If you need to see it to be it then here’s more role models for girls

April 10th, 2017

femaleleadEdwina Dunn, famous for setting up the mother of big data DunnHunnby, has retired from her previous life in data analytics and is tackling a problem dear to all our hearts, how to inspire young women.

Her new book, The Female Lead, is designed to inspire the next generation of girls.  It takes the idea that you need to see it to be it and delivers at scale. The Female Lead is a non-profit organisation dedicated to making women’s stories more visible and offering alternative role models to those ever-present in popular culture. The project highlights the breadth of female achievement in order to offer inspiration for future generations.

The Female Lead creates a variety of spaces to present these stories including a book of 60 amazing women from around the world published in February, together with an online and social media presence, and an outreach programme for girls in schools, celebrating female role models who shape the world.

Edwina was interviewed at AdWeek Europe by Natasha Pearlman editor of Grazia.

Dunn talked about the gender divide that she’d seen in girls’ role models.  She said that girls have a smaller range of people that they look up to.  They will name their mother or sister, perhaps a celebrity (Kardashian inevitably).  Whereas boys seem to have a wider spectrum – footballers and business men included.

Our longitude study RWI’s Connected Kids, which has been surveying 1,200 8-19 year olds in the UK for over 15 years, shows that when specifically asked about people in the public eye as role models, girls do come up with business women, even if they might be celebrities first as well as sports heroes just as boys do.

When asked who in the public eye who they might see as role models the boys’ list includes: David Beckham, Alan Sugar, Bill Gates, Wayne Rooney, Richard Attenborough and Richard Branson.  Girls name: Emma Watson, Kylie Jenner, Beyonce, Scarlett Moffat, Little Mix and Jessica Ennis-Hill.

Furthermore girls’ career aspirations are far broader than when our survey started when hoped for careers were dominated by movie or pop star hopes.  So junior school girls now say that when they grow up they want to be a vet, teacher, policewoman, doctor, dentist and yes dancer.  Senior girls say: teacher, scientist, doctor, vet or lawyer.  For comparison boys say: Engineer, footballer, doctor, IT and gaming and scientist.

The Female Lead book will encourage even more young women to embrace a variety of career aspirations, including business.

Meanwhile at another highlight of Adweek, when Matt Schnecker himself interviewed Jamie Oliver, Oliver struggled to answer the question about who he considered a role model.  Eventually he arrived at Mayor Bloomberg (who was obviously a businessman who turned to politics – does this indicate Oliver’s future plans?  Might we get the Naked Mayor?)

He pointed out that Bloomberg is criticised by some for not achieving all of his goals.  Oliver’s view is that Bloomberg cast a stone into the pool and it is the ripples that are his achievement.  Even if all of his objectives haven’t necessarily been met.

The Female Lead is another stone into the pool of the status quo, and here’s hoping it creates ripples that deliver lasting change for young women.





April 3rd, 2017

Twitter chief Bruce Daisley used to have the wrong photo on his LinkedIn feed as he explained on the MediaCom Connected Podcast this month.   Instead of his happy smiling face, for a long time he had a picture of iconic British comedian Bob Monkhouse, a man who frankly does not bear much physical resemblance to Bruce.
Not many people are that aware of Monkhouse these days.  Jon Culshaw calls him the “Rolls Royce of gag tellers”.   The only joke that I can remember of his was that he used to say “They laughed at me when I said that when I grew up I wanted to be a comedian…. Well they’re not laughing now!”


Bruce takes comedy seriously.  He says that he “laughs every day in his job”, which might be a key part of his road to career success.


Being funny really drives status.


Colleagues who make others laugh are seen as more self-confident, competent and higher in status, according to a series of experiments by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Harvard Business School and reported by WSJ.


The average British worker has over 6000 meetings during the course of their career.  It would be a bit grim if none of them made you laugh.


The right sort of humour is crucial however.


During the course of writing The Glass Wall, Kathryn and I came across a gender divide as far as humour is concerned.


There might be a culture of banter in the workplace that blokes find incredibly funny, and women find very excluding, even if they laugh along with the jokes.


Creative legend Dave Trott explained the gender divide with his own joke: “Men insult each other all the time in the workplace, but they don’t really mean it.  Women compliment each other all the time at work, and they also don’t really mean it.”


This led us to ask: “Do women take “funny” seriously enough as a career boosting technique, and do men allow them to do so?”


One story that didn’t make it into our book involved a young account director at a creative agency who was specifically told by her boss (a man) not to open a presentation with a joke, because it was inappropriate for her status in the agency.  Was it because he thought it wasn’t a funny joke?  Or was it because he didn’t like the idea that she was funny?


There was a media storm last year when a City receptionist was sent home because her heels weren’t high enough.  Note that the story wasn’t about the fact that she was dressed smartly (no one was suggesting that she was wearing trainers or flip flops).


This led Times’ journalist Deborah Ross to write: “No woman has been told (as far as I’m aware) that perhaps, after lunch, it might be a good idea to reapply her wit if she wishes to get places…just lipstick and heels”.


On the contrary in The Glass Wall, we absolutely recognise the power of humour for women, both to respond to (and hopefully put a stop to) uncomfortable banter, and to win over your audience.  Everyone (regardless of gender) should consider putting the same amount of effort into devising the appropriate opening joke for a big presentation as they put into the rest of the content for that meeting.


Being funny is a serious career move.





Hate change? Read this.

March 24th, 2017

bt“You get an ology….you’re a scientist ”


Some adverts enter the language, and sometimes last there long after the product they were plugging has dropped the campaign.


The BT ology ad featured Maureen Lipman as a grandmother, told by her grandson over the phone, (incidentally played by Josh Krichefski’s brother by the way), that he flunked his exams, passing only pottery and sociology. (The ad featured in Lindsey Clay’s survey of the portrayal of women in advertising over the last 50 years in the UK here).


The BT ad was to encourage people to use the phone more, not to drive market share as this wasn’t an issue in the 1980s. Driving more use of the phone these days – hardly a requirement of any telecoms provider today – haven’t times changed?


Most of us use our phones unimaginably more frequently than the admen at JWT could have thought in 1987.


This is a change that most of us have taken to happily. There’s other changes around that can take more getting used to, such as the rise of the robots in customer service or AI’s impact on retail.


Maureen Lipman also has had a long career as a comedian. In one of her stand up routines she described how after borrowing her dad’s car for a week she got back into her own car and discovers it just wouldn’t go properly. She called the car rescue services, waited 2 hours for them to turn up. When the chap from the AA arrived, he started the car and drove it round the block. It was perfectly ok. It was simply that her dad’s car was an automatic and after only a week of driving it, she’d forgotten how to drive a geared car. She just couldn’t work it out. Even though she’d been driving one for a decade.


There’s a lesson in this for everyone who’s is change averse – and many people hate the idea of any change that they aren’t in control of, and haven’t chosen.


Firstly that you can get used to a change ridiculously quickly. There’s a world of difference between an innovation that we take to like a duck to water (such as checking phones dozens or hundreds of times a day), and those that feel alien. When a change in work practices is mandated, or becomes inevitable in your business, then it’s good to remember that some change may feel so instinctive that a week in, you won’t remember what work was like before.


Secondly that you can’t really buy into any change until you fully understand what it means specifically for you. So if you’re in a company meeting where the new vision is being presented and you’re just not feeling inspired, don’t worry.


Don’t expect to love the change till you can feel and see what it means for you in detail personally. And give it a go, it might just be the new way forward you’ve been missing, just as much as you’d miss your mobile phone.



Abracadabra; there’s no fooling the robots

March 17th, 2017

magician-026There are many talented chiefs in our industry.  One of them is literally a magician.


A highlight of any meeting with Trinity Mirror boss Simon Fox is that he might just make something disappear and reappear.  He’s a member of the magic circle, and the last time the Trinity Mirror roadshow hit our agency he did the most awesome piece of magic involving Claudine Collin’s phone and the regional press.


(Who can say how much his magical skills influence the business performance – but latest results showed growth in profits of 24% – some good news in a challenging sector.  Results aside, the magic show at MediaCom was a treat.)‎


The reason we love magic is may be because we live in a world where our core senses are constantly performing magic tricks every day.  When we see something, we don’t see what we think we see. Every day and all the time.


Humans experience a time lag.


It takes a fifth of a second for an image to go from your eye, to your brain to be processed, and then for you to act on it.  Because you don’t feel that time lag, your brain is also constantly making up for the time lag by constantly predicting the future a tenth of a second ahead at a time.


Most of the time that doesn’t matter, (unless for example you’re a bike rider commuting in London then you’ll know how important a fraction of a second can be in terms of surviving.)


This is what a magician exploits when he does a card trick. It is misdirection.  Very clever misdirection, but it is, of course, science and not magical.


Magicians use misdirection to manipulate our attention.  It works because we don’t ever see everything that is in front of us.  Our brains couldn’t possible analyse every stimulus or every detail.  There are loopholes in cognition because that is how we cope with the world.  We cannot process everything and so we choose, unconsciously, what is most likely to fit an accepted pattern.


Goldsmith University Dr Gustav Kuhn studies the impact this has on our daily lives.  Kuhn is a cognitive psychologist who researches human perception and cognition.  Or put in a way that sounds like much more fun:  he studies magic and how magicians allow you to experience the impossible.


Kuhn says:  “magic happens to us all the time — our whole experience is a massive illusion, we’re just not aware of it.”


It is one of the key differences between you and a robot. Robots can’t believe in magic, and they don’t have gaps in cognition. They can process more information faster and more accurately than is possible for you in a split second. As the pace of real time business decisions continues to increase, understanding how our brains compare at making split second judgements is crucial.


As we come to assign roles differently in the cyber future, there will be significant shifts in how money is spent when it’s the algorithm that decides, based on processing every bit of data that is available, not just the information that we can grasp.


We will need to decide which decisions require strategic reflection and which will be made by the machines.



The loneliness of the empirical media planner.

March 13th, 2017

runThings are moving fast.  New technologies are creating new opportunities for media planners but things are far from simple.   The pace of change seems breath taking.  The pace of change is going to continue to get faster still.

The industry is full of questions.  Ad fraud and viewability.  Fake news is tarnishing reputations.  The calculation of audience views is not standardised across platforms or across the globe.

The task of the media planner has got more complicated. 

Take TV.  A dozen years ago a media planner thinking of placing video assets at scale was largely faced with the challenge of deciding between planning into space on the TV in the corner of the living room or going with some cinema.  They might worry that some households had a second or third TV in the bedroom and kitchen, and that this might fragment family viewing.  They might consider investing in cinema.  (That decision was at the time largely made on the basis of whether the video asset was cinematic enough, because there was no comparative way of measuring audience across TV and cinema).

Now of course there’s much more to consider. TV versus VOD.  Lovely big TV sets, with friends or family gathered round, versus solitary viewing on a smart phone screens or tablets in bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and on the bus.  “As TV” which is what Group M’s Rob Norman, CDO, calls web destination TV like YouTube Preferred.  In app video, feed based video, and of course, if your asset is cinematic enough for the big screen, cinema (because there is still no standardised comparative audience measurement here, let alone between all the other choices).


What does this all add up to?  More complications.  More opportunities.


The task of the media planner has also become simpler.                   


There’s much more evidence of outcomes now than ever in the data streams media agencies are analysing.  The media planner has more data to consider and more informed judgements to make.  Judgements about media planning from scratch, with zero based budgeting assumptions.  Judgements based on evidence based arguments for planning assumptions.  Judgements about sorting the real facts from the multiple factoids that circulate.


This is how the empirical or evidence based media planner might get lonely.  Sure their new best friend is the data scientist, (but they don’t tend to get out much).  The media planner may find that they need to hint to the creative agency that their lovely 40 second ad might need significant amending before it is fit for purpose for social feeds.  They might find that they need to challenge media owner research.  They will have to balance the different joint industry body definitions of audience to deliver one cohesive view across a multi-media plan.


Don’t mistake this for unfriendliness or lack of desire to collaborate by the way.  Without a shadow of a doubt, as my CEO Josh Krichefski recently stated, most of the award winning work in this industry comes from collaboration with media owner and agency partners.  Great fruitful collaborations that help brands to thrive.


And yet it can be lonely to be an evidence based planner.  It is their job to ask difficult questions, to speak truth to power and to jostle the apple cart.  It isn’t their job to spend the most money in the most fashionable medium.  It isn’t their job to preserve the status quo.  It’s their job, and it is needed now more than ever, to love numbers, to embrace disruption and to love real consumer insight, to look for the substantiated facts, try the new, to be ambitious for their clients and to remain media neutral.