Blog.

Essays at the intersection of marketing and life.

What Remains is What Matters
17th March 2016

What Remains is What Matters

I am a fan of the lingering detail. Specifics that do not shift are valuable real estate for any communicator. Take In Cold Blood, for example – a book I read more than ten years ago. The first thing I think of to summon the spirit Capote’s masterwork is its tiny detail, not its big plot, … Continue reading “What Remains is What Matters”

Rubio is Dying
10th March 2016

Rubio is Dying

RUBIO FALLS TO THE ORIGINAL SIN OF POLITICS & MARKETING: NOT KNOWING WHO YOU ARE Rubio is dying. The telegenic politician elected to the Senate on a wave of anti-establishment fervour, had only three weeks ago become the Establishment’s last hope for the 2016 Republican nomination. A startling turn of events, but it was not … Continue reading “Rubio is Dying”

On Being Trumped
3rd March 2016

On Being Trumped

Trump is not a leader. He is the result of failed leadership. Hillary Clinton is using an interesting term, of late, to describe the plight of working-class and middle-class Americans: hollowed out. She used it in her speech on Super Tuesday, as she addressed the elephantine presence in the room: “We know we’ve got work … Continue reading “On Being Trumped”

The Masculine Earthquake
7th February 2016

The Masculine Earthquake

Axe knows what it means to be manly. Do you? We are witnessing the fastest transformation in the meaning of gender since Adam’s rib was robbed. What we held to be just so is no longer ‘so’ at all. This is a time of flux, confusion, and also great hope. It is as if gender … Continue reading “The Masculine Earthquake”

Not Caring
18th January 2016

Not Caring

‘How can you be like that?’, I asked the 22 year old who sat in front of me. ‘How can you be so liberated, when it took me 50 years to get that far?’.  We were in a creative session and dealing with profound issues; the stuff of life and the universe. The standard practice … Continue reading “Not Caring”

Murdering Making a Murderer: the psychology of spoilers
17th January 2016

Murdering Making a Murderer: the psychology of spoilers

I’m in conflict. I both want to view Making a Murderer until the bitter end – I’m at episode 5 of 10 – and also want to listen to what the critics have to say about its amazing storytelling.  The mangled life of Mister Steven Avery is the subject of this gripping Netflix Series, but … Continue reading “Murdering Making a Murderer: the psychology of spoilers”

PLODcast: managing success is a high-class problem
10th January 2016

PLODcast: managing success is a high-class problem

WHY DO WE HAVE SUCCESS? Whenever success comes a calling, there is a pressing question behind the jubilation: what exactly did we get so right?  This is a challenge hovering around a myriad businesses, right now. How to account for the meteoric rise in the hoverboard?; or the spectacular return-to-form of Kombucha?; or the astonishing way … Continue reading “PLODcast: managing success is a high-class problem”

Resolving on Resolutions
9th January 2016

Resolving on Resolutions

I am sitting in the giant central concourse of Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, a coffee in hand, and looking up at the Departures Board. It is displayed in Hebrew and receives my special attention, as my five days of language tuition are still bouncing in my head. I survey the letters from right to … Continue reading “Resolving on Resolutions”

Troubadour
2nd January 2016

Troubadour

Discussion is the national sport of Israel. They are incessant talkers, Israelis. This extends to the opera, that holy shrine of silence in western culture, where I landed last night. The packed house was not just talking before the show and after the show, but through it too. A family from out of town sat … Continue reading “Troubadour”

Tackling Hebrew
2nd January 2016

Tackling Hebrew

When I moved to France in 1989, I lived a simple life, and was always in the present. That is to say, I could not conjugate verbs in the past or the future, so everything was necessarily in the present. Back then, I didn’t realise how avant garde my life had become, living exclusively in … Continue reading “Tackling Hebrew”

Gift. A Christmas Story
26th December 2015

Gift. A Christmas Story

Cherry visited in winter, but we had actually met the previous summer. High summer. We were hanging around, outside a Spanish hostel, waiting for the damned thing to open. Pinned to the door, a simple notice told me all I needed to know: ‘The tourist demands. The pilgrim thanks’ More than ten years since walking … Continue reading “Gift. A Christmas Story”

Behold. A car is reborn.
23rd December 2015

Behold. A car is reborn.

Renewal. That is the word I heard most. I have just watched a press conference of Volkswagen’s leadership which lasted 123 minutes (accuracy is important these days) and it is clear that ‘renewal’ is now the watchword. The patient is still in intensive care, but fully expected to recover. I do not report this with … Continue reading “Behold. A car is reborn.”

Smouldering Dangerous Coffee
22nd December 2015

Smouldering Dangerous Coffee

Because I live in a post-television age in my own home (two years and counting), I had to shut up my friend. He was insisting on chatting as we sat in the cinema, waiting for the film to start. ‘Don’t talk. I want to study the ads’, I said. I have become hungry for the … Continue reading “Smouldering Dangerous Coffee”

Taxi to Kandahar
11th December 2015

Taxi to Kandahar

I remember a young man in one of my research groups describing chat radio after 10pm as ‘train wreck’ broadcasting. As I sat into a taxi last night, a major pile-up was in progress over the car’s airwaves. Why my driver, with a name from South Asia, might like this kind of radio made me … Continue reading “Taxi to Kandahar”

Don’t Make Unnecessary Journeys
7th December 2015

Don’t Make Unnecessary Journeys

The commentary section of YouTube videos can be a land of bores, buffoons and cribbers. The Internet’s anonymity brings a certain lack of charity to the fore in us. In normal life, we are gifted with the power to lie and to be polite during social interactions. In YouTube land, all bets are off. There … Continue reading “Don’t Make Unnecessary Journeys”

11th November 2015

Shaken Bacon

By Brian McIntyre, on November 11th 2015, in Dublin.   In the end, the pig industry became a cropper to a grabby headline: ‘Bacon gives you cancer!’ What could be clearer than that? Well, it transpires, the whole truth could have been way clearer than that. ‘BaconGate’ describes the hysteria generated by the World Health Organisation’s announcement that bacon … Continue reading “Shaken Bacon”

So Wright
12th October 2015

So Wright

By Brian McIntyre, in Dublin. October 12th, 2015.  Frank Lloyd Wright was an arrogant sonofabitch – one of his most endearing qualities. I tire of false modesty, humble bragging and contrived understatement. Our culture does not seem to allow us hold a strong opinion or believe ourselves worthy of praise. It forces us to defer, … Continue reading “So Wright”

Vorsprung durch Fraud
22nd September 2015

Vorsprung durch Fraud

Volkswagen, the Lower Saxony automaker and global behemoth, has landed itself in a Teutonic pickle of gargantuan proportion. On Day 5 of the “crisis”, it has announced it will recall 11 million vehicles to correct a ‘faulty’ emissions apparatus (read, deliberately faked bit of kit which conveniently makes VW diesel cars appear 10-40 times more … Continue reading “Vorsprung durch Fraud”

My week in Tel Aviv
19th September 2015

My week in Tel Aviv

70km out the road is the city on the hill. It is cooler there. You can breathe in Jerusalem. It is the centre of things – religions, cultures, disputes. Here, on the Mediterranean fringe, we pay for natural beauty in humidity. Stifling, exhausting humidity. Not many poems are written about Tel Aviv, I suspect. I … Continue reading “My week in Tel Aviv”

The things I choose not to do
24th August 2015

The things I choose not to do

A good friend – herself a senior business leader – sat down with me over a coffee and enumerated the things she had decided not to do. I found her way of thinking interesting: choicefully deciding what to avoid, in order to conquer the world on one’s own terms – whatever conquering means for you. … Continue reading “The things I choose not to do”

Signature 
23rd August 2015

Signature 

There’s a movie on Netflix that I liked. It’s about creativity, and what drives the creative force in some of the world’s emerging and leading artists. Time is a natural filter. It clears all the noise and allows the ‘signal’ to remain. In truth, I can only remember one thing about this Netflix movie, even … Continue reading “Signature “

Hotel Dystopia: one day in Dubai
23rd August 2015

Hotel Dystopia: one day in Dubai

Being its resident for some twenty hours, I had time to ruminate on why exactly the Dubai Copthorne Hotel, managed and run almost entirely on behalf of Emirates Airlines, was so very unwell. The stress enveloping the establishment was evident from the outset. As I waited in line at Reception, two squabbles were in progress at … Continue reading “Hotel Dystopia: one day in Dubai”

BATTLEGROUNDS: 5 things politics can teach marketing
21st June 2015

BATTLEGROUNDS: 5 things politics can teach marketing

To be human is to be political. ‘Politics’, of course, are not negative – despite our culture’s insistence on bashing politicians for every conceivable ill. Politics are, in a most general sense, simply the way people collaborate and do things, together. No surprise then, that the strategies employed by politicians to persuade citizens to think and act … Continue reading “BATTLEGROUNDS: 5 things politics can teach marketing”

Berkeley: where the rot begins
17th June 2015

Berkeley: where the rot begins

The news from Berkeley, California, is so upsetting that I cannot sit still. Six Irish students have lost their lives when a fourth floor apartment balcony collapsed. Seven others are severely injured. The loss of these beautiful young women and men – the precious cargo of our nation – hurts in a visceral way. The … Continue reading “Berkeley: where the rot begins”

Criticism
14th June 2015

Criticism

Last Tango in Paris (1972) – a movie put on the map by Pauline Kael’s compelling review. I have a friend who rarely enjoys wine. His palate and knowledge are such that he now cannot afford that which he loves most. Most other wines – the ones I’m happy to drink – seem to him … Continue reading “Criticism”

He took me to The Island
11th June 2015

He took me to The Island

It is oft seen, but rarely visited. Across great swathes of Ayrshire coastline, locals wake to its burnished flanks, radiant in the morning sun, and retire in the thrall of its muscular shadow, battling the embers of day. Everyone in these parts knows something of ‘the Craig’. Its granite. Its birds. Its lighthouse. Its owner. But … Continue reading “He took me to The Island”

FI, FA, fo, fum
5th June 2015

FI, FA, fo, fum

I smell the blood of a Swiss man. And an American. And a Trinidadian. And an Irishman. And the list goes on, and on… This week’s implosion of FIFA – the world governing body of soccer – has been fascinating to observe. Way from the outside, I should add, as I am a committed abstainer when … Continue reading “FI, FA, fo, fum”

What’s going on here?
3rd June 2015

What’s going on here?

Within this picture lies the key to great communication. Take a good look. What’s going on? How to make sense of it? What is the artist saying, exactly? All successful communication demands choice. Not every point to be made is equal. When brands communicate, we never tell everything. Rather, we choose foreground and background – … Continue reading “What’s going on here?”

A unicorn without a horn is a horse
4th May 2015

A unicorn without a horn is a horse

Recent writing by Jonathan Rauch draws attention to the U-shaped curve of life’s happiness. As we arrive into adulthood our life-satisfaction drifts downwards, not to turn the corner until our forties, when, driven by a certain acceptance that middle age carves from the wreckage of fractured dreams, we experience a rebound of happiness.  The ‘happiness … Continue reading “A unicorn without a horn is a horse”

Scale
25th April 2015

Scale

Listening to critics speak about the recently released fashion documentary ‘Dior and I’, I was struck by a perceptive comment on why the cinema really is a special place. ‘I think we overlook that scale is, itself, a sense’, said the commentator. He went on to describe the visceral reaction he had to witnessing Raf … Continue reading “Scale”

Big in Japan: the use of Haiku in marketing
20th April 2015

Big in Japan: the use of Haiku in marketing

Similar to the re-reading of beloved books, revisiting political campaigns, where the outcome is both known and to my liking, is a hobby of mine. I recently watched The War Room, a documentary on William Jefferson Clinton’s successful bid for the American presidency in 1992. In it, George Stephanopoulos pays credit to James Carville’s brilliant strategic mind, especially … Continue reading “Big in Japan: the use of Haiku in marketing”

The joy of tears
10th April 2015

The joy of tears

I saw a piece of theatre last week. It was familiar to me. I have both read and seen it several times before. Its plot holds few secrets, and I have grown to love the familiarity of its words and characters – daring to say things they should never say, to love people they should … Continue reading “The joy of tears”

The Brief
5th April 2015

The Brief

Amid the 2015 Oscars hullabaloo of a couple of months back, one sound bite from a Hollywood hack has stuck with me. It is this. A film is written four times. Once by the screenwriter. Once in its casting. Once as it is shot. And for the last time in editing.  It is rather difficult to … Continue reading “The Brief”

The art of seduction
14th March 2015

The art of seduction

There is a well-trod phrase in the world of advertising which scolds brand owners whose ads lack subtlety: Watch out, your briefs are showing. The ‘brief’, of course, is the agreed strategy which lies behind an advertising campaign. And, woe is me, those private briefs get a public showing quite a lot. On-the-nose ads which … Continue reading “The art of seduction”

Brian Williams and the ticking clock
12th February 2015

Brian Williams and the ticking clock

Brian Williams has experienced a biblical fall-from-grace for telling self-glamorising tall tales while covering the Iraq war for NBC. Holed up in his Connecticut home, with the media feasting on the carcass of his career, he may draw cold comfort from the knowledge that he indeed now fully grasps what it is, to be in a … Continue reading “Brian Williams and the ticking clock”

Intimacy
5th February 2015

Intimacy

Intimacy is the new authenticity. What in hell does that mean? Well, look around you. In almost every realm of culture, we are being assaulted by authenticity warriors. This is true from brands, from politicians, from organisations, and from a hotel I stayed in last week in which ‘the manager’ wrote me a hand-written card … Continue reading “Intimacy”

Amnesia is bad for business
3rd February 2015

Amnesia is bad for business

History is cultural psychoanalysis. Its mission is not to discover facts, but rather to uncover understanding. We delve into what happened way back to make sense of who we are, and consider what we may become. The idea of historical accuracy is bunkum. We can, of course, agree on the facts of the past, but … Continue reading “Amnesia is bad for business”

Making peace with that objectionable term, SYNERGY
31st January 2015

Making peace with that objectionable term, SYNERGY

Outside of being described as a marketeer, I can live with most catchphrases in our marketing trade. The idea of being a marketeer – akin to a musketeer, a pamphleteer or a buccaneer – leaves me feeling just a little debased. As if somehow my noble practice were the shoddy work of half-thieves. Arf. Arf. Well, … Continue reading “Making peace with that objectionable term, SYNERGY”

ON PARODY – in life and in marketing
7th January 2015

ON PARODY – in life and in marketing

The unfolding events in Paris – where 12 are left dead at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and the Kalashnikov-touting assailants are still on the loose – prompt consideration of the essential role of parody in our public discourse, and the exciting tone that parody can represent for those of us in … Continue reading “ON PARODY – in life and in marketing”

Happenings at a Window: three stories, one word
30th December 2014

Happenings at a Window: three stories, one word

In the receding embers of 2014, there is little left to do but make some lists. Yes. Lists are legion, coming after Facebook’s pictorial assault on 1.2 billion people’s ‘great year’ – packaging life in a manner that suggests both uniqueness and sameness, simultaneously. I have recently read lists of 2014’s dead, its best jokes, … Continue reading “Happenings at a Window: three stories, one word”

A Christmas Story
24th December 2014

A Christmas Story

Every shop has its seasonal rhythm. I spoke to Dave, who runs the local deli and market in Howth, during the week. ‘Tomorrow’s the day the phone rings and they’ll ask have we sprouts, and will they be fresh…’, he said, certain of how folks on his peninsula prepare to cook their Christmas dinners. ‘There’s … Continue reading “A Christmas Story”

In praise of podcasting
18th December 2014

In praise of podcasting

16 months ago I got rid of TV. Well, not exactly. The physical machine is still attached to the wall, but I have no channels whatsoever. None. I use the TV to watch Netflix (an internet-based subscription), DVD box sets and to mirror whatever happens to be on my Apple devices, via Apple TV. I … Continue reading “In praise of podcasting”

Serial’s killer fact
16th December 2014

Serial’s killer fact

In the whodunnit which has recently captured 5 million podcast downloads, there are really only two contenders. Adnan, who is in jail for the crime. And Jay, his friend and supposed accomplice after-the-fact, who is not. Adnan, it emerges across SERIAL’s 11 podcast instalments to date, is in jail mostly because a compelling narrative was … Continue reading “Serial’s killer fact”

Hozier Exposure
23rd November 2014

Hozier Exposure

Ambition is not necessarily correlated with success. Thank God. The Nazis aspired to a 1000 year reich and had reached less than 2% of their target by the time of their riddance. But perhaps the trap of vaulting ambition applies to heroes as much as villains. This thought comes to mind with a peculiarly Irish … Continue reading “Hozier Exposure”

Why TV is so damned good these days
19th November 2014

Why TV is so damned good these days

When I think of the freedom of the 1960s, the romance of the 1950s, the adventure of the 1940s, I sometimes despair for the age we live in. Is this it? Are we really to be made famous for being the epoch of vines, and news feeds, and ice bucket challenges? And just as the … Continue reading “Why TV is so damned good these days”

Bill Clinton, Brand Manager.
17th November 2014

Bill Clinton, Brand Manager.

The old dog has not forgot his old, winning tricks. Unlike George W. Bush, who is busy still-life painting in Crawford, Texas, Bill Clinton was not seduced into a life of leisure (golfing, one suspects, would have been his thing) after leaving office in 2000. I have been watching him talk some days back to … Continue reading “Bill Clinton, Brand Manager.”

How screenwriting helps brand-making
16th November 2014

How screenwriting helps brand-making

I’ve taken to screenplay studies. It is possible to become a student of anything, once you have wifi and a smartphone. iTunes University and podcasts offer so much for those of us who have little niche itches to scratch. Screenplays are my current thing. For anyone interested in how communication is constructed, listening to screenwriters … Continue reading “How screenwriting helps brand-making”

Poppies in London Tower: a story
15th November 2014

Poppies in London Tower: a story

I am an unlikely candidate to have a meaningful relationship with the Tower of London, but the truth is, I do. Denied. I was not previously incarnated as Anne Boleyn or as Oliver Cromwell, each of whom mislaid a head somewhere along its ramparts. No. I am not the channeled soul of heroic Roger Casement … Continue reading “Poppies in London Tower: a story”

Burying the Lead:  English is from Mars, German is from Venus
8th November 2014

Burying the Lead: English is from Mars, German is from Venus

For all of its supposed proximity to English, German sometimes feels like it’s from another planet. Beyond a fascination with grammar and an obsession with the dative case (the linguistic equivalent of sexy lingerie, for its sensual ability to fascinate), German holds a further revealing tick. Das Tick is this: Deutsch holds the verb to … Continue reading “Burying the Lead: English is from Mars, German is from Venus”

A Question of Insight
29th October 2014

A Question of Insight

All progress in life is based on killer questions. They are the challenges which make us think about what we do. They make us reconsider choices. I was recently bemoaning a period in my life where I could not end relationships. Even though I knew things were at an end, I did not want to … Continue reading “A Question of Insight”