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The value of deep work is your only real value

The value of deep work is your only real value

There is eternal battle that I fight every single day of my working life. It’s by no means exclusive to strategists and planners in advertising but I think that it affects us more than many. And it’s the battle to engage in deep work. Proper, meaningful, in flow, immersed work...
Singing eats strategy for breakfast

Singing eats strategy for breakfast

This post has an intent, something that I advise that you do immediately you have read it. And that is to join a choir. And to join a choir particularly if you can’t sing or rather tell yourself that you can’t sing. Now you may be thinking, what the fuck...
Don't let your marketing become famous

Don’t let your marketing become famous

In August 2003 Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair’s Director of Communications, resigned. For some months he had been at the centre of allegations that the intelligence dossier that created much of the case for the invasion of Iraq in March that year had been doctored. Whether or not this was the...
We need to think more about advertising

We need to think more about advertising

Adam Lury, one of the founders of the late, great and greatly missed HHCL, is perhaps one of our least recognised planning legends. The exponent of a radical approach to strategy that helped make the agency’s work so distinctive in the 1990s, like many great planners, he was also immensely...
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Twelve lives in twelve months, a reading challenge

Twelve lives in twelve months, a reading challenge

Getrude Bell, 1868 – 1926. In the main, the posts I write for adliterate are not at all personal. They contain my opinions by the score but not much of me. I have always liked that, I guess it’s been part of the mystique of the online persona I built nearly 15 years ago. For...
Why worship one brand god when you can worship many?

Why worship one brand god when you can worship many?

I’m no great fan of monotheism The idea that there is one true god, one answer to the entirety of life, the universe and everything has always struck me as rather arrogant. Indeed, I am deeply suspicious of certainty in any guise, religious or otherwise. Certainty seems at odds with a genuine search for truth,...
Advertising only ever works by consent

Advertising only ever works by consent

All of a sudden, the world of marketing has got very polite indeed. For years we have taken absolutely no notice of whether people actually want us to communicate with them and instead have deluged their letterboxes and inboxes with communications, willy-nilly. And then overnight, four letters that sound like the acronym for a former...
Monopoly, the commercial dividend of powerful brands

Monopoly, the commercial dividend of powerful brands

My favourite episode of South Park is ‘Gnomes’. Not only is it properly funny, if you like your humour puerile and immature, but it also holds a small cautionary tale for marketers. ‘Gnomes’ tells the story of a gang of animated garden ornaments that live beneath South Park and steal underpants while its residents are...
In praise of passive planning

In praise of passive planning

One of my favourite ads of all time is Honda Grrr. A Wieden & Kennedy classic, it’s still fresh and powerful a decade on, albeit the subject matter is a little out of time, as we tend to frown upon diesel these days. As much as the work is lovely, it’s the planning that I...
We need more 'non-working marketing spend', not less

We need more ‘non-working marketing spend’, not less

There are many phrases to which I take exception. I hate dead metaphors such as “Achilles’ heel”. I hate euphemisms that are designed to disguise their true meaning, such as “collateral damage”. And I hate out-and-out lies such as “we will give the £350m we save from the European Union to the NHS”. But one...
Banishing unconscious bias from your planning

Banishing unconscious bias from your planning

To celebrate the 55th series of Have I Got News For You, the show’s team captains, Ian Hislop and Paul Merton gave a now infamous interview to the Radio Times, a publication not normally used to setting the news agenda. Amid a conversation with ITN anchor-man Tom Bradby, the duo offered a highly criticised answer...
Can brands help the cohesion of divided nations?

Can brands help the cohesion of divided nations?

It’s Winter and that means one thing these days. The National Health Service is in crisis. A perfect storm of seasonal pressure, changing demographics, advances in healthcare and chronic underfunding have conspired once again with predictably disastrous consequences. And yet for all the challenges that the NHS faces, it remains an undeniably central part of...
Orthodoxy is toxic

Orthodoxy is toxic

All my heroes are equal but George Orwell is more equal than others. I’m not taken to affection for old Etonian propagandists, after all there are enough of them stuffing the country up at the moment. But I make an exception for George. You may love him for his life-long opposition to totalitarianism but my...
The real genuis of 'and'

The real genuis of ‘and’

There is one word the advertising industry really hates. In this word lies the root of all perceived evil. It’s only a little word but its sends shivers down our collective spines. The advertising industry hates the word ‘and’. Instead, if we are really honest, we much prefer the word ‘or’.  We tend to be...
No more 'millennial' twaddle please

No more ‘millennial’ twaddle please

Peter Mead, the co-founder of Abbott Mead Vickers, had a profound dislike for one particular word. An old school ad man from a modest background, Peter had huge respect for the ordinary people that bought his clients’ products. And as such, he absolutely hated those that worked for him calling people ‘punters’. It wasn’t quite...
Why hire an advertising agency?

Why hire an advertising agency?

David Ogilvy famously asked clients of his agency wanting to write their own work, “why keep a dog and bark yourself?” Half a century later it appears that for some clients the answer is “who needs a bloody dog?” Which brings us to the thorny question of why use an advertising agency at all. One...
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