahead in planning

Ok so its March and this is rather late off the rank. But better late than never. It just means we have 9 months not a year to sort this stuff out. If 2016 taught us anything, it is that prediction is pointless. It may be desperately tempting, it may feel like a commercial imperative,...
Who will buy our goods if every job has been automated?

Who will buy our goods if every job has been automated?

During an early 1950s tour of the recently modernised Ford plant in Cleveland the President of the United Automobile Workers Union, Walter Reuther, was shown the latest car construction robots. His over zealous guide turned to him and said “Walter how are you going to get all these robots to pay their union dues?” To...
Have we reached peak purpose?

Have we reached peak purpose?

It’s quite possible that 2016 marked peak purpose. The year in which the idea of corporate or brand purpose reached its zenith from which its grip on the collective consciousness of the business world may slowly wane. You see purpose has a rather patchy rep. For every Unilever, celebrated for their commitment to both corporate...
The seven deadly sins of planning

The seven deadly sins of planning

Recently I was asked to talk to the Open Strategy Group about planning bad habits that should be addressed in 2017. And so I aimed off at what seem more to me as sins than simply bad habits. The seven deadly sins of planning. Here is the slideshare from the event, each point illustrated by...
2016

2016

One of my all time favourite ads is Asshole for Holstein Pils. It was written by Robert Saville and Jay Pond Jones at GGT and I think it’s by far the best drink driving ad in history. God knows why it’s not on every year. If you are familiar with the ad perhaps you might...
Why we need to adopt whole puzzle thinking

Why we need to adopt whole puzzle thinking

A while back the good people at Admap asked me, along with a bunch of other strategists to contribute to a bumper September issue on the future of Strategy. It’s rather long but here it is for your delight. The skills of the strategist are, with the best will in the world, unnecessary. In any...
Stand up for strategy

Stand up for strategy

The work, the work, the work. That’s the mantra by which we live and die in advertising. Good agencies are measured by the work they win and the way that they work. But great agencies are always measured by the quality of the work they make. CDP, BMP, BBH and Mother all brought innovation to...
Brexit: The segmentation study to end them all

Brexit: The segmentation study to end them all

Good news is thin on the ground right now but in the world of marketing, there is one massive benefit of the Referendum. Thanks to the 23rd June no organisation need bother commissioning a segmentation study ever again. There are few concepts in marketing that promise more and deliver less than segmentation. Segmentation is the...
Remain was advertising's lowest moment

Remain was advertising’s lowest moment

This is an article I wrote for the second edition of the New European. The New European is a fascinating publication, it was set up from idea to first publication in 9 days. It’s kept its costs very low and exists to serve the 48% of people that voted to Remain. It will disappear once...
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