Take That Two Week Vacation

This is a guest blog written by Dr Sue Guthrie,  Head of Scientific Services at Ogilvy 4D – The health behavior change specialists

The morning rush hour has miraculously disappeared and Wimbledon is but a memory – so it must be the summer holidays.

This is the time to head off with your family for two relaxing weeks, away from your desk, your clients and your email. Sounds perfect, huh?

So why is it that a third of British workers do not take their annual holiday allowance? Are we really too busy? That seems at odds with the fact that UK workers are the least productive of the G7 countries. Do we think we are indispensable? No-one is indispensable – even Apple has survived without Steve Jobs. Is it because managing work around your holiday is hard? Possibly, but that shouldn’t stop you.

Research from the US shows that taking time off is good for the individual, good for productivity and even good for the economy as you spend that holiday cash.

Henry Ford had the right idea back in the 1920s, he recognised that productivity could actually be increased by moving from a 48-hour, six-day work week to a five day, 40-hour week.

Correctly managed, holiday also allows your staff to take on some new tasks and enrich their own role. They have a chance to find new things they enjoy and are good at. They may even develop a better appreciation for what you do! Continue reading

Way To Sex Up A Fiat

Car advertising can be so predictable- high performance, curve hugging exhilaration followed by a woman in a curve hugging dress.

This Fiat ad is filled with clichés, but not the usual ones.  It manages to grab them from culture, sex and muscle busting transformation.  The combination is totally entertaining.

They don’t tell you much about car – who cares? The couple at the beginning are perfect, including her awkward toe waggle.

The woman at the end, eyeing the car with a grrrrrr, is also wonderfully cast.

It’s a nice nod to Fiat’s Italian heritage, from the USA agency The Richards Group.

Un lavoro d’amore…

Your Email Alert Is The Devil

Are you stressed, on overload, working late and thinking this is not what you bargained for?

Your email is killing you – or at least the joy in your job.

Let’s talk about the email alert first.   I’m talking about that little pop up in the corner that tells you there’s a new message.

It should have horns and a pronged fork.

We get the highest job satisfaction when we are in the “state of flow”. Research says that flow is characterized by complete absorption in what you are doing.

When you are in flow you are fully focused.  Time flies because you are totally into what you are working on.

Having your eyes flit to that pop-up every few minutes (or seconds!), then think about that new email, how it involves you and if it can wait, is killing your work mojo.

How can you possibly expect to think of something new, write something great or come up with a brilliant solution when your attention is shattered every two minutes?

That goes for the email alerts on your phone too.  I had a great coaching session with a woman who came up with a plan and was totally galvanized to move forward.  Before she left she glanced at her phone and uttered a panicked “Oh my word!”

I thought something dire had happened, but she flashed her phone at me and said, “All these emails are from the people I’ve tagged as important, I have to go.”

Now think about it.  What was she going to get done in the journey from our meeting room to her desk?

It would have been a much better use of her brainpower to spend a few more minutes inspired by her plan and energized by her future.  That’s what will make a difference in her career – no answering an email one and a half minutes faster.

The reality is – if it is truly urgent, someone will call you.  There is very little sitting in your inbox that is so urgent it can’t wait an hour.

You are 4 easy steps from deleting this devilish distraction in Outlook: Continue reading

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

There must be a million jokes about men going bald. It clearly plays on their mind…

For half the population this vague fear looms in the future.   Will I go bald, am I going bald? Is it receding right now, at the back where I can’t see it?

This Lynx ad, uses that fact in a whole new way.  It doesn’t play up fear in order to change behaviour, like many ads.  Instead it treats baldness as a casual reality that doesn’t deserve your attention.

They encourage you to strut your stuff, shake your shaggy mop, flick it, slick it, then make your hair shimmy.

Well, perhaps, I’ve gotten carried away.  They do say “Make the most of your hair while it’s still there.”

Fortunately, they have a lot of fun predicting your future and apparently you’re invincible – before they get to the hair product.

I like it.  Hope you do.

Lynx – BBH London

Inspire Your Team – Lead With A Deadline

Have you ever tried to lead a project and allow people the autonomy to do their part, only to be told you weren’t assertive enough?

Whether you are leading a small project or a massive innovation, you want to be seen as inspiring your group toward the finish.

You’re right in thinking that people are motivated by the freedom and space to do their part.

So how do you get the balance right; from totally hands off- to getting out your assertive stick and poking them along?

It’s all in the deadlines, that is what gives you control without seeming pushy. Continue reading

How Involved Are You In Football?

Everybody’s got their favourite – and their favourite place to watch football.  How do you convince someone to switch?

I worked on the advertising for TV programmes, movies and channels for a number of years.  When asked what that meant I usually answered, it’s like making a movie trailer with all the best bits, then explaining which cinema it’s in, all in 30 seconds.

It’s hard to get the balance right.  Too much focus on the entertainment and people don’t remember your channel.  Too much about the channel and it’s boring.

That’s especially true when you’re talking about football.

Usually these promos just add to the hype and excitement of the season, doing little for your channel recognition.

BETC Paris really understood that when they made this ad for Canal+ in France.  They launched the football season by putting the Canal+ team at the heart of the action.

They may have taken a bit of dramatic license, but it gives you a behind the scenes sense that this is a channel that will do it’s best to show you the game on the field.

Of course YOU can enjoy it in your warm living room …with snacks.

Silencing Your Inner Critic

Are you your own worst critic?

Do you attend a meeting, finish a project or speak up in a group and then hear that voice in your head doing a brutal review of what you should have done better?

I’d suggest this is holding you back.

You may think it pushes you forward but it really just saps your energy, steals your confidence and keeps you from learning.

Don’t believe me?  Then let’s reframe it.

What would happen if you talked to a small child, like you speak to yourself?

What if you told a child they were an idiot for attempting to run – they should just walk. What if you berated them for trying something new, if you criticized them at every turn; they would never progress and they’d be miserable.

Of course, you wouldn’t do this to a child.  You’d encourage them to learn new things. You’d want them to try, you’d help them believe that they could succeed– whatever it was they were attempting.

Now think about your critical inner voice, when it talks to you in that brutal, defeating way.

It uses your vocabulary, your tone of voice and an endless loop of repetition to tell you how you just aren’t good enough.   It is equally exhausting for you and can make you feel a bit miserable.

So how do you change that?
You can start to change that by focusing on the things you did well at the end of each day.  Your subconscious will grab those and make it the measuring stick for “good” going forward. It will strive to repeat the good stuff. Continue reading

What Would You Do For Your City?

This is a stunning piece of creative work by Y&R.  It has beautifully crafted animation, pulsing with emotion and a call to action.

It shows us a decaying city and its depressed citizens pulling together to rebuild New York City.  They gather their resources to rebuild its heart, sending new energy pulsing into every corner.  Even the Statue of Liberty breathes a sigh of relief.

They ask us to “Keep New York alive.”

Now at this point, I’m all in.

I thought they are going to ask for volunteers to help revamp depressed areas or tell me about the improvements as the economy has recovered.

I was sure they’d want my money, support or time, to help make NYC vibrant again.

But no – they want my liver.

The curve ball is that this isn’t about saving the classic architecture or rescuing old neighbourhoods from decline.  Its citizens aren’t depressed because of the decay.

In a weird and disconnected twist this ad finishes asking us to become organ donors and keep people alive. People…

I think the message needs CPR.

Drop a line in the comment box, I’d love to hear what you

The Job Change Fantasy

Imagine you are sitting at your desk, your boss just complimented you on your last project, you’re sipping coffee and you feel good.

The phone rings and it is an HR recruiter.  They’ve seen your profile on Linkedin and think you would be perfect for a job they’ve got.

You skip along to the interview, where you discover it is your dream job.  It’s also more money and a shorter commute – what a result.

You get an offer at the end of the interview and are working there in no time.

Sounds great doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, in reality that happens about as often as buying the winning lottery ticket.  You don’t want to bet your career on it.

You can still get the dream job
Getting your dream job is within your reach, it just isn’t going to find you and then land in your lap. Continue reading

You Are Going Nowhere…

This ad is a wonderful observation on human nature.  It feels true to life, the reactions are great.

Clemenger in Melbourne came up with the idea for their client, National Australia Bank, a couple of years ago.

The ad is good, makes you smile and is connected to the financial product it is peddling, but that’s not why I’m writing about it now.

I dug it out of the archives because I’ve been doing a lot of coaching lately on careers and finding the job that’s right for you.

So often when we look for jobs, we think our role is to sell our services.  We research the company, explain all the ways our experience could help them and nervously wait to see if they want us.

The reality is we need to be in the buying seat.  Is this the company for you? Are these people you want to work with, is the job going to challenge you and help you gain expertise in your field?

Think of this ad as you prepare for your next interview – you don’t want to get a new job, then discover that you are going nowhere.


Managing Difficult Conversations

You know that sinking feeling, your stomach is in a knot, you have to have a conversation and it’s going to be difficult.

Avoiding it makes it worse and leaves you feeling anxious even longer.

So, how do you handle these conversations with finesse?

How bad is it?
Put it in perspective.  Challenging conversations vary in degrees.  What might be seriously difficult for one person, won’t be troublesome for another.

Here are some scenarios to register your threshold – which of these would make you squirm?

First there’s the area of awkward conversations; telling someone they’ve got something in their teeth, they need deodorant or that their child has badly misbehaved.

Now, move up a notch to conversations that are harder.  Delivering the news that something isn’t going to happen on time… or at all. Maybe it’s explaining changes that weren’t made or explaining a mistake that was made.

Finally, some really difficult conversations, telling someone they’re losing their job, asking someone if they’ve done something illegal, telling someone that they are seriously ill.

How did you do?

Sometimes putting the subject into perspective is enough to get you moving.

If it’s an awkward conversation – don’t blow it out of proportion. These are best dealt with as politely as possible, and then move on.

If you have something harder, a subject in that second or third range of difficult conversation, here are some tips to help you think about your approach. Continue reading

So Wrong But So Funny – Ads That Make Fun Of Us

Sometimes you just have to laugh, even when you know it’s wrong.

Like watching those home videos where people have disasters.  They fall off swing sets, get clobbered by a golf club, the brides dress falls off or the dad gets attacked by the cat.

We know we shouldn’t enjoy their anguish but it’s just funny.

This ad from McCann in Sydney is so inappropriate, in an age where we are constantly warned about too much alcohol.

But it is just funny.

It takes Australia’s love of wine and parlays that into an unexpected message for Corelle’s  product benefit.  A benefit most of us never think about.

I’ll leave you to watch the ad, I’m off to find a glass of wine…

Go For It – An Inspiring New Year

I was watching a Ted Talk by Diana Nyad, a friend sent it to me and I thought you might like it.  She is an amazing woman with a contagious sense of spirit.  You can see it here:
Never, ever give up
She is a long distance swimmer, the first person to swim the gulf from Cuba to Florida.  No one had ever done it before and she had already attempted it 4 times.

When she turned 60, her mantra became “Find a way.”  At 64 she accomplished her dream and made it all the way across.  At 64.

The first thing she said when she came out of the water, after 53 hours of swimming, was “Never, ever give up.”

How do you get that kind of conviction?
1.  Define your dream
Narrow your choices, too many options and your dreams will remain swirling in your head, just possibilities.  Decide on something, big or small and make it the shore you are aiming for this year. Continue reading

What Do You Dream Of?

A favourite question for journalists and magazine quizzes is “Who or what inspires you?”

For me that inspiration comes watching someone really push toward their dream.

Whether it’s an Olympic athlete, someone renovating an old house or an injured person relearning to walk, I feel that tingle.  If they can do it, if they can keep pushing, then we all have that potential.

Wherever it’s found, you see the determination, energy and drive it takes for them to overcome their fears and keep moving forward.

They celebrate each inch that they creep down the long road that holds their dream.  It keeps them going.  It’s a shining beacon that they aim for.   They climb over obstacles and push off rejection to reach it.

Some people seem to find that dream early; they train, practice or study.  They put in their 10,000 hours and become an expert.

Most of us find a dream later, with a bit of life behind us, an understanding of who we are and what we value.

What do you dream of?

Here are two ads that try to borrow some of that inspiration.  They do it differently and associate their brand with the dream in different ways.

Does either one leave you inspired?

Amstel Chef

Misty Copeland for Under Armour

Jot a note in the box below, I’d love to hear what you think.

Emotional Intelligence – How Smart Are You?

Emotional Intelligence is being touted as the X factor in those who rise to the top and are able to stay there.

How good is yours?

Quick test
Here is a quick test to check your emotional connections – can you identify your feelings around this changing scenario?

Imagine you asked your boss if he wanted to walk with you to the client presentation.  He says no, he’ll catch a cab.  You get there and are waiting in front of the building when he arrives, walking with your colleague, deep in conversation.

How do you feel?  How do you feel about him?

Now imagine he joins you in the coffee queue and explains that he wanted to think through his presentation and clear his head, which is why he turned down your offer to walk together.  He was disappointed when the colleague caught up with him and he mentions “we both know how much he can talk.”

How do you feel now?  How do you feel about him?

This time picture a different response from your boss.  When he spots you, he laughs and quickly explains his cab broke down a couple of blocks away and he saw your colleague walking so he joined him.

Does that change how you feel or how you feel about him? Continue reading

The Changing Face Of Gillette

I worked on the Gillette account for 6 years when I was at BBDO.  It gave me an unusually intimate knowledge of what men get up to when shaving.
Razors, foam, gel, blades and aftershave, I worked on it all.

When it came to the razor advertising, the formula was simple:
Take a young, fit Alfa male with a very square jaw.
Put him in an airplane, space craft or race car–fast and macho.
Then cut to him in the bathroom shaving at the speed of light, never a nick.  Follow this with a lush woman, sidling up to his naked chest so she can stroke her hand over his soft cheek.

If that doesn’t bring back memories of every Gillette ad over the last 15 years, here is a 1999 example to remind you.
Mach 3 Continue reading

Is Your Team One Big Drama Triangle?

Is there a lot of drama in your office?
Say someone on your team is really annoyed.  They have been wronged.

They were asked by a person in another department to do something that isn’t their job. This has happened before.  That person’s plea is always accompanied by reasons they can’t do it themselves: they don’t have time, the client suggested it, their boss has something else for them to work on.

Your staff member walks up to your desk steaming.  They explain their frustration, and plead with you to talk to the other department manager and clear this up.  They’ve had it, they’re stressed with their own work, this can’t go on…

And suddenly you’re involved
You pick up the mantle.  You don’t want to have this conversation, you know it will end in a “he said/she said” circular discussion. Continue reading

Food Porn In Advertising

I’m a sucker for food porn. A glorious shot of a salad tossed high, a sensual glimpse of molten chocolate, even the humble burger, shot beautifully, can make it alluring.

So, you’d think amazing food shots coupled with dramatic music and mood lighting must add up to a memorable ad… or not.

Wieden and Kennedy have selected exotic ingredients with strange textures and sharp teeth to take us on their food odyssey.

W&K are a great agency and certainly have delivered on the idea that cooking is an adventure.

But the ad doesn’t feel like a new idea and it doesn’t tell me much about this Cook’s Range of butters from Lurpak.

I’d be the first to admit they make it all look spectacular – who knew you could turn an egg yolk into a galactic explosion?  But does it make me want to cook?  Do I know more about this new butter that will take me into unchartered territory?

I think not.

Great entertainment value – so I’ll give that a 10, but I think they missed the boat on the message.

What do you think?  Drop a line in the box below and tell me if you’ve rushed to put Lurpak on your grocery list.


I’m Creative – What Does That Mean To You?

When we’re little, we are all creative.  Every kid in preschool wants their drawing stuck to the fridge.  No one’s concerned about the colours being accurate – it’s fine to give the boy a green face and the rabbit blue hair – it looks good.

As we get older we get conscious of comparisons.  Do I draw as realistically as they do?  Is my writing as interesting as other bloggers?

I have a wonderful friend that is a natural story teller.  She also has a unique ability to let her humour shine though and often makes me laugh out loud reading her emails.  She has all the talent she needs to fill her desire to write a book, but is held back by the comparisons – will it be good enough, is she creative enough?

Those comparisons kills our buzz – we start to doubt, then decide we just don’t have the imagination.

What defines creative
I have never had “Creative” in my job title.  I’m a creative cook, I’ve danced for years at a dance studio, I’m good at interior design,  I can sew without a pattern and I love writing my blog.  But if you were to ask me if I was creative, I’d hesitate a long time before saying yes.

For years we had a small definition of what exactly is “creative work.” I’m delighted that has begun to change.

Creativity is no longer the prowess of people who can draw and paint, play an instrument or sing.  It’s no longer owned by people whose work title has the word Creative in it.  It has bloomed far beyond the fine arts, the commercial arts and the plastic arts.

Now creativity lives in inventive thought – ideas, words and products that are inspired by our lives.

I just saw a Facebook page for a company called Under Colors – they are developing a nail varnish that changes colour when it comes in contact with rape drugs in drinks – how creative is that?

It’s not the product idea that defines their creativity.  It is the imaginative way they’ve connected today’s social risks and the need to feel secure, with the discretion required to check if the people around you are trustworthy.

It’s the brilliant connection of life experience and imagination that make this creative.

People who write code that delivers us new experiences on the web are creative.  People who curate their photos or pinterest or write about their food adventures are creative.  It’s about your imagination taking flight from your experiences.

Creative expression
Creativity is not a difficult mistress – it doesn’t demand an audience, you don’t need to be paid for it and it doesn’t have to be affirmed by someone else.

Creativity is in the joy of doing something that expresses your original and unique thoughts.   It is in the way you put it together, different from anyone else and uniquely yours.

There is a joy in that creative thinking that we revelled in as a child. Find yours again, let it loose without inhibition.

Don’t be humble, belittle or compare it.

Let your imagination soar.

Here’s a video from Adobe about how they see the new creative landscape.

If you enjoyed this post you might like this article in the New Yorker by Joshua Rothman    on the evolution of creativity. Here is a quote from the article:
If you’re really creative, really imaginative, you don’t have to make things. You just have to live, observe, think, and feel. Coleridge, in his poem “Frost at Midnight,” uses, as his metaphor for the creative imagination, the frost, which freezes the evening dew into icicles “quietly shining up at the quiet moon.” The poem begins: “The Frost performs its secret ministry, / Unhelped by any wind.” The secret, silent, delicate, and temporary work of the frost is creativity, too. It doesn’t build, but it transforms. It doesn’t last, but it matters.

Drop me a line, what unleashes the creativity to you?


An Ad That Hits THE Spot

Sometimes you can’t say things directly, in an ad, because the audience tunes it out.

We’ve all experienced that.  The charity ad that shows you such heart breaking pictures that you flip the page.  The insurance ad that is so obvious you just stop listening.

Research tells us that if people need to think a little about an ad, they are much more likely to remember it.  We also know if they can relate it to their own experiences or emotions it will resonate.

So the holy grail is finding an ad that makes people think a bit, that they relate to or empathise with and then remember the message long enough to act.

This ad about guns certainly stayed in my mind.

My guess is that this McCann NY were asked to target women with this message because they’d be most likely to act.

They cleverly realized that gruesome shooting scenes and fear were not going to cut through, because they are on the news daily in the USA.

Instead they used humour and I think they’ve struck the chord just right.  I don’t know if it was effective, but maybe they hit the spot.

What do you think?  Drop a note in the box below, I’d love to hear your comments.