There is no such thing as a bad client

There is no such thing as a bad client

There is one subject that people like me on blogs like this rarely address. While we devote acres of prose and polemic to everything from innovative brand models to brilliant new technology we give little thought to the people and organisations that commission the work we do. Without clients nothing...
Can any planners still plan?

Can any planners still plan?

Something has started to distress me about the future of planning and strategy in advertising agencies. And that is whether there will be any one left that can actually do the job. I mean the real job of being a planner, the job of imagining new futures of the brands...
A question of value

A question of value

I have been thinking a bit about value recently. Agency people don’t like thinking about value because they associate it with having to create tragic price advertising and the kind of discounting behaviour that great brand building is supposed to protect you against. However, the truth is that every single...
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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...
Does oxytocin hold the answer?

Does oxytocin hold the answer?

Chances are that you will be familiar with the properties of oxytocin. Whether male or female you will have enjoyed the sense of warmth it creates just after orgasm, if you are a mum you will probably have experienced its effects during childbirth (indeed its name comes from the Greek ōkytokínē meaning ‘quick birth’) and...
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