what people do

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”

VW’s new ad for the Passat is also a much shared viral.

It is the story of a boy who thinks he is Darth Vader and tries unsuccessfully to use his special powers until, that is. till his dad comes home in the Passat and sudden his powers seem to work…..

A simple human story about how boys play told with wit and charm..

Perhaps some of the most old-fashioned ways of marketing are still the best

Storytelling is how all the worlds major religions were spread..



When i started in advertising we rarely had brainstorms- a brief was written and handed over to a creative team to come up with “the idea”. Now agencies have them on an almost daily basis. The reasons?

-Social: a larger team needs to be enlisted to execute a campaign and you need to get more people committed to an idea to execute it well

– the nature of ideas: no longer a finely honed message these days but often the starting point for conversation and interaction. And a belief that ” the idea can come from anywhere”

Quite a lot of people harbour a secret dread of  “The Brainstorm”- and many of them are badly run which wastes a lot of peoples’ time. How to use them better? My 12 top tips are

-Don’t have too many Brainstorms and invest those that you do with greater significance

-Define a clear problem to be solved. Use an active verb to define it as in

“Win new customers”,”Change the image of the brand”,”Deliver better service”

-If the problem is not clear have a separate  session to sort it out-otherwise the first part of the brainstorm will be lost in debate

-Separate the “problem owner” and the brainstorm facilitator- don’t try to be both

– Don’t try a Brainstorm in under 90 mins

– Have a warm up at the start just as you would before playing sport ( most people have left brained jobs and you need to get the whole of your brain moving) eg; Draw your own logo/tell us something exciting that happened to you recently etc

( I have lots of these just ask)

– it is a good idea to get attendees to do some prep to get in the mood but keep it simple and give only one task or it wont get done

-Get a diverse group of people together

-Make sure that people are prepared to play the game and that hierarchy will not be a problem ( I once had disaster in Italy because ” the boss’ showed up so everyone sat and listened to him)

– Run the Brainstorm in a light and airy room

-Have regular breaks every 90  minutes at least

Innovation of the week as reported in The Guardian weekend mag by Lucy Mangan

Many urban Japanese live stressful lives in apartments too small to allow them to keep their own pets, so cafes have started to spring up that supply kittens to play with while you are drinking your coffee and eating your cake”

This neatly combines sociability, a return to childhood and physical pleasure- a sweet spot if ever there was one in the world of innovation.

It puts me in mind of those innovation exercises in Edward de Bono’s How to have creative ideas in which you draw out of a hat two random and seemingly unconnected words and see if you can link the two with an innovation or idea. The modern word for this is a mashup but as a way of innovating it is quite old- many innovations simply being a new combination of old element

For Example in an ideas session once I drew out once the words “Fruit” and “Lighting” and ending up inventing a range of fruit shaped lights especially for childrens’ bedrooms- Glowing little strawberries and bananas and apples to hang over the cot at night.

Rubbish idea or a lateral way of inculcating health eating from the word go ?

This one surprised me at a restaurant in Bucharest recently- a card advertising the services of a the local Philip Marlow, presented with the bill. Sets you thinking if this is an underused advertising medium.

Perhaps it should have been “integrated” with the “washroom ad” in the same restaurant/bar warning me about STDs- maybe not

But what about advice and a voucher to use persil bio after a particularly messy curry.

The opportunities are endless.

expect he smokes and wears an fedora