It’s been 3 years since my last post. Busy times. I guess there hasn’t been anything which has motivated me more than Brexit to get me going…

Why are the us leavers so quiet?


To be labelled a xenophobe and racist for believing in something which in my eyes is unrelated, is a confronting reality. To be aligned with Trump isn’t exactly something I aspire to either. And to be told my views will lead to the downfall of a nation, or global economic meltdowns, well, let’s just say it’s no surprise the ‘leavers’ prefer to remain silent from sharing their support for Brexit, with such overwhelming fallacies being propagated as popular views.

Our views are based on lies

With renound and educated experts on both sides heralding their absolute confidence in absolute polar opposite views, it’s official – nobody really has a clue of what the impacts are. Last I checked a fact was “a thing that is known or proved to be true”. Through reading the “facts” presented by both sides and, their sheer contractions one can conclude that the actual facts are far from known. So, why are we are still quick and bewilderingly happy to put ourselves into either of the camps?

know_facts_cartoon_cake say staying in the EU is bad for the UK economy

BSIE_960x560_IFS_BLACKHOLEv1 say staying in the EU is bad for the UK economy

It’s not the first time in our recent history that a nation has made decisions based on lies, leading a public to believe that taking wrong action is right. Our middle east interests for example were (officially thanks to the impending Chilcot report misrepresented to the public which led the world into a much darker unstable place.

What is the EU anyway?

Let’s be clear, the EU is not Europe, which the UK will always be part of. In opting to leave the EU we are surrendering our involvement with the institutions which comprise the EU and the things which they govern, we are not giving up on Europe itself. We can remain proudly European irrespective of our referendum persuasions.

To understand the EU would require, at the very least, a basic knowledge of the seven institutions which comprise the EU: the European Council, the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the European Court of Auditors. Let alone what they do, how they’re governed and vitally what power they hold over the things that influence our lives and how one is appointed to these institutions (where average salaries apparently far exceed those of our public servants).

Picture1A conglomerate of institutes serving who’s interest?

I would suggest there are very few people who understand what ‘being in the EU’ even means and are dangerously confusing that with being European. Whatever you think of Farage, you have to admire his questioning of what is the EU (

Living with our shortcomings

Whilst we’re on the subject of facts, let’s talk about some facts relating to humanity and power, as it’s a fact that some (I remain optimistic that most) humans are good, but that some are also bad. Some are selfless whilst others of us are selfish. Whilst some have a desire to fix our world, there are those who seek only to fix only their own house. Greed and corruption is therefore, and will always be, a way of life.


Centralising our interest doesn’t always work as planned

It’s also a fact that democracy gives power to the people, letting them choose their leaders and outcomes, in theory at least. The more power we give to a government, the more of our world and lives we allow them to govern. And it’s a fact that our leaders will in some cases be good, and in others not. Corruption and greed will be ever present, a reality we must and do accept to live with. And the effects shouldn’t be underestimated like recent GFC showed us.

So whatever happens we accept that in democracy we will suffer from the greed and corruptions which exists, to varying degrees, in us all. Why then are we keen to hand over so much control to those we elect (and in the case of the EU those we don’t too).

We’ve handed over too much

The EU is comprised of (now) 27 member states and so the influence, whatever the influence of those seven EU institutions are, is far reaching. And logically, the longer the EU exists, the deeper that reach becomes too. The influence therefore we are essentially handing to those (albeit few) corrupt and greedy with, should be of concern to all.


The power we’ve handed to the EU, a single entity, to influence our lives, our taxes, our world, is something we’ve stupidly become blind to, as significant discussions and decisions which influence our lives are conducted behind closed doors in a country far away from us and therefore from our view and consciousness too. The TTIP is a great example of something so significant yet so secretive most haven’t even heard of it being done ‘on our behalf’ without our knowledge, which would give US corporates unprecedented rights over how they conduct trade in Europe and how they manage our data, privacy and IP.

The need for change


Obama, famous for embracing social media, in a recent Facebook Live event with Mark Zuckerberg (, called out the frightening new reality and potential of a connected world and youth who can connect with and influence politics through non-established channels. Citing examples like the recent Arab spring.

Watching the referendum results pour in live, 30 million opinions boil down to a single moment transparent for all to see, made me believe that the time for change in how a democracy is run, governed and made transparent is upon us.

Change is not without risks

Of course, in a time where far right-wing opinions are becoming more popular, it would be foolish to ignore the fact that for some leaving the EU was driven by nationalist and at times racist viewpoints too. And there is a risk that in this time of turmoil that those far-right movements will gain confidence in the belief that the people’s choice to leave the EU is in some way support of their causes. It’s not.

The disenfranchised Leavers want change, that is what the EU referendum, shows us. Simple. 17 million of us. But, that doesn’t mean there are 17 million immigrant fearing people out there, ready to support far-right movements, something which the Remain campaign is trying to portray.

The change we all want is hard to articulate. It is driven by a want for better, for ourselves and our children. We all feel the effects of a wider rich poor divide, global inequalities, corporate greed, but we don’t understand it or know who to blame. These are confused times and whilst removing ourselves from the EU is a start of change, we have to continue to support change, or risk the far-right movements capitalising on the confusion.

It’s not about the EU

A more distributed democracy where we don’t allow anonymous people in anonymous institutions to make decisions which influence our world, our society, is something we can, thanks to technology, create and expect. Leaving the EU was a good start for driving a wider change to how democracy works, which thanks to technology is now highly achievable.

In a day and age where technology has done so much, we should now be pushing for more change and allow us to have a bigger say on more important matters like where our taxes get invested, how we treat immigrants with humanity and dignity, where local government should be spending their time. It’s possible, so why has it not happened?

Leaving the EU was not as some would have you believe the rising far-right wing. But in my opinion it was a cry for change. A call to be listened to. A single voice of a frustrated population. I hope that we all continue to push for change and not let the corrupt few capitalise on the short damage it has created.

Adam Goldberg shows how to do it!

Adam Goldberg shows how to do it!

A marketeers (early!) review of Vine, pondering its future, considering its uses and wondering whether to ditch Instagram in place of it!

I’ve been having fun using Vine this weekend, to produce a set of ultimately useless but fun videos. It’s undeniably fun, but not without it’s quirks in this early version (e.g. lack of ability to edit/uploads video outside of the app).

The bigger question I find myself asking is should we be advising clients to take a look and try something out? There is no doubt that a few brands will quickly capitalise on the opportunity, make some PR’able waves (for being the first), but is there long term potential with the tool?

Like Instagram, the issue of content value will quickly become evident for brands. After all, sharing video and photo’s is not exactly revolutionary and in the rise of responsive sites / social sharing tools, content is becoming easier to share every day. So why use Instagram / Vine to do so? The answer has to lay in the delivery of content of value.

A lot of brands (I’ve seen badly use these channels) interpret content value by leveraging these platforms to release discounts, announce sales, show a quirky photo of a new product etc etc – please shoot me in the head right now. Brands need to give their customers more credit than thinking they exist only to be told when and how to buy product!

With Vine, brands have a great chance to build loyalty and give their customers truly unique insights into what makes them a great brand.

The fashion/retail industry, for example, can (and will!) go down the mundane – and easy – route of sharing 6 second cuts of their TVS’s on Vine. Cheap, nasty, meaningless. But consider for a moment the opportunity of intertwining these new tools into a marketing strategy which goes beyond seeing Vine and the likes as a channel extension.

Instead though, they could be giving 6 second snippets insights into what makes them, them! How they come up with their styles, 6 word / 6 second interviews with their key designers, showing the idea to production process, taking their customers to fashion shows overseas etc.

What Vine demonstrates, is that without a content production like approach to how it will be used, it won’t add much to a brands marketing. Exclusive Vine ‘episodes’ that are produced regularly that provide insights / angles of the brand never seen before will be leveraging the platform for its true strengths.

FYI, one of the most enjoyable Viner’s has to be Adam Goldberg who has already published over 40 entertaining clips, you can find them here …

Another aspect that will be interesting is for brands to explore leveraging their loyal following to create (UGC) content of value. Imagine a car manufacturer engaging and inviting users to Vine their top <insert car brand> moments. No doubt it would range from the mundane to the wild as users try to outdo each other on their whacky brand moments.

User content is undervalued and our recent Plate of our Nation Instagram experience is an example of users desire to engage with brands in this way by sharing their moments – with ‘PlateOff’ ( generating over 15,000 Instagram food moments (without any competition or reason to do so).

I guess my summary of Vine for now is that it is an exciting platform, certainly from a snap and have some fun perspective. Whether it will have a life for brands will depend on how brands embrace it and what content they chose to use it for.


What a year! As one of my colleagues summarised nicely when I asked him if he’s looking forward to going back home for the Xmas hols – office life has been such that work doesn’t feel like work and enjoying every minute, looking forward to coming into work, means that whilst the holidays are welcomed, he actually looks forward to coming back to the New Year. Music to our humble GM ears and echoes exactly how I feel about this past year.

It’s not been easy. As seems the way in agency life, we’ve had to say farewell to some incredible minds. We’ve been pushed to deliver to some very tight timeframes and expectations. We launched a third team and had the teething pains associated with that. We’ve brought in new players which at our size always means readjustments of sorts. But the net result at the end of the year is one that I couldn’t be happier with.

First and foremost as I reflect back on the year, I can safely say I am working with some of the most outstanding people I’ve had the honour of working with. Whether it’s the thick layer of new comers ranging from Senior staff, inspiring and motivating our clients and staff alike, or solid foundation of colleagues who have been with us for over 5 years still tirelessly driving and moving us forward, the team here in Sydney is without doubt the thing which inspires the most confidence in me for the year ahead.

And it’s been a good year. We’ve won a Webby. Secured new valuable accounts with the likes of ANZ Stadium and Weight Watchers. Launched some great work for The Benevolent Society, Amnesty International Australia, Thrifty, Cochlear to name just a few. Good work goes beyond how thing look and feel – but the strength of those relationships instils me with further confidence that 2013 will be an even better year.

We’ve officially been labelled by the building here as ‘the cool kids’ – a reference to the constant BBQ’s and drinks we have on the terrace and those are the same words I’ve heard two of our clients reference us too. The fact that we’re managing to have fun whilst we go means, as much as possible, that work genuinely doesn’t feel like work. Our last eNPS (staff satisfaction survey) scored us with a corking average of 8.5. I think it goes beyond the fruit bowls and Bondi Fitness sessions and relates to the fact that we now have three teams who are filled with savvy, enthusiastic and passionate people.

Joining a year ago, my vision was to create an office that would stand out within the Reactive group. I leave this week for hols standing firm in the belief that we’ve changed things, together. The foundation created will see us come back for the New Year with vigour and enthusiasm with even greater opportunities to shine over the next year.

As a group our performance and work output has been growing year on year. I think no matter in which continent you sit in the Reactive group, it would not be difficult to take great pride in our combined achievements. Whether forging new frontiers in NYC, continuing to create ground breaking retail work in the UK, leading the way in NZ or part of the amazing down-under success story, I don’t think it’s too difficult to feel that we’re all part of something bigger.

So for now, I bid you all a well-deserved holiday. Rest well and leave assured in the knowledge that we’re in for an even better 2013!

Happy New Year all!


Biz Dev Down Under

Posted: December 12, 2012 in Agency life

I remember when I was handed the reigns to my first Digital Agency years ago – it was probably the last time I felt as nervous and excited as I did. How do you go from the safety of managing internal processes to suddenly having whopping great big $$$ targets dumped on your shoulders … and succeed!?

The weight of Biz Dev was probably the single biggest aspect which, being new to me back then, was an unknown entity. As MD this wasn’t a case of cold calling (hate that term!) but more building and managing relationships with the purse string holders and how to win their trust. So needless to say, a steep learning curve and in some ways one that was recommenced when I moved out to Aus last year given the slight, but not to be ignored nuances in business work ethic out here. So, what have I learnt?

  • People work with People. Perhaps more so than in the UK, people like to know who they are dealing with, before they want to know about the company they are dealing with. A sure way to lose business is rock up to a first meeting with a deck and poor gags to cover the uncomfortable silence when you set up the projector! Be yourself, let it flow.
  • Creds are a drag. Don’t underestimate the combined knowledge your agency has amassed over the years and don’t expect your slick portfolio to be the bees knees – good creative is a dime a dozen. Rather, understand the business problems you / your agency have solved. ROI, conversions, acquisition, creative – whatever it might be. Be clear about the business value you present.
  • Declining an opportunity can be as effective as accepting one. Over the years I’ve pushed the envelope of what my agency can comfortably do … to the detriment of the agency (targets, targets, targets!). The result is almost always poor delivery, poor relationship or poor team morale. Take confidence in what you do do and more importantly what you don’t do. Often this honesty will help nurture longer term relationship which almost always result in a more suitable work coming your way.
  • Be swift, be tolerant. Given the amount of calls I take from recruiters (recruiters take note) the ones I end up working with are those who give me space (I’m referencing all those who pound and keep requesting the inevitably pointless ‘office visit’) and act swiftly when I do turn to them. Act fast by all means, but don’t push – it’s annoying!
  • Let the drinks do the hard work! The sooner you can move from the office to the pub, the better you can get to know who you’re dealing with and what is really important to them. Nothing breaks the ice more and builds trust quicker than getting to know who you’re dealing with and letting them know of the same.
  • Listen, Idiot! If you were a fly on a wall, how do you think you come across? Be aware of yourself and at every point ask yourself – am I listening! The best art of discussion is developing the ability to listen and understand. Talk is cheap, so make sure everything you say has a point and relates to the dialogue at hand. Avoid, at all cost the temptation to say ‘Yeah, that’s great but let me tell you about ‘.
  • Don’t be a one hit wonder. Train your team to think the same when it comes to managing and building relationships. There is nothing more annoying for a client who chooses to work with you and is then met by a lacklustre team who hold very different values.

These are my learnings, would be interested to hear from others out there too!

A recent blog post I wrote for Business Review Weekly “Social Media = Social Change”


[tweetmeme source= “jsnrss” only_single=false]I’ve not commented much on my political viewpoints and I guess one of the many reasons I came out here in the first place is because of the political isolation Australia enjoys and which I looked forward to.

But, I feel compelled to comment on the recent Aussie budget and more specifically the impending changes to LAFHA.

Many are commenting on whether it’s fair or not (basically thousands of foreign worker, many in the agency sphere) will lose 20% of their salary -but this is the wrong area to focus on IMO.

How a progressive government of a modern country can manage the proposed changes to LAFHA in such a shambolic way (chaos ensues: is a poor sign of its ability to manage legislation and a bit shocking really.

Whilst the changes, fair or not are debatable, the fact that the government is leaving these thousands of people to wait in angst, to find out if the changes will impact them from July 2012 or if they will benefit from the reprieve until July 2014) is simply bewildering. With official announcements offering no clarity at all (yes, including the budget itself which I’ve read!) and even contradicting each other, it’s bad enough. But to then give them just one month (or two at best) to to deal with the impact of their reduced income should the changes indeed apply to them from this July, is comparable with the way policy is mandated in a third world economy.

I don’t feel like I have the right to comment on the merits or otherwise of the policy, but as far as I’m concerned, the policy handling and communication is a complete joke coming at the expense of many talented overseas people who have chosen to make (and contribute to) Australia as their home and may need to pack up as a result.

Latest update from officially unofficial sources here:

Posted: May 11, 2012 in Personal, Politics

Going mobile, explained

Posted: April 29, 2012 in Mobile

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Gotta be simpler than this!

How to approach developing a Mobile Web site continues to be the source of confusion for some. With device proliferation and complexity increasing by the month (from new devices to improving specifications), the options seem to get more complicated from year to year.

In putting a reponse to an RFP together for a recent brief, I put the following presentation together which I thought might be worth sharing – it aims to simplify the options available to clients considering a mobile Web site.

Whilst it’s just the tip of the iceberg, with tools like Netbiscuits offering ‘long tail’ mobile solutions for older devices, jQuery and Web apps (see a past post about this – The costly risk of ignoring Wapps) further complicating the scene, the attached should serve as a good starting point for anyone who’s confused about going mobile.

[tweetmeme source= “jsnrss” only_single=false]We recently re-pitched to retain an account – not an enjoyable experience, but extremely valuable nonetheless.

It’s bad enough entering a pitch when ‘the favoured incumbent’ is partaking in the process, but it’s far worse when you are the incumbent! Trust me.

I can imagine it’s not a frequently discussed / blogged topic – why would it be. Re-pitching for an existing account doesn’t exactly smack of ‘Oh my God, you guys are so good with your clients’!!!

Before I go onto some of the lessons learnt, the most important thing I suppose, is don’t let things get to that point. Whilst being there doesn’t have to be due to the client being unhappy (business priorities can change, procurement battleaxes get in the way, a new <insert fancy job title here> joins the company etc) it is, I believe, entirely avoidable.

So, don’t kid yourself for a second … you’re there because you took your eye off the ball and whether you like it or not, alignment with your client was lost somewhere along the line. The sooner you can be honest about why you’re there, the quicker you can figure out how to win them back.

First and foremost decide if the client is one that’s worth retaining (are they profitable? are they the right fit? do they add shine to your client list?). If you decide they are, then make sure you leave no room for question. Strong account management, efficient delivery and proactive engagement are all part of the retention game, but not what this blog post is all about (though for what it’s worth – collaborative road-mapping has to be one of the key tools for client retention in my opinion).

So, what to do when you do find yourself in the situation of re-pitching for an existing account!? From my humble recent experience, here are some pointers…

  1. Don’t take anything for granted. You might have the best relationship with your client, but don’t assume their organisation/colleagues feel the same way. Make sure you focus less on what you’ve done and more on what you can do.
  2. Approach the process as you would any valuable new pitch opportunity. Pitches are often a show of an agency’s finest skills – don’t get complacent or lazy because you think the history affords you the right to. Use it as an opportunity to shine.
  3. Leverage your successes, but keep it brief. Being the incumbent is an advantage – so don’t be shy to recap on the successes … there may be people present who were not around for the whole account history. But don’t gloat – you need to win based on your vision, not you (perceived) past successes.
  4. Be honest about you failures and propose solutions. It’s a bit harsh and I’m not suggesting you go in and commit Hari-kiri! But make them believe that you can put right any of the issues that have been encountered over the years.
  5. Be bold. Don’t be shy to create an entire new vision – a complete team shake up, a new working/charging model, a new marketing plan – whatever! Figure out why you’re there, address those issues head on and don’t be scared to jump well outside of your comfort zone.
  6. Most importantly … tell them something new, surprise them! All too often (particulalry with longer standing accounts) clients will have an (outdated) opinion about you and your agency. Use the pitch as a chance to surprise them – create a ‘heck I had no idea you did that’ moment. Make it relevant and impactful.

When all else fails, a brown bag stuffed with cash might be the last resort (luckily, we haven’t had it come to that yet!).

Posted: April 11, 2012 in Agency life

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This is taken from a recent article I wrote for Business Review Australia – the original article can be found here.

The evolving landscape

It’s amazing to think how much has changed in the way we communicate over just the past decade alone. The pace of change only gains momentum as new innovations and ways of using them fall into ever welcoming hands.

Investor Relations is (sometime unfairly) seen as one of the last bastions to adapt to the ever changing communication landscape. After all, servicing a complex stakeholder group, who are often seen as the ‘no-nonsense’ type, is not easy. Whether it’s analysts, private or institutional investors, regulators or internal stakeholders, Investor Communications need to be clear, direct and to the point – fluff free. So it’s no surprise perhaps that when scanning the websites of some of the ASX top 50 companies there are plenty of examples where investor and corporate information is presented in a lacklustre way, being defined simply by regulatory requirements.

Consider however that we live in a day and age where people are collaborating in ways like never before. Sharing things which they would have never shared, with people they would have never considered ‘friends’ or being ‘LinkedIn’ to just a few years ago. This is not just a phenomena, indeed we are living in a time which is regarded as the sixth great communication revolution. Companies like Facebook and LinkedIn going public serve as a perfect example for how rapidly innovation is becoming mainstream today.

As the way people communicate changes, expectations from corporates are changing too. What worked just a few years ago is no longer seen as meeting the needs of the audiences who consume corporate information today. A company that fails to embrace innovation and present itself as a cohesive organisation working to common goals and vision is seen as a company that is falling behind.

Staying ahead

Companies at the forefront of understanding how best to leverage the tools available to them, have embraced the concept of integrated reporting. Integrated reporting stems from an understanding that stakeholders have a wider interest than they did just a few years ago. This change is partly driven by the fact that information has become far easier to find, receive and share, increasing the desire for knowledge before making decisions – such as whether a company represents a sound investment or not. But it is also driven by the fact that companies are recognising the value in taking an integrated approach to their communications – one that is underpinned by a common understanding of what the business stands for and the goals that are being focused on.

With all this in mind, it is clear to see that the tired and tested approach of presenting investor information in isolation of the broader business strategy while ignoring new channels and technologies is no longer acceptable.

So what can be done?

Working at an agency, it would have been all too easy to write about the merits of introducing more innovation into corporate communications. Launch an app. Get onto Facebook. Tweet more often. And while you’re at it, make it all work on an iPad! But the point is really that every business needs to identify clearly who their stakeholders are, what would be relevant to them and how best the information can be delivered.

There are plenty of great examples out there, which reflect the results of taking a more integrated approach. Bowen Craggs & Co ( uses a tailored marking system in their FT Web effectiveness index which has allowed them to rank the top global organisations use of digital. Shell and Unilever who appear in the top 5 have embraced investor apps, making their key highlights available to stakeholders on the go. BP’s on-going use of social media to manage stakeholder expectations (in particular through the Deepwater disaster) continues to serve them well and earn them praise; And Siemens (who top the charts) lead their investor section with a ‘Siemens at a Glance’ section providing a clear overview to their company in conjunction with the facts and figures. All of these companies have recognised that taking an integrated approach and leveraging innovation is key to managing their stakeholder needs and expectations effectively.

Taking action

Whilst the examples covered all make great use of digital in different ways, they represent the end result of a process. The process starts with achieving clarity of vision about the corporate ‘mission’ and making sure this is communicated in a clear, engaging and consistent way to both internal and external stakeholders. Once these basics are in place, the process extends to understanding clearly who your stakeholders are and what is of relevance to them. Once you have established these things it becomes far easier to look at the ever changing innovation landscape and decide what will work best for your company and stakeholders.

[tweetmeme source= “jsnrss” only_single=false]I recently sat through a movie which I hated – it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. It’s a familiarly painful experience. You spend the first half of the movie wanting to believe it could get better and the second half painfully accepting that you’ve sat through the first half so better see the rest through!

The experience is not too dissimilar to being asked to execute a poorly devised Digital Strategy. What could be worse than being stuck in the middle of a 5 year strategy which is conservative, stale, lacking in innovation and was only every going to achieve moderate success in the first place?

It’s a trend we’re seeing more of recently here ‘agency side’. It seems we’ve spent years convincing and educating clients on the need for Digital Strategy, whilst today we’re in a position of needing to challenge those very strategies we’ve been selling in!

You can see the effects all over the place. Facebook pages with 1000’s of fans but no real engagement models; Great new eCommerce web sites launching with no consideration for mobile commerce; Apps costing thousands of dollars, devoid of purpose or function; or perhaps more simply a failure to embrace new and relevant technologies or solutions.

Lacklustre digital initiatives are tell-tale signs of digital strategies which prescribe executional not strategic objectives. Like the moment you realise you won’t be enjoying a movie, you can sense a Digital Strategy is failing when you feel that the very people the strategy was devised to engage with are losing interest and it is here where innovation plays a key role.

Teams delivering Digital Strategy need to be guided by a strategy, but be given the space to interpret them too. They need timeframes and objectives, but they also need to be challenged along the way. There is no shortage of new innovation which can challenge today’s best Digital Strategy, whether it’s new payment methods on offer by the likes of Facebook or Dwolla; Location based services; Your customers ever increasing Klout or PROskore; or new ways to connect like Google+ business pages.

A good Digital Strategy should provide a clear framework for assessing why jump on bandwagons when they arise, instead of prescribing when or how to do so.

It’s not easy of course. Digital Strategy often gets sold in at the very highest levels and it’s at those levels where people find it difficult to accept that “this part of our strategy is being left open for interpretation”, but that’s exactly what needs to happen if a strategy is expected to deliver meaningful results from start to end.