Is Samsung pulling the wood over your eyes?


My wife bought a new phone last weekend – a Samsung Galaxy S 4 mini.  It’s really hi-tech, as you would expect.

When the guy had finished demonstrating it he packed the phone away for her in the little cardboard box.  Nothing strange there you might think.  But why was the box printed to look like it was made out of wood?  Why make a phone out of sleek modern materials then put it in a box with a pine effect finish?

The two seem totally at cross purposes, the one looking forward to a brave new techno world, the other glancing back to an era when boxes were made from wood, by hand.  So what are they playing at?  Was the wooden-look box just a random idea from their packaging designers, or is there a method in their choice of this retro styling?  I think they did it consciously, and on purpose.  Can you spot their intention?

If you don’t get it then don’t worry – most of the world is with you.  But it means you are unaware of one of the most powerful forces shaping modern marketing, one of the “big tricks” that successful brands employ to bond with you on a deep emotional and subliminal level…without you ever cottoning on.

Want to understand what those clever marketers at Samsung are up to?   Check out a post I wrote a couple of years ago entitled Hi-tech hi-touch – a concept that’s at the heart of the world’s most successful brands.



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All my own work (I wish)

Rip Off

I recently wrote a post, Caveat Emptor – hire copywriter with caution, warning that there is a tendency among some copywriters to exaggerate their experience.  This led to a discussion on LinkedIn where several experienced practitioners shared stories of how their work had popped up in the portfolios of people passing it off as their own.

I’ve never been aware of anyone liking my work so much that they decided to “curate” it (is that the current word?).  But that all changed yesterday.

Double take 

At the Business Showcase exhibition in Bristol’s Colston Hall I met a copywriter who had taken a stand.  We got chatting and they asked what clients I worked on.  I mentioned Red Carnation Hotels, who I have been writing for over about the last six years.  They then replied, “Oh, we’ve worked for Red Carnation too…”

Despite the fact I write for Red Carnation every week I wasn’t that surprised, as I know they do use other writers.  However, out the corner of my eye I saw that there was a laptop on the stand.  The pages were on a loop and I saw a Red Carnations Hotels web page pop up.  As I spend part of every day on one or more of their sites (they have about sixteen in all), and regularly update those pages, the recognition was instant.

Leaning forward I looked at the page more closely.  It was a current page, and one that I had worked on.  I then turned back to the owner of the laptop and asked when they had worked for Red Carnation.  The reply was vague, along the lines of “my husband did some work for them a while back”.

Stretching the truth – how far is too far? 

I then moved on.  But driving home I experienced a feeling of unease.  I realised it was delayed shock at seeing my work being displayed on someone else’s stand.  Getting home I checked their website.  There was no mention of Red Carnation Hotels, and no examples of work done for that client.

I don’t doubt that they did some work for Red Carnation in the past.  But why not show it? I guess it just didn’t look as good as the web page they picked instead – and they needed something nice and visual for their stand.

I’ve got some pretty good names on my CV – clients I worked on at Saatchi & Saatchi and Young & Rubicam.  I did a couple of radio commercials with Dame Judy Dench on voice-over for Heinz Spaghetti, but that doesn’t mean I can pass off a few of their TV commercials as my own work.  I did a poster campaign for British Gas about 20 years ago but that doesn’t mean I can lay claim their current stuff.

Food for thought

What should I do about this?  I decided to do nothing.  Apart from write this post highlighting the issue.

What should you do about it?  If you are a copywriter consult your conscience.  And if you ever hire a copywriter be sure to go through their examples of work carefully then interrogate them closely.

Maybe I’m being picky, but I’ve spent 30 years working hard to get good at what I do.  It pisses me off to see people taking shortcuts by claiming my work as their own.


Picture credit superk8


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Don’t be boring



If there was only one bit of advice I could give about marketing, and how to get the results you want, it would be this – don’t be boring.  Kind of obvious really.  Be boring and be invisible.

Yet how many marketing campaigns these days really grab the attention?  OK, you’ll  be able to name one or two favourites, but that’ll be about 0.001% of the total.  The rest pass through our consciousness without touching the sides.

How come?  Too many marketing people wrapped up SEO, CRM, ROI, PPC, CPC, OTS, OPM, T4M, CTR*.  And not enough reminding themselves what all this geekery is intended to achieve.

Remember who pays your wages

Your job in marketing is not to appear super busy.  It’s not to look clever.  It’s not to create documents, mood boards and spread sheets.  It’s not to be “passionate”.  It’s not to build your personal brand.  It’s not to spend your whole day in meetings where nothing gets decided.  Your job in marketing, ultimately, is to arrest human intelligence just long enough to get money from it.  And boring doesn’t cut it.

You got to get sharp. 

One of Shakespeare’s better lines (IMHO) is “Brevity is the soul of wit”.  He then stuck it in the mouth of a particularly long winded character, Polonius, for humorous effect, in one of his darkest plays, Hamlet. He could never resist slipping in a bit of comedy when writing a tragedy.

In Shakespeare’s day wit meant something slightly different.  It denoted “ingenuity, intelligence, the power of combining ideas with a pointed verbal effect” (Chambers Dictionary).  The effect might be humorous, but was more likely to excite admiration – being regarded as a “wit” was rather different from being a comedian (or “fool” as they were known at that time – see King Lear).  Today it is more usually associated with laughter, but often it is rather more subtle than that – it is an intellectual and verbal playfulness that creates a “Smile in the mind” (see book of same name).


Whatever your personal definition of wit I think we can all agree that one of its key attributes is a verbal or visual economy.   And it takes brevity to achieve the kind of sharpness required to puncture the mental bubble inhabited by the individuals within your target audience.

Keep your wits about you

How do you get that sharp?  The Chambers Dictionary definition above refers to the process of “combining ideas”.  To combine ideas you must have ideas to combine.  It takes a well-stocked mind – if the mental cupboard is bare, wit will elude you.  So, as Grace Slick sings in the 60’s anthem “White Rabbit”, you’ve got to “Feed your head”.

Another way is to mix with minds that are sharper than your own.  It’s like sport – play with people who are better than you and you raise your game, but play with those who are worse than you and you lower it.  You can do it by choosing your friends wisely, but it’s also smart to read wits widely.

Proceed with caution.  Sharp tongues ahead

A few famous wits you could use to whet your own against:

Dorothy Parker:

My favourite remark of hers is “If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.”  But she had many other crackers:

“Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.” 

“This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”

“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”

“Brevity is the soul of lingerie.” 

“Tell him I was too fucking busy– or vice versa.” 

Samuel Johnson:

“A fishing rod is a stick with a hook at one end and a fool at the other.”

“Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good.”

“Much may be made of a Scotchman, if he be caught young.”

George Bernard Shaw:

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

“A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

“Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire.”

Oscar Wilde:

“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.”

“Work is the curse of the drinking classes.”

“I can resist anything but temptation.”

On foxhunting:  “The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable.”

Words are the oldest trick in the book.  But they still work

Marketing people are so busy talking bollocks about the latest fad, app, platform or algorithm that they’ve largely forgotten the ultimate purpose of this techno crap – getting a human being to put their hand in their pocket and pay money for whatever you are flogging.

Words are weapons of mass persuasion.  The fact that most marketing practitioners don’t have the skill to use them to great effect does not invalidate them.  Quite the reverse – killer headlines and sharp copy are so rare that this only heightens their power to stop people in their tracks then win hearts and minds.


*PPC Pay Per Click, CPC Cost Per Click, OTS Opportunities To See, OPM Outsourced Program Management, T4M Tools For Marketing, CTR Click Through Rate.




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Caveat emptor – hire copywriter with caution

4679230437_83627c7d3dWe all know that advertising, marketing and branding is the art of creating stories that sell.  But how far can you stretch the truth before it becomes a downright lie?  I was recently shocked to discover how elastic a line some copywriters take, especially when it comes to promoting themselves.

You are joking, right?

I was prompted to write this post by a recent discussion on Linkedin that featured on the Copywriting Training Forum.  It was entitled “Branding Yourself When You Have No Experience as a Freelance Writerand the author asked “I have a question. I’ve been reading up about branding, and I want to know how I go about branding myself as a freelance writer when I have no professional experience to back it up. Anybody have any suggestions?”

My immediate response was unprintable.  And I figured it best to let it go – the guy was merely naïve, rather that deliberately dishonest.  Stupidity is not a crime.  Yet.

And it is hard to break into any career, including copywriting – you can’t get work because you have no experience, and you can’t get experience without work.  The answer, I believe, is to work for nothing in order to build up your skills and portfolio – ask people if they’ll give you assignments so you can practice and you’ll find most people are pretty obliging.   But blagging paid-for projects out of people under false pretences is not only dishonest but a recipe for disaster.

So it was a contentious question and I was interested in how others would respond.

So far so good

The first reply was very oblique but cautioned that “There are some writers who brand themselves as experts only after 2 weeks.”  The next was very tactful, and actually apologetic: “Hi – don’t want to be picky here – and this kind of backs up what Craig said – but until you are actually working as a freelance writer then you cannot ‘brand’ yourself as one!  If only branding were as simple as saying “I say I am, therefore I am”!”   Amen to that.

Uh, oh, this is getting scary

But the next reply saw no ethical problem whatsoever.  Their advice was breezily unconcerned with any tiresome need to tell the truth.  “You can begin to build your brand by creating a visual identity for yourself. Create a logo, design a website, print business cards. All these things say something about you, so make sure they say the sort of things you want. It could be: professional, creative, traditional, wacky … it’s up to you.”

Yea, I can be any kind of copywriter I want – starting from now!

Another contributor took the same line with “Branding is how you want to be seen as in the future…you can build an image for yourself without proof, if you know how you want to look like.”

Right, fake it till you make it.  It’s not a lie – I’m just speaking future truth.

The truth is a whore.  Discuss.

Yet another agreed,  “Your brand does NOT require you to have more than you have now. Your true brand will, indeed, eventually be the impression that clients form of you in their minds… but it’s your prerogative to start them off with the image you want them to have.  It’s really all about deciding what you want to feel like as a business, and so what you say and how you say it on your site and other marketing material…will all contribute. Be bold though. You can ‘be’ whatever ‘brand’ of copywriter you want to be.”

So, don’t hold back, be bold and LIE BIG!  And you can decide for yourself “what you want to feel like as a business”….me, I’d feel a tad uneasy, even guilty.  But hey, I’m boringly old school.

Another writer shares their personal experience by pointing out reassuringly that “If you have a website, business cards and a logo, you will be surprised at how many people take you at face value.”    Hmmm, more fool them.  Which brings me to my next point.

Where is your emotional intelligence?

This discussion was posted on the Copywriting Training Forum.  And one of the things trainee copywriters are (usually) taught is to “put yourself in the prospect’s shoes”.

Right.  So who is the prospect here?  It’s someone who needs professional help with copywriting.  So, let’s forget all this crap about “you are whatever you tell people you are” and try to see things from their point of view.  Try being ****ing human, just for five minutes.

They are busy, they have a marketing problem and they just want someone who can sort it out.  They trust you.  But then they discover you’ve never completed a genuine copywriting project in your life.  And that you are taking them for a fool. And, to add insult to injury, you expect to be paid.

How are they going to feel?  Pissed off.

Shit for brains?

This begs a number of questions.

  • Do you honestly expect to make any money behaving like this?
  • What kind of job satisfaction can you expect to enjoy if you take this approach?
  • If you get a project, and screw it up, how much damage are you doing to that business and the people who rely on it for their livelihood?
  • Have you no conscience whatsoever?
  • Do you really think people who run businesses, or work in marketing, are totally clueless?
  • What damage are you doing to the image of copywriting as a profession?

Show me the proof

Happily not all copywriters are so shockingly clueless and casually dishonest.  But when so many are so shameless how can you find a good one?

Fortunately, there’s an easy, and effective answer.  Look at the work.  If they can’t show you any then don’t use them.

Even if they do have examples of work, make sure it is genuinely theirs.  And ask them to talk you though the project – what was the problem they were asked to solve, who was the target audience, what was the objective, and how did they approach the task?  This, at least, should satisfy you that they have some experience, and that they
understand the basics of what they are supposed to be doing.

I’m constantly amazed at how few copywriters show examples of their work on their websites.  Either they don’t have any.  Or they aren’t proud of what they’ve done.  Neither of which bodes well!

The sad truth is that many copywriters are much better at promoting themselves than their clients.  But what do you expect – that’s marketing!

Illustration credit Lee Crutchley – he has some great ones on his site

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I’m sold on my clients

To write good copy it helps if you can sell yourself on the product or service you are promoting.   I’m very fortunate to have clients that make this easy.

Cotswold Outdoor

Cotswold woodland walk 1Having worked with Cotswold Outdoor for a few years I really believe they are the best outdoor clothing and equipment retailer in the UK when it comes to getting the most helpful advice on what suits your particular needs and finding the high quality kit you can trust.  I now understand enough about the technology and research that goes into the products they sell.  I realise that they supply gear you can trust that isn’t readily available elsewhere.  And I appreciate, from having talked to them, that their people really know their stuff – they are outdoor people who retail stuff that excites them.  So I’m now a fan.

Ultimate Finance

Ultimate reception small picMuch of the financial industry fills most people with a sense of powerless rage (me included), but I genuinely believe my client Ultimate Finance does a great job of helping SMEs solve a wide range of cashflow problems.  OK, I know they are in the business of Invoice Finance to make a profit, but I’ve met the key members of the team and realise they have genuine integrity.  I’ve also interviewed some of their clients to produce case studies – and can see, in detail, how the solutions they offer are of huge benefit to the right companies.  I have no hesitation in recommending them to any business owners I meet.

Red Carnation Hotels

Then there’s Red Carnation Hotels.  I’ve been fortunate enough to experience a number of their hotels and every time I’m bowled over.  Their mantra is “no request too large, no detail too small” and they really deliver.  Not cheap, but the service, the levels of comfort, the quality of the food and the atmosphere in their bars, are astounding.

Little things make the biggest impression. 

I turned up at the Hotel d’Angleterre in Geneva with my wife.  The doorman and the receptionist greeted us by name.  We had never visited before, but they knew what time to expect us, and everyone was briefed with our names.  Wow!  Same in the restaurant (which looks directly across the lake to Mont Blanc – pretty amazing).  Past guests include Michael Jackson, Mikhail Gorbachev, the Duke of Westminster and royal family of Monaco, all of whom are easy to recognise – I guess we were the only ones they didn’t recognise, so maybe that made it easy?

MS_JuniorSuite_407ViscountSuite_001_SAt The Milestone Hotel in Kensington the butler (yes, you get a butler…) gave me a tour of the hotel on arrival, even down to showing me the drawer in my room where the scissors (for cutting the labels off my shopping), stapler, sellotape, sewing kit etc were kept.  He asked if I’d like a complimentary glass of champagne but I requested a cup of tea.  A pot, with leaf tea and strainer, plus a plate of homemade biscuits and flapjacks, was delivered to my room in about three minutes – I was several floors above the kitchen and have no idea how they did it that fast (I later discovered they have two members of staff for every guest, and it shows).

EgertonOn another occasion, at the Egerton House Hotel, I found a printout of the weather forecast for the next day on my pillow, with some chocolates.  When I questioned the manager she explained it was to help me to decide on what clothes I would need the next day (obviously some guests travel with a full wardrobe – unlike yours truly).  The Egerton House Hotel is also the home of the best martinis in all London, created by the legendary Antonio (pictured above).  As he says “two is not enough and three is too many”.  I think I had two, but I can’t remember.

Again, at The Milestone, I was observing other guests over breakfast.  An American couple were on the next table.  The waitress greeted them by name and asked the man if he’d like diet Pepsi, as usual, and his streaky bacon with the same degree of crispiness as on his previous visit.  I questioned the manager later and he explained that they go to great pains to ascertain a guest’s preferences, then record them for their next stay.  These guys make the flipping amazing look utterly effortless.

Another thing, the staff at all Red Carnation Hotels have the ability to engage in a real conversation and actually listen to what you say.  They are not servile, but good company.  I’ve had to help write some of the HR documents and can tell you that staff are actively encouraged to be themselves and put their own unique personality into everything they do.  It shows – they don’t follow a script and their job is to make friends.  You can tell that they are really enjoying themselves, asking questions, cracking jokes, sharing stories, enjoying a bit of banter.

Recognition, recognition, recognition

I could go on and on, but I won’t.  Needless to say I’m a super-enthusiastic advocate of what they do.   So I’m delighted to see that Red Carnation Hotels get the recognition they deserve.  Last year the top five Tripadvisor rankings for London were filled by Red Carnation – on most weeks they had every slot.  This is even more remarkable when you realise they only have six London properties in total and that week after week they’ve beaten the likes of the Ritz, The Savoy and The Dorchester (by a mile).

Yesterday I got email notification of the Tripadvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards results.  The Milestone has been voted no.1 hotel in the UK, and two other Red Carnation Hotels are in the top 25 (The Chesterfield Mayfair at no. 21 and The Montague on the Gardens at no. 23).  This review of The Milestone (by a journalist eager to discover how they came top) says it all.

Feel good factor

I’m very fortunate to work for clients I believe in.  And discovering that I’m not alone in rating them highly is a good feeling.

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Beam me up Scottie. I’m in Glastonbury.

In my line of work (being paid to make people want to do whatever my clients want them to do) I take a professional interest in observing other members of the human race.  And I have to say that Tesco in Glastonbury is a particularly good environment for research purposes – few habitats can boast such a rich biodiversity.

Hippy New Year?

On New Year’s Eve 2013 my wife and I were shopping there – the cupboard was bare as we’d been away for Christmas.  Plus it was our task to provide the nibbles for the dinner party we’d been invited to that night.  Tesco Glastonbury seemed like a good idea – it’s always pretty chilled out.

Shabby, without the chic

On my travels up and down the aisles I saw a particularly shabby man with a passing resemblance to Rab C Nesbitt – lank thinning hair combed over his pate, with a moon shaped pasty face that was completely expressionless.  He wore a stained maroon anorak and grey flannel trousers whose hems had fallen down and now dragged along the ground, frayed and soiled.  Overweight, he was resting his forearms on the back of his trolley and shuffling forward intermittently.  He showed no interest in the products or the shoppers.

Life is just a catwalk

I then noticed a tall blonde girl who looked as if she had stepped straight out of a fashion magazine.  Or a vodka commercial – her round fur hat, pale skin and cold blue eyes gave her a vaguely Russian appearance.  Immaculately dressed, undeniably elegant and languidly unhurried, she was accompanied by an angelic looking little girl, her long hair falling in ringlets that suggested a session with curling tongs – a perfect designer child with a poised yummy mummy.

Another day, another week, another year

So, two extremes – a man who was a few clubcard points short of a full saucepan set and a young woman with style to spare.  In between there are the “normals”, those on a mission to grab what they need, and get out swiftly, whilst spending as little money as possible.  Purposeful women shopping alone and methodically.  Or slightly impatient thirty/forty something ladies with a bemused partner in tow who is gamely trying to be helpful.

The “reduced” section is being loaded as I go past and there is a polite scrum of shoppers grabbing the bargains almost before they’ve hit the shelves.  For most people lifestyle is something briefly glimpsed in the pages of the Sunday supplements before they resume the daily battle between time and money.

Young love

Then there’s a young blond girl in sloppy top and black leggings being pursued and mauled by a chavvy youth in a baseball cap who looks like he’s been raised on crisps and cola.  Neither of them can be a day over fourteen and as they paw at each other in the petfood aisle the words “teenage pregnancy” are writ large.

Reality is for losers

We arrive at the checkout and I notice the woman in front of us is strikingly attractive in a very fetching hippy chick way.  Knee length skirt over dark leggings that have shiny panels running down them, hair dyed flaming purple piled high on her head and lots of black eyeliner – a cross between Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games and the Elvish Warrior in the latest hobbit film.  Her partner is dressed in a faux threadbare cape of thick black wool, the pointed hood pushed back from his forehead to reveal scraggy dreadlocks – very Aragornish.  Their shopping consists entirely of alcohol, apart from a large grey fluffy towel.  Talking animatedly, with the kind of casual confidence that suggests an innate sense of superiority, they have carefully styled themselves free spirits – Glastonbury royalty (in an imaginary direct line from King Arthur and Queen Guinevere) who sport the short lived glamour that soon fades into mere grunge when the cares of the world catch up with you.

Get me out of here – now!

While I pack, and my wife sorts through a fistful of coupons, I notice the sad character with the maroon anorak and grey trousers.  Still leaning heavily on his elbows, and stationary again, he stares blankly at the line of checkouts.  His trolley is entirely empty.

What to make of all this?  It’s life, Jim.  But not as we may know it.

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nativityVirgin gives birth to son shocker.

Sometimes the most unlikely stories have the biggest impact.  It’s the way you tell them!



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Touchy-feely is better than pushy-pushy – and it’s official.

6902239763_b9b6568918How to get the attention of information saturated consumers when your product or service doesn’t have a truly remarkable point of difference?

This is a question I asked in my very first post, ‘Are you pushing on a door marked “pull”?.   And one I have returned to repeatedly.  I’ve even done a talk (available on video) and written a ebook on the subject.  There’s a list of these posts at the bottom of the page and email if you’d like a free copy of the book.

You read it here first

Despite enthusiastic feedback from some readers it’s easy to feel like a lone voice crying in the wilderness.  Is there anyone out there?  Hello…?

I was therefore surprised, and delighted, to read an article in last week’s Economist magazine that made many of the same points that I’ve been banging on about for two years and more.  It also cited a Nobel prizewinning psychologist whose academic research lends compelling academic credence and validity to my subjective observations and intemperate rants.   Hooray – I’m not alone!

The message still matters – doh!

The gist of my argument is that consumers are sated with information and choice – they’re zoned out and hard to reach.  And that most products are “me-too”.  Most marketers therefore find themselves in the awkward position of trying to flog mediocre stuff to people who couldn’t care less.

Some pin all their hopes on a hi-tech approach, believing that the answer lies in the intelligent use of media, mechanics and metrics: utilising new ways of engaging with consumers, getting better at using these innovative tools, and getting better at measuring results, gathering numbers and utilising Big Data.

This cold, clinical, geeky, number-crunching approach is more task-orientated than people-focused – they almost forget the people part of the equation altogether.  In so doing they lose sight of the fourth “M” – message.  The result?  Communications that are pure vanilla.

The big successful brands – look and learn

The short-sightedness of this becomes apparent if you observe the more nuanced and all-encompassing approaches employed by the world’s biggest and most successful brands.  Of course they focus on media, mechanics and metrics.  But they also give message the attention it deserves.

To make a compelling message it helps to have a product or service that’s remarkable.  But in today’s overcrowded and fiercely competitive marketplace a real tangible point of difference is rarer than rocking horse shit.  Like, how different is Vodafone from Orange or T Mobile?  How different is Travelodge from Premier Inn or Holiday Inn Express?

Stop asking the wrong question 

The smart marketers have therefore stopped asking “what can we say?” and started asking “what do they want to hear?”  Their marketing and brand building efforts have become less product-centric and more consumer centric.

As part of the same process they’ve started to target the consumer’s heart, rather than their head. Why?  Two reasons.  When you have nothing truly different and meaningful to say about your product or service it’s hard to construct a logical argument for buying it – attempt to sell to the head and you only expose the product’s inadequacies.  Also, people are more emotional than they might like to admit.  They generally make decisions based on emotion, then justify that decision using logic.

Joy of branding

That’s why so many big successful brands now sell a feeling.  Why Hyundai exhorts us to “Live Brilliant”.  Why Microsoft Dynamics has the strapline “Make Happy”.  Why KFC now brings us “The taste that unites” (are they for real?!).  Why Guinness promises friendship.  Why John Lewis has gone Disney for Christmas.  Why Cadbury gave us a Gorilla playing the drums with the line “A glass and a half full of joy”.  Why UPS gave us “We love logistics” and why Royal Mail have taken exactly the same tack with “We love parcels” and the Beatles’ classic “All you need is love”.


Like I’ve been saying all along

Before you dismiss this as just an interesting idea, but one that carries little weight (It’s just Jim, what does he know?) check out what The Economist had to say.

The article, entitled “Nothing more than feelings” cites Daniel Kahneman, “a psychologist who won a Nobel Prize in 2002 for showing that people are not the rational agents that economists had thought they were. He argues, most famously in “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, a 2011 book popularising his work, that the mind incorporates two systems: an intuitive “system one”, which makes many decisions automatically, and a calculating but lazy “system two”, which rationalises system   one’s ideas and sometimes overrules them.” So, like I said, people make decisions based on emotion, then justify that decision using logic.

The article explains that the psychologist has become a marketing guru and that “For Mr Kahneman’s disciples advertising is above all a way to groom system one, to nudge consumers towards a buy.”  It adds that “Kahnemanite advertising prizes emotion over information and pays more attention to a brand’s “purpose” than to its products.”

Amen to that.

For free copy of e-book “How to make your marketing irresistible” email

Previous posts on this subject:

From USP to UPS

Hi-tech hi-touch – a concept that’s at the heart of the world’s most successful brands

How to make your brand irresistible

Hi-tech hi-touch – how to get a bit of Steve Jobs into your business

What has hi-tech hi-touch got to do with life as we know it, Jim?

Copywriting that gets to the heart of the matter


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Thought for Movember






OK, I should have thought of this last month but four of the 20th century’s most evil dictators had distinctive ‘taches.  Is there a connection?  I need to know by next November…

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Hooray – at long last a commercial that says something meaningful about the product

mqdefaultHow many ads or commercials do you see nowadays where you wonder what the heck it was all about?  What was the product?  What does it do?  And why should I care?

So well done Volvo for this simple and direct  commercial about Volvo Dynamic Steering (not the sexiest subject in the world).  It makes a compelling and memorable point about the product.

Why don’t other brands take this approach?  Because all too often they have nothing in the way of product features to make themselves remarkable.  Which is why their commercials use special effects, clever editing and spurious production techniques – it’s to distract your attention from the fact the product has nothing remarkable to say for itself.

Yes, it’s a great commercial.  But it has only been made possible by the fact that Volvo made a great product in the first place.




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