Even great brands make mistakes. A few years ago Waitrose installed hot drink dispensers in their stores. Anyone with a “myWaitrose” loyalty card could help themselves. Money-saving websites flagged the offer on their freebies lists. MyWaitrose membership grew from 4m in early 2014 to 6.5 million three years later. But not everyone was pleased. Aside from concerns about careless trolley-drivers with a hot drink in one hand and their phone in the other, regulars were troubled by the queues of “irregulars” around the machines. Read More

Thought leadership | December 2018

For a business with a small marketing budget, social media feels like a no-brainer. Free communication channels to reach the world: a finance director’s dream come true. What’s the worst that could happen? No one sees it, no harm done. But watch out. A communications plan that starts with social media is at risk of being ineffective, and even damaging. We’re told social media fuels narcissism. It can also turn reasonable brands into self-important bores who only talk about themselves. Read More

Thought leadership | November 2018

Tesco’s launch of Jack’s last week is a long way from the old Tesco mantra, which went something like: if in doubt err on the side of the customer. Tesco could claim it is to meet a consumer need, a grocery store with a much tighter range and consequently lower prices. But this doesn’t stack up, because Tesco’s buying power is much greater than Jack’s could have alone, so it could operate those stores without calling them something different. Read More

Comment | October 2018

If all publicity is good publicity, then Nike’s recent ad featuring Colin Kaepernick is a triumph. Widespread reports of outraged Americans burning Nikes is just free media coverage – reportedly $43m worth in 24 hours. Or, you may believe most people aren’t much interested in what brands do, the shoe-burners aren’t valuable customers, and anyway our memories for controversy are short. So, like the VW emissions scandal, or British Airways misleading Virgin Atlantic passengers, Read More

Comment | September 2018

Here is a brilliant story-teller reporting on two exceptional people doing breakthrough work: their lives, their work, their friendship.  It’s an accessible and enjoyable grounding if you’re new to behavioural economics, and it’s unmissable for anyone who’s already into BE and wants to understand where it came from.  BE got big for marketers around ten years ago with Nudge, embraced by US and UK governments to change behaviour in areas like income tax, pension planning, Read More

Books | September 2018

Airbnb’s “We accept” spot during the Superbowl and Lyft’s $1m donation to the American Civil Liberties Union were among several pro-immigration responses from brands after President Trump’s travel ban was announced. UK fashion retailer Jigsaw launched its Autumn Winter 17 range with ads saying “Jigsaw loves immigration”. Mainstream brands like Aviva, Target and Verizon are big on supporting Pride and LGBTQ rights. Others talk about mental health at work. The Marketing Society promotes these agendas as if they are the only marketing strategy you need. Read More

Comment | August 2018

Heinz Salad Cream is reportedly changing its name to Heinz Sandwich Cream. This is, we’re told, because people use it more in sandwiches than on salad. But if people have already figured out they can use salad cream in a sandwich, there’s no need to change the name.

Marketers seem to forget that most people think more about whether to pay for one hour or two in the car park, where there’s 50p at stake, Read More

Comment | July 2018

Bud Light’s Dilly Dilly campaign is a useful reminder that Britain and America are divided by a common language. Apparently it’s a big hit in the USA, where the medieval background to the ads connotes Game of Thrones and is therefore, presumably, quite cool. Whereas here in the UK, any self-respecting beer-drinker who shouts “Dilly dilly!” in a bar can expect a lifetime of mockery.

Coca Cola is another global brand that’s traditionally been loved for its upbeat American values. Read More


There’s a sort of Elon Musk cult on Quora, with questions like: How did Elon Musk learn so much? Is Elon Musk a visionary or just a crazy man? Does he think ten times faster than other people? Why doesn’t he wear the same outfit all the time like Mark Zuckerberg does? Does he take vacations? And also: Has Elon Muck committed any crimes? With Elon Musk hurting so many people’s business, how does he stay safe from people that want him “gone”? Read More

Comment | May 2018

“April fools day. The one day in the year when people pause to think whether what they read on the internet is true.”

Sophie Christiansen, GB Paralympic gold medallist Read More

Quotes | April 2018