Postcards from the EDGE

A sort of harbour pilot for brands

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Putting analog back into insight

Here's a downloadable version of the article I wrote last year on the danger of big data without soft data to provide the background context How planners can fight back against the tide of digital Planning under pressure Over the past 10 years, our opportunity to write powerful strategies has been slowly eroded, first by digital agencies, with their access to vast amounts of data, but also by clients who expect the same quality of insights they’d get from traditional planning, yet on a digital budget. Traditional planning is under pressure and I’m clearly not the only one to noticed it. I’ve discussed the problem with strategy heads at the best creative and digital agencies and with brand ma

Consultants in Adland: It won’t work

I enjoyed Roger Parry’s article ‘The consultants cometh’ (Campaign 3/10/17) and it’s hard to disagree with a man of his experience. In the short term, he’s probably right. In the long term I think he’s wrong. Roger points out that “The Fitzrovia pub chats often spiral down to “consultants will never understand our unique creative culture. They will mess it all up when they integrate us.” But suggests this won’t happen because Accenture et al will never want to fully integrate agencies. So, in this vision of the future, there won’t be much difference between the new consulting firms circling overhead and the dying holding companies that tried and failed to run the joint before. The only diffe

The Long View - Extinction Rebellion 2019 and The Battle for Seattle 1999

Last week I found myself considering how little we think about the past. I was watching the Extinction Rebellion at Oxford Circus and, probably like most of you, thought it was a masterful piece of event management. As they tell it, ‘we are facing an unprecedented global climate emergency. The government has failed to protect us. To survive, it’s going to take everything we’ve got.’ Yet, despite the seriousness of the message, the protest was carried off peaceably and with good humour. For me, this seemingly contradictory approach to something so potentially violent made the protest even more powerful and effective. No-one was hurt, apart from the establishment snowflakes moaning about their

'Human' is complicated

I once made a woman cry by asking her to imagine pouring warm milk over a bowl of Weetabix. I asked her why and she told me it reminded her of her childhood and the green tiles in her grandmother's kitchen. We rightly consider Proust's 'À la recherche du temps perdu' a monumental exploration of the interior world of the human mind. I think it reminds us of how our own minds work, how we look back on things in our past and find meaning (or lack of meaning) in the world. The book is often singled out as the finest example of what it's like inside someone else's head and we are amazed that Proust could access and then describe the sensation of having those confusing, irrational thoughts. And ye