Elections are popularity contests. There’s only one winner.  Successful marketing is also about being chosen, so is it a good strategy to be a bit Marmite? Or is it better to avoid extremes and be acceptable to all?

Many a brand manager claims that success will come from building a small but immensely loyal following. Marmite embraced the fact that some people can’t stand the stuff with its “Love it or hate it” advertising. Read More

Thought leadership | November 2020

The pandemic, and the ever-changing guidance for social interaction, has led to rapid changes in people’s behaviour. While falling revenues make it tempting to cut budgets, reduce activity and save money, some businesses have seen opportunity in the chaos. Changing behaviour is always a business opportunity, if you know about it and can move fast in response. Here are three options to consider.

+  Process and service innovation

Enforced change doesn’t have to be for the worse. Read More

Thought leadership | October 2020

How much of the change that’s been forced on us by the pandemic will stick? What can businesses learn from it? The best way to answer that is to understand what makes people change their habits. Knowing that, businesses can enact change for mutual benefit without waiting for a crisis.

The BBC reported the case of a fish and chip shop which had offered a click and collect service for years to get people to pre-order, Read More

Thought leadership | August 2020

Hands up those marketers who planned for a situation where some sectors simply cannot do business at all, where demand is constrained by government edict, and no amount of advertising will get people into your store, restaurant, hotel or plane. Me neither.

So, what should brands do in the Covid crisis? First, the things not to do:

1. Don’t assume you have to say anything

Maybe you should just save the money. Read More


You can’t solve the crisis, but you do have a unique part to play. Even in the army during wartime, 90% of people are not on the front line fighting. That doesn’t make them irrelevant.

Right now many businesses are struggling, some fighting for survival. The executive team are fully occupied with operational issues, hunting for revenue, having tough conversations about reducing costs. How can a non-executive director add value? You probably can’t do much to generate revenue. Read More

Thought leadership | April 2020

Best practice sounds like the sunny uplands. But for marketers and brand-builders it can do more harm than good. Digital marketing looks for proven techniques, to establish “best practice”. That leads to observing and following competitors. But here’s the rub. Best practice is about doing things the right way. Brand and marketing are about effective expression of your own business strategy. No other business can show you the right way to be you.

There are some areas of business where there are right or best ways to do things, Read More

Thought leadership | March 2020

What do you think when you hear the name Quality Street? What do you feel? If you’ve grown up in the British Isles, it’s part of Christmas, though you probably forget about it all the rest of the year. But it’s a case study in brand longevity, with some surprising lessons for brand managers today.

  1. There’s no need to obsess about a name

Was there ever a more mundane brand name than Quality Street? Read More

Thought leadership | January 2020

If you like giving your opinion, you’ve never had it so good. The use of smiley and frowny faces to give instant ratings has led to a cornucopia of feedback opportunities. There’s a whole new industry built on online reviews – like Feefo, TrustPilot and Trip Advisor, a brilliant business model in which all the content is provided free of charge by the punters. All that’s before you even open the customary follow-up email asking whether you would recommend, Read More

Thought leadership | November 2019

Is it the job of advertising to portray society as we wish it to be? There’s a new UK rule that advertising cannot show harmful gender stereotypes. In its first month, complaints were upheld against two TV ads. 128 people objected to the way this ad for Philadelphia cream cheese showed men as incompetent carers for the baby, while three people reported this Volkswagen ad for giving all the adventurous and successful roles to men while the little lady sits with a pram. Read More

Comment, Thought leadership | September 2019

It’s July, and Sue Barker is back at Wimbledon for the BBC. When you do something every year, there’s bound to be pressure, and an appetite, to move it on rather than risk predictability. Back in 2015 the BBC tried to do that, with humbling consequences. Here’s a reminder of what they did and what we all can learn from it.

You have to feel for Clare Balding, the nation’s darling after 2012. Read More

Thought leadership | July 2019