The Warc Blog

An 'Ode to Noticing'

Posted by: Tracey Follows, Head of Planning, VCCP

Blog author Lately I've been thinking about Fast Strategy and whether I really think Fast Strategy is Strategy at all. Well it might deliver strategy but does it deliver original, inventive, fundamentally differentiating strategy. Yes. Or, No...? If was a betting man (and I'm not, I'm a betting woman) I'd ultimately, and somewhat reluctantly, have to come down on the side that says 'no'. 

A couple of recent meanderings through 'The Chief Culture Officer' by Grant McCracken and various chats with creative types has got me re-thinking fast strategy, and wanting to write the "Ode to Noticing'. 

Grant talks about this in his book. In particular he mentions Morgan Friedman (yes, I know, disappointingly not Morgan Freeman) who runs round the city not only eavesdropping on people's conversations but stopping people and asking questions, investigating all that is going on around him - the sights, sounds, text and subtext of his environment. There's a great quote that brings this to life: 'Old people are waiting for you. they spend their days on stoops and cafes doing nothing but remembering. They're the ones at the edge between different worlds connecting them together. Ask them what has changed in their everyday life the most since their childhood. Press them for details: 'The ice-cream man use to bring us ice once a week' or 'My husband couldn't afford my dowry!'... It pays to be interested in the banal and unattractive, as he puts it. 

This in turn reminded me of one of Ed Morris's talks on what drives his creativity, whilst at Lowe. The way he put it was to describe what he does as 'Thinking in Slow Motion'. That captures it brilliantly: I guess I would interpret that as not only seeing, but actually 'noticing'; not only hearing but actually 'listening'; and not only touching but also 'feeling'. That sense, that hynotherapists often talk about,  of noticing you're noticing. 

It's interesting that divergent thinkers tend to wander around their own minds looking for links whereas convergent thinkers look for the one correct answer. In the feature 'Can everyone be an Einstein' in the Sunday Times back in 2008, the author talks about "dissociated patterns'" in the brain, that seem a necessary first step in developing new and loose connections between ideas which may seem at first odd and quite implausible. Only later do some ideas collide and are eventually ordered into a creative product. 

The article goes on to suggest that investigating lots of different areas of interest, perhaps choosing 30 minutes a day in order to develop an in depth knowledge of a hereunto unknown subject, or just practicing observing, noticing, describing things, or just imagining - is nothing short of training for eventual creativity in the brain. These things make your brain deal with the unfamiliar as opposed to getting locked into old familiar thought patterns. 

So what has this to do with Fast Strategy? Well, convergent thinkers will tend to be the ones that get to the answer quicker, but may well get to the same answer as everyone else. Not what we needs to hear. And divergent thinkers who (either by accident or design) can notice more than others and can process, slowly, and accurately, all of those details, have more ammunition when it comes to searching for new connections and unfamiliar combinations. And therefore create original solutions even if it may take slightly longer for those connections to show themselves.

The author sums it up nicely when he goes onto to say 'The best advice I ever heard came from a Spanish neurologist, Damaso Crespo. he said I should do 100 yards a day, not sprinting but walking. But I had to walk with a friend and talk all the time. It's the walking, the talking and the friendship that feed the brain; the sprint just feeds dumb muscles"

The strategy sprint may well do just the same. 

24 August 2010, 00:37
Bored workers: a marketer's best friend

Posted by: David Tiltman, Head of Content, Warc

Blog author

There’s a fantastic presentation doing the rounds from Jonah Peretti, chief executive of US firm Buzzfeed, on viral marketing. Peretti is an old hand at this – when he was still a student an email exchange between him and Nike became a viral hit (he was asking Nike for customised shoes with the word ‘sweatshop’ on them).

In the presentation he presents five tips for how to make content go viral, including the advice to ‘Be a Mormon, not a Jew’. But the most eye-catching conclusion, and the one that probably resonates most with those in the marketing profession, is the idea of the ‘Bored at work network’, or BWN.

23 August 2010, 10:16
Properly Trained, A Man Can Be Dog's Best Friend

Posted by: Robert Passikoff, President, Brand Keys, Inc

Blog author We’ve all heard the maxim, “if you want loyalty, get a dog,” but there’s no one out there more loyal than pet owners. That being the case, P&G, the makers of Iams and Eukanuba dry dog foods, is recalling certain varieties of its dry pet foods as a precaution because the food might be contaminated with salmonella.

While at this time no salmonella-related illnesses have been reported, P&G, the responsible, pet-friendly corporation it is, is urging consumers to immediately discard the recalled products because Fido isn’t the only one at risk of their health. It turns our people handling dry pet food can also become infected with Salmonella if they don’t wash their hands thoroughly.

Being a responsible brand is important – especially if you are talking about pets. More especially if you’re talking about dogs. A dog, after all is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself. Which is why emotion plays so large a role in brand engagement and loyalty generally, and for products and services related to pets specifically.

In our Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index we only measure canned dog food, but here’s how those brands rank:

1. Purina One
2. Pedigree
3. Alp
4. Hills
5. Gravy Train
6. Iams
7. Kibbles ‘n Bits

A P&G press release stated, "These products are made in a single, specialized facility and in cooperation with FDA, P&G determined that some products made at this facility have the potential for salmonella contamination. As a precautionary measure, P&G is recalling all products made at this facility."
For more information or refunds, consumers can call P&G at 877-340-8823, because to paraphrase Charles M. Schultz, “happiness is a warm – and healthy – puppy.”
11 August 2010, 15:35
Reach Out and Touch Someone

Posted by: Robert Passikoff, President, Brand Keys, Inc

Blog author

This week, in an attempt to establish a beachhead in the high-end smart phone category, Research in Motion, the manufacturers of BlackBerry, unveiled its first touch-screen device. The new handset, the BlackBerry Torch 9800, will launch in about a week and will be available exclusively through AT&T.

The Torch will be the first device to run on the BlackBerry 6 operating system: the newly revamped software, which was designed to work better with the increasingly-obligatory smart phone touch-screen interface.

05 August 2010, 15:07
3R’s of Back-To-School Spending

Posted by: Robert Passikoff, President, Brand Keys, Inc

Blog author

It’s not only parents who will be happy to see their children go back to school next month. Retailers are celebrating too because the average spend consumers say they’ll make for back-to-school clothing and supplies is up 10% over a year ago, at $584.

05 August 2010, 14:48

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