January 19, 2017

The best brief I ever got when working in advertising was on Felix catfood. I was at BMP and the client was Quaker.

   

At the time the ‘wet’ catfood market was dominated by Whiskas with 50% share and it had been like that for years. Felix had reached 6.5% but its position was weak.

   

So a relaunch was planned including, for the first time, advertising. The p...

January 5, 2017

I’m just going to set off on this one and see where I end up.

   

Where to start? Google, of course.

   

Wikipedia. Wisdom is ‘the ability to think or act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight’. Sounds good.

   

But then Psychology Today. They think wisdom is hard to define but people generally recognize it when they encounter...

December 19, 2016

I have a theory about Christmas songs. Well, two. The first is that for 50 weeks of the year you see them for what they are - big old slices of cheesy sentimentality.

   

The second is that when they reappear in mid December, the one that makes you feel the most Christmassy is the one that most meets your emotional need at this time of year.

   

Let’s test this...

December 1, 2016

Is it more important to be honest or kind? That was the thorny old question tackled by my seven-year-old daughter’s class at their recent school assembly.

   

I have to say the arguments on both sides were pretty solid.

   

An honest friend is a true friend.

   

If your friend is honest, they may tell you something you don’t want to hear. The truth can hur...

November 17, 2016

All this vitriol, it’s like a disease.

   

Of course, we humans love to discuss and debate. Often we disagree and argue. And when that happens, some of us patronize or belittle or dismiss or insult or bully.

   

But the abuse is now turning into an epidemic. The US Election is simply the latest example. On top of all the xenophobia, racism and misogyny, the lev...

November 3, 2016

The first time I saw the New Zealand rugby team I was eight years old. My dad took me to Twickenham to watch them play England on a grey early November afternoon.

   

We parked in a side street near St. Margarets, by a little bridge over a stream. He and I then joined other tributaries of people on the Chertsey Road until we reached a great tide of humanity by the...

October 20, 2016

Did you realise you’re a cognitive miser?

   

Don’t worry, we all are. Ever busier lives combined with limited mental resources means our brains tend to seek out solutions that require the least mental effort.

   

So what we do, effectively, is answer easy questions rather than hard ones. As they say, we ‘satisfice’ rather than maximise. A good enough decision...

October 6, 2016

There’s a strange move at the moment towards dismissing the value of an expert. Not in every field of life, luckily. We’re not seeing a growth in the NHS of self-taught neurosurgeons.

   

But marketing ‘experts’ have come in for a particular battering. It’s got to the point that, when two marketing people disagree on an issue, one tries to clinch the argument by s...

September 22, 2016

High Fidelity, the 1995 Nick Hornby book turned into the 2000 film with John Cusack, is the story of a 35-year-old man wrestling with relationships and commitment. But it’s also a parable on the danger of too extreme a Discernment need.

   

Here’s one of the best scenes from the film. Rob, the main character, has broken up with girlfriend, Laura. He’s moping aroun...

September 8, 2016

The argument for brands focusing on mental availability goes something like this.

   

If you want people to choose your brand, it has to be available to be chosen.

   

That means first, it has to be physically available. People have to be able to find it.

   

Assuming they do, it then has to be mentally available to them. They must notice it. When they do, t...

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