How fast do you want it?

How fast are you reading this?

A meta-analysis of 190 studies suggests the average adult reading speed in English is 238 words per minute for non-fiction (it’s slightly higher for fiction).

Whether you are reading this and how rapidly is a function of a number of elements. The fact that you are reading it at all suggests it is probably relevant to your interests and therefore you probably work in or around advertising.

How much attention you focus on it is dependent on the interplay of how much the headline suggests the topic is…

Advertising agencies are all unusual in similar ways

Advertising agencies are all unusual in similar ways. They are organizationally distinct from client companies. They have the traditional accounting and HR but usually their core departments have different philosophies and approaches to the same work. The objective of the agency structure is to house a system that enables creative ideas and development whilst ensuring that client needs are met. This is an alchemical balancing act, because different skills are needed at different stages of the process.

There is limited research into agency structures, but one study identified three pillars:

“professional systems…

How to navigate the flux of culture for commerce


The Culture Compass is a navigation device for understanding, predicting and hopefully capitalizing on shifts in culture.

Across any number of vectors, culture swings like a pendulum, gaining momentum in one direction before reaching an apogee, only to swing back with ever greater force in the opposite direction. Even before cultures around the world reached the levels of polarization we currently see, things would move in one direction and then swing backwards, sometimes violently.

At the most macro, political level, it’s hard not to have noticed how in the USA having…

Despite increased awareness of behavioral economics in the industry, little advertising is shaped by using it. Does the future lies in attention economics instead.

In 2011, Jim Stengel, former CMO of Procter & Gamble, published his book Grow. In it, he analyzed 50 brands with the highest Millward-Brown loyalty scores to determine what might connect them. His answer was brand purpose, the shared intent of everyone at the company to improve lives. He compared this Stengel 50 index with the S&P 500 between 2000 and 2011 and saw that his index had grown 393% compared with a 7% loss in…

Is Dominos a pizza company, a tech company or a delivery company?

Snacking on some television over the pandemic I experienced a pleasing shock of recognition when I noticed that Dominos was using an insight my wife had spontaneously expressed a few days before. We have mostly been cooking this pandemic, which is great but, like anything, gets boring when it is the only choice you have. Nothing is the best thing when it’s the only thing.

We began to cautiously order some ‘date night’ meals from well-regarded establishments in whatever city we were in. They were disappointing, and Rosie…

But what is brand strategy becoming?

Research company Gartner recently announced that, partially at least, in response to the pandemic and its associated uncertainties, CMOs now rank ‘brand strategy’ as their top priority. As with any survey, we should consider the research skeptically — but since CMOs largely direct how they spend their budgets, it’s worth the industry that serves them considering what they might be looking for assistance with.

Brand Strategy at the top, Advertising at the bottom

The survey was interesting beyond the headlines. Previously the same group considered analytics their most vital marketing capability, which highlights both the increased scrutiny that marketing faces to be accountable…

That’s What She Shed

Words are alive and well in the internet age, observes Faris Yakob, and their broader cultural effects are more than ever tied to their ability to break free of their intended contexts and become bigger then the ad — here’s how it worked for these brands.

Once in a while, advertising transcends the stratum reserved for commercial communication. It can be seen to have an effect on culture, creating linguistic ripples that appear on talk shows or Tik-Tok.

Last year, insurance giant State Farm released a batch of commercials and one ignited a minor cultural conflagration…

In 2005 P&G coined the term “first moment of truth” to describe the importance of packaging in their marketing model.

Back in the beforetime, a friend of mine asked me over dinner in London if I knew about the Lyle’s Golden Syrup logo. I did not …

and was surprised to find out it was a dead lion with a swarm of bees emerging from its carcass.

I went on to discover that it was based on a Biblical story called Samson’s Riddle, that most people had never noticed what it was [friends, Twitter and various news articles validated this]…

Permission Denied

Late last year, the decision-maker behind the world’s largest advertising budget made a pronouncement about the future of the industry. Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer for Procter & Gamble, heralded a new age of personalised relevant communication he calls ‘mass one to one’:

“It’s not as reliant on mass marketing, it’s not reliant on mass advertising, it’s much more reliant on connecting with her — and then him, because dad becomes part of that process. I think that’s the future.”

This fusion of intimacy and scale is to be delivered by personalised content, informed by data and enabled…

No, it’s not.

We were delighted to be invited to speak at the launch of Eat Your Greens, a compendium clarion call for evidence-based marketing that we contributed to, in Amsterdam.

It was in a church and we were billed as ‘heretics’ because the principle thesis of the book is that marketers have for too long been guided by strongly held beliefs that are based on myths. Since there is no requirement for any formal education in marketing or advertising, an executive will gradually build a grab bag of anecdotes and framing metaphors that often have little relation to how…


Hello! I'm Faris. I'm looking for the awesome. Founder/Genius Steals. Itinerant Strategist//Speaker. Author of Paid Attention.

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