Thursday, 31 March 2011

The squeezed middle just got larger!

According to the latest Britain Thinks poll in the Independent on Sunday, 71% of us Brits consider ourselves to middle class!

Doesn't say much for the country's waistline!

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Wednesday, 30 March 2011

NOW that's what I call music

Congrats to Mark Lund, Kate Waters and John Townshend who are setting up shop with the promise of an agency for the accelerated world (as reported in Campaign last week).

With a name like NOW it's a pity they have to wait to open until Mark Lund leaves the COI in May!

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Tuesday, 29 March 2011

A farewell to Rory

It was a sad moment last Thursday when Rory Sutherland chaired the last IPA Council meeting of his Presidency. But it didn't take long for the event to swing into party mode, with mojitos and champagne, to celebrate his many achievements.

Rory wouldn't be Rory without leaving a strong legacy; a third IPA BE publication - " Let's get practical" - featuring case examples from 13 agencies, and the announcement of a strategic partnership between the IPA and Warwick Business School.

Dean and Professor Mark Taylor and Prof Nick Chater were present to endorse his plan and flesh out the detail: a FastTrack exec programme in BE for agencies and their clients; a BE Incubator for lab trials; and a BE FastStream for WBS students with agencies.

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Monday, 28 March 2011

No surprises

To the many who encouraged and supported me during the interview process for the IPA DG slot left vacant when Hamish Pringle retires in July, the news is that I came an honourable second.

Feels a bit like coming second in a pitch really. If you're not first you're nowhere. So who got the slot? Watch this space!

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Jimmy Choo

Jimmy Choo is hoping to raise £ 500 million to buy back part of his company from private equity firm, Towerbrook Capital Partners, which has announced its intention to sell the business.

Contact Daniel Steward if you want to pitch in!

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Friday, 25 March 2011

London 2012 Olympics tickets

If you want tickets to the Olympics now's the time to log on and buy from the official London 2012 tickets site (You'll need a VISA card to do so!).

You can get up to four tickets for the most popular events, and you'll hear if your bid has been successful in May. Prices range from the ridiculous to the manageable. Worth a punt.

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Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Kraft and Cadbury - one year on

Radio 4 have just run a programme one year on from Kraft's takeover of Cadbury.

It happened so quickly, apparently, because, by the time of the sale, only 28% of Cadbury shares were held in long term UK funds. 31% were in non-UK hedge funds.

It's interesting to read Elizabeth Fournier's piece in City A.M., about new proposals announced on Monday by the UK Takeover Panel, which oblige companies to work to stricter timetables and increase disclosure.

Apparently, under the new rules, Kraft would have been disciplined for failing to fulfil statements made during the bid, and the Somerbury factory and 400 jobs would have been saved.

It appears that Bournville is now becoming Kraft's global innovation centre/centre for chocolate! Let's hope that keeps the remaining 5,500 UK Cadbury/Kraft workers in employment.

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

UK inflation

Check out the Chancellor's verdict on inflation levels when he pronounces on the budget tomorrow. If it's anything like what the Treasury is quoting at the moment - 1.9% - it's likely to be porky pies. It was 2.9% last year, and, if my wallet is anything to go buy, it feels to be rising steadily.

According to Allister Heath in City A.M., this makes a big difference to economic predictions. The difference between success and failure/boom or bust for public spending.

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What is it with March 20th?

Well, it happens to be my birthday, but more significantly, in 2003, it was the date we went to war with Iraq under 'Operation Iraqi Freedom.'

At least that time, we had the opportunity to protest in the streets beforehand. Yes, I was there, on that march, in central London.
Look where that took us.

Now it's the date we bomb Libya, take out Gaddafi's son, and enter another shaky libertarian initiative. (Indymedia UK has an interesting collage of newspaper front pages from 2003 and 2011).

Where will it end?

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Wednesday, 16 March 2011

China second in the future, but Japan first in the here and now

Not sure if you saw the piece in WARC News today or WPP media coverage last week, but GroupM, the media arm of WPP Group, is forecasting that China could become the world's second largest advertising market in 2011.

Japan currently holds second spot, behind the US, but the tragic events in Japan are already having major repercssions in the financial markets and decline in revenue growth is almost certain.

In leapfrogging Japan, GroupM is predicting a 10% increase in Chinese advertising expenditure in 2011 after reaching $45bn (€32.4bn; £28.1bn) at the close of 2010.

China might soon be second in adspend terms, but clearly our combined skills and resources should be targeted at helping Japan first - in any way we can. What a great advertisement for global co-operation that would be?

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Monday, 14 March 2011

Smartphones 4 u?

I was reading a piece in WARC News this morning about the growth of the smartphone market in the Asia Pacific region.

It has been estimated that smartphones will represent 60% of the market by 2015, compared to just 20% in 2010. Growth in Chnia is especially pronounced. Accenture recently suggested that 53% of Chinese citizens living in urban areas already own a smartphone and 38% of those surveyed by Accenture intending to buy one in the next 12 months.

Coincidentally I also came across a statistic in the April edition of .Net that the number of daily views on YouTube via mobile devices is around 200 million. three times greater than at this point last year and largely driven by sales of smartphones.

Looks like it's a smart thing to be upwardly mobile.

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Friday, 4 March 2011

Multicultural London

Check out these statistics from the Evening Standard's 1st March feature on the capital's modern workforce!

"In the past six or seven years, London has become the Babel of the modern world. More than a third of Londoners are now foreign born - that's around 2.5 million people. Our city encompasses more than 270 nationalities and 300 languages.

New official figures last week showed that in 2010 an estimated 572,000 migrants entered the country on a long-term basis, 226,000 more than Britons who emigrated. Almost 238,000 foreigners were granted settlement rights in the UK last year.

Before the growth in immigration from around 1998, London was already by far the most important destination for migrants to the UK. But in 1986, half the city's immigrants were made up of those from just five countries with Commonwealth ties -India, Kenya, Jamaica, Cyprus and Bangladesh - as well as Ireland.

Since 1990, those have been joined by significant numbers from nations both from outside the EU - Nigeria, Turkey, Somalia and others - as well as from Europe. And since 2004 especially, when 10 new states joined the EU, large numbers of Eastern Europeans, especially Poles, have arrived. In fact, almost 40 per cent of all the UK's migrants now live here.

So it is that London has achieved what one recent report calls "superdiversity", a melting pot of nationalities, ethnicities and languages unequalled in Europe. It's a fantastically complicated picture - and one that's full of surprises. Who knew that Americans, for example, are one of the biggest groups from outside the EU? Many foreign-born Londoners - 43 per cent - are now British citizens, and that rises to more than four out of five of the city's foreign-born Afro-Caribbeans."

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Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Changing client/agency behaviours

Monday evening saw a record attendance at the IPA's event on the topic of 'applying BE to client/agency relationships'.

With Rory Sutherland in the chair, David Wethey, of IAA, as keynote, and panel contributions from Chris Hirst (CEO, Grey), Alison Wright (Strategy, Engine Group), Colin Fleming (COO, AMV.BBDO) and Richard Woodford (Procurement News International) it was bound to be a big draw.

The old chestnuts were revisited: remuneration models, PBR etcetera.
But there was some new inspirational stuff in the form of new ways to address the main issue which David Wethey cleverly defined as
"the system is stopping the cleverness coming through":

1. Changing the 'setting' of client agency relationships
- Overcoming 'frame' blindness - answering the wrong question
- Insights upstream
- Solving 'mysteries' not 'puzzles'
- Outcome-based/'best' not 'best priced'

2. Treating strategy as a 'flexible guideline'
- relax control structures
- set clear objectives and high ambition but allow individual team players to interpret it freely
- adapt in real time
- use creative to guide strategy
- make decisions emotionally not rationally

There has been a good deal of feedback and you can see the tweets about the event here

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Chinese food for thought

McKinsey has produced a report: Understanding China's Digital Consumers a study of connected consumers, in which they describe segments uch as 'digital junkies,' 'mobile mavens' and 'info-centrics.'

McKinsey estimates that around 6 million people go online for the first time each month in China and, in their survey of 4,866 connected consumers, they found that typical respondents now spend 39.2 hours online each week, incorporating video, music, gaming, instant messaging and social networking.

'Digital junkies' spend 34.1 hours per week on new media devices such as laptops, MP3 players a e-readers and replace their mobile phones at least once a year; 'info-centrics' mainly use the web for search, information and e-mail, and 'mobile mavens' surf the net for a minimum of 14 hours per week mainly through wireless handsets.

McKinsey concludes that word-of-mouth is increasingly influential in China and, with an internet population predicted to grow from 420 million now to 750 million in 2015, that's a lot of words from a lot of mouths. I wonder what the Red Guards would have made of such democratic communication by the people, through the people, for the people?

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