Provocations
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 to planners, especially when presented...
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 nation state? If there is...
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...
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...
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...
A little bit of politics

A little bit of politics

“The results of the experiment are now in and they are consistent: austerity doesn’t work” Mark Blyth, Austerity: The history of a Dangerous Idea On the day that the Queen’s Speech offered few answers to the real political question of our time, here are a few personal thoughts about the way that Labour should be...
When it comes to technology, is the internet the best we can do?

When it comes to technology, is the internet the best we can do?

I recently took part in a tech-start up event in which a handful of eager entrepreneurs were mixed with seasoned ad people in a suitably miserable Shoreditch basement that exhibited extensive and unresolved problems with damp. To be frank it wasn’t up there as an experience to relish even setting the damp aside. For one...
Made in Britain

Made in Britain

Heatherwick studio’s cauldron for London 2012. Provenance has traditionally been the last resort of the strategic scoundrel. If you fancy an early lunch at the Delaunay and you simply cannot think of anything else to say about a brand you fall back on where it is from. Australian lagers, German cars, Scandinavian furniture, French sexual...
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