Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Well that was an interesting day…

May 29, 2009


Blimey. Slow news day, clearly. And good to see the picture caught me stuffing my face.

We’ll post an update shortly, once we’ve ironed it all out and had some rest. 

But overall, suffice to say it was difficult, but fun.


Watch this space…

May 23, 2009

On Thursday, I’m doing a ‘thing’. Basically as a result of being too busy at work something really interesting, quite exciting, a bit terrifying and something probably very stupid has been born.

There will be webcasting. And Paul Colman. But not in a Leslie Grantham way, I promise.

More to follow.

the obstacles to superproductivity amongst high-performing professionals are usually very human

March 18, 2009

Last week I had the pleasure of spending three days in Finland with some of our Nokia clients and a few folks from fellow agency RG/A. After spending Wednesday night in Helsinki – via spending €6 on some mineral water, €12 on a salami sandwich and enjoying some reindeer for breakfast – we headed off from Nokia House to Vanajanlinna, a building that is officially (but maybe inaccurately) described as a castle (what constitutes a castle anyway?) located a couple of hours north of the capital.

Billed as a ‘team building’ event I was naturally cautious (in really rather British way), mainly as we had been forwarned that our facilitator  was Finnish philosopher Esa Saarinen, famed across the country for his regular TV appearances and noted “for his colourful style and personal approach”. (He lived up to his billing too, sporting an interesting leopard-skin print jacket and tie for the entire two-day event).

It quickly transpired that Esa’s modus operandi was basically to lecture solidly – with brief interludes of hugging and ‘power discussing’ – for not insignificant lengths of time, meandering around dramatic personal anecdotes to deliver points of view around positivity, systems intelligence, and collaboration. Not quite the snowmobiling and saunaing that I’d been expecting. And yet, against all odds, it was actually really rather good.

Lessons were learned, bonds were formed, beers were drunk and tears were shed (seriously – Esa’s a man not afraid to publicly air his emotions), but ultimately I came away with a real sense of positivity and feeling generally inspired about how we can change the world. Perhaps. And for a cynic like me, that’s pretty damn good going.

And just to prove it, here’s a pic of myself (right of picture), Esa and Richard Summers (fellow W+K planning type) living the positive one-team dream:


Mad. In a very good way.

The big question is: what can brands learn from it all?

dialling up the crazy

January 6, 2009

Well it’s day two and I’m still here. Which is good news. And no-one stole my lunch money, which is even better.


Although I haven’t played on the table football yet. Which is a shame.

2009. A year for… profligacy?

January 6, 2009

I’d love to know the budget on this. The credit crunch clearly hasn’t hit Aviva then…

Happy 2009 by the way!

2009: The year of mobile medical magic?

December 7, 2008

2009 is, by all accounts, going to be a bit of a rubbish year. Global recession, massive job losses, the renewed threat of terror, another year in League 1 for Leeds, and me turning thirty, the list goes on. Aside from an above average January (Obama replacing Bush and your loyal narrator commencing his W+K odyssey – two events of major international significance) I think it’s probably fair to say that we’re probably better off staying indoors all year with the curtains closed.

But it’s not all bleak, at least if you have a modicum of geekery about you and you’ve happened upon the latest World Economic Forum (you know, Bono‘s crew) report on the tech businesses to watch in 2009.

Every year, the WEF crown between 30 and 50 businesses ‘Tech Pioneers’, companies that offer “new technologies or business models that could advance the global economy and have a positive impact on people’s lives” (or so says Business Week at least).  The full list is well worth a read as it’s chock full of innovative goodness but there are two in particular that got me at least a little more excited about the year to come, one for its simple reapplication of an already often-used technology to help save lives, and the other because it’s unspeakably awesome.

#1 mPedigree

Counterfeit drugs are a major problem the world over, but the problem is especially acute in the developing world where a number of issues, both societal and organisational, make fake medicines a genuine everyday threat for users.  mPedigree has taken mobile recognition technology and used it to help alleviate this problem with a really simple, intuitive, and accessible application. Authentic drugs are sold with a unique code on the label which can only be revealed when a strip is scratched off (similar to those used on pay as you go ‘top-up cards’). This code is then sent by the user via SMS to universal shortcode run by mPedigree, who then receives an instantaneous response confirming whether or not the batch is genuine. Genius.

According to the report, this technology was “successfully piloted in Ghana from January 2008, (and mPedigree aims to) expand its platform to all 48sub-Saharan African countries, starting with Nigeria, over the next decade, and then into other developing countries in South Asia, South America, the Middle East and North Africa”.

#2 Proteus Biomedical

Moving us one step closer to the dream proposed in Inner Space (Dennis Quaid’s finest hour?), Proteus operate at the intersection of biology and technology by pioneering the ‘intelligent medicine’ space. The basic idea at the heart of the company is the stuff of classic science fiction – microchips in pills.

The microchips (which eventually distintegrate) monitor how the body reacts to the consumption of the medicine and transmit the data to a temporary patch on the patient’s skin, using the conductivity of the tissue to communicate rather than radio thus avoiding potential ‘snooping’ issues. The information is collected and sent via the user’s mobile phone to their doctor who can check patient progress, remotely assist with problems and diagnose potential issues rapidly. According to the company the system is especially useful for “long-distance monitoring of patients with cardiac problems”, as well as making sure that people with infectious diseases or mental illnesses take their drugs in the correct manner (which apparently around 50% of people on long-term prescriptions don’t).


Pic via

Cool huh?

If these and their ilk really make an impact in 09, maybe it won’t be such a bad year after all.

What I learnt from Malcolm Gladwell

November 24, 2008


If you follow me on twitter (and of course you should as my life’s just so damn interesting) you’ll know that I went – along with many other Twitterers – to see that icon of the ipod generation Malcolm Gladwell speak at the beautiful Lyceum tonight (with a nod to those lovely people at The Guardian who invited me along – thank you very much indeed).

The man who brought the term ‘tipping point‘ into the popular vernacular, and who indirectly but almost single-handedly inspired the ad industry planning output from circa 2001-2004, was out to promote his new book – The Outliers – with a genius business model: get a load of people to talk about, blog about (and of course buy) the book, and make them pay for the privilege. We could clearly learn something from this.

After a thirty-odd minute delay thanks to ’seating problems’ (as the seats looked perfectly fine I can only assume that this is failspeak for crowd control issues – the boy Gladwell is a big draw and us Guardian readers don’t take too kindly to being forced to queue in the cold), during which we were incessantly bombarded with Beatles tracks, the man himself took to the stage, his depressed slouch not quite representative of his beaming image that had been smiling over us from the big screen for the preceding 30 minutes (the man’s clearly a fan of Paul, John and the gang).

What followed was an engaging ramble through a few stories that help illustrate his theory that cultural heritage has a profound impact on who we are, how we live and the everyday decisions that we make (I’m doing his thesis a gross disservice there but you get the picture), and to prove the point he talked a lot about Geert Hofstede’s ‘cultural dimensions‘ (fascinating in their own right, and quite weird when you’re used to not using mass cultural generalisations – AKA stereotypes). His main story revolved around one of these dimensions, the power distance index, and how the inability of aeroplane co-pilots from cultures with a high p/d index (in his example it was Colombia as he was using the Avianca 52 crash to make the point) to deal firmly with their superiors, due to over-deference and inherent fear of offense leading to mitigation, is more likely to cause a crash than mechanical errors or environmental factors.

Expect to see Hofstede featured in a planning presentation near you soon. (Open and honest dialogue is good for brands, anyone?).

Gladwell was utterly engaging as an orator, and refreshingly sans props and powerpoint, peppering his hour-long talk with moments of dark-ish comedy, which while invoking hearty chortles from sections of the crowd, seemed a little inappropriate (to me, at least) as the gags were largely at the expense of people who had contributed to the deaths of dozens of people via plane crashes (but maybe I’m just being sensitive).  On top of that, some may argue he laboured his points – but hey, you pay for Gladwell, you get Gladwell. And it’s pretty interesting labouring.

Ultimately I’m none the wiser really as to what else is going to be in the book on top of the reviews that I’ve read, but if it is anything like the talk it’ll be meandering, thorough, well-researched and just a little bit eccentric. So it’ll probably make my Christmas list – as with half of adland I expect.

anything below this post…

October 31, 2008

…is imported from my old blog, planning for fun. I’ve imported it all for posterity (and to bulk this up a bit!). That is all.

Post-digital Parenting

May 20, 2008

Via Twine

I can haz CRM

April 3, 2008

Call me a language fascist, but surely if you’re planning on adopting a CRM strategy you’d employ someone who can write with at least a modicum of eloquence to manage the communication?

Homecall+ clearly don’t agree. I received this email from them today:

Hi there,

I’m Ayesha the Sales Manager here at HomeCall+, and this is your 1st weekly Newsletter from myself.

As a valued customer of ours already I feel that it would be beneficial to you to recieve my weeekly Newsletter and be kept up to date on all our exciting products & services.

Therefore over the next couple of weeks I will be emailing you our informative weekly Newsletter showing you what other service’s we do, introducing you to the team here at HomeCall+ and more importantly how we can save you money.

HomeCall+ is a national company who understands the importance of a quality service and providing best value, we also have invested heavily in our own ‘in-house’ training facilities, so that the engineers are constantly updated on technological advances and changes to regulations. We have in place our own Health and Safety Officer, Corgi Gas Service Technical manager’s along with a network of quality managers who continuously monitor the quality of the engineers and their workmanship.

Kind Regards

I must remember to write to the Mail to complain about the failings of the British education system (or at least to Homecall to advise they run their spelling and grammar checks a tad more regularly).

For the moment, however, I await the next informative weekly newsletter with baited breath bated breath. (oops – that’ll teach me)