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

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 on Long Lost Families and Masters of Sex…

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

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 on Debt collection: the shameful face of modern Britain…

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

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 on Employment Support Allowance (ESA) disgrace…

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

What Sir Alex Ferguson could learn from David Ogilvy

Who am I to add to the extraordinary volume of news articles about the sacking of David Moyes as manager of the Manchester United football team? On the Telegraph website alone there have been over 60 articles on this subject in the four days 22-24 April.

David Moyes predecessor, Sir Alex Ferguson, is universally acknowledged to have been a master of his craft.

However, as someone who is not ‘a football man’, my abiding image of Sir Alex Ferguson is of him, after a game, gobbing a huge wad of chewing gum onto the revered Old Trafford turf before strutting into a post-match interview to complain about the ref. Couth? Not. Read more on What Sir Alex Ferguson could learn from David Ogilvy…

How people like Maria Miller compound their own problems

One of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me was a teacher at my children’s school. On discussing their potential careers, he told me:

‘Your children don’t have to worry about their career choices, Hugh. They’ll be fine. They’ve got your values.’

I replied that, while I appreciated him telling me this, the difficulty my children would face would be how to identify the contrasting values of other people they might come across in the big, wide world.

In my career, I have been unfortunate enough to encounter people with rather a warped view, shall we say, of the difference between right and wrong.  Read more on How people like Maria Miller compound their own problems…

If you can whistle, you’re not tone deaf

My late father’s only sister, my Aunt Hetty, died last month.

My earliest memories of her are of Kenya and a different world. For the first 17 years of my life, ‘home’ was Hong Kong where I was born. From the age of nine, I was sent away from home to a godforsaken Roman Catholic boarding school near a maggot factory in Nottinghamshire. Not the happiest days of my life. In fact, the most miserable.

One summer, my father announced that rather than fly straight from Hong Kong to school in England, he had arranged for me to stop off in Kenya on the way. As you do. I was fifteen. Read more on If you can whistle, you’re not tone deaf…

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