what people do

Was how Charles Handy defined “wisdom” at a recent event- it has stayed with me

It is particularly needed at the moment – as many in marketing are transfixed by new technologies and have persuaded themselves of two things a) change is pervasive and b) change getting quicker.

This second statement has been taken axiomatic for at least 15 years now and has been used as the hook to sell out any number of conferences – and  it can’t be true. If it was our eyes would be popping out with the sheer velocity of tech fuelled change.

Also it makes planning very difficult – if change is so fast surely what we plan to do will be rendered obsolete in short order. What to do?

Two further bits of wisdom to navigate by

Jeff Bezos: ” Think about what’s not going to change over the next 10 years and put your resources into that”

Bill Bernbach: “Human nature hasn’t changed in a million years. It won’t change in the next million years. Only the superficial things have changed. It is fashionable to talk about the changing man. A communicator must be concerned with the unchanging man -what compulsions drive him, what instincts dominate his every action,even though his language too often camouflages what really motivates him” ( my ital)

When you look at the best innovations in tech over the past few years they are essentially new ways to answer old and innate human needs. For example- “Find useful information as quickly as possible” ( Google) “Show off” (Twitter)”Be nosey about what your friends are up to” (Facebook) “Flirt and get off with members of the opposite sex “( Tinder). “Buy stuff cheaply and with the least hassle” (Amazon)

Which leads me to what I think marketers should do about tech fuelled change

1) Uncover what their customers really really want.

2) Brief your tech experts to find better ways to deliver it.

3) If it is new as well, that’s great. But don’t commission anything just because it’s new.

In the next post i will try to answer Jeff’s question – “what’s not going to change in the next 10 years”



Some – like Tracy Emin, Damian Hurst and GIlbert&George- have been in ad business for while. Their styles are so distinctive you know them immediately like a pack of Persil. They have mastered the art of effective branding – with “added value” prices to match

At modern art shows the same ‘big’ themes come up over and over again- here are three you can rely on.
1) The artist getting in touch with his/her inner child – Childhood is a time of both maximum innocence and psychological damage-or both. That tension is makes this a rich theme to exploreIMG_3123 IMG_3127 IMG_3117
2) Wearing  masks– a very ancient theme as it liberates the individual to take on different identities and or behave as badly with as they like. In films people always get murdered at masked balls. Venice loves masks-and is the original city of hidden dangers. Sadistic sex often involves masks- anyway you get the pointIMG_3173 IMG_3187 IMG_3168IMG_3167
3) Consumerism=polution 

Today there is just too much pollution . It is covering our beaches , making our rivers poisonous and air cancer inducing.

Our Madmen era pleasures in consumerism-those Andy Warhol soup cans seem so innocent now-have been undermined by the smelly decaying byproducts of our obsession with economic growth. Asia ( for which read China) is the epicentre of this collective act of greed & desire driven  self-distruction. Hence these images

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Spotted in Chengdu- another insight into JP

Until now this facet of JPs personality has remained hidden-that of Panda cuddler and Panda calmer

JP’s image is just one of many on the wall of the Panda research centre near Chengdu, which feature the great and the good from all around the world- each one holding a panda.

And i must say that most of the the other images revealed people who look tense and uncomfortable with these bamboo chompers.

But JP has clearly got the knack- his Panda looks calm, well fed and satisfied.

Our dear former deputy PM is clearly a man of many parts

JP calms yet another feral beast

In 2007 i switched my home (buildings) insurance to Direct Line for c £ 530 pa (a good £300+ saving on lloyds TSB). I was happy as larry.

On my return from hols yesterday find the annual renewal letter.It is automatic renewal naturally- insurance people understand all about the power of inertia and what the behavioural psychologists  (see nudge by thaler and sunstein) call default settings)

The price is , wait for it, £1489.30.

This is inflation of Weimar Republic type proportion of 280% over 4 years.

(when i call they offer to cut it to £800 or so)

All goes to show- the default settings trick is ok in the hands of those with your best interests at heart- such those getting you to save for a pension- but for Direct Line it was an opportunity to rip off a dozy consumer . That dozy consumer was me- i had let the price drift up each year and DL took the fact that i hadnt challenged the price as a chance to hit me with a truly rip off price in 2011.

Meanwhile my car insurance with Admiral has gone down-i had made no claims on either car or buildings insurance during that time. Pick the bones out of that.

Last year a new book- the Shallows by Nicholas Carr- suggested that the internet and new devices are “rewiring” of our brains and creating a new generation with the attention span of a knat- unable to concentrate without clicking away to something else. Certainly you have to get to the point quicker these days ( most videos on youtube last less that 3 mins) but that may be more to do with being busy, our perceived shortage of time and the explosion of choice

And then there is this this from The bookseller…

“Although overall book sales fell 2.2% week-on-week (to £25.1m), spending on children’s books soared nine percent week-on-week, according to Nielsen BookScan Top 5,000 data, as schools broke for half-term. Children’s authors benefitting include Jeff Kinney, whose Diary of a Wimpy Kid series enjoyed a 20% uplift week-on-week, Rick Riordan (total sales up 9%), Jacqueline Wilson (up 17%), Anthony Horowitz (up 12%), Darren Shan (up 26%), and Octonauts author “Meomi” (up 7%)

It seems that the next generation still love to immerse themselves in good old fashioned stories and that the answer to Nicholas Carr’s question “Does Google Make us stupid ?” is probably not – it just gives is more rapid access to books and other stuff we want.

Here is a perceptive comment on why the AV referendum was doomed to fail using insights from Behavioural Psychology by research agency Monkey See:-

“the wording of the AV referendum question used would appeal to voters’ instincts to follow the status quo there can be little doubt. It kicks of with the unequivocal message, “At present, the UK uses the ‘first past the post system’ to elect MPs to the House of Commons.”

Research was conducted by Define Research & Insight for the Electoral Commission to check the clarity and neutrality of the referendum question. And bizarrely, given the findings from behavioural science outlined above, the wording of the question used was chosen precisely because it supported the status quo.

“The first sentence helped people to understand the status quo”, reported Define Research in a document prepared for the Electoral Commission.

It is also interesting to note that the question the Electoral Commission went with was not the first option it considered. The first option considered was worded:

“Do you want the United Kingdom to adopt the ‘alternative vote’ system instead of the current ‘first past the post’ system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Common?”

Although this formulation also makes clear which voting system we have at the moment, it has nothing like as strong or prominent an emphasis on the all-important status quo.

For research aficionados, it’s also worth noting that Define asked respondents directly if they thought the original question was neutral. Their report says that most thought it was but a few picked holes – what you would expect as they were asked to do so.

The irony is that this direct questioning (often likely to mislead) almost certainly resulted in a less neutral question being used at the end of the day”