Twenty lessons from 2020: Finding our new normal

My last four blogs have looked at the lessons we can learn from 2020, focusing on Marketing, Business, The Economy and Society. What's very clear is that thousands of people, and hundreds of businesses, will sadly not survive, so we must look for green shoots and silver linings if we are to learn and to heal. This last year, horrendous as it was, provided a unique and incredible opportunity to get off the treadmill, [...]

Twenty lessons from 2020 – Part Four: Society

Following the first three parts of my 20 Lessons from 2020 - on marketing, business and the economy – part four is a slightly longer read, and looks at lessons 15 through 20, what we can learn from society.  The next and final part will summarise what we can all learn from 2020 and where we might go from here. 15. Zoom kept us together I couldn’t write a Top 20 without reference to Zoom. It’s been so prevalent, I [...]

Flexible working needs top-down change

For any good manager, it will be obvious why adopting surveillance software to track an employee’s ‘productivity’ when they’re working remotely is a bad idea. Whilst it clearly highlights a wider issue of trust and empathy, it also points to a bigger problem with the traditional business model, and why some have felt the need to resort to this. Surveillance software that measures key strokes or time in front of a webcam is clearly [...]

The inconvenient truths

I recently watched a programme where a group of obese people shared their stories and sought to understand each other’s points of view whilst staying together in a house.  Amongst the group was a disruptive ‘body positive’ woman who literally closed her ears to the painful truths the group shared.  Not surprisingly, her business model was based on denying the significant medical evidence that obesity had a detrimental effect on health. Also not surprisingly, [...]

Authentic brand purpose? You bet it is

Gillette launched their new ‘The Best a Man Can be’ campaign yesterday and it’s brave and brilliant. Some have criticised the marketing wisdom of this and the overt display of ‘brand purpose’. It’s fair to say that brand purpose has been used and abused in recent years (see Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner fiasco for just one terrible example), but here it’s completely appropriate.  Ads for male grooming products have traditionally celebrated a mild form of toxic masculinity and sexism.  Something [...]

Diversity + Inclusivity = Profit

Ah, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.  Unbelievably, it’s autumn already.  Always a funny time of year – the leaves may be going brown and the nights drawing in, but it’s also a time of new starts – back to school with a shiny new pencil case and a renewed enthusiasm. For much of this year, I’ve been recharging my mental batteries by taking some time out from the hurly burly of [...]

Think the ‘Pink Princess’ culture is just harmless fun?

What do you see when you look at the picture above? (Let’s ignore the lipstick and blusher for a moment).  Sweet little girls in dress-up outfits?  Or the dangers represented by early gender stereotyping?  Sadly, there’s growing evidence that it should be more the latter than the former. It was recently reported that girls as young as six think that 'brilliance' is a male trait and that pay inequality starts in the pocket money years.  [...]

Sex only sells sex. Let’s hope the tide is turning in Cannes

Many years ago, I was driving through Rome, admiring the scenery, when I was suddenly confronted by the enormous billboard image of a naked, reclining woman. Perched proudly on her tanned bottom was… Let’s guess, shall we?  Some sunscreen?  Perfume, maybe?  An anti-cellulite gadget?   No.  A packet of pasta. I was a bit taken aback by the level of nudity on a 48 sheet, but more astonished that her bum was deemed to be [...]

Disruptive. But not always in a good way.

The ‘on demand economy’ and the 'disruptive' brands that are creating and supporting it is the current buzz in the marketing world.  In the last week, I’ve attended two presentations where the likes of Uber, Airbnb and Deliveroo have been held up as great examples of a new way of doing business. Putting the customer experience at the centre, relying on crowd-sourced reviews, shaking the complacency of established brands and service models, moving to a [...]

Survival Of The Fittest? Don’t Make Me Laugh!

The horsemeat scandal and an aggressive piece by Mark Ritson in Marketing Week (Kill the Weak: It's the Marketing Way) has again highlighted exactly what’s wrong with modern business practice.  A basic lack of responsibility and morality which has enabled companies to build and abuse extraordinary levels of power. I know Ritson loves to court controversy, but this time he’s stepped over the line.  His ridiculous assertion, when we are knee deep in another breach [...]

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