Thursday, October 29, 2009

Facing The New Forty

Many years ago I read a poem called “Facing 40 Without Fear.” I was in my 20’s at the time and had just lived through a generation of Pop Culture telling me “I hope I die before I get old” (Roger Daltrey), and “Never trust anyone over 30.”

The poem was progressive and optimistic and offered some hope. I thought about this last week when I turned 60.

I checked out of my life for a couple of days and headed off to Grasmere and the comfort of my Lancaster home where it all began.

I spent two days thinking about growing up in Lancashire, friends I had then, the relationships that have lasted a lifetime, and remembered how great it was to be part of the 60’s revolution in the UK. Truly we felt nothing was impossible; a recurrent theme which has been the foundation of Saatchi & Saatchi since its inception. A classic case of work life integration.

There was only one place to be on my 60th birthday. I went into Lancaster and pounded the old streets for a while checking out my birthplace, primary school, and childhood neighborhood. A lot of people have been reassuring me that 60 is the new 40. They might be right. As Bob Dylan said, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”

Returning to a rainy but comforting Grasmere the afternoon of my birthday, I opened a bottle of 2000 Haut Brion, looked around at the photos of my heroes of the era, and slowly opened the presents piled up in my study. I was overwhelmed by the cards, emails, texts, phone calls, and gifts I received from friends and family.

There were two common themes running through every message; the 60’s and Love.

I guess these milestone birthdays are times when everyone reflects on what was and what will be. What was heightened when I opened up a large container which turned out to be a beautiful Perspex box covered in original 60’s music and scenes, and recordings of many friends reflecting on moments we shared in the 60’s (including two great LRGS teachers, Doug Cameron and Peter Sampson. Who said teachers have no soul!). Following then was over an hour’s worth of classic 60’s music video clips from Ready Steady Go, Top of the Pops, and other US and UK sources. The music is still great. The fashions are still liberating and fun. The production values are a sight for sore eyes!

Thanks to my friends and family I was reminded of this great period of creativity and freedom and was reassured by all of them that “All you need is love.” Not bad.

I’m facing the new 40 without fear.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

150,000 Good Ideas

Ideas are the currency of the future and can come from anywhere, and Google probably know this more than anyone right now! To help celebrate their 10th birthday, Google invited people to submit their ideas to help make the world a better place for everyone with their special “Project 10 to the 100th”.

150,000 ideas were sent in from people living in 172 countries, speaking 25 different languages. There were eight different categories that ideas: community, energy, environment through to health, education, shelter and opportunity, and not to forget the “everything else” basket. The same people who submitted ideas were then invited to vote on the best ones that should receive the $10 million that Google are going to invest and which should be announced soon.

You can see the full range of ideas here. Some of the finalist ideas were:
  • support efforts to increase young Africans' access to quality education by creating "cyber schools";
  • create a fund to support social entrepreneurship by providing targeted capital and business training to help young entrepreneurs build viable businesses and sustained community change;
  • coordinate a rapid-response tool for natural disasters; introduce an ecological VAT instead of income tax;
  • create an advanced health monitoring system;
  • encourage positive media depictions of engineers and scientists; and
  • create a transportation system that enables electric cars to run on a rail-type system.
When so many ideas struggle just to see the light of day, it’s wonderful how the project has given people the opportunity to spread their ideas. The project has just finished voting and winners should be announced shortly, when the ideas go to work they will surely help transform the way people live.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kris Kristofferson

One of my all time heroes is road warrior Kris Kristofferson. I guess he’s in his early 70’s now and living in Hawaii. I saw him at the Royal Albert Hall a year or so back and have been listening to his album Closer to the Bone this week. A bunch of songs celebrating experience, scar tissue and perpetual optimism. “I ain’t afraid of moonlight, I ain’t afraid of freedom, blood will make you crazy but your soul will keep you sane.”

He’s one of the greatest all-time poets and songwriters and has lived a life full of hope, dreams, principles and values. “From Here to Forever” was written for his kids and I’d recommended it for parents and grandparents everywhere. “Fill your heart for the morning, tomorrow you still got a long way to grow, and the love that you’re dreaming will guide you and live like a song in your soul.” And finally, “Darling, take all the time that you’re given, be all you know you can be, and if you need a reason for living, do it for love and for me.”

On behalf of Stella and all grandchildren around the world, Kris, thank you.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Billion Views Can’t Be Wrong

TV will never die, YouTube will never kill it. YouTube (or its future manifestations) will never die either, TV will never kill it. We’re in the world of and/and, where possibilities are not mutually exclusive and creative exposure is based on merit.

A couple of weeks ago, YouTube hit a billion views a day, and the inevitable happened. TV and YouTube are looking at working together. The Daily Telegraph says that the UK’s Channel 4 is looking at a deal to sell its own advertising around its own content on YouTube and sharing the revenue with YouTube (read Google). It’s like someone moving into your house, renting your living room unsolicited, and giving you a cut of the profits. And I say, good luck to them!!

The power is with the creative champions, and YouTube have proven to be just that. As Steve Jobs said, “creativity is just connecting things”. YouTube have connected the techno-geeks, mobile phone users, and home movie recorders together like never before. Their revenue share model has been around for a while, and high volume users are already benefiting from a share of the profits. So why not a TV Channel? It’s a Sisomo world, and the game has changed forever. Channel 4 are getting a second bite at their own content, and more importantly, integrating with other platforms online will drive users back to TV, still the focal point of living rooms around the world.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tanks to Tank

Despite using my Kindle for newspapers, I’m still a mad magazine fan. Whenever I fly, which seems to be everyday, I carry a bagful of mags with me. From the mass (Vanity Fair), to the cool (Monocle), to the eclectic (Dumbo Feather). On the eclectic side is Tank. A quarterly cultural magazine published in the UK. They’ve just relaunched in a big looseleaf binder format, which is very cool. I love its physical sensuality. Of course it’s also available on-line. Visit for information and visit their new on-line fashion concept,

The current edition has fantastic photography; soundbites on Tate Modern, Frida Giannini of Gucci and her flower power innovations, a terrific article from cult heroine Vivienne Westwood, a superb article from a guy who interviewed me recently, Peter Day from the BBC, with tables turned and him being interviewed this time on the financial crisis. There’s also revolutionary stuff on lots of topical art/cultural topics. The magazine is full color and 150 pages long and thriving, not just surviving. (The Claudia Schiffer cover is not bad either.)

It’s great to see Tank zigging as we, unfortunately, see Conde Nast closing down four more magazines this month. Positioning and appealing to a movement rather than a market is at the core of a magazine’s success in today’s participation economy. Tanks Tank for reminding us.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nail It With Love

For my wife Ro and daughter Bex, Air New Zealand Fashion Week this year involved a fair amount of elbow grease. Here's Ro's story of how she swapped the heels for a hammer...

I recently had the opportunity to be involved with a very special project in Auckland called “Nail it with Love”. Spearheaded by renowned New Zealand Fashion Designer, Trelise Cooper, a group of us built a house as part of Habitat for Humanity New Zealand.

However, this was no ordinary building project – Trelise and her husband Jack, who has been a volunteer builder for some time, are huge supporters of Habitat for Humanity, and Trelise came up with the idea of building a house down in Auckland’s Viaduct outside the venue which was hosting Air New Zealand Fashion Week. Trelise enlisted the help of family and friends – all women – and for a period of 6 days, while Fashion Week was in progress, we built a house!!!! The format was simple – each day was divided into two sessions – the volunteers enlisted for a session, or more if they could manage, and were asked to get themselves sponsored in order to raise money during that week to continue building homes for more worthy families.

It was a humbling experience indeed – our family was more than worthy. Fredarh Salamo, a single mother and her three young children, have been living in a garage on her mother’s property in South Auckland for three years. Fredarh’s chances of getting into a proper house were slim. She had heard about Habitat for Humanity, which is an organization that builds homes for low-income families and part of the scheme involves the chosen family to volunteer labour and help build their own home. Fredarh had been a volunteer on one of these projects for her cousin and decided to apply herself. When she learned that her application had been successful she says that she could not hold back the emotion!!!

Visualise if you will, Air New Zealand Fashion Week – beautiful models, Fashion Designers, fashionistas, makeup artists, media and celebrities all converging on the Viaduct, and just across the water, some of the same women in old jeans/t-shirts, thick soled shoes – definitely no Christian Louboutins here – with their toolbelts and hard hats on getting stuck in!

My initial session took place on the first afternoon, Trelise and Fredarh were there to welcome us, as they were for each session (a remarkable feat for Trelise who was producing three Fashion Shows that week, the first two being the following day). Again, a humbling experience as we listened to Fredarh speak and thank us profusely through her tears. You could tell that it was a Women’s Build as we all had to grab the Kleenex before we started! We had been told to expect to be doing anything – from standing up walls, fixing cladding, exterior joinery, sealing, roofing, framing, to plumbing, electrical cabling, sanding and painting and using all manner of tools in the process. I was astonished upon arrival to note that since I had walked past the site 4 hours earlier, the floor had already been laid. Under the supervision of three gentleman builders and two lady builders from Habitat for Humanity, along with two Auckland Unitec students, Vicky and Kartika, we were given instructions, put in teams and just got on with it. By the time that afternoon’s session had finished we had the walls up and the ceilings on!

Each day I walked past and marveled at how quickly the house was going up – despite the weather being very typically spring-like with a lot of wind and rain, work continued and the Teams were having so much fun at the same time. Women from all walks of life and ages were there, including a large number of Fredarh’s family.

With Fashion Week and my involvement over on the Friday, I enlisted to do the full, final day on Saturday. Saturday morning’s weather was dreadful, cold and wet. It didn’t stop us though. I spent the morning with Vicky doing the architraves under the roof, on tip-toes I could just about reach to wield the hammer, the cold rain on my saturated gloves dripping up my sleeve and down inside my t-shirt. I loved it! It was so great to be doing something physical, for such a worthy cause and to be getting stuck in. Saturday afternoon saw the sunshine come out and I had the pleasure of being on the roof with Kartika and my trusty hammer – it was a pretty sensational 360 degree view from up there too - Auckland CBD, Sky Tower, Harbour Bridge and Rangitoto Island!!! Bex was on the ladder wielding a paintbrush!

By 5pm we had finished everything that had been scheduled, the kitchen was being fitted in as we began putting away the tools and the following morning the house was being uplifted to it’s new site in South Auckland. We had a very informal celebration on-site and listened as Fredarh, her Mum alongside her, eloquently described her life and her dreams and how much the week had meant to her. Her gorgeous children were there, so excited to be seeing their new home and to be choosing their bedrooms.

I found the whole experience truly inspirational – so much so, that I have enlisted for a further Habitat for Humanity Women’s Build – this time as part of the Jimmy and Rosalind Carter Work Project Mekong Build 2009. This is a week long project which will unite volunteers from around the world to build houses in the Mekong Region which includes Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and the Sichuan Province in China.

I am going as part of the Thailand contingent of around 40 – 45 volunteers, again I am in the Women’s Build Team led by Trelise. There will be approximately 3,000 volunteers, including Jimmy and Rosalind Carter and we hope to build 82 houses in one week – celebrating the King of Thailand’s 82nd birthday.

Fredarh and her family stand in front of the completed house with Trelise Cooper. Image source: Habitat for Humanity

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bright Lights At The World Business Forum

Last week I stepped under the lights at Radio City Music Hall in New York, home of the rockin’ Rockettes. It wasn’t high leg kicks but it was the HSM World Business Forum, with a line up of high-profile speakers. It felt fantastic to be on a big show stage, and against the recessionary backdrop I ripped out seven ways to Win Ugly*. Judging by the negative forecasting of the economists and finance guys speaking, this stripped back approach is going to be needed for some time.

The general sentiment was that the recession may be over, but the bad times are far from over. David Rubenstein, founder of private equity firm The Carlyle Group, presented a sobering outlook for most sectors. Among the fast-fire statistics: the US government has $57 trillion in unfunded debt, unemployment rates are rising to the point where 7 or 8% will become normal, and inflation is coming.

With typical verve, Jeffrey Sachs underlined the successive failure of two US administrations (don’t leave a $62 trillion market unregulated!), the great sustainability challenge, and the continuous threat to democracy of public policy being written behind closed doors in Washington (the public debates being a side show). Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman showed that world trade has taken a bigger hit than during the Great Depression. He thinks trade will come back and development is possible again, but – ever the economist – warned trade may not end up as buoyant. Texas billionaire investor T. Boone Pickens, who nowadays backs alternative energy such as wind, underscored that cheap oil is why America has not managed energy in a smart way. If we keep on, he said, we’ll be importing 70% of our oil, and paying $300 per barrel for it within ten years.

On a more animated note, George Lucas (Leia! Vader! Luke! Obi-Wan Kenobi!) distinguished writing from storytelling. Writing is what he likes least and ends up doing most, because “I’m the only one who knows the universe.” He defined art as a way of telling stories that are meaningful in an emotional way. He thought it possible that the primary screen medium could become the iPhone. Lucas admires Spike Jonze as a rising Director, and described Peter Jackson as a genius. On day two business strategist Gary Hamel gave a presentation on how management needs to reinvent from a command and control institution that turns people into robots to an inspirational one where power is granted from below and is contingent on value-add. Hamel points to the Internet to see the future, where power flows to those who add value (think top Amazon reviewers) and away from those who don’t. “You won’t make any progress here if you are benchmarking the Fortune 500,” he said. “The future always starts on the fringe.”

The Blackberry and i-Phone flashes came out for President William Jefferson Clinton as he wrapped the day up. Bill Clinton’s star power was evident, as thinker, performer, storyteller and man of action. His framework for seeing the world is interdependence, not globalization. The three persistent challenges he framed were inequality, instability, and sustainability. The President closed it out this way: “We have to find a world where we can all win, otherwise, none of us will.” All up, a successful show. Congratulations to Eduardo and the team at HSM.

P.S. The Seven Ways to Win Ugly:
  1. Face the truth and act swiftly.
  2. Reframe all your beliefs about value.
  3. Measure only what matters.
  4. Embrace the Participation Economy.
  5. Let Emotion Rip!
  6. Go for High Respect and High Love.
  7. Act True Blue .

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Participation Economy, Pt. 2

I like to think of good ideas having a theme song. For the Participation Economy maybe it would be “Come Together” by The Beatles. But the manifestation of that spirit and energy has to be embodied by the current world tour by U2. It’s a lesson in participation with scale.

Stadium shows of yesterday were known to have poor sound quality and a vast distance between the performers and the rest of the crowd. But U2 wanted to innovate on that model and create something awe-inspiring.

U2 play upon a 164 foot tall stage positioned in the middle of a packed audience, nearly 70,000 strong. Bono says to the audience: "We built this spaceship to get closer to you." It’s the biggest concert stage ever built, has no defined front or back and is surrounded on all sides by the audience. The stage design also includes a cylindrical video screen and will increase the venues' capacities by about 15–20%. "The band is just sitting in the palm of the audience's hand," said Designer Willie Williams.

Mark Fisher, Design Architect for the U2 Tour, spoke about the set: “The inspiration was to make a set that was as intimate as we could make it in a stadium. So everybody in the stadium feels like they’re real close to the band and the band feels like they’re real close to everybody in the stadium.”

After the crowd sang along to “With Or Without You,” Bono had everyone hold up and wave their cellphones in the air saying “Turn this place into the Milky Way.”

One recent Chicago concert-goer blogged, “Once again it was a spiritual moment. There's a vibe you can't articulate.”

In an era of declining CD sales, the tour is expected to be a major source of income for the band. About 2.5 million people will see this current leg of the tour. And for anyone curious by all the massive trucks carrying the heavy stage around, U2 will, it seems, purchase carbon offsets to take into consideration the environmental impact of the massive production, which has been estimated to be up to 65 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide; approximately the same amount that would be emitted in flying a passenger plane to Mars.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Five Minutes With Fox Business

I recently caught up with Alexis Glick from Fox Business at Radio City Hall who asked me a few questions on the state of the ad market, consumer confidence, and how our clients, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, General Mills and JC Penney are approaching consumers in today’s environment, see video here (5:28 mins).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Olympic Rugby

If you haven’t heard already, the reigning Olympic champions in Rugby, the United States, will have the chance to defend their title at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in 2016. Rugby sailed through the voting process with an 81-8 win (with one abstention) at the International Olympic Committee.

This is great news for Rugby which has been absent from the Olympics since 1924. The Olympic format will be a Sevens style (7 players instead of the normal 15) four-day tournament involving 12 men's and 12 women's teams. Each country will bring 12 players to the games.

Congratulations also to Jacques Rogge, being overwhelmingly voted back to his post as president of the IOC. It can’t have hurt that Jacques represented Belgium in rugby! Jacques has said that rugby is a sport with a strong ethic. It’s a contact sport, but there is an accepted code you must restrain from injuring opponent, as such, it’s a sport of “utter control.”

For me, it’s even more than that. It’s a game full of the three “S”’s – Strength, Speed, Skills, where the better team usually prevails over the better individuals. It fits the Olympic ideals perfectly, and I’m hoping that all 96 countries which are members of the International Rugby Board will send teams.

Rugby itself will benefit from the increased exposure, and the glory of Olympic gold will be a powerful inspirational dream.

In 1924, in Paris, the United States beat France 17 – 3, and there was fighting in the stands and police escorts for the victorious Americans leaving the field. 92 years later, in Brazil, the atmosphere in the stands, and anybody who has been to the Hong Kong Sevens will tell you, will be celebration, no matter who wins. It’s Rugby, and it’s Brazil. Two of my Lovemarks come together.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chicago, Chicago

I had an eclectic week roaming around the US. It started in NY, then down to Miami, up to Washington, DC and then across to Chicago. It seems as if the world revolved around Chicago this week, (not because I was there!) but because two of its most distinguished citizens, President Obama and Oprah Winfrey, were in the news.

President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. A staggering selection in my view. Whilst no doubt a good man, he’s only been in office 10 minutes and hasn’t had time to achieve anything. I find this an incredible selection, and even his hometown of Chicago seems stunned.

Oprah had been in Copenhagen all week leading Chicago’s Olympic effort, which was absolutely battered by the IOC committee. They took exception to what they perceived as overbearing behavior from the US OC and voted down Chicago’s bid in the first round. $50M of public money went up in flames.

So a mixed week for an underrated and brilliant city.

Architecturally, the city has a lot going for it and it’s still one of the best places to hear authentic American Blues. With a bird’s eye view from my desk this morning in my hotel I can see the Allerton Hotel. At night a huge red neon sits on top of it proclaiming that fact with the intriguing words, Tip Top Tap underneath it. Memories of a bygone era.

Put Chicago on your next US itinerary. And don’t miss a visit to RL. Ralph Lauren’s only restaurant. Beautiful bar, great leather chairs, terrific black & white photographs around the room and great down home American comfort food. It’s the real Ralph Lauren experience expressed in a restaurant.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Change the World? Why Not

I’ve relied on a number of mentors in my life. Starting with Lancaster Royal Grammar School teachers Doug Cameron and Peter Samson, the late great Jack Byrum who worked with Presidents Nixon and Reagan - and me - (and a few others), John Wareham who made me believe in myself creatively, Bob Seelert who stands shoulder to shoulder with me today, and Norman Ellis, the Greatest of them all – currently battling Alzheimers in a Nursing Home near Lancaster. Mentors can’t be programmed. They find each other. As this lad and I have done. Twenty minutes in I told Cameron I’d love to see him again next month. He stood up, stripped off his shirt and revealed the t-shirt pictured above. And then gave me the t-shirt I’m holding. Make a note of the name. Cameron Gallagher. You’ll be hearing more from him. Here’s his story of our meeting. KR.

Kevin asked me to write a post for his blog today. And that's a little bit difficult, because my brain is telling me to write something profound and superb, but I'm not a writer so I'll do what my fifth form English teacher said and KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)!

Six months ago I wrote to Kevin and asked if he would meet me. He said yes. Today, I walked into Kevin's office and told him that a friend and I wanted to change the world. I asked him if he would consider mentoring us. He said yes.

If that sounds simple, it's because really, it is. But it certainly wasn't easy. To describe it as a life altering moment for me would not do it justice. The landscape of my world has shifted so fundamentally in the last few hours that already yesterday seems like it does not exist.

Kevin is a hero of mine, who I first saw on Youtube a year ago, so the very idea of being mentored by him is beyond my wildest dreams.

But how does something like this even happen?

Well for one, this never would have happened if I had not chosen to put my balls on the line and give it a shot. 99 percent of me said it wasn't possible, along with pretty much everyone I told about it. The words out of their mouths when they said 'that sounds like a great idea', didn't match the look on their faces if you know what I mean. But one percent of me believed it was possible. One percent. That's all. One percent of me, said why not... And fortunately for me, in this case, I chose to listen to that one percent.

So today I'm really writing about listening to that one percent. You see, every day we make a million choices. And most of them get us nowhere fast. Why? Because most of the time we make the choice that 99 percent of us tells us to make, and that 99 percent is the loud voice of the status quo.

Now I'm not going to sit here and advocate the status quo in any way just because it might help some people sleep better at night. The fact is that the status quo right now is not working. It's broken. It robs people of their potential and keeps us living in fear. We complain about the problems of the world but we don't fix our own backyard. If you're not pursuing your dreams, it's unlikely that you will ever be very happy. And unhappy people cause problems, a lot of them.

So my question to you is, do you want to change the world?

If you don't think there's a roadmap, you're wrong. It starts, and ends, with you. And to start, you have to have the courage to leave the status quo behind. You must find the courage to pull the dreams out of the box at the back of the proverbial closet in your mind and look at them. Accept that you want them and stop listening to the 99 percent of you telling you that they are not possible.

If you want to know what the road looks like, here's an idea. In trying to pursue your dreams, you will fail. A lot. And it will hurt. A lot. But you will get back up. And that will feel good.

To say you will have the boundaries of what is courageous for you pushed will be an understatement. Sometimes you won't find the courage, and that too, will hurt. Sometimes, a lot.

But with each challenge, you will grow stronger. And you will learn, as I am learning, that the reward of living life in a world where everything remains forever possible is a reward far greater than any material prize could ever be.

So now I must live up to the seed I have sown, and the very idea of trying to do that terrifies me. The 99 percent is already telling me I'll fail and stuff it all up. However, in reality, that just means I have another opportunity to prove those voices wrong.

So, my question to you is this;

Are you ready to Change the World?

Because you are only one choice away.

- Cameron Gallagher

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Participation Economy, Pt. 1

I was recently contacted by a journalist to talk about the Attraction Economy. What bad timing. I’ve moved on. From our experience with the T-Mobile “Life’s for Sharing” campaign, a new shift is taking place. We are entering the age of the Participation Economy.

When watching or approving anything we make, my rule of thumb used to be: Do I want to see it again? But increasingly that’s given way to: Do I want to share this? I’ve written about the dynamics of sharing before. It may sound like a lesson from Kindergarten, but sharing is powerful stuff.

The transformation of business and society is always seen through a collection of shifts. Power and energy changes direction and new dynamics rule the day.

The Participation Economy is an aspiration as much as it is a reality. The global recession dealt a blow to its development, perhaps. But a number of contributing factors lead to the Participation Economy, chief among them the web. Our real-time digital infrastructure is an empowering, entrepreneurial platform that lets you showcase your creativity like never before. We’ve seen this introduce a self-generating energy that we’re just beginning to understand and harness.

All of this is an evolution. We’re not totally there yet, so Attraction still plays a huge role. And the term is not my invention, as the Participation Economy has been around a while for the design of products. But it’s much larger than that.

Participation is also about the health of society. The past decade witnessed rapid change in society. America doubled its consumption of antidepressants. 1% of the population is in jail. 48% of Manhattan lives alone. Social dislocation creates new channels for interaction and our need to participate and join together is going to grow in this regard.

Like the Lance Armstrong Flash Mobs I blogged on, the Participation Economy is more about sharing ideas than making purchases. It’s about connecting us with ideas. When we participate, we join a larger community around an idea. That social dynamic is fluid and natural and it’s a hotbed of innovation. More and more, we will see that the best ideas create an opportunity for participation. It channels the energy of a community. After all, Steve Jobs said: “Innovation is just connecting stuff.”

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Do Ten Things, Do 100 Things

I wrote last week about Do One Thing, the Saatchi & Saatchi S initiative to personalize sustainable actions. Real change requires a ground swell of action, but as companies we can take decisive steps that have impact.

Walmart recently discontinued issuing paper checks to its employees in favor of electronic payments. By that stroke alone it will save some 257,572 pounds of paper a year.

Tesco in the UK has announced that it is now diverting 100% of its waste from landfills. This is no small feat, since it encompasses all of Tesco’s 2300 stores and distribution centers in the UK.

Marks & Spencer has pledged to meet 100 separate commitments to reduce impacts within a five-year time-frame, and has already achieved 39 of those within the first two years.

Here are ten things Ikea did to be more sustainable:

  1. Replace polyvinylchloride (PVC) in wallpapers, home textiles, shower curtains, lampshades, and furniture – PVC has been eliminated from packaging and is being phased out in electric cables;
  2. Minimize the use of formaldehyde in its products, including textiles;
  3. Eliminate acid-curing lacquers;
  4. Produce a model of chair (OGLA) made from 100% post-consumer plastic waste;
  5. Introduce a series of air-inflatable furniture products into the product line. Such products reduce the use of raw materials for framing and stuffing and reduce transportation weight and volume to about 15% of that of conventional furniture;
  6. Reduce the use of chromium for metal surface treatment;
  7. Limit the use of substances such as cadmium, lead, PCB, PCP, and AZO pigments;
  8. Use wood from responsibly-managed forests that replant and maintain biological diversity;
  9. Use only recyclable materials for flat packaging and "pure" (non-mixed) materials for packaging to assist in recycling.
  10. Introduce rental bicycles with trailers for customers in Denmark.
At Saatchi & Saatchi, we’re setting goals relating to optimal management of our buildings, and doing less traveling. And individually our employees each declare what their DOT is.

There’s an interesting exchange on the post I published last week on DOT – a reader claiming that the “incremental steps” model does not achieve transformative change. Adam Werbach responds to this and other views on this, and how he believes the “bottom-of-the-pyramid” actions on the part of the general population have a major effect on decisions made by companies and governments. More on this to come.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Make Love Not War

When I walked into the lobby of the Singapore National Museum I couldn’t miss this eye-catching, 8 metre tall, superb piece of art Love Tank (The Temple). The phrase ‘make love not war’ springs instantly to your mind, the tanks are decorated (or camouflaged!) with red lotuses and pink hearts to transform the killing machines to convey love and peace.

The Indonesian artist, S. Teddy D., wanted to express the interaction between the East and West cultures – one which often ends in clashes. The adaptation of these cultures is symbolized through the seven tanks stacked on top of each other forming a tall structure resembling a Pagoda which is part of a temple compound, believed to be the padmasana, the seats of gods and goddesses who rule this world.

Entirely made by hand, the first prototype - essentially one 4.5m tank - made it’s first debut at a wedding no less. As you can imagine there are very few places to store something of this size, but I think Saatchi & Saatchi’s offices in New York with their 3-storied atrium could be just the place for its next exhibit – Teddy what do you reckon?!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Priceless Value

Today’s a biggie –speaking at HSM World Business Forum at Radio City Music Hall in New York. I’m onstage immediately before George Lucas, and as much as I’d love to stay I have the week from hell with speeches and meetings over the following three days in Miami, Washington DC, and Chicago.

In the lead up to the event I recently gave a webinar where I gave a preview of what I’ll cover in my presentation, and I answered about 20 questions which poured in from all parts of the world.

In my opening remarks I focused (again!) on Winning Ugly, which has been my mantra at Saatchi & Saatchi since the recession. There are a bunch of ways to win ugly, but one constant in the list is reframing your beliefs about value. With more choice, more connectivity, and less spend, consumer power is reframing the notion of value.

In this time of “new frugality” everyone is wanting more for less. People are evaluating more (71% of Americans shop online before buying a car), trying more, comparing more, and contemplating switching more. Online themselves, and online through others.

Here are the ways consumers are thinking about value; they’re saying:

“I’m sorting true value from false economies.”
People want smart abundance, not rubbish

“I’m not cutting back on luxuries, I’ve just redefined what luxuries are.”
People still treat themselves, just not in the same way.

“I’m into the challenge of finding creative solutions.”
Ingenuity is the new innovation.

Companies must jump-shift their value comparisons.

P&G invites consumers to compare Tide Total Care with the costs of dry cleaning.

Prius invites drivers to enjoy exhilarating motoring while at the same time refreshing the environment.

Tylenol shifted the goal posts in an admirably non-self-serving way: their advice for a headache? Drink a glass of water, wait 20 minutes - and if you still have one then take Tylenol.

Even a private jet company - Flexjet - reframed its private jets from a luxury item to a valuable business tool, from status-oriented cost center to commonsense transport investment.

Each of these examples represents an “emotional bonus”. They check the rational value boxes but also deliver emotional value by improving your world.

I call this Priceless Value… uplifting life solutions tuned to how people are feeling, living, spending – and sharing.

I’ll be talking again about reframing value, and creating priceless value, at Radio City. Now this, for me, is Priceless.

Monday, October 5, 2009

24 Hours in Singapore...

On a recent return trip to New Zealand I spent 24 hours in Singapore just in time to catch the last race of the Formula 1 on the local TV (so close but so far!) and saw Lewis Hamilton take top honors on the podium. Lewis admitted that "It was a very, very tough race," which I have no doubt given the 32 degree celsius humid heat and the nature of the race which is held at night under artificial lighting. "It's corner after corner after corner and there is never a real break and you need to be focused." Sounds a lot like doing business these days. It was also great to also see Timo Glock and the Toyota team finish in a surprise second position and I loved the simple but poignant statement Glock gave: "A driver can make a difference here".

With this in mind I met the next morning with John Davidson from Marketing TV and answered a couple of his questions about Winning Ugly in the recession and how it is important to react positively to the challenge of the recession (see video above).

Next it was a lively meeting with the local agency staff and clients including Procter and Gamble’s energetic marketing team. We discussed creating loyalty beyond the recession and how to create priceless value. The agency is reinventing its approach, generating exciting new ideas, and moving with consumers who have sprinted ahead.

Singapore has been typically resilient in the face of the recession, with a determination to turn the economy forward after the worst battering in 40 years. With its strategic regional location, strong technology industries, arguably the world’s best airport, and a gastronomy scene to blow your taste buds, Singapore is well placed to continue turning up in top ten lists. Check out Monocle’s special Singapore survey, which highlights creative industries but also the mainstays – healthcare (400,000 overseas patients a year), tourism (10 million visitors), investment banking, and aviation. Singapore is also hosting APEC in November. I’ve been travelling through Singapore for many years, and despite my heart having fallen to Dubai for the Europe-Downunder stopover, I’ll no doubt be seeing more of Singapore in the future (in a few weeks even!).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Awesomeness Manifesto

The next generation of business leaders will use new language to convey their fresh ideas. Today’s business lexicon will not survive intact. I should know, because I work with a lot of young people.

One business thinker doing this already is Umair Haque, a consultant for big business and author of big ideas for the Harvard Business School blog. He has written a preview of tomorrow in something he calls the Awesomeness Manifesto.

Awesomeness may sound like a fuzzy and imprecise term to some. But Haque’s point is that the new generation knows awesomeness when they see it. The Awesomeness Manifesto is full of ideas for business built on sustainable value where the central role is to make the world a better place.

And in this post he talks about the power of Love, sustainability, remixing value, and the new way of innovation. Here are the four pillars of his Awesomeness Manifesto:

  1. Ethical production: without an ethical component, awesomeness isn't possible. The buy low, sell high mentality is yesterday’s mantra.

  2. Insanely great stuff: put creativity front and center and you’ll get an emotional reaction from anyone who sees it. Delight the customer.

  3. Love: Apple creates products people love. Their employees love to show off how awesome these products are and customers love shopping in Apple stores. Compare this with Best Buy.

  4. Thick value: this is real, meaningful, and sustainable. Thick value, not thin value, actually makes people better off.

Finally a business guru who gets it! That is awesome.