“Being a product manager means that you have a lot of responsibility, but no authority.” This simple statement has the ring of truth to me. I found it in Matt LeMay’s really useful book, ‘Product Management Fundamentals‘. Here’s how I feel about the responsibility/authority divide. … Continue readingStop being a Product Martyr!
Agency/client relationships are getting ever more fraught these days: you only had to look at this week’s announcement from WPP that its sales are taking a big whack, and ominous signals from big advertisers like P&G that they wish to “reinvent” their agency relationships – … Continue readingThe four types of agency/client relationships
I went to a lot of art shows in 2017. I don’t really know why this obsession took hold. It’s definitely an obsession by now though. My weird compulsion to track and quantify my cultural consumption – by making searchable notes about each show attended, … Continue readingWhy I’m getting Artangled
“What we are seeing today is a backwash from what happened 10 years ago.” So claimed former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, in an event organised by the RSA and held in London a couple of months ago. Darling was in charge of the … Continue readingLessons from a crisis
The painter Giorgio Morandi lived at 36 via Fondazza, in a quiet corner of Bologna. Morandi, a painter of calming yet weirdly intense still lives, had a reputation for obscurity, separation, reclusiveness. But the address is world famous: so much so that it’s been converted … Continue readingThe White Bottle
With so many heart-warming, CSR-led ads winning awards these days, setting a purpose seems to have become almost a prerequisite for launching a big brand campaign. But many in adland would say these wins are due more to tugging on judges’ heartstrings rather than demonstrating … Continue readingWhat’s the purpose of brand purpose?
Aside from my day-to-day tasks as a product manager, my big work project over the past year has been WARC’s new Future of Strategy report, which I conceived, researched and (finally) wrote. While it was a real passion project, it was also based on a big … Continue reading5 things I’ve learned about the Future of Strategy
I’d arrived in Trieste on a Friday evening, and, having dropped my backpack off, I needed to walk. So I set off, towards the sea. Despite being a Friday, there was almost nobody about. The large, square Hapsburg buildings loomed for block after block at … Continue readingWalking somewhere
The homeless have always featured in the stories Londoners tell. From doomed Jo in Bleak House, to John Healy’s mid-century memoir The Grass Arena, to the early 70s cult BBC TV movie Edna The Inebriate Woman, the city’s vagrants have worried and perplexed their more … Continue readingMiss Naysmith and her City
Kudos to APG London for its new Thinking Around Corners series of events, one of which I attended the other week. The format’s simple, get three strategists in a room, and get their advice on cracking some challenging briefs. The standout for me was a problem that’s … Continue readingHow marketers can make people focus
The beginning of the end of my 2016 came when I spent three days in Athens, alone. I went to the city with barely any preparation, beyond half-remembered Greek myths at school, an almost totally forgotten Homer course at university, a scrawled sheet of phrases … Continue readingCat guardians
I met Peggy first. We fell into step, two Brits abroad, dragging our carry-on luggage across the orbital road of Nice airport, walking to the hotel we had been sent to by our airline. Our evening flight had been delayed, and they’d finally given up … Continue readingPeggy and Mihaela
Every day in London, thousands of fingers tap a cute Kangaroo logo on their smartphone screens. As a result, every lunchtime and supper time, thousands of young men have a job to do. They’re participating in a new, digitally-enabled form of freelance labour: working for … Continue readingTapping the kangaroo
I read less than I used to, and I forget most of what I read. A fact brought home to me last year when, bored at Christmas time, back at my parents’ house, I rifled through some shelves in my childhood bedroom, and pulled out a plain blue … Continue readingBooks I read last year
Originally published in Issue 1 of Novelty Magazine, a quarterly cultural affairs journal interested in fresh perspectives on unconventional themes. Sunday family trips to the National Gallery in London are among my most-cherished childhood memories. Up from our distant suburb beyond the edge of the District line, … Continue readingRoom 59
There are many ways of defining advertising, but none of them really work on their own. That’s according to no less a source than planning legend Paul Feldwick. Advertising’s biggest theorisers over history Here’s why you should believe him. Feldwick – in his role at BMB … Continue readingWhy all advertising theories are wrong
Kanban is one of the most talked-about, but least-understood, ways we have of managing digital product development. At least, that’s the impression I got from a recent talk given by David Lowe, a Kanban expert and Scrum coach, at General Assembly in London. A quick Google search suggests that Kanban … Continue readingYes we Kanban!
It’s hard to work back from Apple to give brand advice to Kleenex… So said Laurence Green, ex of the Cadbury’s Gorilla, and currently of creative agency 101 London, at an APG/Flamingo debate I attended the other day. The debate was all about “brand love”. Specifically, … Continue readingKleenex, Apple, brand love
Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. – Peter F. Drucker
Last month, I had the chance to interview planning superbrains Toby Harrison and Les Binet of adam&eveDDB. That’s the agency responsible for Christmas ad hits from this subversive online-only spot for bag brand Mulberry… To the ongoing series of sentimental, lushly-produced spots for John Lewis: … Continue readingChristmas: British Adland’s Super Bowl
I go to a lot of marketing conferences. Which means I sit through an awful lot of marketing pitches and presentations. But, until last month, I hadn’t sat through a single one that made me reassess how I lived my life. Becky Rowe, managing director … Continue readingThink again about online friendships
As part of a (very entertaining) talk at a Warc event earlier this week, Ogilvy vice-chairman (and ex-head of the IPA) Rory Sutherland argues that ad people have been exploring System One and System Two thinking for years: way before the terms were coined by … Continue readingKahneman, creativity and cocktails
The video above’s one I shot back in Cannes with Martin Weigel, head of planning at W+K Amsterdam. He’s talking about his beef with the word “content” (mainly definitional). I was reminded of it when, via Twitter, I stumbled across his blogpost on which marketing buzzwords … Continue readingWhat does the word ‘content’ even mean?
McCann took the Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix in Cannes this year with a campaign that tapped into a universal family dynamic: parents living in the sticks, children living in the city. The big problem: how to get the kids to come and visit their parents … Continue readingThe story behind ‘Guilt Trips’
Advertisements are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused.” Samuel Johnson, The Idler, 1759 (source: the Warc Quotebank)