Category Archives: Postcards from the digital frontier

A collection of content from digital marketing books, reports, papers, talks, slideshares and keynote speeches

November 16

From Mad Men to Sad Men: The Decline of Marketing’s Appeal

“Ah, Marketing. Remember that? The career everyone dreamed about until, apparently, nobody did. Marketing Week, back in the distant haze of 2018, shared a delightful anecdote about marketing’s plummet down the career aspiration charts. A mere 3% of school leavers, from a survey – a big one, over eight thousand students – whispered ‘marketing’ as […]

November 08

A talent for triumph is not leadership

If you’ve ever found yourself gazing, with an expression of bemused detachment, at the bizarre proficiencies of modern business leadership, you might have noticed a rather disheartening trend. A trend that sees leaders, with all the solemnity of a cat deciding whether to push a vase off a shelf, often considering whether to sacrifice subordinate […]

November 02

Wisdom: The Age old Advantage

The digital sphere, driven by an obsession with ephemeral mobile engagement of time poor target audiences, is saturated with content that follows tried and tested formats: listicles, how-to guides, and bite-sized video content dominate. The assumption is that consumers of digital content have the attention span of goldfish and think thinking is too much like […]

October 31

Seven seconds to make a first impression

The importance of making a good first impression in an interview cannot be overstated. Although skills, qualifications, and experience are crucial factors for employment, the initial impression you make can serve as a gateway – or an insurmountable barrier – to showcasing those attributes in the first place. Essentially, making a positive first impression can […]

October 26

Self-Care Isn’t Selfish in the marketing game

Keep Calm and Avoid Emotional Burnout It’s easy for marketing professionals to find themselves confronting emotional complexities such as fear, confusion, and even despair. Whether it’s the fear of a campaign failing, the confusion arising from rapidly capricious consumer behaviours, or the despair felt when ROI doesn’t even come close to meet expectations, these emotions […]

October 13

Work/life in the poetic balance

In the ceaseless whirlwind of deadlines, lectures, and consultancy projects, the quest for work-life balance often feels like a mirage in a digital desert. Yet, here I am, pausing to pen down not a marketing strategy or an academic paper, but a poem. Yes, you read that right – a poem. This is only the […]

October 12

The Silent Crisis in Advertising

I’ve spent decades in the advertising and media industry, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen colleagues—talented, passionate individuals—suffer from anything ranging from burnout to complete emotional and physical breakdowns. When NABS and Mind released their recent survey on mental health in our industry, I wasn’t surprised, but I was deeply alarmed. […]

October 03

No Marketer is an Island

Cracking the Code of work-life balance In the world of marketing, I’ve observed a common thread that binds professionals of all ages together – a struggle to cope with the relentless pressures that come with the territory. It’s a field that demands all of you, often without showing the appreciation that you deserve. Personally, I’ve […]

September 26

The Lazy Arse Guide to Marketing

The Beneficial Psychology of Being a Constructively Lazy Marketer: Harnessing Minimal Effort for Maximum Gain In a world that often glorifies the “hustle culture,” the term “lazy” gets a bad rap. It’s often associated with a lack of productivity, a lack of ambition, and a lack of results. But what if we told you that […]

September 12

Imagine Tom Cruise as a marketing planner

To be honest, this one is for my wife who would sack me at a moment’s notice for the charismatic Hollywood superstar known for his blockbuster movies and relentless dedication to his craft, doing his own CGI-free stunts (yeah right), and strange association with the Church of Scientology. (That last bit was me working hard […]

September 09

Imagine Pep Guardiola as a Marketing Planner

In the world of football (or soccer, as our American friends call it), Pep Guardiola is a name synonymous with innovation, strategy, and relentless pursuit of excellence. As the famed manager of Manchester City FC, Guardiola has consistently pushed the boundaries of football tactics and strategy. But what if this visionary coach were to step […]

September 08

Surfing the coming wave

In moments of quiet reflection about the future, immersed in the profound narratives delineated in “The Coming Wave” by Mustafa Suleyman, I felt a profound, but fleeting, awakening to the intricate tapestry of interconnections weaving personal growth, professional development, and the burgeoning landscape powered by artificial intelligence. Suleyman’s compelling insights prompted an immersive exploration that […]

September 01

Marketing: battling the symphony of noise

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, to the grand spectacle that is the “symphony” of commerce – where the good ol’ marketing tunes you once knew have been given a futuristic remix, thanks to the magical rise of social media and the digital cacophony. Picture this: a masterpiece of confusion, resembling the avant-garde compositions of […]

August 22

What happened to marketing’s cool cats?

Sinek seems wasted on the overwhelmed In this dynamic age, where digital possibilities continuously transform our ways of engagement, a curious paradox emerges. Whilst technology is making bounds, certain aspects of marketing management seem entrapped in antiquated methodologies. This contradiction pushed me to revisit the teachings of visionary thinkers, especially Simon Sinek. Re-immersing myself in […]

June 01

A guilty conscience collaborates with AI

What happens when you combine the ceaseless chatter of a guilty conscience with the cold logic of artificial intelligence? After a lifetime’s experience as a copywriter, it’s a sensation that can haunt every waking moment and wind up that remorseful voice in my head that urges me to confront my misdeeds every time I poke […]

May 27

AI meets AI

Can artificial intelligence improve actual intelligence? This the first in a series of articles that aims to investigate if AI can improve the performance of professional marketers. I am not a scientist, but I have been lecturing about the growth of automation, marketing technology and the potential of AI for the past 5 years. My […]

April 12

Writer throws the book at AI

Back on GPT again and this time focusing on some big questions, based on books that question our relationship with AI: Do androids dream of electric sheep? GPT “Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” is a science fiction novel written by Philip K. Dick. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where most animals have […]

March 31

Is there life after AI?

I used to be a futurologist for the Institute of Digital Marketing and enjoyed speculating about what was coming down the pipeline for us marketing professionals. Most so called big ideas came and went as soon as the hype budget ran out of steam, but a few have come into reality and one looks like […]

March 18

Writer runs into ChatGPT

Writer: Will AI replace writers? ChatGPT : While AI has made significant advances in generating written content, it is unlikely that it will replace writers entirely. AI-generated content can be useful for certain tasks such as generating reports or summaries, but it is still limited in its ability to create unique and creative content that […]

February 28

Put your marketing on a low carbon diet

I’ve just completed a Carbon Literacy Course and was blown away by the thought that it’s not up to someone else to save the world from carbon emissions.  The science that explains the need to reduce carbon emissions on an individual, community and global basis is irrefutable. Since the industrial revolution, the world has begun […]

June 17

Digital Marketing Skills – back to the 60s

To quote the excellent and useful Econsultancy publication (2019), Skills of the Modern Marketer, the pre-digital models we have been using since the 60s are no longer viable in the 168 hours-a-week consumer landscape. That’s why they developed the Modern Marketing Model which they claim “Fuses digital and classic marketing into one future-facing framework.” It’s […]

June 01

It’s always time for a new old school marketing model

As a marketing practitioner, I owe a great deal to all those who went before me and nailed their thoughts to the flagpole (cliche by design) at risk of getting shot down by the trolls. Those brave souls who made it through the process, end up with their name attached to a marketing model that […]

August 18

Will tech companies eventually do right by consumers?

Regulation be damned Despite the introduction of regulation in the form of The GDPR and The EU and ICO flexing their punitive muscles by handing out record fines for data protection infractions, the conduct of companies such as Cambridge Analytica, Facebook and Google has raised doubts in the minds of consumers regarding the importance product […]

July 12

The quantum marketing skills challenge.

  Most of the marketing tasks that once took highly-skilled teams weeks to accomplished can now be actioned in minutes by an individual with a smartphone. Even the most complex programmatic campaigns are triggered, delivered and dynamically optimised in milliseconds. But speed isn’t everything. While marketers make every effort to optimise business and human productivity, […]

June 12

The creative brief has lost too much mojo

99 times out of 100, the creative brief isn’t really creative enough to inform and inspire great thinking.

December 13

All we want for Christmas is an IoT party

The Internet of Things has a long way to go before it makes most people’s Christmas stocking

October 31

Most office workers unafraid of AI – lol

What could possibly go wrong? According to the World Economic Forum, an estimated five million jobs across 15 developed countries will be taken by robots by 2020. And yet, according to an article by Adobe’s Mark Greenaway (Head of Emerging Businesses, EMEA): “Most office workers view it (AI) as a positive force, with the majority […]

February 06

Client-Agency Wars – the end is nigh

As if brexit wasn’t trouble enough If client agency relationships are to survive the coming of Brexit and Automation (One will reduce budgets. The other will eliminate jobs) we need to develop empathic work practices. It will take more than profoundly considered but ponderously produced creative alchemy to keep the outsourced agency of the future […]

August 22

Un-automated marketers – clearly a primitive people

Will there be life after marketing automation? Way back in 1974, Cadbury’s Smash ran an an ad campaign featuring a group of mechanical Martian Explorers laughing their heads off at the way humans  prepare potatoes for consumption. In March 2016, The Drum invited a panel of ten marketers to reimagine the campaign in a contemporary context. […]

April 13

How I long to be more like you Marketing Automation bot – I think

is your boss a bit botty? In my early career the thought of coming to work to knock out yet another knockout brand ad campaign for a client… made sleeping over in the agency seem worth it. Now, at the age of 59, hardly a day goes by when I feel there is more to working […]

March 19

In love with Customer Experience

Is there more to life than sales? The following is an extended response to an article I published as part of the TFM&A Board of Experts. The article has some excellent contributions from leaders in the digital marketing field. This update, provides a more complete response to questions posed than is possible in the article. 1: […]

letter-christmas-decoration-7287329 December 03

The 12 A’s of Christmas

Santa has been busy thinking about what you want for Christmas My early Christmas gift to one and all readers is my definitive A-Z list (with a twist ) of marketing in the digital age… the twist is that they all begin with the letter A. There’s optimisation for you. Attention Keeping in touch with the […]

Jon-Snow-in-Snow Jam Cyborg November 03

Winter is coming Don Draper

Are clients cooling their interest in agencies? In July 2006, Unilever started giving the cold shoulder (sorry) to the agency world when it cut its UK marketing and digital agency roster from 20 to 7 shops. At the same time, Unilver quietly announced a review of its global digital roster. Among those agencies who survived the cull were: Agency […]

hitchcock amazon drone October 03

The ABC of OVP (Online Value Proposition)

As Leonardo DaVinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” So my as-simple-as-it-gets take on developing a powerful OVP (Online Value Proposition) is… “Be more useful than useless.” The process is as follows: A. Assess what customers find most useful B. Be especially mindful of things that remain useful over time C. Commit to remaining demonstrably more useful than […]


The agency model is breaking bad

All good things come to an end Advertising, direct marketing and digital agencies have played a pivotal role in turning marketing into a $600 billion a year industry. The memorable ads, mailshots and digital campaigns have done more than simply help advertisers to create brands, sell products and develop ongoing relationships with customers, they have […]

irobot for marketing automatoin May 13

To err is human, ergo marketing automation

Is human frailty costing business business? As carbon-based life forms, we are prone to making small mistakes which can have big consequences for our businesses. According to a report referenced by Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, the NHS could afford to hire 60,000 more nurses if staff cut out basic mistakes which are costing £2.5bn a year. It […]

cyborgg-running-man April 16

Get agile or get left behind

On February 11-13, 2001, at The Lodge at Snowbird ski resort in the Wasatch mountains of Utah, seventeen software developers got together to, as they put it: “Talk, ski, relax, and try to find common ground.” What they produced and signed up to was The Agile Manifesto: a 12-point commitment to optimising the development of software […]

CYBORGg thinker March 27

Marketing automation prepare to be out-thought

Tempus fugit for the mortal marketer Time, the most precious commodity ever conceived by man, marches relentlessly towards the future without so much as a passing thought for marketer or consumer. It is an unavoidably finite resource that needs to become the central focal point for every product or service hoping to survive in an age of […]

Rise of the micro marketing machine February 03

The RISE of the micro marketing machine

The past makes me confused about the future of marketing The Bellwether report for January 2015, found that the “fragile nature of the economy has knocked the confidence of marketers and forced many to adopt “cost-efficient” online strategies to reign in their advertising spend.” It then went on to state that, “Despite the slowdown in advertising spend in […]

Digital Mission, Video, JP Sears, December 21

Zen and the art of motivation maintenance

Your feet are up but the mind is still at work. If like me you are looking forward to the Christmas Break but have been insanely busy and a have a head so full of ideas about the next evolution in digital marketing that you have no idea how we got here, this is my Christmas present for you. […]

Dave Lewis: once of Unilever, now of Tesco December 16

Customer-Centricity – are you listening Tesco?

Time to get back to basics. Phase 1: Get management off their arses. Welcome to the world of Dangerous Dave Lewis, the new CEO of Tesco. A boss who must put the wind up managers by making them get back to the shop floor on a regular basis. Change Management in the real world is much […]

Advertising Agency CEO November 22

Tsar Wars – the Empire fights back

I wrote a detailed article back in March of this year that followed up on a lecture I delivered to a mix of very senior directors and relatively new digital recruits at one of the world’s largest advertising agencies. My theme was the future of digital marketing. The learning outcome was that clients will soon be […]

Kenco coffee v gangs October 26

Ganging up on gangs in the coffee business

Go ahead make my day Kenco I’ve been looking for a campaign to support last November’s post; The World belongs to Creative Thinkers: an article inspired by Philip Kotler’s book, Marketing 3.0 in which he urges us to make marketing a force for long-term good and not just short-term sales. For me, the approach that […]

Facebook virtual reality July 18

Oculus Rift my online experience

Mark Zuckerberg made a very interesting statement about the company Facebook has recently acquired for $2 billion. “They build virtual reality technology, like the Oculus Rift headset. When you put it on, you enter a completely immersive computer-generated environment, like a game or a movie scene or a place far away. The incredible thing about […]

Nest-Thermostat July 17

Nest on its way to your home and beyond

Big Brother’s toe in the door or the start of bringing Amazon-style customer service into our everyday lives? I am firmly in Nest’s corner on this one. The idea of my home and many of the objects in it anticipating my every need, want and desire is going to be good for our lives and […]

digital finger print July 15

Time for direct marketing to get in touch with reality

Sensory marketing makes sense There is one thing that direct mail can do that no other channel can: activate all five of your senses. Touch. Taste. Smell. Vision. Hearing. All can be stimulated at the same time. Clients with the right kinds of products (exotic perfumes, confections and holidays for example), need to invest more in creating greater […]

July 14

Wherever you go, there you are – together with contextual marketing.

Time for marketing to stop living in the past… and the future for that matter. Living in the present moment is essential to a happy life according to Buddhist practitioners of mindfulness. It helps us to eliminate ego-centric concerns about the past and speculative fretting about the future from our lives.  In the present moment, we can create […]

June 25

Security Researchers Uncover The Tools Governments Use To Spy On Our Phones

Don’t say I didn’t warn you… banking on your mobile phone, not for me

shedding light on the customer journey March 14

Optimise every moment – shedding light on the customer journey

It’s getting more difficult to defend yourself form the competition As we move deeper into the age of the constantly connected customer, mapping the customer journey against the tried and tested buyer behaviour model has become increasingly desirable and difficult in equal measure. As the number of touchpoints expands, so too does the degree of […]

artificial-intelligence marketing automation March 09

Shift attacks Salesforce, Adobe with ‘open marketing cloud,’ an app store for digital marketing tools

If this works, it is going to be huge