This Month’s Newsletter

Nov 2017: 98% Puro Planning 

Last week I spoke at an event in Madrid organised by the Account Planning Group in Spain. I was able to talk about the book 98% Pure Potato about the origins of account planning. And to enlarge on the learnings applied to the current pressures in ad agencies. Adrian Mediavilla, my host, had also put the poster together – a Spanish potato omelette, suitably sliced to deduct 2%. An audience of around 80 plus a remote audience of 170 watching via Facebook Live made for a great evening. You can find the slides on slideshare and the film on the APG Spain Facebook page is here – just look for Oct 23rd.  And if anyone wants to order the book with my autograph. Well mail me and  we can sort it out via paypal!

APG SpainWhat I was aiming to do was to make connections between account planning as it started as a rebellion against the post rationalisations of Madmen and so-called ‘scientific’ advertising. And our current bind with advertising dominated by tech giants with no sound model for advertising communications and seemingly endless serial fraud scandals about how much advertising is being seen let alone how it might be working. Asking thoughtful questions about how advertising works has never been more relevant. A topic to which the audience seemed very receptive.

Social Physics – behaviourism is never enough

I’ve been reading a book called Social Physics written by Alex Pentland an MIT Professor who wants to show that he can measure the journey that ideas take through organisations. By using tracking devices to measure interactions, pulse rates and so on every few milliseconds. 5 datasets comprising millions of points of data are made available to readers of the book. Its heroic to the point of hilarity. But I believe the author to be wrong.  An idea is NOT “a strategy for instrumental behaviour .. a habit of action”. Of course, they have to be if you are trying to measure ideas with a Fitbit. I draw your attention to the great Punch cartoon below which echoes the experience of so many women struggling to be taken seriously in the workplace. Culture matters. Whether an idea gets through depends in part on who is saying it and how the rest of the room perceives them.

The problem with trying to understand how people buy and use products using only behavioural measures is rather obvious. Our mental models and our culture matter.  Here are some ideas (real ones) which make a huge difference. We don’t always do what we say we are going to do – we change our minds. Sometimes we act and we regret our behaviour. That matters too. And most significantly, culture means that the way ideas travel through groups depends on the social structures of those groups. And you can’t measure those behaviourally.  So, by all means, get hold of the book but I would give it a miss.


APG awards – and learning from case studies

I attended the APG awards also this month – great to learn about the latest crop of case studies of successful communications even while I continue to work on building a codifying system to make it easier for planners to find former winners on the Account Planning Group London website. One of the cleverest ideas I have spotted is the way you can communicate with one group of people while seeming to advertise to another. Whether Sixt persuading people to drive flashy hire cars. Or when Threeencouraged people to continue to use their mobiles on holiday without switching them off for fear of swinging international charges we are best influenced not by the brand talking to us directly but talking around us to others.  Its a much better example of the power of social marketing and viral than a lot of campaigns which claim to be harnessing word of mouth.  We are more influenced by other people than advertising. So advertising aimed at other people may get under our own radar.

In other news 

A busy autumn but I have more capacity this month. Please call if you have a project or if you just want to catch up over a coffee.  You might be interested in a blog I wrote for the Marketing Society called Throw your Strategist out of the window which appeared at the start of the autumn.

Check out the blog at Further and Faster or follow johngriffiths7 on twitter.

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