GRAHAM HALL: THE INSIGHT EDGE

A harbour pilot for brands

Sir John Hegarty,

Founder, BBH, Garage Soho

"Knowledge is power, but not if it isn't focussed. The kind of work Graham does and the knowledge he has is hard to find anywhere else.”

Nick Kendall, Co-Founder The Garage Soho | previously Group Strategy Director BBH (April '18)

“When I was learning about research from John Bartle and Charlie Robertson they always advised me ‘Choose the person first ‘

 

Graham became one of my short list of ‘go to people’. 

  • I used him for youth (e.g. Levi’s),

  • I used him for projects where there was no clear parameters and we needed to dig and dig for the nuggets

  • I used him for projects that involved impressing my bosses (e.g. a thought piece/road trip on American youth for launch of BBH New York office)

Most recently I used him for a Garage start up on a topic that needed to be treated (not with tact, I don’t think of Graham as tactful :) ) but definitely with true, true honesty and willingness to engage and empathise with people on surely the most difficult of topics:- How do we want to die?  !!!!!"

 

   

John Gerzema, New York Times Best Selling Author | CEO of The Harris Poll | Former Chief Insights Officer, Young & Rubicam (Aug '17)

"Every so often, there are those people you meet who make a lasting impact. I met Graham while working on Coca-Cola where he was serving as a strategic advisor to the CMO Sergio Zyman and working with agencies on new product development and their communications.

 

We’ve worked together over the years as both colleagues and friends. Graham has a thirst for curiosity and ability to see brands at fresh new angles. He challenges convention while protecting equity. When you work with Graham, it’s not transactional. You'd better be ready to work. The process will be both gentle and a tad mischievous. He tells it like it is, because he’s committed to finding the best solution and having some fun along the way. As consultants go, he’s a different breed altogether and that my friend, is a good thing indeed."

 

Adam Kirby, Chief Executive, MCA 

"Graham's insights were a major contribution to establishing the superstructure of the imperishably brilliant Stella Artois campaign in the 1990's, and his innovative approach to understanding broader consumer beliefs, motivations and trends set new standards of creativity. He is, perhaps, the second cleverest Northerner I know"

 

 

David Wheldon, Former Global Director of Advertising, Coca-Cola | CMO, Royal Bank of Scotland

"I first came across Graham when I was the Managing Director of Lowe Howard-Spink. So when I was hired by the Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta I was delighted to find Graham and his team were informing all our advertising. They pioneered the way Coca-Cola thought about research. More important though is that he's such a great person to work with."

 

 

Flavio AlvarezCreative Director/Copywriter (June '17)

I had the pleasure of working with Graham for a couple of years in NYC and can honestly say he's the very best strategic thinker I've ever had the pleasure to work with. He truly transformed the agency and our creative work with his insights and incredible energy, I owe a lot of my own management style from seeing him build and lead his team, and our strategic meetings also gave me a new understanding of the business that still serves me well. As a person and a professional he's a pleasure to be around and, if you ever have the need of a good strategist for a new business pitch, please do not miss a chance to see this man do his thing. It's quite incredible.

 

 

Sean Montgomery, European Product Manager, Roland Europe, (Dec '16)

“We needed a deep understanding of the piano-buying audience and their ‘customer journey’. Graham spent a lot of time interviewing customers in their homes and then delivered their insightful findings. These explained where Roland is now, where the brand can go in the future and how we might get there.”

 

 

Mike France, Co-Founder,  Christopher Ward Watches (April '17)

“Graham made sense of very complex consumer traits in the luxury watch market which has sharpened considerably who we engage with and how we engage with them. What Graham does seems simple.

It isn’t"

 

 

Flemming F Thygesen, Group Director, Insights & Planning, Clarks International (May '16)

“I worked extensively with Graham when I was at Levi's, both in the UK and abroad. Recently having moved to the UK, I have been delighted to reconnect and work with Graham again, finding the same wit and sharp thinking in the work he has done with us."

 

 

Jon Priest, Non-Executive Director at Future Thinking (May 2019)

Marcus Aurelius - the best of Roman Emperors and my favourite philosopher - used to hire a member of the Rome Senate to walk behind him whispering in Marcus's ear "you're only human" as they crowds cheered his every step. Substitute Marcus for Graham and you get the picture of how he was seen by clients and commentators alike in the 90s when Informer was in full swing. Informer and Flamingo were the two agencies SPA, and then Future Thinking, were modelled on. Except my co-founder Ruth Simons wanted us to be more like Informer. Thinking about it, so did I. Every time I meet with Graham - which is not as often as I like - I learn something. Our industry would be less 'betwatted' if we had more like him. That's it, really.

 

Mark Rukman, SVP, Global Planning Director at Publicis (Planner for Truth @CP+B) (April '17)

"I've known Graham since I was a baby planner and I can confidently say that not only is a he a mentor, he's one of the best planners that I've met in my career. He's smart as hell and he's fearless. You've heard of the Truth campaign, the anti-smoking campaign that actually worked and the tobacco industry hated and wanted to sue us about? Yeah, well you have Graham to thank for that, because he's the one that told Alex Bogusky he was thinking about it a little wrong. 'Don't call it Rage, call it Truth because the Truth is what allows for that Rage'. And the rest, as they say, is history.

 

I can tell you a lot of stories like that one, but you get the point. At Bravo, Graham gave me the freedom and guidance to become a director. Plus we worked on all the major new biz pitches together, landing the Wrigley business while we were there. Without Graham we'd be lost. And I would be a much worse planner. And a brand would be much worse off without him. Don't let yourself go Grahamless"

 

 

Mike Waudby, Planning Director, Caroline Advertising (Jan '17)

“I've worked with lots of planners down the years, for a role that is meant to make life simpler for us creatives a good few have had the opposite effect! Not so with Graham. He applies the keenest, incisive thinking to point you firmly in the right direction - he's a kind of Tom Tom of planners, never steers you wrong and one of his favourite phrases is 'It's quite simple all of this' well it is if you know how, Graham certainly does. A down to earth, very nice, very clever guy.”

 

 

Grahame Cox, Former Head of Innovation, United Biscuits & Founder, Innovation Ink (Jan'17)

“Graham has the knack of teasing insights out of a project that make you think ‘Of course, that’s it!’

Often obvious when you get to them but never obvious at the start. These are the type of insights that great innovation depends on.”

 

 

Juanin Reid, Hispanic Communications Consultants, Principal

"There is only one Graham Hall in the world and I am one of the lucky people to have worked with him.

 

Graham, in his relaxed, everything is OK manner, is one of the most insightful and best thinkers I know. When he first joined The Bravo Group, which specializes in advertising to the US Hispanic market we all thought: "Oh no, here comes another non-Hispanic to tell us how much he knows about Hispanics". To everyone's wonderful surprise, Graham was different. He listened, he got to know and understand and applied his years of insightful research to unearth truths about the market which we all then applied successfully to our client partners.

 

My only problem with Graham is that he is now in England and I don't get to see him and work with him. He enriched my professional and personal life and know that someday, hopefully soon, we will work together again. I look forward to that and miss him and his wonderful family tremendously!"

 

 

Sophie Handley, Marketing Manager at Occam DM Ltd, (Dec, '16)

"Graham's work has added a lot of value to Occam! With the rapidly changing data and marketing technology market, we needed to reconnect with the marketplace and our customers. Graham suggested we talk to a handful of clients and prospects to understand the customer journey, the key touchpoints and the motivations behind buying data management services, in order to understand how Occam is regarded in the marketplace,Graham spent a good amount of time speaking to Occam employees and immersing himself in the company before going out and to help develop Occam’s positioning.

 

Whilst he had no previous experience in this marketplace, I knew he would apply his relaxed, personable approached to really get under the skin of the interviewees and find out the answers to our questions. And he did! The results were honest, candid and he really managed to bring the customers to life when playing back the results to the leadership team. 

This research has given Occam the confidence to reposition the company in line with what the customers were saying and has since informed the business values and company proposition."

 

 

Tim Evans, Owner, Gartenart Swimming Ponds (Sept '15)

"Graham's work has been an outstanding help to our business. We are a small company and were long overdue any kind of systematic branding exercise. Graham conducted market research on a tight budget with a small group, but when he presented his findings and proposals for how we should position ourselves I knew he had hit the mark perfectly. Much of what he told me I had already vaguely known or suspected, but his conclusions allowed me to crystallise and focus my thoughts about our strategy in a way I had never done before, so that I could now act and follow through clearly in all areas of the business. 

Since then I have relied on Graham as the sounding board for all marketing activities and he has personally been involved in a lot of our marketing work. There is nobody else I can talk to who understands our product quite like he does, and I value enormously not just his insight but also his enthusiasm to keep stretching and find out more."

 

 
Ben Claxton, Founder, nativeye
"Back in the day Graham was the first boss to say "What do you want to do? Sounds good, go and do it." Simple and effective, aligning not forcing. And the same applies to his brand marketing advice, which is why it is very much worth having."