Purpose is motivating in the abstract, essential for strategic choices, and helpful for decision-making. We all know about the man cleaning the toilets at Cape Canaveral who was “putting a man on the moon” (if you believe it). But it’s individual recognition that gives our work meaning at the personal level.

The proof is in studies done by Dan Ariely, the behavioural economist. In one, people were asked to assemble Lego Bionicles. For the first fully-assembled robot toy, Read More

Thought leadership | July 2017

A dull autumn morning in a park in south west London, in 2004. Nine men and four women line up on an improvised start line. A lean South African called Paul Sinton-Hewitt takes a photo, then calls “Go!” and the first Bushy Park Time Trial is underway. He waits while they run out of sight around the park, then clocks the first two finishers, who cross the line side by side in just under nineteen minutes. Read More

Thought leadership | June 2017

How does your business think about pricing, and who sets it?  Every brand has to have a point of view about where it sits in the market, even if, like FMCG brands, the final selling price is outside your control. I recently explored the role of pricing, both tactical and strategic, and the challenge of getting the value equation right, in this article for Market Leader. Ensuring the price is right Market Leader Spring 2017 Read More


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


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

As you came through airport security this summer, did you pop one of those smiley faces as you scooped up your bags and swung past towards your departure gate? The company behind them, HappyOrNot, says that using faces rather than numerical scores increases positive ratings. That seems appealing. But it misses the point. Positive ratings are over-rated.

There’s a host of reasons for low scores, from ad hoc operational failures through to structural factors that are slow or costly to change, Read More

Thought leadership | September 2016

Marketing Week recently claimed that marketing and sales are pretty much the same these days (lead article on 12 May 2016). They are wrong. It is a dangerous idea. The more a company believes marketing and sales are the same thing, the harder they will need to push to persuade customers to buy. And if they think marketing is about persuasion, or even about communication, they are in big trouble. Read More