Anxiety maketh the planner

Anxiety maketh the planner

“Let’s face facts, Perce”, as Edmund Blackadder was constantly saying to his hapless companion, the division of labour in advertising agencies borders on the bizarre. In no other industry is the thinking, creating and doing delivered by different people, with different titles, often in different departments. You don’t see the...
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...
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...
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...
Start up tips, six months in

Start up tips, six months in

I guess it’s in the nature of our business that after years looking after other people’s brands you crave to have one of your own. Not an agency brand (though the thought remains intoxicating) but a real brand, something out there in the world that’s living and breathing. Over the...
The marketing truths we are all in danger of forgetting

The marketing truths we are all in danger of forgetting

  Ask most secondary school aged kids how to prevent scurvy, a disease they will have had little contact with and they will tell you, with Vitamin C. The use of ascorbic acid, or at least citrus fruit that have high levels of one of the few vitamins our bodies...
Latest entries
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...
Stop faking it - Creating more meaningful connections with mums

Stop faking it – Creating more meaningful connections with mums

Mumstock is the only marketing conference in the UK devoted to improving the woeful standard of marketing to mums. We have been at it for three years now along with our partners Mumsnet. And each year we have tried to deliver a new take on the subject through an unorthodox piece of research. So now...
The media matters

The media matters

The closure of the Independent’s print edition at the end of March and the decision of its publishers to make it an online only news brand feels like yet another step in the inexorable decline of print journalism. And yet this Monday sees the launch of The New Day, the first new standalone newspaper in...
Diversity is about how good we can all be

Diversity is about how good we can all be

  My life has many privileges. And without doubt one of the most extraordinary privileges I enjoyed last year was dinner with the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Jesse Jackson is a hero of the civil rights movement, marched with Dr King at Selma and twice ran to be the Democratic nomination for President. I spend my...
Adland's dangerous addiction to awards

Adland’s dangerous addiction to awards

The advertising industry has a serious problem with addiction. Addiction to awards. Everyone in adland loves a good award. Used recreationally they can be fun, illuminating and uplifting. Sure the people that you get the awards from can be rather un-savoury, but as long as you keep the habit under control awards do no great...
In every form of content there is an optimum technology and an ideal experience

In every form of content there is an optimum technology and an ideal experience

The resurgent UK bookseller, Waterstones, recently stopped selling Amazon’s Kindle. For all Kindle’s convenience in accessing and consuming printed material it is a terrible way to read the books you love. Part of this is its Soviet era aesthetic but in the main it’s because printed-paper books remain the ideal way to read oneself a...
Most advertising is rubbish, that's what I like about it

Most advertising is rubbish, that’s what I like about it

And so it begins, another year at the coal-face of global advertising. And a moment to reflect on why I keep at it after all these years. Why commit myself so wholeheartedly to a profession legendary BBH planner Jim Carroll, recently described as “a trivial career for serious people”. Of course there are a host...
The state of digital advertising right now

The state of digital advertising right now

I’ve been having a pop at digital advertising recently. About how ad blocking is the fault of all of us that create online advertising. No one really took me to task over this. And so I thought I’d go a step further. And see what happens. These ten statements represent what I think about the...
Ad blocking is our fault

Ad blocking is our fault

I have never understood the belief that advertising dollars should follow people’s time. The assumption that if people spend 50% of their time some place or other means that 50% of the advertising budget should go there too, seems to me to be arrant nonsense. This is despite the fact that it is an article...
How I got into advertising and what happened next

How I got into advertising and what happened next

I was recently asked to write about my career in advertising for students at my old College – St John’s, Cambridge. I thought I’d post it here in case its useful or enlightening for anyone thinking of an advertising career. I’m not exactly sure of the moment in which I though a career in advertising...
In praise of Dinosaur planning

In praise of Dinosaur planning

The greatest insult you can throw at someone in this industry is that they are a dinosaur. Being a dinosaur not only implies that you are slow and stupid but also that you are in imminent danger of being wiped out by an asteroid or similar calamity and not before time. That’s the narrative of...
Think like a CSO

Think like a CSO

I’m not going to pretend that speaking at the APG’s inaugural ‘Think Like a CSO’ (Chief Strategy Officer) sponsored and hosted by Mintel was anything other than phenomenally intimidating. Of course, I jumped at the chance when the Account Planning Group asked me, I’m a huge fan of the APG and increasingly impressed with their newfound...
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