Goodbye Lee Barber

The final word

Jan 18

Never ever take the brand for granted. Ever.

As an agency our clients place with us the ultimate expression of trust.

They allow us to become the voice of their most valuable asset.

Their brand.

This trust should never be accepted lightly.

As guardians it is all of our responsibilities to nurture and build our clients’ brands.

To do this we need to understand them deeply.

Know what they would say.

Know what they wouldn’t say.

For every brand you work on ask yourself this question:

“Do I understand and know this brand as well as one of my close friends”.

If the answer is no speak to someone who does know (the brand, not your friends).


And do this for every brand you work on.

Nov 23
Taken with instagram

Taken with instagram

Sep 23

Sometimes the old ways are quicker

Just booked a holiday with two friends (to this hotel incidentally)


Done in a typically modern fashion

Step 1 - the three of us meet up for lunch to discuss our options (Bali and Tenerife oddly enough)

Step 2 - all of us go away and do some on-line research over the following week (Trip Advisor et al)

Step 3 - we get 3 favourite hotels and try to book (having narrowed our search to Tenerife only)

Step 4 - after ongoing emails discover we can’t get the right price / hotel combination so revert to Step 2

The whole process? Two weeks.

Now granted my friends and I can hardly be called the most organised or decisive people you will meet but I can’t help but think that 20 years ago the process would look a little something like this:

Step 1 - meet up at the Travel Agent, book holiday and go for lunch

Think I might do this next time.

Jan 20

The Power of Experience

Been doing a lot of work recently on understanding how experience can create moments of connection between brands and consumers that change perceptions and ultimately generate sales. In the process I came across this beautiful quote from American poet Maya Angelou.

"I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

In a communications world where data driven insight and ROI measurements more and more affect decisions on where and how budgets should be spent it is always important to remember that humans are sentient emotional beings.

Changing behaviour fundamentally relies on engaging emotionally and no amount of data will tell you how to do that.

Sep 8

Briefing lots of people doesn’t mean crowdsourcing

Lots of stuff in the ad press over the last two weeks talking about the new Peperami TV ad and how Crowdsourcing was used to create it. My opinion on the final output aside (which in essence takes the basic construct of the idea created by Lowes and applies a new script to it), the fundamental issue I have with this approach is that it isn’t crowdsourcing.

Sending a brief to thousand of people and then selecting an idea by an Ex CD and a copywriter is nothing more than an extended competition to find the best idea.

Crowdsourcing in its truest sense is getting a mass of people to collaborate on a project, not compete against each other in some kind of modern day Blue Peter competition. True crowdsourcing taps into a mass of brainpower in a way that allows ideas to be shared, shaped and evolved.

Wikipedia is crowdsourcing. Peperami is just a big pitch.

Sep 2

Integrated. Don’t get me started (opinion piece from Figaro Magazine)

I have a controversial confession to make. I have a problem with integration. In fact, I shudder every time I hear the word.  

 Initially well meaning, the concept of integration, has become the most overused and misunderstood notion in marketing..  It is a topic of debate that has been raging for well over 15 years with no real conclusion, putting other thinking in the shadow to the detriment of marketing as a whole.

 The discussions around integration have been so consistent and vocal that much of the industry’s strategic focus now has integration as its end game. Ideas and campaigns are judged on how integrated they are.  Awards categories have been created to reward them. Whole agency and client processes are built and delivered with integration at their heart. My worry is that ‘integrated’ is fast becoming a by-word for ‘effective’, which is becoming very dangerous.


The problem with integration is that it’s very much about bringing elements together, making a new whole from separate components. This is because the concept was conceived as a solution to industry problems which were created because of a rapidly fragmenting media landscape, and the birth and growth of a myriad of digital communications.  Integration and the discussion around it became necessary because both clients and agencies were not set up to understand or operate within this evolving media landscape.

 However, this does not take into consideration one simple but fundamental point. It fails to recognise that the consumer should always be at the heart of any marketing strategy -  not a need to make diverse media channels work together effectively. Integrated strategy falls down in many cases because it relies on an approach that is developed from either an agency or client perspective, and not from the consumers’. We focus on creating ideas that are neat and tidy, allowing us to make connections between their component parts - there is nothing more satisfying than a campaign that connects together both from a narrative and visual perspective, executed across multiple touch points. This makes sense internally, but, do consumers ever really notice and change their behaviour as a result? The simple fact is that for consumers, integration is meaningless because in their reality all media is already united.

 Media now envelops us as human beings. It’s now the place where we continuously, consistently and actively engage and connect, rationally and emotionally, with the brands that deliver it for us. The place where we watch TV, surf the web, make telephone calls and read the newspaper. The place where we Facebook our friends, Tweet our innermost and most banal thoughts; where we like, dislike and update our statuses for all of our friends to see.

 This new media landscape is all around us, every second of every day, and the clever thing is, it’s all joined up already. Although living in this fast paced new world can be tough, it all manages to connect and fit seamlessly together without us even trying. In a blink yesterday’s innovation is today’s everyday and tomorrow’s obsolete. As human beings we have an impressive and persistent ability to adopt and assimilate new technologies in an almost subconscious way. Apple’s recent spot for the iPad highlighted this when we were told “you already know how to use it.” We all learn and use tools such as the Web, Gmail , SMS messaging or Facebook quickly and efficiently (if they are effective). Indeed, it is this very human trait that has helped drive the massive technological leaps we have seen in a lifetime.

 In essence, it is evolution in progress. It is a fluid process and it begins to highlight the problems of integration and integrated thinking when it comes to connecting with consumers. . If integration means “bringing things together that once were apart” then it is futile in a world where everything is already seamlessly connected.

 So in our new reality, integrated strategies are becoming increasingly redundant when it comes to speaking to consumers. Clay Shirky puts forward this argument in his excellent book Cognitive Surplus when he states that the separation of cyberspace and the real world is an “accident of history” and that developments such as social media tools “aren’t an alternative to real life, they are part of it”.

 In a world that is already joined up we need new strategies that organically fit into the consumer landscape. This is less about making things work together in a jigsaw-like fashion and more about creating campaigns built on stories and narratives that can flow across multiple media (and not always in a neat and tidy way). Rather than all encompassing media neutral ideas we now need ideas that can begin and continue conversations over a period of time, and can be shaped and reshaped depending on where the conversation goes.

 This is what is really exciting about a possible “post integration” world. It gives clients and agencies a new focus that should lead to new thinking on what is possible. Our whole strategic thinking around brand communications can take on a fluid and dynamic shape which has not been possible with previous integrated models.

 No longer do we need to concern ourselves with how ideas can fit together in the digital and non-digital worlds. No longer do we need the cumbersome and often bland “catch all” big ideas that can easily translate from on-line to off-line and everywhere in-between. No longer are we looking for digital solutions that fit in the real world. We are now looking for sinuous solutions that work in a truly digital world.

 Some brands are already starting to react to this new reality and we are beginning to see campaigns that weave media throughout, complementing this new and fluid consumer landscape. The recent Nike GRID campaign targeting young people in London is an excellent example that gives us a small but prescient glimpse of the future to come. The campaign used the iconic red telephone box to track a runner’s progress at designated Nike branded locations in London. After registering online, players ran between two phone boxes and entered in their unique user id number at each, logging their run and earning points online.

 The idea is based on a deep understanding of how young people interact with the media in their world. The result is a range of relevant connection points, many of which aren’t even digital, based around the common narrative of “claiming your streets”. The campaign creates a seamless connection between young people’s London streets and the media within which they engage and converse everyday. It gave them a challenge, a call to action and social currency as reward. The campaign may not have touched a huge amount of people but it’s a great example of the real and the virtual colliding organically rather than being forced together to satisfy an integrated strategy.

This approach to media, campaigns and strategy is where our new media landscape is taking us. It’s no longer about creating campaigns by bolting things together; it’s about growing ideas in an organic way that reflects the new consumer and the media they use.

 The new Holy Grail is a campaign idea that is fluid rather than integrated.

Jul 13