In 1990 I was supplementing my non-existent student grant behind the grill at Brighton’s legendary burger chain Grubbs. 1990 was also the time of the BSE crisis. If you’re too young to remember (and you probably are) this was when cattle in the UK began to suffer from a terrible neurodegenerative disorder, caused by the widespread practise of feeding the infected brains and spines of cattle to other cattle. (As a sidenote, this was when I decided to become a vegetarian.) via Creative Commons

There was a lot of debate as to whether the disease could spread to humans, a fear that the…

I was a fairly early Twitter user, I think. I can actually remember the sunny afternoon walking down Boundary Row when our head of digital got me signed up. Back then there was something delightfully light-touch about the whole concept. And I remember thinking that the brand reflected it perfectly.

Instead of long, considered, and often kind-of boring blogposts, you’d get a constant stream of little updates (tweets!) from friends and contacts. All brought to you via the soft chirp of a status update and that little blue innocent bird, so reminiscent of Warner Bros’ Tweety. The name was perfect…

Brand projects aren’t mirrors. You don’t point them at organisation and say ‘tell us who we are’. Crystallise, understand, capture.

Brands are compasses. A way of aligning with strategy to plot a course for the future, and to inform decisions: not to mention innovation, culture, evolution, new product development.

Take this visitor marketing campaign for my home city. I love the expression of difference, displayed loud and proud on one of our ugliest 1970s monstrosities. It’ll be read by some as summing up the spirit of the place.

But it will work so much harder if it’s also seen as…

Is there a growing schism in the third sector between Services and Systems as ways to effect change?

Is there a growing schism between Services and Systems in the third sector?

Everywhere we look, charities are waking up to the fact that they can’t do what they set out to do. They can’t end homelessness, cure cancers, achieve equality. At least, they can’t do it alone.

They can’t do it without engaging with the broad, systemic, contextual issues that hold them back. The political systems & structures, business practices, attitudes & behaviours that have a bigger impact on their causes, for better or worse, than any programme they could run.

In other words, their programmes are vital. But their programmes won’t do it. And with needs growing and budgets shrinking, there is a sectoral shift from Services to Systems as a means to effect change.

And this is…

Donald Trump at the podium, believing in himself

Donald Trump’s a liar, right? Not just an occasional liar, and not just on the big things either. But a serial, day in, day out, barefaced pants-on-fire liar.

And you, you reading this right now, you’re not. Are you? That guy, and you, are a million miles apart. And that makes you feel good about yourself.

We all want to feel good about ourselves, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Until you understand that Donald Trump is not a liar. And that you’re probably more like him than you think you are.

To understand why, you have to go back…

A bonfire burns at night, with a TV glowing beside it. A still from the ‘our stories’ TV ad by Uncommon Studios.
A bonfire burns at night, with a TV glowing beside it. A still from the ‘our stories’ TV ad by Uncommon Studios.

By now you’ll have seen Uncommon Studio’s latest ad for the UK’s broadcasters. Playing simultaneously across the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, it makes a powerful case for national, mainstream broadcasters as a force for unity in uncertain times.

But one broadcaster that’s at the heart of the story, really shouldn’t be.

As economist Mariana Mazzucato points out, the BBC really breaks all the rules when it comes to non-commercial, public broadcasting.

Most public broadcasters aren’t created to make soap operas, or chat shows, or comedies, or quizzes. They’re there to do what commercial broadcasters can’t, or won’t. That’s…

It’s a Sunday morning. It’s early, say 8am. Say it’s February. You’re running along Brighton seafront. The sun’s coming up over the cliffs, shining weakly through the mist.

You’re out past Roedean, past the Marina, you’ve been going for 40 minutes and you’re doing… great. Your pace is right up there. In fact, you’re flying along. Distant landmarks just seem to get closer on their own. Everything’s effortless. You’re on fire. You’re an athlete. You’re amazing.

Sooner than you thought possible you arrive at the midpoint of your run (say it’s Ovingdean, or Rottingdean, or Saltdean, whatever). And you stop…

There’s a persistent assumption in the creative industry that reduction is always better.

Ad grads raised on the billboards of David Abbot, Tony Brignull, Paul Arden & co see simplicity as the be-all of creativity. M&C Saatchi has ‘brutal simplicity of thought’ as its mantra. Hegarty, Saatchi, Arden and many others have published nicely manbag-sized books which you can buy at Waterstones for around £9.99. They have sold in their thousands and contain about a hundred words each, so dedicated are they to the craft of reduction.

And don’t
get me started
on Dave Trott’s

LinkedIn and Pinterest and…

It’s a terrible and inappropriate metaphor, but this virus is proving an incredible petrie dish for organisational resilience.

For a long time it’s felt like there were two, quite separate routes to success in the modern economy. One was to focus on the plumbing — operations, data and availability. The ability to link up inventory, delivery and customers to work smarter. To be able to tell a customer that the thing they’re thinking about is available right now, 3.7km away, on aisle five, or can be on their doorstep by midday tomorrow, or behind the counter at their local newsagent…

Jacinda Ardern has recently talked about bringing New Zealand out of lockdown with a four-day week. She suggested it could create more leisure time for domestic tourism, stimulating spending while prioritising wellbeing, health and happiness. At the same time, presumably, helping to walk the tightrope of restarting the economy without rebooting damaging industries like international travel.

In the UK, it looks like an easing of lockdown (or a perceived one, thanks Dom) is already leading to multitudes of local day-trippers visiting attractions like Durdle Door and Bournemouth Beach. …


ECD, agency founder, creative strategy for social & environmental good

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