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How an advertising agency could help defeat Islamic State

On 4 October, Lord Dannatt, who was introduced as a former ‘Chief of The General Staff and Head of the Army for several years and knows the Middle East well’, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4.

He said:

‘We are all united in the fact that the so called Islamic State, and these ISIL fighters, are an abomination and they have got to be confronted and they have got to be faced down….

This has to be looked at at several levels. Yes, of course there is a military level….. Read More »

A more creative approach to welfare reform could have saved lives

So, while the UK was talking about Scotland, someone has died:

David Clapson’s awful death was the result of grotesque government policies (9 September)

‘The DWP brags about ending the ‘something for nothing’ culture, but benefit sanctions punish the unemployed, disabled and poor in ways that are utterly inhumane.’

Family calls for benefit inquiry after David Clapson death

‘Diabetic David Clapson, 59, from Stevenage, died from lack of insulin, 18 days after his Jobseeker’s Allowance was suspended in July. He was found dead in his flat on 20 July, with £3.44 in his bank account.’

I have posted on this topic before: Read More »

Why the Scots would be mad to vote for independence (not that I care)

So, next week the Scots will decide if they want to be independent.

Let me start by declaring a lack of interest in this issue. A complete lack of interest. I think may be one-eighth Scottish but I really don’t care if I have Scottish blood coursing through my veins. It hasn’t affected my life either way.

I have been to Scotland a handful of times. I have watched a couple of rugby internationals in Edinburgh and stayed with some friends in the Borders which was good fun. I may have been to Glasgow once to be on local radio but I really can’t remember. Nor can I be bothered to find out. It really doesn’t matter either way.

I wonder how many Scots have heard of ‘ASEAN’?

ASEAN stands for the ‘Association of South East Asian Nations’. It is the Asian equivalent of the EU. And, Scot or not, you need to know about ASEAN. Especially now. Read More »

When all you can do is play the ball that is bowled to you

To many of us, especially those of us who lived through those days, the TV series Mad Men has been essential viewing. We have come to know the character Don Draper, played by John Hamm, like a friend. And now, this week, Hamm’s new film Million Dollar Arm has come to London. And it’s about cricket! Wahaay! Have the Americans seen the light?

Now, if you don’t play cricket, I am sorry. Please bear with me. Who knows, the lesson in this post might change your life, just as a cricket ball can end it. Read More »

Long Lost Families and Masters of Sex

The most interesting thing in the world is people. And, talking about interesting, which we were, and people, which we are, there is a peculiar juxtaposition in two TV series currently on air.

For me, and anyone with personal experience of adoption, a must-watch TV programme is Long Lost Family where people separated by adoption at birth are reunited with the parents they have never met – usually their mother.

It is shocking to learn about the attitudes to pregnancy that prevailed in the lifetimes of two generations of people still living today. For, until the 1960s/70s, pregnancy represented a harsh and unforgiving world where babies of only a few weeks old were torn, literally ripped away, from the arms of their screaming, desperate mothers who, typically, were still teenagers. Read More »

It may be right. It may be good. But is it interesting?

FIRST PUBLISHED ON The Wall 25 July 2014

David Ogilvy said this about advertising:

‘You can’t bore people into buying your product, you can only interest them into buying it.’

Here is the same mantra with the key word underlined by me:

‘You can’t bore people into buying your product, you can only interest them into buying it.’

As my advertising career began with Ogilvy, I have been interested in ‘interesting’ for a very long time.

In today’s world, is advertising interesting? Read More »

Debt collection: the shameful face of modern Britain

In free market economies, providers of products and services need customers.

In marketing, without customers, none of us are anything. Or, if that is too tortuous a double negative, without customers we are nothing.

Customers are the name of the game. They need to be identified, understood, targeted, persuaded, looked after, nurtured, retained.

Customer retention – sorry for the marketing jargon – differs from product to product, service to service. In simple terms, the more expensive the product, the less important the retention.

These are called high value, low volume products where even the wealthiest customers buy a limited number of yachts or swimming pools. You get my drift. Read More »

Why you would be a mug to be a poet in the 21st Century

I have met people who are very, very rich.

I have met people who are famous.

I have met great sportsmen.

I have met academics.

I have met aristocrats.

I have met celebrities.

I have met film stars.

I have met singers.

I have met bands.

Even royalty.

But the people I admire most are writers. Read More »

Employment Support Allowance (ESA) disgrace

Writing these blog posts, it is impossible to predict who will read them or where they might lead.

Thus it is a pleasant surprise that my most retweeted and liked post has been Disability Living Allowance (DLA) Disgrace - especially as I would be the first to admit that I am no expert in the murky confusion of the social security market.

I say a ‘pleasant surprise’ because the interest generated by this post would seem to support my overarching thesis – specifically that the understanding of human behaviour and creativity of our world-beating advertising agencies could be better employed to improve society as a whole.

Please park this thought while I tell you that it is a golden rule of marketing that any money spent on promoting a product or service must, if nothing else, generate more income than the cost of creating and transmitting it.  Read More »

Beware, in this digital age, of the wrath of the people

WRATH:
1. strong, stern, or fierce anger; deeply resentful indignation; ire.
2. vengeance or punishment as the consequence of anger.

Snatching some early summer sun in Greece, I have been reading John Steinbeck’s seminal American novel, The Grapes of Wrath.

For those who do not know, it is the story of an agricultural 1930s American family – the Joads – who are driven from Oklahoma to California in search of work. As the Joads strive to survive, the book tracks their lives, and their world, disintegrating into chaos and despair.

Published in 1939, the people and the scenes in The Grapes of Wrath are, in every way, a world apart from modern Britain.

Or are they? Read More »

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