Thursday, December 8, 2016

Protecting one of England’s most dramatic natural landscapes

William Wordsworth (1770-1850) was one of the most influential Romantic poets. He was born in Cumbria and in 1799 he settled at Dove Cottage in Grasmere where he wrote his most famous poem ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ in 1804.

Grasmere has been my UK home for over a decade, inspired by Wordsworth’s lines in his poem 'The Recluse': “On Nature’s invitation do I come,/By Reason sanctioned. Can the choice mislead,/That made the calmest, fairest spot on earth,/With all its unappropriated good,/My own.”

Just as efforts are getting underway to promote literary tourism in the Lake District, the National Grid are planning to fill the clouds with 150 foot electrical pylons, fencing in a 3.5km stretch in the Whicham Valley, just 10 metres from the Lake District Park's legal boundary. The line of pylons will also run right across the top of the Duddon Estuary interrupting stunning views into and out of the high fells of the Lake District, scarring a cherished landscape steeped in history.

Landscape charity Friends of the Lake District and campaign group Power Without Pylons have teamed up to fight the pylon plan. “We do not consider ourselves as NIMBYs, but rather LAYBYs. This stands for ‘Looking After Your Back Yard’. We are trying to protect our wonderful landscape for all the future generations of visitors.”

Graham Barron, secretary of Power Without Pylons, said: “Protecting this important area is not just a local issue but a national issue. Over 40 million people visit Cumbria each year to enjoy these special landscapes: they don't want them scarred by lumps of metal and unsightly overhead wires. There are feasible alternatives to pylons which we have campaigned for from the outset. If enough people state their objections to giant pylons in writing we believe the wall of opposition will force National Grid to reconsider.'

Christopher Wordsworth, descendant of the poet said, “William Wordsworth was enthralled by the unique beauty of the Duddon, which inspired his famous series of sonnets. As much as the works of my ancestor are an important part of our literary heritage, his ‘long-loved Duddon’ is an important part of our natural heritage. We owe it to his memory to preserve its beauty for future generations to enjoy.”

Friends of the Lake District are urging local people to take part in a consultation which ends of the 6th of January. Take inspiration from the protesters of the South Dakota pipeline. The people of Cumbria have accepted nuclear power plants in the region that form a key element of UK’s national electricity grid. We will not accept, however, the industrialization of our revered landscape that is enjoyed by millions of Britons and international travelers.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Reform Club 11 January

I’ve had the honour of addressing many and varied audiences in some of the world’s most stunning buildings including The Royal Albert Hall, the British Museum and the O2 Arena in London, Radio City Music Hall and The Waldorf in New York, The Ritz in Paris, the Hall of Sciences in Vienna, the Palais des Festival in Cannes, and the Casa da Música in Porto.

My first speaking engagement of 2017 will see me address the cream of the UK’s business and marketing community as a guest of Beattie – The Creative Communications Group - at London’s famous Reform Club, founded in 1836 as a forum for the radical ideas that the first Reform Bill represented.

Designed by renowned English architect Sir Charles Barry, best known for his role in the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster, the club’s palatial Italian interior, based on the Palazzo Farnese in Rome, can still be enjoyed to this day in all its glory.

As well as having many noteworthy members throughout the years including William Makepeace Thackeray, Arnold Bennett, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H.G. Wells, Sir Winston Churchill was said to have conducted many incognito cabinet meetings in the club’s secret chambers.

The club has appeared throughout popular culture and literature including Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days and in films such as Miss Potter, Quantum of Solace and Sherlock Holmes. Madonna famously filmed the fencing scene in her music video for Die Another Day in the stunning reception hall and staircases. 

So what better way to start the year than in the company of today’s brilliant and creative minds in a setting that’s steeped in creative history…

A few places remain for my talk at the event at 2pm on Wednesday 11th January 2017 in the stunning library at The Reform Club on Pall Mall.

If you are interested in attending email Elspeth at:

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Shopping the Future

Worldwide retail sales hit $24 trillion last year, not exactly small beer. The massive retail business is switching on technology and is changing so fast that analysis is always chasing reality. That doesn’t it mean it shouldn’t try, and IDC have some useful signposts for retailers in its top 10 predictions for worldwide retail 2017. 

Watchwords are transformation, disruption, integration, expectation and security. Here are five IDC predictions that lift the experiential side where the game will be won:

1. By 2019, digital transformation Investments will triple, drawing funds away from store capital and profoundly changing the retail industry

2. Intelligent assistants will become a must-have app in 2017 and support shoppers' "jobs to be done" in context-aware omnichannel conversations by 2018

3. Retail mobile enablement will triple mobile investments in 2017 and double spending on wireless infrastructure through 2019

4. By 2019, 20% of major retailers will use augmented reality to enrich the product selection experience and convert shoppers to buyers three times faster

5. By 2019, artificial intelligence will change how 25% of merchants, marketers, planners and operators work, improving productivity by 30% and key performance indicators by 10–20%

How technology and emotionality come together with a human touch is the key. Is it convenient and compelling, intimate and inspiring? Retailers need to be irresistible, not robotic, across all four consumer touch points: See it; Search it; Shop it; Share it.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Jonah Lomu Legacy

The global Rugby community came together last Thursday in the Winter Marquee on Finsbury Square in the heart of the City of London. The Legacy Trust set up in NZ to provide for Jonah’s two young sons, had the foresight and courage to put on an event in London, believing that Jonah’s impact on the game transcended one Country and was universal. And they were right.

1000 guests attended the black tie occasion honouring Jonah who tragically passed away a year ago.

Ex England lock Martin Bayfield Mc’d, and was joined by Zinzan Brooke, Justin Marshall, Ali Williams, Anton Oliver, Jonny Wilkinson, Martin Johnson, Schalk Burger, Neil Back, Michael Lynagh and many other Rugby Legends.

I hosted a table for four Lancaster Royal Grammar School students, three teachers and Old Lancashian father and son Brian (ex England Coach) and Tony (ex England video analyst) Ashton. What a night.

Eddie Jones and Dylan Hartley took time off before their game vs Australia and spoke warmly about Jonah; a man who transcended Rugby, as Pelé did soccer, Michael Jordan did basketball, Wayne Gretsky did hockey, Mohammed Ali did boxing, and Tiger Woods did golf.

The evening raised over £250,000 for Jonah’s sons.

Bravo England. Bravo Rugby.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Accentuating Love

12 years on from writing Lovemarks: the Future Beyond Brands, Accenture Interactive – a branch of the global consulting company – has produced The Love Index, following an 18 month study involving 27,000 participants in the US, UK and Brazil.

Their conclusion: Love is a science; and there is a formula – Fun, Relevant, Engaging, Social, Helpful. Spelling FRESH. Cute!

Key findings were:
  • Each industry has its own Love profile. Relevance, for example, is the highest dimension for the auto industry.
  • Disrupters that lead with Helpful, Relevant and Engaging become loved. They cite Tesla and Amazon as examples.
  • Digital companies are most prone to be loved, emphasizing the role of technology in enabling brands to be Helpful and Social. Google and Amazon are cited.
Netflix topped the study’s most loved brand.

Several things about this initiative stand out for me.
  • It’s good to see further validation of the idea I floated into the world in 1999 by way of speeches and in 2004 by way of the Lovemarks book.
  • More significantly is the provenance of the Love Index. Accenture is “is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. With more than 373,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives.”
  • According to Ad Age, the top 3, and 8 of the top-10 ad agencies are consultancies like Deloitte, Accenture, KPMG and PwC. McKinsey is slowly building an agency arm.
  •  Ad industry pundit Avi Dan noted in Forbes that in the last 18 months Accenture acquired 40 marketing firms while within a single week IBM acquired three online ad agencies.
  •  It’s an oft-quoted projection from Gartner that the biggest users of corporate IT will be CMOs. Every one of the trillions of daily consumer transactions in the world adds to the galaxy of data. Highly sophisticated algorithms and data-mining techniques spew out streams of patterns and insights – if only there was time to keep up with the flow.
  • Data is a dangerous path to ride. Look at the Clinton and Trump campaigns. Clinton’s campaign was significantly driven by an algorithm called Ada, informing her messaging, ad placement, where she went and where she didn’t. Big fail. Trump traded heavily on negative emotion (loss, fear) and gut feeling. It was ugly, but effective.
For my workover of the Emotion/Data equation, see the Red Paper I published in 2015 Loyalty Beyond Reason. Love remains a winning idea, more than ever in this VUCA world. As the bumper sticker says, “Love Trumps Hate.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Finders, Minders, Binders and Grinders

In the 1990’s I became very close to Australia’s finest athletes as Castlemaine Perkins in Queensland, one of the Breweries we bought from Alan Bond, sponsored the country’s top teams – the Wallabies, the Kangaroos, and the Cricket team. I was lucky enough to spend a good deal of time with their Captains/Leaders Nick Farr-Jones, Mal Meninga and Allan Border.

I had dinner in Sydney last night with Nick and his wife Angie. Nick’s had a great post rugby career in banking in Paris and Sydney. He started life as a lawyer and was asking a Senior Partner during his rookie days what kind of lawyer he should be? He was told there are four kinds of people… Finders, Minders, Binders, and Grinders. Figure out which you are and surround yourself with the others. Brilliant advice. Which are you?