What’s going on in the airline business?  It’s not just United man-handling passengers like excess baggage, or refusing people in the wrong clothes. British Airways is also attracting a lot of the wrong sort of attention for the changes it’s made to its short haul food service. While these airlines chase efficiency to reduce fares, Michael O Leary’s Ryanair has seen the customer service light, with a cheesy but seemingly sincere TV ad saying they won’t treat you mean any more. Read More


The latest #fakenews is that Waterstones have opened “unbranded bookshops”. Despite what many trustworthy sources are reporting, Waterstones, the last remaining chain of specialist bookshops on the high street, have done nothing of the sort. The real story is that a national retail chain is creating hyper-local brands, one-off retail outlets seemingly tailored to their location.  If they deliver on what those brands promise, they’ll be doing us all a favour.

Southwold Books in Suffolk, Read More

Comment | March 2017

Last year we interviewed senior marketers across a range of industry sectors about how they approached their annual planning process, the perils and pitfalls, and their top tips from years of experience.  The result is this article which was published in Market Leader, the strategic marketing quarterly.    Stress-free planning Market Leader June 2016 Read More

Thought leadership | February 2017

Even the most consumer-focused marketers will be tempted, or pushed, to get people to pay more for less this year. Pricing will be a major issue, as cost increases caused by the weak pound feed through. How should marketers express the voice of the consumer inside the business in the face of this pressure? Being consumer-focused doesn’t mean defending low prices at all costs. The key thing is, whatever approach you take, brand champions must ensure there’s no long term damage. Read More

Thought leadership | January 2017

“There were two Santas at school today,” said my five-year-old. She was just coming to the end of her first term at school. My pleasure in hearing Santa had come calling was rather tempered by finding out there were two of the old fellas. How could they mess up so badly? They’ve ruined it for all those children. What do I tell her now? Before I could collect my horrified thoughts, she piped up again. Read More

Thought leadership | December 2016

Algorithms are distorting the news and, maybe, damaging democracy.  So says everyone (that’s to say, everyone in my filter bubble). Personalisation can take us to an online world perfectly in tune with our preferences, interests and opinions, in which everything feels relevant and nothing is dissonant. Bad for democracy it may be, but it’s the holy grail of marketing. What’s more, it can be done by machines, thanks to online analytics and algorithms. But marketers are not redundant just yet, Read More

Thought leadership | November 2016

Disruptive innovation seems easy for start-ups and feels threatening and difficult for established businesses. But they can do it too. Here are five guiding principles to help you.

First, think of being disruptive as an outcome, not a strategy. It’s rarely an end in itself. No, not even for Uber. I’m sure their funding pitch talked about being disruptive but the essence of the idea was using mobile technology to match capacity with demand in real time. Read More

Thought leadership | November 2016

Why can’t we learn from failure? Because even in a no-blame culture it is human to deceive ourselves, and we don’t even know we’re doing it. It’s hard to change a belief we’re invested in, as Syed illustrates with true stories of miscarriages of justice, in which bad verdicts were maintained despite clear evidence they were wrong.

This book is recommended reading for anyone trying to learn, improve or innovate at work. In a well-researched book full of engrossing examples, Read More

Books | October 2016

“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

Attributed by Paul Samuelson, Nobel Laureate in Economics, to John Maynard Keynes Read More

Quotes | October 2016

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Mark Twain, writer Read More

Quotes | October 2016