Just back from the Marketing Society Annual conference where much of the talk was about how technology +data are leading to innovation. It’s all about brand building through better more personal experiences, services and speed of new products to market ( with advertising getting barely a mention.)

What are good examples of this? Here is one of my favourites

Disney ‘Magic Band’: “Park guests” use the Magic Band to gain access to the park, get in priority queues for the attractions, pay for their purchases at the concession stands, and even get into their hotel room. Each family member has a wearable band with GPS and radio transmitters that track each other’s location in the park. At the end of their stay, Disney presents the family with a photo diary of their park adventures, having used automatic cameras to snap pictures when the Magic Bands are nearby. And imagine the face of a newly-turned six-year-old who just had his favourite Disney character address him by name and wish him a happy birthday. Disney made a billion dollar investment to create a wearable accessory that changes their park experience completely.imgres-1.jpgimgres.jpg



This is worth a watch -especially from about half way through (Declaration of interest- Lars leads the team in which i work at Google -known as The Zoo).

Lars explains what the Zoo is,what work it does and (most interestingly) introduces some of the cool stuff that we are going to see in Gaming and Filmmaking making soon. These give a glimpse what’s going to be possible and applied in other ways – such as in retail, services innovation and “brand experiences” in general

(Innovation in gaming tends flow down and out and become more mainstream in marketing communications over time)

I will do a number of posts over the next month of examples of how tech is making live experience better – easier and more pleasurable- right now. It helps explain why brands need to build creative technologists and data analysts into the way they seek to improve ” the service experience”

One of the little joys of the Goodwood revival is a re-created Tesco store from the early sixties- complete with packaging from the era. It is almost worth the price of the ticket.
Most striking thing for me was how little packs had changed: some like Marmite and Heinz have just been refreshed slowly over time-a time visitor from the 60s would recognise them immediately

Perhaps product claims were bolder and more arresting back then

Like Ariel’s “The Biological Washing Miracle” . Today its “Complete”- which somehow doesn’t have the same confidence and chutzpah. That said its identity is still the same – it’s still the sciency one.

And i suspect that in a few years time when Higher Purpose Branding ( A.K.A. brands “doing good” and trying to save the world) has passed its current peak of fashionability this will still be true. Ariel will be the sciency one and Persil will be the caring one. Who know perhaps the good folk at P&G will think they need a bold and confident performance claim once again.




Age and social class are no longer a reliable way to predict to beliefs and buying habits. Identities and tastes are fluid. In truth they may always have been but now the anonymity/freedom of city life means now we feel more liberated to express who really are.People from conservative cultures like China and India hanker to live in a place where they can re-invent themselves- unconstrained by family expectations.(this describes several colleagues)

Below are some telling stats and quotes that illustrate that behaviour is now the only true measure of personal of taste- which of course plays right into the hands of the likes of Google that capture “signals of intent” in search data -rather than age and class.

(Full disclosure-I am a Google consultant)

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For brands:

For brands that want to be in touch with the zeitgeist it is open season for playing with identity – expect more transsexuals in ads and celebration of different life choices-divorcees, lesbian parents etc etc. But this will have its season and quite quickly look dated

Perhaps a better long term strategy is to make no assumptions at all about who your buyer will be – it is no accident that some of the most “in touch” brands are “everybody” brands like Uniqlo and Apple. They are not targeted at a demographic but rather they embrace and celebrate everyone from Grannies to hipsters and everything in between

Pundits say that anyone who claims to know what the digital revolution will bring is engaged in a confidence trick. My experience of publishing books and articles about digital futures suggests four things

-We can’t predict a decade ahead with any confidence

-A technology trend that is against the grain of human nature will most likely fail

-We do i think know what the shape of communications will be for the next three or four years.

-Futurology may be closer to fiction that sober analysis: but it will never go out of fashion as we can’t help wondering about the future

I have just published this slice of futurology in Market Leader. It contains five lessons learnt from my last attempt 10 years ago as well as nine predictions for the future. It is called The Surprise Generating Machine – a line stolen from Professor John Naughton.

Do add your predictions.

44-47 Julian Saunders 2nd proof

Fans of Madmen may remember an episode when Don makes a client sign a creative brief – the idea being that the brief is a form of contract that a client makes with the agency.It made me nostalgic. This was common practice when i worked for Lintas and Ogilvy in the 80s – but now you rarely see this done

I wonder whether we should bring it back?
For a decade I have been running training courses for clients on “how to brief an agency” -but the common complaint from agencies is still that they either receive either no brief or an ill thought out document with a long wish list of objectives.

In other words no decisions have been made. Decision making (this, not that objective, this, not that audience) is the essence of good strategy.

For all the warm words that are said about “how important the brief is” the truth is that the brief is no longer a valued document because no commitment has been made. The result – wasted effort, costs, poor agency client relationships

Perhaps we should considering bringing back the practice of having a signed brief
Signing a contract – like the prospect of being hanged tomorrow as Dr Johnstone once said- concentrates the mind wonderfully.

Last year The Cannes Awards saw many examples of brands trying to “do good business by doing good”. I expect this year there will again be many awards entries that aim to engender brand loyalty by being good corporate citizens. Aurora commissioned me to write a piece about this undoubtedly  big trend.

I have taken an historical perspective to explain why brands adopted “higher purpose branding” covering- 19th century philanthropy, challenger brand thinking courtesy of Adam Morgan and finally looking at the influence of big tech and social media. Brands covered include – The Body Shop, Dove, Google, Microsoft and Uber

A word doc is here which may be easier to read  HPB final



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