Positioning is over rated

Positioning is over rated

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” Maya Angelou In many ways the primary role of the planner is to create positionings for brands, in any case it is often what we are most valued...
A new picture of affluence

A new picture of affluence

The well off and wealthy may not take up much bandwidth as you dash out another digital banner on two-for-one sun cream but the plain fact is that they are a critical audience for brands looking to find growth in a sea of stagnation. You don’t need to be Jaguar,...
Interesting versus right - revisited

Interesting versus right – revisited

If there is one defining philosophy of my approach to planning and strategic development it is the mantra that it is vital to be interesting but merely important to be right. This is based on the observation that those that are preoccupied with finding the right solution very rarely turn...
How we slowed down the connection between consumers and creatives

How we slowed down the connection between consumers and creatives

Nothing, I repeat nothing connects a planner and therefore an agency to the people that its is trying to understand better than qualitative research. Instinct is always a great starting point and data is often incredibly powerful but qualitative research, the beliefs, attitudes and stories of real people, told directly...
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...
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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...
How to love presenting as much as sex

How to love presenting as much as sex

I tend to try and channel Eddie Izzard when presenting – find your presentation hero? I love presenting, its one of the greatest aspects of the planner’s job as far as I am concerned – getting up there and letting rip on whatever subject you are required to hold forth upon. But I am aware...
A ready reckoner for good planners

A ready reckoner for good planners

When people ask me what I am looking for in a planner the list of important attributes has traditionally been exhaustive. So in an attempt to simplify things and shorten interviews I have recently taken to issuing a three-point description.   1) Safe looking people with dangerous minds.   This is an old phrase we...
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...
Keynesian marketing and the business of confidence

Keynesian marketing and the business of confidence

I am not an economist but let’s say I am economically curious.   And I wonder whether some of the debates that are happening in the world of economics might have relevance to the world of brands and marketing. And specifically the rekindling of interest in Keynesian economics following the financial crisis and the failure...
Straight from the horse's mouth

Straight from the horse’s mouth

The UK is currently gripped by one of its periodic food scandals. For once this isn’t about food safety – no one has been feeding animal parts to other animals and therefore exposing the food chain to lethal pathogens, well not as far as we know it – but like the others it’s a by...
A decade of Moleskines

A decade of Moleskines

The passage in Songlines in which Bruce Chatwin names the Moleskine. Image courtesy of Songlines. The biggest cliché in advertising is not lunching at the Ivy, drinking chilled rose on the Carlton Terrace or doing coke with the intern in the toilets at the Christmas party. The biggest cliché in advertising is the Moleskine notebook....
No more heroes any more

No more heroes any more

  The original Forward thinking motherfucker. I gave a little talk at an APG (Account Planning Group) event recently. It’s a regular series of talks called Noisy Thinking and I shared the bill with Craig Mawdsley, Rachel Hatton, Russell Davies and Malcolm White, a pretty impressive line up in the world of planning. I talked...
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