Forensic media planning

May 2nd, 2017

forensicThe new forensics of media will change how we evaluate media, just as forensic DNA revolutionised criminal investigations.

The introduction of forensic DNA in criminal investigations in 1985 revolutionised the field.  Before this date, crime scenes relied on much patchier evidence.  If the criminal wore gloves, there’d be no fingerprints, so any astute crook could avoid the only sure form of identification for someone unseen.

Dr Henry Lee, one of the world’s foremost forensic scientists, calls 1985 a turning point in criminology.  “DNA proficiency has made revolutionary contributions to forensic science,” Dr. Lee says. “In the forensic world, its impact has been felt as profoundly as the discovery of fire and the invention of the Gutenberg press.

“Since this breakthrough in the 1980s, innovations and new applications have occurred with breath taking speed. Advances in miniaturization and microchip technologies have been combined with the analytic techniques of DNA analysis to give us impressive new capabilities. DNA science has solved crimes considered otherwise unsolvable.”

Those of us fortunate enough to lack personal involvement in crimes can look on from the side lines, fascinated by the advances, and the iterations of the science.  It is a popular form of fiction.  There’s always a CSI on somewhere on the Sky EPG and modern crime fiction dominates literature sales on an ongoing basis.

Investigative reporting of real crime is fascinating too and new developments continue to improve accuracy and precision.

In 2009 crime scene evidence from the tragic death of Sierra Bouzigard in Louisiana led police to investigate a crew of undocumented Mexican workers because of a call made from her mobile.  There was DNA evidence too at the scene, all the police needed was a match.  But none of the suspects matched the evidence, nor was there any match in the FBI database.  The investigation stalled until 2015 when a lead DNA analyst Monica Quaal found a way of conjuring up a physical likeness from the DNA which didn’t require a suspect or a match.  This process, known as phenotyping, produced a completely different suspect pool – the murderer was now believed to have freckles, light brown hair and green or blue eyes, of Northern European ancestry.  The case is still ongoing, but the police are still investigating and have been knocking on a completely new set of doors, thanks to this new development in forensics.

Media planners are faced with a step change in the amount and quality of evidence they can use to make the case for strategic decisions for a client’s brands.

Our industry must expect to feel challenged by the new technology, but also to find that the new forms of data evidence open up new avenues to decision making.  As we move away from proxy audience data, however robust, to big data sets with real time and location evidence, new strategies will emerge in established categories.  Just as with DNA how the evidence is applied is crucial to the outcome.  And just as with DNA evidence the effectiveness and efficiencies of the data today will continually evolve.  Sticking with the old ways of planning won’t do.  Nor will shifting from one established process to another unflexible one.  An openness and agility that allows for continual re-evaluation of strategic approach is crucial.


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.