A piece of Karl Ove´s reflections

Karl Ove Knausgaard seems to have a natural talent to not only observe and recall raw human motivations, thoughts, feelings and behaviours. He is also able to convey them in astounding detail through his writing in a simple (though energetic) manner.  The Economist in a recent article refers to My Struggle (his six volume autobiographical literary enterprise) as “the most exhaustive account of a modern life ever written”.

As I approach the end of his second book I enjoyed his reflection on the tension and unbalance between our/his “intellectual” theoretical desire to choose films that help us/him grow and the reality of our/his choices – films that  help disconnect…

KO on choosing films...
KO on choosing films…

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Antiplanning: my talk for the 2013 Strategy Festival

I had the pleasure of attending the 2013 Strategy Festival in Nashville as speaker.

My chat was part of the Inspire! competition and I based my ramblings on a subject I called Antiplanning.

I rescued some key concepts from Nassim Taleb´s recent book Antifragile: Things that gain from disorder, and applied them to Planning and the agency World

Am hoping to write a post on “learnings & anecdotes” soon.

In the meantime, below you may find the audio from my presentation with the slides I used as support as well as a link to the original transcript file.




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Publication bias: Ben Goldacre on Ted

Very interesting Ted talk from Ben Goldacre, Doctor and author of Bad Pharma.

Ben argues that there is a publication bias in clinical trials where bad results are not published, leading to an inefficient and misleading use of prescriptions and treatments.

This lack of transparency in the medical research delivery and its distribution limits the decision-making processes thus affecting quality and quantity of lives of patients.

Although I think this bias can be extended to any type of research (advertising and marketing is the one I am most familiar with), it is no doubt more worrying when it comes to medical research.

Worth your time for sure. Like the J. Lipton advert says, “Give it a ponder“.

Take care amigos,



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Disney knows how children play – Infinity and Beyond

Disney is launching its Infinity videogame on august 18th.

Infinity uses collectible figurines that will synchronize with the game, allowing the player to interact with a wide range of characters from Disney and Pixar .

Players will be able to choose from and play with characters from movies/franchises such as Pirates of the Caribbean , The Incredibles , Monsters University , The Lone Ranger , Cars  and others (all under the same roof).

Infinity characters - All mixed up
Infinity characters – All mixed up

From what I read , when Avalanche, the videogame developer pitched the idea of Infinity to Lasseter (Chief Creative Officer at Pixar) he initially rejected it. In his view, it did not seem coherent to mix different movies, characters and worlds. In his own words:

“They wanted to combine all the Pixar characters together in one game and one world. That’s always been taboo for us. Because, look, every Pixar movie we create is a unique world and our characters live in it. They have their own rules and all that. Mr. Incredible cannot go over into the Cars world, because there are no humans in that world. He cannot walk into Andy’s room, because it is a different style and look and just a different world.”

But children don´t care about coherency. They don´t relate to neat and tidy creative boundaries or rules. They simply (and rightly) just want to play and let their imaginations roam free.

This is true of any child. They will mix cars and lego and playmobil and teddy bears and they will create a unique and wonderfully incongruous world.

And its strange to me why Lasseter (which probably is the ultimate embodiment of the Peter Pan syndrome) had such trouble to visualize this initially.

This whole premise (kids play with everything irrespective of typology of toy) was a key factor in defining and bringing to live the characters in the Toy Story film. As we all remember, we saw cowboys, astronauts, pigs, dinosaurs and slinky dogs all interact in the same storyline.

From what I gather, there are two main reasons why this videogame has a big chance of succeeding (providing the pricing is reasonable

1. Because during the design and implementation phases those in charge have understood that children don´t need to/want to differentiate typologies of toys - they just combine them and play 

2. Because the game is made up of real physical toy figurines which can enhance the experience of the game by stretching it far and beyond the digital gaming platform - play (and don´t plug) as well as plug and play


So in the end Disney proves once again that, despite some hiccups along the way,  they still know their end customer and still make the effort to place themselves in their little shoes to fuel their minds.

Crowded classrooms and half-day sessions are a tragic waste of our greatest national resource – the minds of our children.

Walt Disney

Take care amigos,



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Digital with a Vengeance: iPhone Thief

Life is funnier than fiction.

Please have a read through this blog:


Short story: young man steals iPhone from woman but forgets to turn off feature that uploads photos to Dropbox whenever the phone is connected to Wi-Fi.

The woman´s revenge is as sweet as it is hilarious as she now chronicles the thief’s life through a tumblr blog (Hafid, apparently, lives in Dubai, likes costumes, cars and selfies!)

Take care (of your iPhone) amigos,



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Company Radar: Hello Flo

The thing I love about digital in its broadest sense is its capacity to enable people with ideas and energy to take on interesting projects.

This one is launching in September but has so far gathered much inertia trough its viral ad campaign.

The company, Hello Flo, does for menstruation what Dollar Shave Club (DSC), did for shaving : provide a monthly subscription service for cost effective, simple and convenient delivery of quality products (in this case tampons and panty liners).

As in projects that are undertaken with care and with the final consumer in mind, they have added some wonderful details into the product delivery. In this case, candy is also a part of the monthly subscription being sent out (something which shows they understand the consumer during their moment of consumption!).

The approach in comms for Hello Flo seems like a breath of fresh air in terms of “normalizing” something natural that has historically been treated as taboo.

This freshness reminded me of the Bodyform ad that also achieved high levels of awareness and conversation last year:

Let’s hope that Hello Flo goes on to conquer this new ecommerce space just as DSC did (a company that also started off with an “in your face” approach to shaving).

Great to see so many disruptive and relevant digital projects that take off creatively.

Take care amigos,



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Last night Mary Meeker saved my life (AKA 2013 Internet trends)

(Drama on this post has been powered for theatrical appeal. Read post at your discretion, do not read slideshare at you peril).

In 1982 an R&B group called Indeep released a single that would alter their future.

The single was called “Last night a DJ saved my life“.

In that same year, Mary Meeker, today partner at lead VC firm KPCB, started working in Investment Banking as a stockbroker.

Also in that same year, yours truly was born in a big (everything seems big when you are a few hours old) hospital in South London.

Fast forward to last night and those three elements (Indeep, Meeker, moi) came together once again.

Last night Mary Meeker and her colleagues released their latest edition of their Annual Internet Trends report.

This is a presentation (embed below) which, if you work in anything digital related (and nowadays everything is), you should keep close, as it will prove to be valuable in many pitches and presentations.

Last night I desperately (you have been warned on the drama) needed a few slides on digital inertia, re-imagining and direction. And Mary Meeker was there for the rescue. DJ´s of the World, your live-saving days are over. 

Mary Meeker knows the internet (has studied it since the Netscape IPO in the early 90´s). Mary Meeker does her research. Put those two together and you get the unofficial (but deserved) title of Queen of the Net.

Below, the slideshare pres. Research and Insight on the evolution and direction of the internet.

Use it wisely Frodo.

Mary Meeker playing an invisible Sitar?
Mary Meeker playing an invisible Sitar?


Take care amigos,


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#Watergate: Political rhetoric undermined by social media

Rhetoric (the art/science of discourse) is to politicians what the hammer is to Thor: They need it to be able to do their job succesfully.

Reading the recent avalanche of social media comments around Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican senator protagonist of the recent social media phenomenon , I am reminded of the three musketeers of rhetoric (all needed to persuade, motivate or inspire).

  • Ethos is the foundation everything else is built on and the component that should be maintained throughout any discourse. It encapsulates who you are and what you do and it precedes what you say. Ethos embodies status, character, trust and confidence. Ethos is what motivates celebrity collaborations. Its the “either you have it or you don´t”.
  • Logos is the “brainy” part of a discourse. In it you find the most reasoning, the most logic. Here is where you pull the facts, the numbers, the dates and the names.
  • Pathos is the emotion. Where you connect at a gut level. This is where politicians would make reference to patriotism, love and even fear. Pathos is very important as in the end it is feelings (not thoughts) the drivers of everything we do.

Watch the clip below where Marco Rubio awkwardly grabs a drink of water (and consequently erodes his ethos appeal substantially).

It is here where his Ethos is weakened. Up to this point (minute 11 of the whole speech) Mr. Rubio had maintained a reasonable level of credibility and trustworthiness in his persona.

But with this strange out-of-shot-reach-out whilst still staring at the camera he shows weakness and lack of confidence. No matter how articulate his Logos appeal or how touching his Pathos resonance, everything in the speech crumbles as his Ethos shakes.

This effect is amplified in social media channels by the one true premise of social media: it shows no mercy. When you place politicians and awkwardness in the same bag it is bound to gather enough social inertia and momentum to outshine important issues surrounding the event (#waterbreak and “Rubio water” were in fact trending higher on social media than President Obama’s address).

At mashable you can see some examples of the mentions on twitter.

Ethos can be re-built of course. And Marco Rubio started pretty swiftly as he tweeted an image of the water bottle soon afterwards. Not taking the mentions seriously is a good start towards showing confidence.

So if there are two winners in all of this:

  1. Poland Spring
  2. All the bloggers/media who like me, take advantage of an event of this nature to write a post!

Take care amigos,


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Elevator Pitch your brand

Organisations (through their products and services) need brands.

They need them to power awareness and differentiation. They need them to help convey relevant information that will trigger certain actions (trial, repeat purchase, recommendation, increase value perceptions…)

Organisations need brands to help them grow, to expand to other categories and to boost profitability (as some brands can command a price premium).

But brands, like personalities, are complex. They can be subjective: they change, they adapt. It can sometimes prove difficult even for people who work closely with brands to explain the brand meaning, the brand positioning and its main differentiators from other competitor brands.

Whether you are a brand manager, an agency person or an employee, if you are interested in helping a brand prosper you should be able to explain its essence, anytime, anywhere.

This is where a slight modification of the classic  elevator pitch comes in.

Imagine you are in an elevator with someone who doesn´t know anything about your brand. Could you explain what your brand stands for in the time it takes for the elevator to reach the next stop? Without any visual support. No packaging. No advertising. Just rhetoric.

Better yet, could you explain what makes your brand stand out versus other competitor brands?

Easier said than done, but this level of understanding of the brand positioning and values will help better manage your brand equity and maximize competitive advantages.




Take care amigos,


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