the great British High Street

more of the good stuff

I’ve spent in excess of £1500 on Amazon in the last year on orders that include the Bone Daddies cookbook, 12 gold party crowns, a joke hand buzzer and yesterday’s Prime purchase of Thor: Ragnarok; a retail tally second only to my supermarket bill. Online and out-of-town shopping consume much of my discretionary spend, leaving only bits ’n' bobs for the High Street - hair dye, kids’ socks, parking tickets, that kind of thing. I suspect this pattern is pretty common these days.

Pundits claim the great British High Street is ‘shutting down’. Down goes Toys ‘R’ Us. Down goes Maplins. On cling Mothercare, Debenhams, House of Fraser, while M&S and WHSmith stoically soldier on clipping, pruning and tinkering around the edges of their offer. Even John Lewis has rolled back its Partnership bonus in 2018 - the lowest since 1954 - despite breaking £1bn revenue last Christmas.

It’s clear our town shopping centres are increasingly stretched: not just by rising business rates, upward-only rent reviews and festoons of red tape, which are testing even the healthiest of brick-built businesses, but also by us, a new breed of consumer, hunting out the dopamine-fuelled rewards of choice, convenience and value, the likes of which are best sourced at the swipe of a finger.

In her 2011 government review, Mary Portas observed, “We have seen a radical and profound shift in our values… We no longer value human interaction, socialising or being part of something bigger than ourselves. In fact I think we’ve lost our understanding of what true value is. Value is so much more than the price of goods that we buy.” Shopping, she argued, has become a lonely, self-centred business where once community, sociability, and relaxation all thrived at the heart of town commerce. 

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And it is in these human values she felt the power of the High Street still lies: in providing more of the good stuff our species needs to feel fulfilled, and that we simply can’t replicate on-line.

Today we could do with more of this mental balm. Brits are officially back down in the dumps: “cautious, squeezed and suffering” goes one headline. Consumer confidence has dropped again and our mood is circumspect.  The answer might be to open more pound shops, but in a society looking for greater mindfulness, High Street gurus would do well to revisit Portas’ vision of providing a place where “irresistible opportunities and experiences that do not exist elsewhere… meet the demands of a rapidly changing world.” 

There are already a number of prominent High Street players doing this ‘New Value’. Retail brands that get our mindful mood and look to provide ingenious antidotes to the demands of modern-living; which in turn means shopping with them is always exciting; useful; different; never disappointing.

In this group we might include the likes of Lush, Wagamama, Superdrug, Decathlon, Flying Tiger. You can literally feel their energy as you walk up the High Street. And their revenues testify to boot. 

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Lush is, by its very smell, an experience. The 3.5 million psychedelic bath bombs it sells annually stand testament to its popularity. Staff evangelise about selling ‘Fresh Handmade’ wellbeing to the nation. Flying Tiger helps you kit out the happiest of kids’ parties for pounds; Decathlon is working hard to democratise, and make accessible, every type of sport, and Superdrug has become a rite of passage for beauty-conscious teens. Wagamama continues to listen and now offers a super-healthy Vegan range for under a tenner, available to eat either at the tribal bench, or delivered to the bosom of your own home by Deliveroo.

This is the High Street firing on all cylinders: feel good propositions that even the cleverest algorithms can’t deliver.

Or maybe the 'clicks' can come to the aid of the 'bricks'? With the launch of Amazon Books, Jeff Bezos shows he recognises the value of having a real, fixed presence in people’s lives. Here, algorithmic insights are actually used to merchandise the literary loves of the world's biggest database of readers in order to provide an ingenious, and hugely engaging, new shopping experience.

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So let’s not call this a High Street ‘shutdown’; rather let’s continue to think of it as a giant opportunity to revitalise our town centres and restore them to the places we love to go shopping: a treat; somewhere to meet up; to experience new stuff; an extraordinary break from the ‘finger-swiping’ norm.

And let’s celebrate them as places we love to go, just to be human, on a rainy weekend afternoon.

First published by The Marketing Society, March 2018

m***pause!

the 33% targeting taboo

This article; it’s been bubbling about a year.

It’s about what many 40 year old+ women in my network of friends call, ‘the last taboo’. A taboo we still only feel able to mumble about behind our hands when the gin cocktails have taken hold and we’ve crept round the back of the pub for an illicit fag.

I think we must be ashamed of this universal female phenomenon.

It’s called The Menopause. Every woman has one. 13 million of us in the UK are currently ‘in Menopause’. One-third of the female population is in it right now. And symptoms can last for up to 15 years.

There, I’ve gone and said it. Menopause.

Much pencil chewing has gone into writing this. It’s not a political piece; it’s about opportunity. Sad to say, I can’t help but notice the *sniggers* of younger colleagues when I broach it as a hot topic. It suggests I’ve lost my cool. And I’m not cool with that. So I’m doing this for #mygirls. Those Gen X trailblazers I see being brilliant every day, and who are now working up an actual sweat because of this thing called Menopause.

Menopause feels like winter attacking; with heat lamps. It’s climatic change. Where once you were a veritable goddess of fertility suddenly the tundra moves in; only the smallest of plants now grow; everything starts to feel rocky and barren. Hair whitens and thins; collagen stores move south. There’s a lot of flushing, many times a day; in bed, in meetings, on trains. And sleep gets broken. Moods swing. Bon mots evaporate at critical junctures in otherwise colourful conversations. And sticky HRT patches leave little red, track-like, rashes all over your bottom; that’s Menopause chic.

And crucially, it’s about ageing. It’s about crossing the invisible Iine. Our societal sell-by date. But is it really time for us menopausettes to kick off our Acne Pistol boots?

Let’s think about the power of Gen X women; a gloriously feisty bunch. Glass ceilings have shattered around us. We’ve made it onto big boards. We’ve helped transform Maternity from a prehistoric ‘stop & drop’ system to a one of quasi-enlightenment. We continue to fight for equal pay and representation. Sexual everything has been singled out. We have wonderfully equal partnerships at home. We are the mothers nurturing a principled new breed of young Gen Zs.

And the fact is we have 20+ years of potentially ball-breaking economic productivity ahead us. We will be the first mass generation of females working to a minimum age of 67. And we will, quite simply, need to be at the peak of our wellbeing, operating with all our synapses firing, way beyond the point society might want to ‘shrink-to-fit’ us into the traditional mid-life mould.

Marketing is dismissive of, scared of, disinterested in, I’m not exactly sure which, ageing women. There, I’ve gone and said that too. In this age of purpose, very few brands have stood up for us in a relevant way. Maybe Dove? Yes, ‘A Mother’s Body’ touched a nerve. So too No.7’s Alessanda Ferri film as she dances battle-scarred, beautiful, and ‘Ready for More’. But overall there is a real paucity of conversation and innovation. Just hunt around the pharmacy shelves. Where are the Aesops or the Boots inviting us to do it naturally? The funky, older Ella’s drawing up soy-rich natural food plans? Just cobwebs. Enough said.

This is a ginormous market gap to fill; to have bold ideas within; to talk about. A new wave of 45+ woman is now eagerly awaiting someone to champion us through Menopause, and to help us tackle head on the underlying ageism that comes with it. So who will help break the last taboo? Who will claim a slice?

The Menopause is not about ‘change’; it’s about ‘continuation’. It’s about getting up and just getting on being the wonder women we’ve always been.

So who will cool us down on the way?

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First published by The Marketing Society, December 2017

mystic meg's back

on mysticism, mediums and mindspace

Perhaps the most striking thing about a recent cultural deep dive in Lancashire was the chance, but prolific, meetings with mysticism. You can’t help but stumble across stories about the Pendle Witches, the 12 women hanged in 1612 for supposed dabbling in the dark arts on Pendle Hill. And like Hilda Ogden reading tea leaves, you can’t help but notice the kitsch tarot card readers like Gyspy Petulengro on Blackpool North Pier. You might even bump into a medium, or two, now putting their spirit-channelling powers to good use in the health & wellbeing space. Lancashire, it seems, is looking for orientation; a brighter read on the future like many Brits in uncertain times.

And at first you might think this was just an interesting case of happenstance, but on digging a little deeper, you discover that a new aesthetic for magic, mysticism and spirituality is fast moving through Western cultures. According to the future innovation gurus TRENDONE, a rising number of millennial women now regard themselves as part of a self-empowering feminist movement that the consultancy describes as ‘a counter concept to organised religions; a new commercial spirituality–in a way, the hipsterization of esotericism’. 

The signs of this trend have been observed awhile now: from the Moon Cup to meditation and mind-space. Even Gwynnie’s Goop is in on the mystic scene. Cosmic Health is a growing business; from beautifully illustrated modern tarot cards to help you ‘cultivate daily affirmations’ to therapeutic quartz crystals and ‘Psychic Vampire Repellent’–a protective mist designed to shield you from negative energy and safeguard your aura. 

Serpentfire Tarot cards, available on Goop

Serpentfire Tarot cards, available on Goop

Further afield in the States, Brooklyn’s ‘Mood Ring’ bar now shakes up cocktails designed to influence the mood of those born under different star constellations. And La-La Land’s fashion scene has run head first into metaphysical, and shamanic healing, according to Johanna Thomas-Corr in the FT. “Today, there are at least four crystal shops to every bookshop in LA. And at the city’s Natural History Museum, visitors often meditate in front of the rocks.” In the same article, Ruby Warrington, author of ‘Material Girl, Mystical World: The Now Age Guide to a High Vibe Life' highlights how tech has left us feeling disconnected from nature and thus “given these ancient human technologies a newfound allure.” 

Warrington is also founder of The Numinous. The word numinous means “that which is unknown, or unknowable” andin a world where our smartphones have become our talismans–Ruby is committed to exploring the mysteries that will help us reconnect to this undefinable part of being human. This she predicts is a global shift in consciousness that’s about experiencing life—and each other—on a whole new meaningful level. The Numinati are by definition stylish, modern women exploring their spirituality through astrology, sexual healing, their careers, as they mix magic with moon cycles.

The Numinous founder Ruby Warrington's altar, Summer 2014

The Numinous founder Ruby Warrington's altar, Summer 2014

One step deeper and you will read that Witches and witchcraft are also burgeoning. Note ‘La Dame Blanche’, Claire Fraser, in Starz mega-hit, Outlander, who’s not short of an herb potion, or two, in her capacity as time-travelling female medic and Jacobite love goddess. And Sabat, the gloriously sumptuous B&W magazine that merges witchcraft and feminism, ancient archetypes and instant art. In this world, Disney princesses are quite simply ‘idealised versions of femaleness completely lacking in discord or grit’. Read it. I’d hate to do its complexity a disservice. It’s a whole other world.

So from crystals to covens, what does the new mysticism mean? Maybe it simply marks a cyclical return to the pagan.  But certainly this spirituality harks towards a more natural way of living, and brings a glorious form of assured femininity to the fore that has probably lain in wait for centuries. And for our brands it represents materialism with a guaranteed dose of absolution in the form of beliefs, aesthetic and experience design. 

Published by The Marketing Society, January 2018

Lancashire: potted

red roses, grit & northern lights

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Lancashire.

It’s not the London sprawl; it’s not a Home County; the places we find safety in. 

Nor is it that metropolitan. No ginormous city of international, corporate proportions; there’s no Birmingham, or Glasgow, with no disrespect to Preston and its c.100,000+ population.

It’s northern, gritty, hard-working, diverse, scarred, joyful… and by that definition, salt of the earth. 

And the Ordance Survery ordains that the Whitendale Hanging Stones in the Forest of Bowland represent the very centre of Great Britain.

Lancashire is a wildly bucolic place with a noticeably sweet, and comforting, farmyard smell hanging on the air; large swathes of rural lowland are given over to crops–spuds, cabbage, kale; milk fields provide crumbly, creamy cheese, and the uncultivated moorlands on higher ground feed beady-eyed, unkempt sheep. A series of rivers drain westward from the Pennines to the Irish Sea; estuaries flow into a bleak, melancholic coastal plain where shrimps, cockles, sea trout flourish; and to the North lie steep limestone scrambles and deep, dark woods. Nearer the key conurbations Victorian brick mills nuzzle alongside canal-side banks in undulating valleys; and the old coalfield stretches down to the outskirts of Manchester; a remnant of powerful industry turned fallow.

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It’s a county of broken borders; once mightier, but stripped of 709 square miles, or two-fifths, of its land mass in 1974 (although the historic county palatine boundaries remain). These large swathes were apportioned to Merseyside and Greater Manchester. And with them went rich parts of Lancs cultural heritage: not least the Sixties music legacy, and Corrie. It’s a county that has weathered strikes, picket lines and shutdowns, witch trials, immigration tensions, segregation, race riots… And seaside towns like Blackpool still highlight human hardship: faces obliterated by tattoos, bodies disabled by obesity, tattered guesthouses and simmering anger. This can be a harsh, forbidding and lonely county for many everyday people.

Heritage, power and strong conviction are vital underpinnings of this ancient duchy. The War of the Roses stands testament. Key to the Lancastrian identity is defiance. On George R. R. Martin’s map of Westeros, Lancashire would probably lie somewhere to the south-west of Winterfell which one assumes is Yorkshire. Bloody Yorkshire. But Lancastrians are more Storm Born than Iron Born. After all, it took Margaret Beaufort’s son Henry VII to successfully unify the red and white roses under the great Tudor Rose. In a similar storyline, all 14 of Lancashire’s districts voted for Brexit in 2016. Maybe this is a prediction of positive, unifying change to come; a stoic belief that things will work for the better in the British Isles when we join forces to push forward together.

Plucking the Red & White Roses in the Old Temple Gardens, Henry Payne, 1910

Plucking the Red & White Roses in the Old Temple Gardens, Henry Payne, 1910

Lancashire has resolve. There is a strong sense of purpose. Great things have been made there, industries full of people that have helped form the backbone of the UK economy over time. It’s about doing gritty work, hard work, and supporting the making of stuff that works hard. From spindles and looms to aircraft, aerospace and trucks, manufacturing has always been at Lancashire’s heart. And now the landscape is marked by new forms of bio energy creation; from the wind farms at Heysham to farmyard anaerobic digestion. There is a very real sense of progress in the county. Blackburn’s Festival of Making seeks to revive industrial tradition with the promotion of entrepreneurs, artisans and visionaries who ‘have the guts to make’; from embroidered mattresses to craft paper and fusion pies made in front-room factories.

And sturdy planning goes into all this. Note the feisty county council, the guilds and the small trading associations like ESTA–the Ethical Small Trading Association. The county motto is ‘in consilio consilium’–in council is wisdom, and there is a very real sense of a close knit, and practical-minded, community that enjoys getting good civic stuff done. Indeed shiny gongs have most recently gone to Lancaster University – voted The Times & Sunday Times University of the Year 2018 – and Blackburn’s RIBA-awarded bus station.

Quite simply, they don’t like to do things by halves in Lancashire.

Nor do Lancastrians slavishly follow fashion or influence from the States or London, preferring to foster their own regional culture. And in that culture there is huge pride. Craft breweries like Lancaster, The Borough and Bowland, and the larger Thwaites, are omnipresent in the county’s pubs and hostelries. And Accrington’s very own Holland’s Pies (never Pukka, ta) reign supreme as the choice of the discerning chippy. From Eccles cakes and Bury black pudding to tea bags and Fishermans’ Friends, the semiotician will note that all these brands proudly wear the stamp, or hue, of the red rose in some shape or form. Rose red signals that they are ‘Made in Lancashire’ #northernpowerhouse #magnificentcounty #wearelancashire.

HMP Lancaster Castle

HMP Lancaster Castle

Talk to everyday people and you will get a very real sense of community-spirit. The football teams sound like a sporting version of the shipping forecast–Accrington Stanley, Burnley, Blackburn Rovers–full on ‘jumpers for goalposts’ stuff, reminiscent of crowded days huddled on cold sidelines with a chip barm. Possibly because it's a series of small towns rather then big cities with suburbs, or multitudes of villages, families and friends talk of a real banding together.  Although suffice to say this spirit has lacked in areas like Blackburn with Darwen where cultural tension is well documented over the years. 31% of Blackburn's 150,000 population are of a BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) heritage, which is more than double the national average ethnic mix. But one senses, and is able to witness, a very real attempt to celebrate multi-cultural vitality and cohesion with, for example, the Blackburn Regeneration Project. Lancs does, after all, claim to be ‘a place where everyone matters’.

A spade is a spade. There’s a directness of speech, a lack of conversational frippery. People don't dress things up, they get to the point, and importantly, don't shy away from difficult or sad topics. And because things don't get dressed up they get dealt with faster, more openly. Although there's also a lot less politically correct speech, we’re assured this isn’t necessarily because people are less tolerant, it's more because there's no point in dancing around an issue when you can just meet it head on. Quit mithering as they say. Get on with it. Make it happen.

And with this directness comes a straight up sense of humour that helps diffuse difficult topics. 'Lankys' are reputed to be of a more jovial disposition than their Yorkshire neighbours thanks to the warmer westerlies that blow in on their side of the Pennines. People love to laugh at everything and nothing. As they say, “It’s grin up north!” And let’s hand it to Lancashire, they do empathic comedy very, very well. From Morecombe & Wise and Les Dawson, to Victoria Wood, Diane Morgan and Peter Kay, to Tez Ilyas, there is a gently deadpan streak in Lancastrian humour that gets us all roaring in the aisles. This is a county of tremendous character from drag queen matriarchs to ballroom dancers who ensure the rest of us Brits always remain lightly entertained.

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And the most powerful impression of this county? 

It would have to be the wintry northern optimism

Perhaps the most striking thing about a culture trip here is the chance meetings with mysticism. You can’t help but read stories about the Pendle Witches, the 12 women hanged in 1612 for supposed dabbling in the dark arts on Pendle Hill. And like Hilda Ogden reading tea leaves, you can’t help but notice the kitsch tarot card readers like Gyspy Petulengro on Blackpool North Pier. You might even bump into a medium, or two, now putting their spirit-channelling powers to good use in the wellbeing space. Lancashire, it seems, is looking for orientation; a brighter read on the future. Probably like many Brits in these uncertain times. And, regardless of any hocus-pocus at play, it's in Lancashire’s celebration of light that there is something forward-thinking, and very nordic in spirit. The Lightpool Festival in Blackpool and the whole Light Up movement in the North are emblematic of how light can come out of the dark, breathing life into forgotten spaces, and predicting a warm future for us all. Even the Lumidogs dressed up in fairy lights parading on the promenade leave a sense of joy that this community heartily embraces.

And to that end, Lancashire is quite a revelation.

Crufts meets Caberet at the Lumidogs Parade during the Blackpool Illuminations

Crufts meets Caberet at the Lumidogs Parade during the Blackpool Illuminations

an evening @ Lancaster Uni

bravery in marketing is... beautifully diverse 01.11.17

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I don't think I've been on a university campus since the 1990s, and it's a damp, misty November night when I arrive at Lancaster University, The Times & Sunday Times University of the Year 2018. It's slick: flood-lit sports courts, speed bumps and RIBA-endorsed eco-architecture. I've travelled here to discuss the Marketing Society's theme of 'Bravery' with a team of Marketing undergrads. Clever bunnies. Noticeably girls (big up to brave Alex, the only guy in the group) with aspirations to join Unilever, Coke, maybe a well paying Swiss company, or advertising.

Class of '17: Lancaster Uni marketing undergrads ready to chat 'Bravery in Marketing'

Class of '17: Lancaster Uni marketing undergrads ready to chat 'Bravery in Marketing'

I present my own case for 'Bravery' at the front of class; chat through the decline in brand trust; whether or not 'Bravery' is the right word; the steps our industry is making around gender, mental health, inclusion. And in the spirit of Open Space, have no idea what's going to come up. Our discussion ranges from everyday racism to the need, or not, for better customer service in discount grocers.

It was a fab 2-hours. And in distilling all the talking points, three themes ring out from Lancaster's brightest on their code for brand success.

The first is utility. They spark with entrepreneurial opportunities–Alex already has two start ups under his belt–and highlight achingly empty white spaces; incipient needs driven by gender, age, ethnicity, sitting waiting to be fulfilled by really useful products. Secondly come ethics. May sound old hat, but strong ethics are now table stakes, and are not to be confused with (to them, the potentially "delusional" concept of) brand purpose. Ethics are now a pillar. And finally, authenticity. The desire for no bullshit; for brands that walk the talk, meet genuine claims, and speak plainly in doing so (which is simpler when you have a really useful product).

I ask what brands, if any, are currently living up to these values and expectations? And for Lancaster, the unanimous winner is Rihanna's Fenty Beauty. The latest kid off the Beauty block. And we go on to discuss the reasons why.

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Fenty Beauty - launched in September at Harvey Nicks - is making these students buzz. Labelled 'The New Generation of Beauty' Fenty does utility in spades. In filling a clear global market gap ("of customers previously excluded from the marketing conversation"), RiRi promises that, "every woman is included" in her Beauty vision. And, in a celebration of female diversity, she has created 'Shades for all': a mesmeric range of 40+ foundation colours designed for 'traditionally hard-to-match' skin tones found the world over.

When it comes to ethics, Fenty simply and knowingly reflects Gen Z's standards. The make up discourse, as we know, has already shifted to one of female empowerment (notably No.7's 'Ready' platform for older gals), but in Rihanna's view, when it comes to her teen-plus crowd, it should be about fun, self-expression, and the freedom to experiment, with none of the shame older women may feel. The range is naturally Cruelty Free. And prices are pitched at parity alongside Mac, Benefit and Smashbox.

But where Fenty is at its most striking as a brand, for these students, is when it comes to authenticity–because this is a brand able to market itself from the very heart of a fantastic product. And here the Lancaster students discuss Dove's lack of "real" innovation over the past few years. In their view purpose cannot be shrunk to fit around artful 'Body' bottles and (now controversial) attempts at communicating diversity; it needs to be intrinsic to the product. Messaging then becomes simple truths that allow the brand to play a credible role to powerful social effect - the kind of effect reported when Krystal Robertson posted #AlbinoMatch @badgalriri.

Krystal Robertson posts to @badgalriri 

Krystal Robertson posts to @badgalriri 

Overall, what this autumnal Lancaster session sparked in me is that, in the eyes of these bright young marketers, the diversity agenda is a huge untapped source of creativity yet to be explored, and is ready to be met with ingenuous new ideas, beautifully executed. And these gals (and guy) are 'bravely' looking out for the next opportunities to jump on. For them Fenty Beauty fires up excitement, and proves that brand marketing (from core product innovation to social post) rocks. It can push the boundaries of 'true creativity'. It is brave; fresh; seamless. What's not to love?

Thank you @lancasteruni.

Show your Fenty Face @fentybeauty

Show your Fenty Face @fentybeauty

Rebecca is Chief Strategist at Salt of the Earth. www.wearesaltoftheearth.com.

it's time to get real

listen up brands!

As my burly window cleaner, Paul–a lifelong lover of the commercial break–recently declared, “I’ve had it with ads.”  And I sense he is simply a reflection of the great British public. A Trinity Mirror study shows a gob-smacking 42% of Brits now distrust brands and 69% distrust their advertising. And those numbers are steadily growing. 

We appear to be losing our touch. 

Questions abound. Has the Stengel era of brand purpose really driven profit, or has it grown into an elaborate awards’ bid that now bemuses the average Jo Bloggs? Are we losing sight of the human beings at the heart of our marketing plans as we hide behind ever-phonier, myopic research methods that contort and paralyse the work we make? And are disembodied tech visions cancelling out the need for real people in our plans altogether? 

Our public is getting irritable. Trivago’s London Underground dump is now emblematic. Witness a passionless value proposition with no creative overlay and a relentless media plan that just won’t give up. Or consider All 4’s ‘Paid for By Advertising’. Maybe so, but why does that have to amount to endless repetitions of vapid sponsorships that hold the viewer angrily hostage during their favourite content? And where do you even start with all the promoted brand posts chasing you around your social feed?

What with Brexit misreads and all, we in the so-called 'liberal elite' could stand accused of being heavily at odds with at least half of our target audience at any given time. And that situation is worsening as we continue to Google plan at arm’s length, and bathe in warm sauvignon behind the research mirror. We sound clever, we justify our budgets, but where did the notion of an engaging two-way conversation go between brand and human? Our relationship with the real people we serve risks breaking down. 

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A new focus on relatability is key. 

Ben Elton recently lamented the demise of the great British sitcom that so successfully captured the mood and spirit of the nation; identifying rich characterisation at large. It’s time to revisit this really big data, not just the atomised stuff; to re-familiarise ourselves with the national picture and face up to the fact that Britain is alive, morphing and crying out to be more insightfully served by its big brands. When did we lose our cultural vision? We used to create water cooler moments; ignite conversations; create the glue. Now it’s all about reach and impressions.

We should start listening again; really listening. Relearn the art of deep cultural observation in order to unearth those precious little titbits that help our brands resonate and that earn them the right to sit in people’s buzz feeds. We need to get back to surprising and delighting those huge swathes of the population we’re growing out of synch with as we nuzzle up to global NGOs and clever tech gurus. Stop focusing inwards, start focusing outwards.

Nothing is greater than a brand campaign that touches and ignites its audience. So, let’s show the masses the wonder of truly great marketing. The stuff with real spirit and grit. Let’s get back to creating simple, useful and, above all, enjoyable interruptions in their day: joyful USPs, joyfully done. Let’s create more Marmite gene tests, O2 ‘Oops’ and KFC ‘Whole Chickens’. Let’s applaud all those ‘Ridiculous Possibilities’ at TK Maxx. Let’s stop trying to be so damned clever and get back down to earth.

It’s time to get real.

First published by The Marketing Society, September 2017.