Little steps and WOW!

Photograph: Stuart O’Sullivan

Some of my friends and colleagues often joke about my reaction to things. It’s not rare to hear me exclaim wow! when a designer shows me a thing of beauty or when another creative comes up with a great idea. The fact is that these little thoughts / ideas / designs – no matter how small and where they come from – are rare little pieces of brilliance and creativity. They might solve a problem (big or small) or connect people or concepts, or just make the world a more beautiful and better place.

I am a champion of creativity and open mindedness. I love and support the creative process and connecting previously unconnected ideas together. I believe the result is a small step to humankinds’ improvement. And todays’ economy is powered by this creation and innovation. This is what WordPress and Tumblr and Blogging and Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and Google+ and Youtube and Smartphones (you get my drift!) are all about. They get people designing, creating, solving and then sharing.

I read something yesterday – I cant remember who said it or where I read it (so sorry about the lack of attribution) but it was something like “if we honestly seek to change ourselves or our condition just 1% each day, that’s 365% of change in a year”.

So, here’s to more WOW! moments, living consciously and changing our condition and the world positively.

Insights in todays’ economy.


In communications, great ‘insights’ are coveted. To be in touch with our consumers and find out how they spend their time, what they hope, what they fear, what they are motivated by, how they choose, how they live. These ‘insights’ help us develop communications that will engage people and trigger some sort of response or connection.

A lot has been written about insights – how to get them and how to crystalise them. But I think nothing has been written on capturing insights in an economy and landscape and lifestyle that has remarkably changed. So, although the pace of the world and the pace of change today is spinning faster than previously, I think the way we capture our insights hasn’t adapted.

We still spend time searching for the ‘golden egg’ when this concept is outdated in todays economy.

Today there are many inspired people with ‘hack / prototype’ mentality and ways of doing things. People who have a belief and vision to change the world. They don’t wait for an ‘insight’ – they work on a belief. So it follows, that our strategic insights should come from this starting point. I put forward that insights should be real, instinctive, based on a belief on where the world is headed, and based on a reservoir of built-up research – i.e not research commissioned specifically to capture an insight.

This is ‘radical’ coming from a ‘planner’ because insights have been the area planning has been built around (Bernbach, Pollitt et al) but advertising as we know it is history. So whilst we’re reinventing the advertising wheel, we should start by reinventing how we define and crystalise insights as well.

Food for thought.


We Believe.

Following from the previous post (“Everyone is replaceable”, you said) – see what happens when you inspire your biggest asset. Here are powerful statements that people @Livingroom have made about what it’s like to work here. It’s proof that magic happens when you ignite peoples spirit, and show your Talent you CARE.

And when your people are onside, there is no stopping you!


“Everyone is replaceable”, you said?

I’ve always been the rebel at the forefront of employee causes, raises, corporate freedom.

I fought wars.

I challenged CEOs.

I initiated petitions and brought back ‘fired’ Talents against management’s will.

I was hated and respected by people, depending which side they were on.

Then one day, I became ‘Management’,

and I was given the answer to all issues,

…the magic formula management lives by,

…The ‘secret’ transmitted by one management generation to the other,

…the ultimate advice:

‘now that you are taking a new role, always keep in mind that everyone is replaceable’

I was shocked.

How could anyone praise their ‘assets’ at every public occasion and live by that formula behind closed doors.

I was never convinced and never learned that.

I couldn’t make the leap.

I was considered the black sheep of ‘management’.

Whilst management always praised that ‘people were their biggest assets’, they were still convinced that clients were the source of revenue, which put Talent as a major source of ‘expense’.

My constant debate was that our Talents were in fact our main source of revenue and that they deserved much more in return.

I was treated as an idealistic, a dreamer, a naïve people’s person… an obstacle.

Talents don’t join companies for money, name, location, medical insurance or even client lists. Employees do.

Talents are on the constant look out for a company with an amazing Spirit and true genuine Beliefs.

A place that offers endless possibilities to actually achieve what they have in mind.

An honest place where the formula applied behind closed doors is actually the same one shouted out loud in company gatherings.

The moment the Spirit & Belief appear fake…

The moment they realize they are as valuable as a replaceable spare part…

Their strong feeling of belonging fades away.

The more time I spend doing what I do, the more my beliefs in Talents are reinforced.

The more hours I spend talking to Talents, the more I know I am not a dreamer or an ‘obstacle’.

The more job interviews I make, the more I realize that Talents are rare.

Talents are irreplaceable.

Everything else is.

I always said it. I keep saying it. And I will always live by it.

Make a butcher your hairdresser


Writers write. Artists draw. Painters paint. Designer design. Right? Wrong. That’s what you’ve been brainwashed into believing. When you want change shake things up a bit. Throw caution to the wind. Get a fresh perspective on an old problem. Let the painters write. And the writers design. Stand back and see sparks fly.

Excess Baggage

A man in a goatee and ponytail goes to the airport to check in.

He hands over his passport and ticket, and the counter staff requests him to put his baggage to be weighed.

The minute he does so, the alarm goes off. He’s got excess baggage.The man is furious and begins to argue with the airline staff since all he has is a small bag that weighs only a few kilos.

The duty manager is called in as the situation is spiralling out of control.

The manager calms the guy down and in the process asks him what he does for a living; the guy replies that he’s a creative person in an ad agency.

A rather knowing smile appears on the manger’s face as he turns to the counter staff and says, “Don’t worry about it, that’s just his ego!”

So the question we creatives (BTW spell check refuses to recognise the word ‘Creatives’) need to ask ourselves, is why? Why do we walk around with such inflated egos? We have done nothing that warrants this. We haven’t found a cure for a deadly virus. We haven’t recorded a hit song or written an Pulitzer-winning book. We haven’t discovered a country. We didn’t invented anything useful, and never will. And to make matters worse, our job titles aren’t recognized by the labour ministry.  

The next time you feel like your ego is getting too heavy to carry around, grab a pin and pierce it. Feeling better already?

I’m so glad you don’t sell Hemorrhoids cream

Following my last ‘Noose’ on the KFC bucket run campaign, I promised I would ‘Smooch’ at least 10 ideas before trashing another one.

But this ‘thing’ made me change my mind.

I say ‘thing’ because it doesn’t fall into any category in mind

it’s not an ad.

it’s not a conversation.

it’s not an idea

it’s not a connection

What is it?

I glance at this ‘thing’ and i can hear the client mumbling somewhere in a cold, grey, corporate conference room:

‘let’s shock people….let’s show them blood…they will get scared and start using our brand….it worked in Poland!’

I relook at it and i can see the agency guys sit silent, defeated, losing interest, after many weeks of struggle.

Congratulations Brand team….you just won your argument and flashed your ‘insight’ right in front of our eyes…

….’a blood stain in a white sink’.

While you think this is a result generating campaign, the reality may be a bit different.

It is a disgusting ‘ad’ that even ‘blood spitting people’ may not appreciate.

And while the ‘insight’ is spot on, (and I’m sure you spent a fair amount of money on ‘research’), you missed a very important point:

Communication is not about flashing your insight in its raw form!

It’s more about taking it to another level, a level where you can have a proper connection with your audience.

A level where you can let your audience identify and connect in a subtle way. Let them see the ‘revelation’

And trust me…a visual mix of saliva and blood will not do it.

It will just result in a sudden face-turn, and people wouldn’t glance at it ever again.

So you have a product that certainly works…

and I understand you want to target a specific audience.

Have you considered doing it in a way that would not make them feel embarrassed to ask for your brand?

..and without polluting Sheikh Zayed Road?

Well, I’m just glad you don’t sell hemorrhoids cream.

Definitely a ‘Noose’.