Monday 30 December 2019

Roaring reconciliation?

I visited the UK just before Christmas - my flight was on election day. I was dreading more-or-less every possible outcome of the election, but when I heard the result I felt a surprising sense of relief. I say sense, although it made no sense at all. I have been unhappy about Brexit since the referendum. Over three years of trying to explain, trying to understand ...

I turned up to a party with old friends. Some of them staunch Labour supporters, others keen Brexiteers. But the result was hardly discussed. I could sense my feeling of relief amongst the entire company. No, it's not necessarily what we all would have wished for, but that wish would never have been granted. There were no fights, no name-calling. We'll all still be friends at the turn of the next decade.

I was reminded of what I read in Most Contagious - in the preface, the Editorial Director, Alex Jenkins, says: So, if we can't predict the future, how can we prepare for the next decade? My advice is to hang onto this word: reconcile ... I believe that the people and the brands that will be successful in the next decade are the ones that can reconcile.

It's about changing the vs. to an and.

Digital and traditional
Computers and humans
Short-term activation and brand-building

When I returned to social media, it was all still there: vile name-calling for those that have another opinion, people expressing their distress and feeling of betrayal at the election result (often on the behalf of less-fortunate others who probably voted in the opposite direction), crude generalisations and plenty of prancing around on high horses. It all seemed so yesterday, so dated.

I wonder if one consequence of digitalisation is that our brains have become digital? When you look at an analogue clock, it's an analogy or representation of the passage of time. The infinite possibilities and the exact time now are viewable at a glance. All possible times can be seen, and they co-exist as a harmonious whole.

But a digital clock just gives you one time - now. You can't see the spread or scope. It's a "single version of the truth" and if you don't agree, you must be stupid. Or ill-informed. Or misled by enemy propaganda. Or in some foreign country where they do things differently.

Now, have I fallen into my own trap with analogue and digital? Quite possibly - and that's another area where there should be no vs, only coexistence.

The last 20s were roaring. I'm hoping the coming 20s will roar with reconciliation and resound with the things that bind and unite us.

Thursday 19 December 2019

Naughty or nice?

In the rush to buy last minute presents, there's one gift idea of yore which I can guarantee won't be found under any family Christmas tree - or left out for Santa:

But - oh! The glamour of days gone by!

A good alternative to socks for Dad?

I wonder which gift ideas of today will be seen as not just naughty, but definitely despicable in decades to come?

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Polish up those tin signs

I was rather cheered to read in the JWT trendletter that analogue marketing, or the "renaissance of non-digital mediums (sic)", is back.

On closer inspection, the article is more about music and musicians - Coldplay and Radiohead's Thom Yorke, bringing new albums out on cassette and advertising them in quaint old-fashioned ways, such as small ads in local papers, or personally-typed postcards to fans delivered in the good old post.

But there's no reason to stop there. There are so many ways to advertise your brand or cause in real life, from posters to trams to vans to blimps - even on bricks and mortar.

I did learn a new word from the article that I'll have to use somewhere soon: anemoia - nostalgia for a time you've never known.

In the meantime, let's market like it's 1899!

Monday 9 December 2019

The war against plastic (words)

Good advice, generally, doesn't go out of fashion. I make no excuses for posting this memo from David Ogilvy. Nearly 40 years on, it's as important as ever.

I particularly like points 2, 3 and 4, which always remind me that the best presentations are the ones that are to the point. They get into your mind and stay there. They do this through using everyday, natural language, not what Ogilvy calls jargon and others have called "plastic words."

Plastic words have that Humpty-Dumpty quality that they mean whatever the user wants them to mean in that context - or sometimes they mean diddly-squat because the user doesn't really know what they want to say, only that a particular word gets a head-nod and ticks a box somewhere.

As the authors of that article point out, our language is polluted with these words. I often wonder what on earth we said before we started started talking about engagement, or agility or diversity. Not to mention purpose, impact, sustainability ...

Time to battle with the verbal plastic, as well as all that junk in the sea?

Wednesday 4 December 2019

How green was my valley?

In the last few weeks, I have noticed crosses by the side of fields while driving. The first couple, I probably didn't register - assuming they were shrines put up at the site of road accidents. But then I noticed something unusual - the crosses were green.

While walking the other day, I came across (ha, ha!) one by a local field, and attached to it was a notice addressed to walkers:

This campaign - Grüne Kreuz - is a "silent protest" from German farmers to lobby the government and powers-that-be to respect their work. It's about everything from dumping prices at the supermarkets, importing cheap goods and giving in to public pressure (maybe too hastily) on environmental protection issues, such as the use of fertiliser and pesticides.

The protest took on a new angle last week when thousands of farmers (and tractors) descended on Berlin. That, I expect, wasn't so silent.

Whatever your views on the issues regarding agriculture and the environment, this does strike me as a masterstroke in terms of campaigning. Using fields as a medium for the campaign and a symbol that immediately evokes interest. The mainstream press tends to be one-sided on this topic and I know I've heard a lot more in the last year about saving bees than I have about farmers' livelihoods.

Farmers for Future, perhaps?