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In his brilliant book, Welcome To The Creative Age, Mark Earls, then one of the top advertising planners in London, coined the term "Purpose-Idea" as a more interesting, engaging and human term to replace the word "brand". The latter he viewed as an outdated, overused and mostly meaningless concept.

Although I loved the book ("Purpose-Idea" is one of the most explosive "aha!" moments I've had in my entire career), it soon became apparent to me that a Purpose-Idea doesn't live in a vacuum. It needs to be articulated via a Social Object, so the idea can spread. Ideas spread not on their own steam, but as social objects.

So recently I've been using the term "Object-Idea". A bit of a mouthful, maybe, but it works for now.

So what does this have to do with anything?

Well, basically, I've been telling the advertising agency world for a while now: "Guys, you're no longer in the Message business, you're in the Social Object business."

Yes, television commercials can be social objects. In fact, they must be, if the ad is to work. The "whassup?" campaign for Budweiser didn't work because the ad was THAT great artistically or convinced you of the beer's quality.

It worked because suddenly millions of young adults the world over started saying "whassup?" to each other. The advertising message "whassup?" had become a social object. An utterly massive one.

In the advertising and marketing world, successful social objects (often called "virals", especially when talking online) are a good thing. Every brand manager and his uncle dreams of one day creating the next Cadbury "gorilla".

But a social object on steroids - an Object-Idea - is far more powerful. Because it's actually talking about stuff that actually matters to people. It's not enough for people to like your product. For them to really LOVE it, somehow they've got to connect with and empathise with the basic, primal human drives that compelled you to create your product in the first place.

The Purpose. The Idea. Otherwise, you're just one more piece of clutter to them.


An unexpected surprise landed in my inbox this morning. I think it's been taken from a business magazine. But I'm not completely sure. It is, however, definitely worth sharing with you. Enjoy!

The Beatles' Principles

Principle No 1: Invest in and build face time between team members long before they are required to appear together.

Principle No 2: Evolve your "songs" and bring the same level of ideas, new perspectives, excitement and enthusiasm to your hundredth meeting with a client that you brought to the first.

Principle No 3: Help team members become brands-within-a-brand by giving them a song - an idea or proposal - that will help them to shine.

Principle No 4: Put exceedingly diverse professionals on the same team, mix specialists with generalists and foster friendly competition to produce the best ideas.


Talk about jumping on the bandwagon some considerable time after it has packed up and left town - Peperami is the latest brand to indulge itself in a little spot of crowdsourcing. And harmless fun this work is too. Devised by, err, two advertising creatives, it is a mildly humorous retread of the classic Lintas work of the 90s.

But what on earth is the point of crowdsourcing? I just don't fucking get it. While I'm all for finding new and more fundamental ways for people to engage with brands, I'm not sure getting them to make ads is really what we all mean by engagement. A phenomenally small bunch of people (1,185 people submitted ideas in this case) and this type of engagement is restricted to the communications the brand makes and nothing more substantial.

This approach is surely best done with the brand and not through websites like Ideas Bounty, which is simply a marriage broker for creatives and clients and not really about crowdsourcing.

What's so cool about crowdsourcing, anyway? It strikes me that clients that have no real strategy are being sold it as a "brave new idea" in communications when it's just a bit of PR puffery to mask the fact that no-one has any genuinely new ideas about the brand themselves.