Thursday, July 28, 2011


Earlier this year I was interviewed for an Australian program on the future of TV called 2020Vision, and made by Free TV, an industry body which represents all of Australia's commercial free-to-air television licensees. It’s now live online (which still makes it TV, just on another screen!) in six 3-5 minute episodes. The show brings together some fascinating perspectives from a range of creatives, many touching on themes I shared a few months back.

Fellow contributors include Jeffrey Katzenberg CEO, DreamWorks Animation; Bill Patrizio CEO, Red Bee Media UK; Tim Baxter Samsung Electronics America; Melissa Lavigne-Delville NBCUniversal; and Gary Carter COO, FremantleMedia.

The episodes cover the multi-screen experience, the power of audiences, the evolution of advertising, and future programming trends.

I share some thoughts in episode three on the promise of 3D TV for a more immersive and compelling advertising experience, and in episode four on TV as a way for advertisers to create strong, intimate relationships with consumers. It’s a beautifully made program; great iPad viewing and a good roadmap if you want to know what TV will be like tomorrow. You can watch it here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Good Energy

One of the resources in greatest demand as our footprint expands is energy. World energy consumption grew by five percent in 2010, and by one recent estimate will increase by a further 35% over 2005 levels in the next two decades. New technologies and business models are the True Blue answer – here are some hot developments to watch, from an MSNBC interview with two sector gurus, Dan Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley; and Ron Pernick, co-founder and managing director of Clean Edge, a research firm with offices in Oregon and California.

Solar shining through. Solar is set to start grabbing significant market share away from energy sources such as coal and oil — and catch up to the deployment of wind power, which itself is forecast to become as big as nuclear.

A meet-up of energy and information technologies. In the future refrigerators will know when we're low on items such as cheese and beer and send a message to our GPS-equipped cell phones to remind us to pick up a wedge and a six-pack the next time we walk into our favorite grocery store — and thus prevent an extra 20-mile jaunt in our 2,000-pound car for a few items.

China starting to win the clean energy game. Global competition for dominance in the green energy industry is fierce. Areas where China has leading edge include solar photovoltaic manufacturing and deployment of wind turbines.

Call for clean-energy funds getting louder. Titans of US industry, including Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and Bank of America chairman Chad Holiday, issued a call this June for an annual $16 billion investment in clean-energy innovation.

Energy development in the developing world. In Central America, plans are underway for a power grid that connects everyone from Panama to Mexico. While the grid will be powered by all kinds of energy, solar and wind will be part of the mix.

Transportation starting to go electric. The buzz over electrified transport is going to get stronger, with a build-out of high-speed rail networks and a resurgence of streetcars joining the mix.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Population Acceleration

The planet’s booming population is a mega trend reshaping everything. Over coming decades our growing presence and rampant appetite for resources will shake up every form of life on earth.

At current birthrates, the world’s seven billionth inhabitant will join the rest of us very soon (some say the end of October – Halloween!). It took us a while to get to this point, but now we’re putting the pedal to the metal. For the first thousand years of the current era the world’s population was a mere 300 million. In the early 1800s we hit one billion. In the next 150 years we added 1.5 billion more. Over the last 60 years we have gained another 4.5 billion.

Writing for The Guardian, Robert Engelman paints a grim picture of what population acceleration means for the planet. Plants and animals are condemned to extinction. Food supplies get stretched. Fresh water is spread thin – so much so that in just 14 years two thirds of the world’s population will be living in countries facing water scarcity or stress. We’re not running out of space, but we are running out of the basic stuff we need to live, and squeezing other life out of the picture as we go.

Compounding these issues is the fact that as the global population grows, consumption per capita is also on the rise. More of the world’s economies are evolving into consumer societies where people move beyond basic necessities and enjoy the privileges of modern life. So more of us are consuming more.

There are two ways we can respond to the problems that come with global population growth. The first is to slow it down. Engelman points out that many of the world’s pregnancies are unintended by the women who experience them, so making sure that women have greater freedom over whether or not they choose to have children, or how many they might choose to have, could make a huge difference. It’s liberating to think that dealing with this aspect of the population issue isn’t about forcing people to make decisions they don’t want to (such as asking people who want to have children not to), but rather empowering those who don’t have a choice.

The other way that we can respond to the pressures of population growth is by becoming much more productive. If we agree that everyone has the right to pursue higher standards of living – whether that’s enjoying different kinds of food or owning a TV set – the challenge is to deliver more products and services with the same limited resources (or less). This is where enterprise holds the key to a better future, improving lives while preserving the planet. It’s the definition of True Blue, the call for business to turn an environmental crisis into commercial solutions that deliver for the greater good. More on one of the biggest areas of opportunity tomorrow.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Taking A Bird In The Hand

In a VUCA world a stream of disasters means that there sometimes seems to be a constant succession of worthy causes competing for our hearts and the finances needed to rebuild, renew and restore. While there is almost always an outpouring of public empathy and generosity when a new tragedy emerges, often the recovery is a long-haul deal, requiring perseverance and creativity to bring in new funding to sustain the work as new causes rise and capture our attention.

One great idea helping to keep up the momentum for the recovery from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill is the Bird Project, which is raising funds by selling black bird-shaped soaps.

The bird soaps are a power-combo of mystery, sensuality and intimacy, reaching into daily routines – the morning shower, the washing of hands – with purpose and symbolism. Each soap is made from sustainable ingredients (including glycerin, a biodiesel byproduct – smart!), and has a clean, white ceramic bird inside, which is revealed and ‘cleansed’ as the outer black soap is used. The soaps are made in Louisiana, so a hint of cypress is added to capture the scent of the bayous. Proceeds from sales go towards the Gulf Restoration Network and International Bird Rescue. It’s truly an object lesson in social entrepreneurship. This is creativity making the world a better place.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Much like a heads-up display in a fighter jet, a phenomenon called ‘Augmented Reality’ promises to enrich our experience of the world by overlaying additional content on our surroundings. WSJ recently reported on some fascinating Augmented Reality applications, including:

• A trial window display by Tissot that let people try on watches ‘virtually’ (reality here is your wrist, the overlay is the watch – the opportunity to try the product like this led to an 83% increase in sales at the store)

• A mobile phone app by the Museum of London that can show you what the street you’re standing on looked like hundreds of years ago, collapsing past and present

• Another mobile app called Stargazer that adds information about stars, planets and constellations to your view of the night sky

• A real estate app – again mobile phone powered – that shows you what’s for sale or for rent as you pass through a neighborhood

As the last three examples suggest, smart phones are currently the device of choice for delivering Augmented Reality experiences, and as handsets and networks power up there’s no limit to how we might choose to expand our realities.

The implications for richer shopping experiences are exciting – both in and outside the store, as the Tissot trial showed. Already you can scan product codes in store to find out much more about what you see on the shelf. As power continues to shift to the consumer we should expect more of this information, more of the ‘overlays’ to originate from, and be mediated by, other shoppers rather than brand ‘owners’. And to the extent that the information we’re provided with is something shared by another consumer, reflecting their thoughts and feelings, this won’t be an augmentation of reality. It will be its arrival.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Truly Pathetic

I am fuming.

England have announced they are going to wear a black change strip at the Rugby World Cup when there is a clash with their traditional white. Pathetic.

I also understand there is going to be some kind of Maori iconography on the Nike jersey, which I find shameful if true.

Already the English have included nine foreign born players in their squad and now the Red Rose is turning Black. What on earth does black have to do with England? The colors of the flag are red, white and blue.

Truly pathetic.

Image source

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rainbow Connections

Kermit the frog once sang: ‘Why are there so many songs about rainbows that end in stormy skies?’ Such might have been the froggy song in the hearts of scientists in Malaysia when they initially returned fruitless from their quest to find the long lost “rainbow toad”, last seen in the mountains of Borneo in 1924. Happily they now have better news to report, after venturing higher into a remote, rarely explored region of Malaysia’s eastern Sarawak state, where they found three rainbow toads, returning with some brilliant pictures.

Nice to think the most colorful characters survive on the edge. Wisely the intrepid scientists have not revealed where they found our multi-colored friends so that they can continue to prosper free from human interference. And in doing so they’ve preserved the mystery that somewhere out there one of nature’s legends, once thought to be gone forever, is alive.

While on the subject of rainbows, last week New York had the rare occurrence of a double rainbow. This photo is by Inga Sarda-Sorensen who has a terrific photo blog of New York’s glorious light.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Popping Up With Purpose

This is fresh, pulling together purpose and place to connect with consumers. Swedish retailer H&M reached out with a wash-up pop-up store at a popular Dutch beach a few weeks ago to support its partnership with WaterAid, a global charity devoted to improving water quality, sanitation and hygiene education in developing countries. A quarter of the proceeds from every item of beachwear sold at the store went to WaterAid. Sun, sand, swimwear when you need it most. And the feeling that you’re making a difference. Nice.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


In 2005 Procter & Gamble introduced the marketing world to the ‘First Moment of Truth’, the critical instant when the shopper stands in front of the shelf and makes a purchasing decision. Recognising that everything hangs on that moment, P&G reverse engineers its campaigns from the shelf back, focusing on winning when it matters most. The Second Moment of Truth follows post purchase, when a consumer, who may not be the shopper, gets home and tries the product for the first time (as in “when she buys and when he tries”).

Following in P&G’s formidable footsteps, Google added the ‘Zero Moment of Truth’. ZMOT captures the idea that the shopper now goes some way towards making up her mind about what she’s going to buy well before she reaches the shelf (if she reaches it at all). She forages through blogs and reviews, sounds out her social networks, and finally goes shopping empowered, influenced and informed.

Google’s latest thinking in this space is captured in a colorful free e-book by its MD of US Sales & Services Jim Lecinski, with a foreword by shopper marketing pioneer and expert Dina Howell, Global CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi X. The first and second moments of truth are as important as ever, but as Dina says, ZMOT is pivotal to what brands make the list for the shopping trip. Dina makes the point that the pre-purchase adventure is about much more than pulling together the facts – it’s also emotional and relational:

Shoppers today want to explore and think about how products can improve their lives. They do reconnaissance to gain the insights they need, and they’re driven to bond with others and enrich relationships as they learn. They are motivated by a desire to take charge of their own identities and the wellbeing of their families and homes. These are universal truths, regardless of culture or circimstances.
All of these moments of truth – ZMOT, FMOT, SMOT – are reflections of the ultimate marketing truth: the shopper is in control, or as P&G’s former CEO AG Lafley said, “she’s the boss.” It’s no longer enough to enter her world in a passing moment; you have to become a part of it, coming along for the whole journey from contemplating and making a purchase, to using the product and buying again.

Here are seven nuggets from Lecinski, crunched down, on how to win at ZMOT:

1. Put Someone in Charge. If it’s nobody’s job, it’s not going to get done. You need a ZMOT evangelist, in on every meeting and empowered to do the job.

2. Find Your Zero Moments: Find out exactly how people search for your product. Where do they go? Who do they trust to give them information?

3. Answer the Questions People Are Asking: There’s no point meeting people at ZMOT if you’re not giving them the kind of information they want, as and when they want it.

4. Optimize for ZMOT: Show up more when it counts by making your content super-relevant, and being where you need to be (Lecinski makes the point that having a great mobile presence is a big part of this).

5. Be Fast: Know when something’s making people search for your product, and do something quick to capitalise on it. Speed beats perfection.

6. Don’t Forget Video: SISOMO rules. Do it.

7. Jump In! Emotion leads to action. Make something happen!

Misc Emerging Chatter

An unmistakable mega-trend this decade is the great power shift from countries in the ‘West’ and ‘North’ of the world to those in the ‘East’ and ‘South’.

No one knows for sure how the surge in influence will play out in a global sense or, given forces like the Internet, even if nations will be the primary actors in world affairs 50 years from now. Let’s face it, it’s tough enough to get a handle on past international relations, let alone predict future ones.

George McDonald Fraser comically described the Schleswig-Holstein Question as so complicated that it was understood by only three men: one who died, one who went mad thinking about it, and Lord Palmerston, who never could remember the answer.

Here are 15 random signposts and markers on the big, fast and young shift ahead, pulled out of the media currents:

1. In 2050, almost 80% of the world’s population of 9 billion will live in Asia and Africa.

2. The Asian economies now have more of the 2500 largest publicly-held companies (market cap) than either North America or Europe.

3. Roughly half the world’s 7 billion people are under 25.

4. Africa, with half the fastest growing economies in the world, will double in size by 2050. It will soon be the fastest growing region in the world. It was the best performing region in the world in the immediate aftermath of the crisis. It has half the fastest growing economies in the world. Its mobile telephone penetration is now close to BRIC, that’s from a standing start.

5. BRIC and the CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa) are taking over. In 10 years the E7—the major emerging economies will pass the G7.

6. By 2022, those living in poverty will be a minority for the first time, as the global middle class surges. By 2030, the global middle class will double to 5 billion.

7. In two years’ time, more than 50% of the world’s output will come from low and middle-income countries.

8. The capital of Colombia, Bogota, is now safer than Miami, Washington, or Atlanta.

9. It now takes 16 languages to get the most influential global web presence.

10. Moscow has more billionaires than any other city. Luxury cars sales in Russia increased by 30.5% in the first half of 2010.

11. The wealthy in China are 15 years younger than those in the West.

12. Brazilians have the highest number of online “friends” in the world.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

City Till I Die

We Manchester City fans are understandably still high on May’s FA Cup victory, given that it was a while between drinks. Here’s another piece of excitement—the new MCFC Away shirt. I was lucky enough to see the new shirt unveiled at a Chairman’s dinner in Park Lane the night before the FA Cup Final. It’s a beauty! And last month, I was delighted to receive a letter from Gerald Woodman, President Umbro-Canada, saying he was sending me one.

The new Away kit draws inspiration from the 1969/1970 shirt, a golden time when Man City won loads of silverware. Designers structured the new shirt with the idea that when a player scores a goal or when a fan rejoices, they put their arms out – and made the black and red stripe remain consistent in the pose. The attention to detail that these designers had is astonishing.

Gerald reminded me that, when designing the shirt, Umbro captured sensuality in a very cool way. Umbro recorded fans singing “City Till I Die” and created a sound wave from it. The sonic wave of passion is a sign off on the right hip and back neck collar, a wonderfully subtle yet deeply resonant representation of emotion for the core fan.

This is the stuff of Loyalty Beyond Reason, loaded with sensuality, intimacy and also mystery. David Blanch, senior designer of football kits at Umbro: “The story we wanted to tell with the shirt was one of celebration, that’s connecting with the past, the deep roots of the club and also the future, where it’s going.”

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Impossibly Close

Blood has been a dividing force at the centre of the Israel-Palestine conflict for decades; now there’s a hope that it might be a powerful bond for peace. Over the last year creative ideas have come from individuals from 76 countries in response to “The Impossible Brief” issued by BBR Saatchi & Saatchi and the Peres Centre for Peace: to come up with an out-of-the-box solution that will contribute to peace between Israel and Palestine. It’s a challenge nobody has been able to solve for 60 years, but which we believe the unreasonable power of creativity can help to tackle.

As part of the judging panel for The Impossible Brief I was privileged to help narrow the field down to 19 finalists and one leading contender that we felt had the greatest potential to make a difference – a concept called Mutual Blood from Jean-Christophe Royer, a sharp creative mind from BETC, Paris. The idea is to organize a huge blood transfusion operation between volunteers from both countries as a way of creating a bond that runs much deeper than words or gestures. Jean-Christophe asks: “Would you still kill someone who’s got your people’s blood inside them?” It’s a great response to The Impossible Brief, bringing two peoples impossibly close.

The challenge now is for someone to have the courage to make this idea – or any of the others chosen as finalists – a reality. Pledge your support on the Impossible Brief Facebook page.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Now You See Me…

This is cool. Chinese artist Liu Bolin has paid a stealthy visit to New York as part of his Hiding In the City project. Liu has made an art form of disappearing by painting himself from head to toe so that he blends into his surroundings. His site of choice in NYC was the Charging Bull on Wall St, the site of more than a few creative cover ups in recent times. See more of Liu’s impressive disappearances here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Shoes and Socks in Amsterdam

By London-based SweeneyVesty EVP Glen Cameron, my frequent road manager. This time, adventures in Amsterdam.

There’s rarely a day in any week when we don’t receive interview requests for Kevin, particularly given his extensive travelling schedule across the world. Someone posts that he’s heading their way, and the requests start rolling in.

Unlike many global CEOs, Kevin doesn’t refuse requests based upon common PR standards, which is the reason he’s fun to work with. Of course, the vast majority are for daily newspapers, TV appearances, and marketing trade magazines, and they’re generally worthwhile, enjoyable, interesting for all parties.

However, every so often a request will appear that would likely be destined for the recycle bin elsewhere – but for Kevin, it’s a unique opportunity to say “Yes”.

Recently he did just that to a request from Viewpoint Productions’ Judith and Tamara. They’re shooting a documentary called “New Shoes” and took a punt at getting a global advertising CEO to stop by their house to talk about socks and consumerism over a table laden with herring (really). We walked there (Kevin knew the way and was able to do a pretty convincing job as tour guide.) As we arrived, the excited occupants of the canal side house were awaiting us, and what followed was the antithesis of a normal interview session. It was great fun.

Judith seemed to have left a space in her documentary for the advertising/consumerist to offer sound-bites to reinforce her theses. Sitting on the sofa, holding the afore mentioned pair of striped socks that had clearly caused Judith significant buyer’s remorse, Kevin spotted this immediately and set about avoiding the pigeon-hole. Questions were re-framed, turned back on the interviewer, filming was stopped for rapid ideological discussions in Dutch, camera operators exchanged, and slowly circled in on Judith’s central point: her regret at “having too much stuff”.

With perfect (comic) timing the response came straight back: “why don’t you give it away then?”
This seemed to prompt much soul searching. More philosophical discussion on the nature of consumerism, responsibility, desire, charity and humanity followed. You’ll have to look out for Judith de Leeuw’s “New Shoes” to see the final result.

We can’t wait to see it either, and thanks to Judith and Tamara for a unique opportunity. Good luck with all your “stuff”!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Get Outta Town

Chances are if you were born in the city you’re not going to handle bad vibes as well as someone who hails from the country, according to a recent study. In a nasty little bit of research, academics at the University of Heidelberg gave participants math problems they couldn’t handle, then passed on the bad news (you failed!) through headphones. Analysis of the participants showed that a part of the brain that assesses threats and generates the emotion of fear was most active in those raised in the city. By comparison, those who grew up in the country were comparatively chilled. Just to be sure of their results, the researchers gave everyone another dose of algebra.

Interesting that how people responded related to where they were raised, not where they live now. It feels right that your tolerance for pressure is formed when you’re young. But maybe less intuitive that being raised in a fast-paced environment doesn’t condition you to deal with stress better generally. All things told, the basic outtakes are worth taking on board: leave the numbers to the bean counters, steer clear of haters, and when the weekend hits get out of town and spend some time with the kids! (Or grandkids!).