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Belief is our killer app

Belief is our killer app

Tribalism has got an awfully bad name of late. Built on identity and identification, it has a noble birth. But the problem is that tribalism simply cannot stop itself from creating an environment and adherents that dislike, demonise and ultimately attempt to destroy those outside or against their creed. And so, tribalism has become a...
Led by donkeys remind us of the power of outdoor

Led by donkeys remind us of the power of outdoor

It’s only half way through 2019 but an early contender for agency of the year is surely ‘Led By Donkeys’. And I mean that only slightly in jest for, finally unmasked, the four founders look every bit like a small start-up agency, complete with requisite beards, a predilection for craft beer and significant diversity issues....
The power of powerful creative vehicles

The power of powerful creative vehicles

Recently I have got really interested in the concept of creative vehicles. Indeed I wrote about them for Campaign magazine in a piece about how much I hate the word ‘branding’. By creative vehicle I think I mean a repeatable approach to communications that builds fame for a brand. The thing that your brand is...
Don't let your marketing become famous

Don’t let your marketing become famous

In August 2003 Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair’s Director of Communications, resigned. For some months he had been at the centre of allegations that the intelligence dossier that created much of the case for the invasion of Iraq in March that year had been doctored. Whether or not this was the case, the reality was that...
Advertising only ever works by consent

Advertising only ever works by consent

All of a sudden, the world of marketing has got very polite indeed. For years we have taken absolutely no notice of whether people actually want us to communicate with them and instead have deluged their letterboxes and inboxes with communications, willy-nilly. And then overnight, four letters that sound like the acronym for a former...
In praise of passive planning

In praise of passive planning

One of my favourite ads of all time is Honda Grrr. A Wieden & Kennedy classic, it’s still fresh and powerful a decade on, albeit the subject matter is a little out of time, as we tend to frown upon diesel these days. As much as the work is lovely, it’s the planning that I...
We need more 'non-working marketing spend', not less

We need more ‘non-working marketing spend’, not less

There are many phrases to which I take exception. I hate dead metaphors such as “Achilles’ heel”. I hate euphemisms that are designed to disguise their true meaning, such as “collateral damage”. And I hate out-and-out lies such as “we will give the £350m we save from the European Union to the NHS”. But one...
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 opposition to totalitarianism but my...
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 ‘or’.  We tend to be...
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 thoughtful about this business. Adam...
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...
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