Think Hard

Think Hard in the press again

Interesting piece I contributed to in yesterday’s Times.

times copy

It’s pretty accurate except for the piece where I say the headline is going to be laughed out of court.

The headline I was referring to was one that claimed that Scotland would be one of the world’s wealthiest nations after independence.

I stand by that as it’s way too extreme a claim to make (true or otherwise) .

The ad in the article is actually more benefit driven and works well (IMHO) and, consequently, is much more believable.



She had a dream
January 11, 2014, 9:12 am
Filed under: politics | Tags: , , , ,

Margaret Thatcher loathed the benfit driven leeches that she perceived Scotland to be.

But, we never elected her, just like we never elected David Cameron and his cronies.

Cameron is too scared to even debate independence with Alex Salmond because he realises AS OUR LEADER he a) has no mandate b) we loathe him c)In his own admissions he is too posh.

It’s interesting then, that in between the 70’s and teenies Independence pushes, Thatcher was an unwitting advocate of the outcome of independence.

By paraphrasing the quote below she was saying “We don’t want this lot.¬† We want to break them.¬† We want rid of them.”

Well, let’s grant her her wish posthumously; shall we?

I am indebted to James Mclaughlin for the inspiration for this poster idea, but please forgive the shocking art direction and general cobbled togetherness.

It’s the thought that counts.


The Troy Library Yes vote campaign


Fahrenheit 451 is a sci fi book (Ray Bradbury) and movie, made by Francois Truffaut as part of the French New Wave in 1966.  It shocked the world with its highly controversial theme; the burning of books because the fictitious totalitarian government saw them as the root of all evil.

This must have been the inspiration for a campaign in Troy, Michigan to encourage local voters to approve a 0.7% local tax increase to save its town library.

The backdrop to this was an aggressive no vote by the Tea Party who were angered by the proposed tax rise and had both money and influence to vocalise their anger.

The Yes vote was being drowned out because the Tea Party were relentlessly highlighting the hole this would burn in people’s pockets with no real emotional engagement.

It feels a bit like the vote for Scottish Independence which has no heart or soul, just political rhetoric.  Tit for  tat squabbling about tax and revenues, legal implications of constitutional issues, arguments about whether or not Scotland can, or will, enter the Euro.

Consequently the No Vote will win because people are fundamentally averse to change.

What the Troy Yes vote did was change the entire axis of the conversation.  Instead of trying to outshout the No vote with big and bloody Yes messages it subverted the whole thing.

It ran a mock No campaign by asking the citizens of Troy to attend a celebratory Book Burning Party because, after all, in the wake of the library closing there would be books aplenty to fuel the bonfire.

The townsfolk were outraged.

The fake campaign had touched an emotional nerve much deeper than that of their wallets; this got deep down in Maslowe territory and ¬†completely overwhelmed the No vote’s clumsy blustering.

Using social media and good old fashioned pamphleting and street postering it drove the community into a social media frenzy; only when the rug was pulled, on the approach to polling day, did people see the audacity of the approach for what it was and the emotional power of their argument.

What was an 0.7% increase in tax compared to the loss of civil dignity, freedom of expression and cultural integrity?

The Yes vote won.

By a mile.

Watch the story unfold here.

Wouldn’t it be great if Scotland’s Yes vote could rise above tit for tat politicising and reframe the argument emotionally in such a way that people actually engaged and felt strongly enough to make it a movement not a box crossing exercise.

Tess Alps talking sense.


Tess Alps is smart.

Here she talks about the government’s pathetic defence of slashing public service advertising because they claim there are more (cost) effective ways to change behaviour.

A 26% increase in drink driving deaths last year.  In the wake of an advertising embargo.  What did they expect? 

This sort of behaviour needs more than nudging.  It needs full spotlight disdain and only TV can do that.

Trying to get junkies off heroin.¬† That’s a different matter but this sort of behaviour needs social antipathy and TV’s the best way to galvanise that.

I agree 100% that broadcast TV advertising is not the only way to change behaviour.

But let’s get this straight.¬†

If you have the money there is STILL nothing that can replicate a great big dollop of TV advertising. 



I have every sympathy with Banksy here.
July 18, 2013, 12:04 pm
Filed under: brands, business, creativity, design, marketing, politics, social media | Tags: ,


The US election result and some thoughts on the media and communications that shaped it.
November 7, 2012, 4:50 pm
Filed under: brands, business, creativity, marketing, politics | Tags: , , , ,

When Barack Obama rode into power in November 2008 on a wave of optimism, change, belief, creativity and downright sexiness the world gasped.¬† American politics had not been so riveting since the 1960’s and certainly not as glamorous.¬† This online ad encapsulated it all for me.

And then reality kicked.¬† The mother of all recessions and hostile antipathy towards what’s now known as Obamacare.

One of Mitt Romney’s central strategies was, in creating 12million new jobs (really?), he would revoke Obamacare and return America to the most obviously polarised class structure in the Western world.

Obama meanwhile was criticised for continuing the Afghan war and for appearing remote; too much a thinker, not enough a baby-hugger.

He was doomed.

Five things saved him I believe.¬† Catching, and killing, Bin Laden (in a brave and high risk operation), Hurricane Sandy, Clinton’s speech, his wife and a brilliantly single-minded and principled political agenda that reached out Liberally to the WHOLE of America.

While Romney seduced the white vote with constant appeals to their pockets “it’s the economy stupid.” Obama consistently ploughed his furrow of social justice.

The Democrats are painted as Socialists (albeit dressed in Blue) but they strike me, under Obama, as the world’s great Liberals, balancing vote winning (in the underpriveleged) social issues with strong foreign affairs and a balanced view on the economy; it’s not the economy at ALL costs.

This chart said it all when I saw it last week.  It demonstrated what a danger Romney would be given the keys to the White House (we all saw his ineptitude abroad earlier this year in the UK)

The statistics are overwhelming and, guess what, the only country favouring Romney was Pakistan; default home of Al Quaeda.  World, we got a close call here but escaped unharmed.

Obama’s return to power was anything but certain.¬† He had to rely on a strong ethnic vote (and his ethnicity unquestionably helped there – were a white candidate standing against Romney the result would probably have been very different.¬† Should Hilary Clinton choose to stand in 2016 her support amongst female voters may have a similiar effect).¬† He had to scrap on the streets of the swing states for his life.¬† He only performed moderately in the TV debates.¬† He was saved in the end by his sticking to principles but his negative campaigning was far removed from the elegance of the Obey campaign.

This TV ad from last month though was a masterclass in Liberal balanced communication and I hope it made its mark.¬† There were so many that one will never know and it seems it was the doorstep canvassing that really made the difference.¬† Obama’s strategy in micro-marketing being better and more energetic.

A note on the TV coverage.  I watched it here, in the UK, flipping between the BBC, Sky, CNBC and CNN.  By a country mile the most interesting, insightful and challenging coverage came from CNN.

The BBC was plodding and boring.

So, America has made a brave, some might say, and reasoned, others might say, judgement call.¬† At the end of an administration that has see the economy hit by its very own Hurricane Sandy and against a presentable and domestically credible conservative voice offering the promise of a return to “The American Dream” Obama has held on, scraped back into power and given the opportunity to carry on his work, Not only that but The Senate surprisingly remained in the hands of the Democrats.

One major blot on the horizon; the Republicans still hold power in the house and so the opportunity to quash social change policies remains real and present.

One word sums it up again though.


I’m Mark Gorman and I approved this message.

Creative Scotland backs Edinburgh‚Äôs initiative to drive growth in the creative industries

I sit on the board of Creative Edinburgh and today’s announcement acknowledges real progress and significant funding.¬† This is the press release that was sent out announcing our funding by the City Council Development Department.

Creative Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council have today (19 October) announced new funding to support a strategy for developing the city’s creative enterprises.

The heart of the plan is the revival of Creative Edinburgh, which will be marked with a formal launch on 3 November. The organisation will help businesses work together, make the most of the city’s reputation and generate inward investment.

Creative Scotland is providing £120,000 which will complement investment from the Council and assistance already received from the European Union. The funding will support various initiatives in the Council’s People, Place and Pound strategy for creative industries.

Cllr Tom Buchanan, Economic Development Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, welcomed the announcement:

‚ÄėWe have long recognised the important contribution that the creative¬†industries can, and do, make to the economy. I look forward to working with partner organisations on our strategy to grow the size, scope and¬†international competitiveness¬†of¬†the creative industries base here in Edinburgh.‚Äô

Caroline Parkinson: ‚ÄėThis investment will support creative businesses to continue to develop, grow and innovate. Whether finding new workspaces, or creative hubs, Creative Edinburgh is well placed to establish a network to share experience, find new clients and generate business growth.‚Äô

As home to the world’s most famous arts festivals, Edinburgh has a unique offer in its creative and cultural industries sector but the sector remains one of the city’s least understood economic assets. Creative Scotland’s investment is aimed at strengthening the sector, driving growth and promoting Scotland’s global reputation for innovation.’

The work of Creative Edinburgh supports the Council’s People, Place and Pound strategy to support the creative industries in the city. Key areas for development include:

  • Promoting and connecting creative businesses to each other and potential customers.
  • Identifying creative spaces, including locations that can act as ‘incubators’ for new businesses.
  • Providing business development support to help new creative start-ups get off the ground.

Overall, Scotland’s creative industries are growing at a faster rate than the average of the Scottish economy over last 10 years. The creative industries represent 5% of all registered businesses in Scotland and contribute £2.4 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) to the Scottish economy.

In Edinburgh alone, it is estimated that there are 4000 creative businesses and organisations, which provide jobs for 26,000 people.