Television is still the king

Television is still the king

Breaking Bad, a fully paid up member of Kevin Spacey’s ‘Third Golden Age of Television’ The legendary Steve Henry once told me a joke about advertising awards. He said that he had hailed a cab from outside the Grosvenor or some such venue and the cabbie had enquired what he...
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...
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...
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...
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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...
Love letters to the highstreet

Love letters to the highstreet

Earlier this year we turned our attention to the state of the British High Street and the parlous situation that many of our high streets are in, with 25% failing and another 11% in decline. But instead of talking with the retail gurus and the shoppers of today we focused exclusively on the shoppers, shopkeepers...
You had to be there

You had to be there

My style of presentation is rather frustrating. Not only is there a lot of dancing around, swearing and nonsense at the time. But the slides never make any sense – they are designed for talking to not reading. So putting them on slideshare is rather pointless since you had to be there to understand them....
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...
What planners need

What planners need

Image courtesy of Identity in Newcastle. We have finished the Summer Scholarship for 2012 at Saatchi & Saatchi. It’s a programme where we take ten or so young people into the agency for the summer and then give the best candidate a job at the end of it. Going through this process made me think...
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