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...
Dump the dogma

Dump the dogma

I think rather highly of Paul Feldwick’s new book – ‘The Anatomy of Humbug: How to Think Differently About Advertising. In fact, I’d suggest that it should be required reading for anyone involved in advertising – clients, creatives, suits, planners and students. More than that, if you haven’t read it...
Does every brand need a purpose?

Does every brand need a purpose?

Gold Blend coffee has a new campaign. You’ll know if you live in any remotely built up part of the UK because the media buy is impressive. And it has to be said that it has caused a bit of a stir in the planning community. Now I accept that...
Forget Big Data

Forget Big Data

People in our industry love big data. Or at least they love the idea of big data. It’s one of those hot topics that fills our feeds, our conference agendas and the pages of our trade magazines. But it’s a hot topic largely because we have been told it’s a...
Advertising is as powerful as we allow it to be

Advertising is as powerful as we allow it to be

Adam Lury, the co-founder of HHCL, believed that advertising was too powerful simply to be left to people that didn’t care about it. In other words to people that cared little for this power beyond its commercial value. I was reminded of this recently by one of HHCL’s other co-founders,...
Latest entries
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 was essential to the latter...
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 year and Facebook is one...
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...
In defence of war

In defence of war

  The first recorded use of the acronym OMG doesn’t appear in a text from an over enthusiastic adolescent but in a letter from a crusty old sea lord to a future Prime Minister. In 1917 Winston Churchill, then Minister of Munitions, received correspondence from John Arbuthnot Fischer complaining about the progress of the war...
Brands should be needed not needy

Brands should be needed not needy

Needy is a wonderful word to describe someone that craves rather too much of something from us rather too much, whether attention, help, love, sex or friendship. Someone who is needy exhibits desperation for attention that is inappropriate given the relationship that we have with them. They crave and cling and in short their neediness...
Trust: Every brand wants it but few know how to get it

Trust: Every brand wants it but few know how to get it

One of the murals depicting the Battle of the Bogside (August 1969) in Derry Londonderry, an enduring records of the conflict in Northern Ireland. Image courtesy of Paddy’s Wagon. Trust. There can be no rarer and more eagerly sought accolade in the world of brands and businesses right now than the trust of our people...
Guest Post: Can advertising be too good?

Guest Post: Can advertising be too good?

In this very rare guest post John Shaw, Chief Strategy Officer at WPP’s Team Red, asks whether sometimes advertising can be too good, not for the brand but for the consumer.   Long, long ago in the mid- 1980’s, Levi’s 501’s created a moment for me – a fashion moment, a music moment, an advertising...
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...
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