Archive for June, 2012
Last weekend’s Sunday Times (paywall, sorry) had a great piece in it about the government’s Behavioural Insights Team (aka The Nudge Unit). I’ve read quite a few articles about them before (mainly in the business and research press), covering how they use behavioural economics and Malcolm Gladwell style ‘Nudges’ to influence behaviour change. But this piece was handily full of mini case studies that make perfect ammunition for persuading clients to let us dig a bit deeper into their customer touch points:
- In a trial targeting 3,000 doctors who had failed to file their tax returns, ‘nudge’ letters highlighting the high degree of tax compliance among doctors and reminding them of the profession’s trustworthy and honest reputation resulted in a 35% response rate, vs. 4% with the generic HMRC reminder letter.
- Personalised text messages that were sent to people who owe money to the courts the week before bailiffs were due resulted in a third of all recipients subsequently paying up.
- Since last year, people who apply for a new or replacement UK driving licence are required to state on their application whether or not they’d like to be an organ donor…although this one will obviously take a while for any measurable results to come.
If the Nudge Unit survives its review next month, they apparently want to get their hands on supermarket loyalty card data to start prompting shoppers on an individual level to make healthier choices. We’d all love to get out hands on some Clubcard data, but I suspect that this lot won’t want to pay for it! The Behavioural Insights Team are moving towards some interesting grey areas and I suspect the debate about how much the government should seek to influence our lifestyle choices is going to run for years to come.
I saw an ad today for Scrooge the musical, which will be at the London Palladium this Autumn starring Tommy Steele, aged 75.
This tied in rather nicely with a piece I stumbled across on The Stage’s website earlier this week about the resilience of older performers, including Ann Emery (82), who plays Billy’s gran eight times a week in Billy Elliot in the West End and Des O’Connor (80), who is currently starring as the title character in The Wizard of Oz. Meanwhile, away from the world of musicals, Ken Dodd (84) and Paul Daniels (74) are both still touring while Bruce Forsyth (82) continues to remind us to “keep dancing”.
You certainly won’t find the average AdMan still working well into their 70s or even 80s. You could argue these older entertainers have got performing and the associated applause so tied up with their own identity that they can’t live without it. Or that their lifestyle requires them to keep working to pay the bills. But they couldn’t work if the demand wasn’t there – and thanks to better healthcare, lifestyle and pension provision there’s an enormous, relatively affluent 70+ audience out there who want to see the stars they’ve always enjoyed watching. An audience that has the flexibility to attend matinées, will happily go on organised group outings to the theatre and enjoys ‘proper’ Saturday night entertainment that they can watch even if the extended family are over.
This audience is one of the most affluent demographics in the UK – and probably one of the most ignored by marketeers. If I had a product or brand aimed at these kind of people, I’d be on the phone to Tommy Steele’s agent straight away.
I’ve been reading a lot about work-life balance recently, including this piece in Campaign (paywall, sorry) by Gail Gallie of Fallon London advocating a better deal for working mums in the ad industry and this enormous essay in Atlantic Magazine by Anne-Marie Slaughter (the former director of policy planning at the US State Department) about why women still can’t have it all.
Both these pieces talk about work-life balance as it affects working mums and family life. But I think the professional industries in general (and AdLand in particular) have created a working environment that is pretty incompatible with having any kind of a life, whether that involves children or not.
I don’t have children (long story), but as a freelance the thought of ever having to go back to a five-days-a-week agency job makes me feel physically sick. Now I’ve seen what’s on the other side of the fence, I don’t think I could cope with the insane hours, short notice disruption to non-working hours and the stress levels.
It’s not just me being soft. One agency friend has cancelled lunch or dinner with me four times since March due to work commitments. Such has their role completely taken over their life that I don’t think they’ll be staying there much longer, to the agency’s loss. I know of three friends (three!) that left the industry entirely because they were so stressed that their hair was falling out. Another high-flying account director downsized to an office based account management job they could do standing on their head as their current job was destroying their life.
Note that none of the people I mentioned above are mums. This industry is not just incompatible with family life, it is, in its current format, incompatible for most people with having a life. And if we just make the work environment easier for working mums, their child-less colleagues left still dealing with the client crisis at 8pm (been there! a lot!) will be even more likely to bail on the industry.
You could argue that ANY office-based, medium-powered, white-collar job is in fact incompatible with having a healthy, balanced life. But considering that our industry is supposed to have creativity, inspiration and connection at its heart, we’re currently pretty rubbish at making sure our people are both in a fit state to embrace this – and willing to stick with it.
The latest issue of Admap arrived yesterday, courtesy of the APG. The cover (and the six Admap Prize award-winning essays inside) focused on Planning 3.0.
As an Account Planner, this should have been a must-read. Instead I’ve just retrieved it from the recycling bin (where I chucked it after a quick flick through) in order to take the pic above.
Taking or writing about Planning is tricky. It’s such a play-to-your-strengths, individual thing and almost every Planner does it slightly differently. And as any Planner who has had to explain what they do for a living to someone outside the industry knows, it’s challenging to sum up in a few sentences.
But I really think there’s no need to go all academic or introspective. Planners are there to help make communications more effective. And to do that, agencies and their clients need to like, respect and understand us. Spending thousands of words speculating on the future of our role while using terms like symbiotic mutualisms probably isn’t going to further that cause.
So last weekend we fired the first shots in 2012’s Jubilympic branding exercise for Great Britain. Yes, the Diamond Jubilee weekend was supposed to be all about celebrating HMQ’s 60 year reign, but there was inevitably a big-up for Team GB, Brand Britain and UK PLC in there too.
I think the Visit Britain campaign proposition was something like ‘Come visit us! We have heritage and culture and a Queen. And we’re FUN too!’ The Jubilee Flotilla obviously didn’t go quite as planned due to inclement weather, unfortunately reminding potential tourists that our Summer can be cold and wet – check out Jon Stewart’s covering-of-CNNs-coverage (which will only work if you’re in the USA I’m afraid).
It was at least dry for the Concert, although The Queen a) probably doesn’t like pop music and b) was probably worrying about Prince Phillip in hospital so didn’t look like she was enjoying herself much, earplugs and all.
pic by adrian johnson on twitter
The weekend also included a Service of Thanksgiving on Tuesday, Beacon Lighting and Jubilee Street Parties and other events (all mostly rather cold and damp).
And for a final hurrah, we showed just how good Britain is at flag waving and being-well-behaved-in-a-crowd when an estimated 1.5M of us crammed in front of Buckingham Palace and filled The Mall for a final balcony appearance from the Queen and a military fly past.
both photos from The Daily Mail, who at the time of writing on Tuesday had no less than 24 royal stories on their homepage…
But the event where the Queen looked like she was enjoying herself most actually took place three weeks ago at the Diamond Jubilee Pageant at the Royal Windsor Horse Show (but screened on ITV last weekend). A friend-of-a-friend was riding in the Pageant and reported that HMQ “looked so happy with her horses”.
As well as celebrating the Jubilee, I suppose it comes down to who the events were supposed to be entertaining – The Queen, the Great British Nation, or Potential Tourists and Overseas Partners? The Windsor Pageant clearly achieved the former, while the concert and river pageant at least seemed to have set out to do both, even if play was rained off a bit.
Let’s just hope it stays dry for the Olympics, or no-one will fly into Heathrow without a brolly ever again.