Think Hard

Relax. You’re only a brand.
April 29, 2014, 8:48 am
Filed under: advertising, brands, creativity, marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,


Dave Trott’s blog post in Campaign today is one of the best I’ve read in a very long time.

Trotty has the knack of getting to the nub of an argument and making his point eloquently and, well, pointedly.

In this he talks about how the Movember movement, when in its infancy, approached a Prostate charity to offer them the proceeds of their fundraising and asking for endorsement to do so.  They told them they were a serious charity and this was just silly.  (They were essentially ‘above’ it.)

They went elsewhere and have now raised $300million for the second choice (Prostate Research).

The lack of spontaneity in marketing, or the strict adherence to brand guidelines, the unwillingness to take chances, to act like humans act with the occasional throwing of caution to the wind infuriates me at times because great ideas, like this one, are passed over.

My ‘favourite’ response to unorthodoxy?

“Oh I don’t think we could do that.  It’s too creative.”

Well, tell that to the marketing manager at an unknown and struggling Prostate Cancer charity .


The new 60 Watt website.
April 2, 2014, 8:49 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 09.47.07

My long term client and friend, Iain Hawk, of 60 Watt,  has been crafting his new website for some time now and finally it has been revealed.

It’s certainly minimal and in a lovely, simple way.

The four case studies are amongst the finest written you will ever stumble upon.

(Pete Mill’s pen on fire.)

Do enjoy them please.

How the Australian’s deal with Truantism
January 31, 2014, 1:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Good work.

Oh dear Apple MacIntosh. You’ve changed.

Where once you sold the brand on emotion and an innate understanding of how the Mac unlocked creativity, like this…

…you now do it like this….

What a load of pompous PC-like tosh.

“This is what a pioneer looks like.”  she says smugly.

“The only way I could do this was with a  mac.” says Moby.

“All artists are like this.  You give us a new paintbox we go crazy.”  (Whereas mac users used to just BE crazy.)

“Truly worldwide democratisation of creativity.”

Oh please.  How many macs per head will you find in these countries?

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 13.52.22

Christmas 2013 ads. A poor crop.

I should like this as the core demograph.  I don’t.  It’s a rip off of Only a Woman by JLP in 2010.

This is an abomination.  It’s so bad it’s bad.

Oh come on.  Ant and Dec scoffing.  Is that it?

This is OK I suppose, great Lily Allan take on Keene, best of the bunch, but only just, and not a patch on previous efforts.

Poor bloody bear trying to sleep.

But I have to say it’s exploited well in store.

Hmmm.  It’s not exactly “here come the girls” is it.

Now we’re talking.  Sue Perkins says FUCK THAT EMOTION.  It’s 10% off.  I’m off to Asda!

This is how to do Christmas TV advertising…

Why I think, after considerable thought, that Independence could well be good for Scotland.
October 31, 2013, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


At no point in my adult life have I ever felt the compulsion to break free from the union of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England.  My naive view has always been “what isn’t broken doesn’t need fixed”.

Even when the SNP smashed their way through an electoral voting system that was designed to favour coalitions over overall majorities (with my support – but check out the alternatives, both at the time and now, if you like) I was not even remotely interested in an independence vote.

Since their announcement that an independence referendum would be held at around the time that nationalism could be at an all time modern high (Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup in close succession) I’ve failed, until recently, to have my fire ignited.

The reason for this disinterest, apathy actually, has been the quality of debate.  I’d heard little in the way of compulsive argument in the mainstream media and little more than rhetoric and, frankly, slightly xenophobic, pro support and ill-informed anti- counter-arguments.

The whole thing has been slightly embarrassing if I’m honest.  “Aye”  “Naw” “Aye” “Naw” has more or less summed up the discourse.

However, bubbling under the surface has been a steady stream of well thought out pro- arguments, mainly from the arts community to which I am close.  Again I largely ignored these because my gut feeling was that artists are by their very nature often anti-establishment and more in touch with the cultural DNA of a community than the average man or woman.  Their creativity can be inspired by an almost preternatural attachment to the environment in which they live rather than a rational assessment of the facts

The ‘No’ vote (Better Together) is well funded and has the massive advantage of being able to prey on the human instinct that eschews change and is fundamentally risk averse (If you don’t believe me do some reading on behavioural economics and, in particular, enjoy reading the seminal book on the subject Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness’ by Thaler and Sunstein). 


In comparison the ‘Yes’ vote seems slow, maybe deliberately so, in getting out of the blocks.  And when I say slow, I mean glacier-like.

And so, I’ve been unmoved by the whole sorry process; until recently.

What caused me to change my view was actually a deep-seated nervousness that this whole, potentially life changing, chapter in my life and my nation’s history was in danger of passing me by.  That I, like most of my family, friends and colleagues, would assume a position (most of us anti-Independence) based on gut feel.  “We’re part of the UK; a nation that punches way, way above its weight, so we must be OK.”  That I, like most of my family, friends and colleagues would vote no because I’d heard nothing substantive to reinform my media-addled opinion.  For “Aye” “Naw” “Aye” “Naw” read “Whatever”.  And like most of us my default position (risk averse) would be “Naw”.

I felt deeply uncomfortable about this.

So I set out to have an opinion.

First stop.  The ‘No’ vote.

What interesting pro-union essays, manifestos or informed publications should I read?  Well, you tell me, I haven’t found one yet.

I have heard interesting sound bites in the news, such as we’d have to switch our mobile phones to roaming if we crossed the English border (following border checks of course) post independence.  Now that’s not helpful.  It’s not true, it’s not credible and it’s silly.

Last week Theresa May dropped an unsubtle and purely scaremongering threat that Scotland would be dropped from the protective embrace of the big 5 English speaking nations and the intelligence pooling .  Oh come on.

And so to the ‘Yes’ vote.

I’m not a Nationalist, never have been. But as I said earlier I’d voted for the SNP at the last election because the quality of political argument from the alternatives (50 shades of Iain Gray) was so bad it actually made me wince.  Salmond, love the cheeky wee monkey or hate him, kicked arse so hard that the entire field of opposition leaders resigned post election, only to be replaced with slightly less inept Westminster stooges.

So, you might argue that I was already subconsciously nudging my way towards the Yes box.  Not that I thought so.

I am now though and the reason for this is that I read the recently departed Stephen Maxwell’s astounding extended essay on the what’s, whys and wherefore’s of Independence.  Warts and all called Arguing for Independence: Evidence, Risks and the Wicked Issues.


Stephen Maxwell is a lifelong SNP voter so you’d expect him to be pro independence (although actually he would argue strongly for Devo Max too) and so it transpires.  But it’s the quality of his argument that makes this book essential reading.  And by argument I mean just that.  This is no Malcolm X style hustings sermon, it’s an all things considered, and shared, evaluation of the pro’s and con’s of crossing the ‘Yes’ box – and the Rubicon as a result.

It draws on precedence widely (Ireland, Iceland, Scandinavia in particular – because these are the economies that most readily reflect the Scottish ecology) and considers the many, many what if scenarios that could change Scotland, post-independence, for better or worse.

What if;

  • We run out of oil? (quicker than expected)
  • There’s war?
  • Europe rejects us (the Spanish hold pretty strong fishing gripes)?
  • The banks collapse (again)?
  • Alex Salmond pisses everyone off (again)?

I hear these arguments regularly from the “aye but” No camp.  No, actually all I hear from the ‘official’ no camp is uncompromising stonewalling.  Not debate, no weighed up arguments.

Just no.

Oh, and that Alex Salmond pisses them off.


And sadly, most of what I hear from  the ‘official’ yes camp is the same.  (Apart from the Alex Salmond bit of course.)

But I digress, back to Maxwell.  He rightly tempers his argument with these negative ‘what ifs’ because these need aired and intelligently valued so that the more positive ‘what ifs’ can be reasonably contextualized.

You can read it yourself for the detail but I’d summarise them, without referring to notes, thus;

  • Would you rather your country was run from your country or from another country by a coalition you didn’t vote for and that even the majority of the rest of its own country didn’t vote for. (I won’t go into the demographics of this mob as Maxwell does it better than I can – but I’m sure you can work it out for yourselves.)
  • The recent history of Westminster interventions on exclusively Scottish issues (in particular) fisheries policy has been, at best, indifferent, or worse, inept.
  • The economic balancing act of tax raising/distribution has long favoured Westminster; Barnett Formula or no Barnett Formula – yes, yes I am referring to our oil.

And speaking of our oil;

  • If, like Norway, we’d have set up an oil fund in the late 1960’s we too might have a £300bn war chest – not to mention widespread investment in de-risking the Klondyke.  It’s not too late.
  • It’s only half exhausted (and that’s before we explore deeper waters)
  • It can fund R&D into renewable energy technologies which, if proven (and yes risky), will put Scotland on the front foot across Europe – like Norway.

But back to the argument;

  • If you, like me, favour a Social Democracy you ain’t gonna find it any time soon in Westminster.  But consider the SNP’s track record in this area.
  • If you were planning a nuclear attack where exactly in the UK would you aim your sights – London and Faslane I’d argue.
  • Trident costs Scotland £1bn a year.  Few of us want it.
  • HS2 anyone?  Doesn’t come to Scotland.  But we’d be paying for it.
  • Would an independent Scotland have invaded Afghanistan or Iraq (and all that it cost).  That’s a big fat no!
  • The quality of our politicians would rise (the brain drain [sic] reversing).

Yes there are risks.  The oil price might fall (do you think?), renewable energy may prove economically unviable, large corporates may walk (they did in the Irish case –in their droves INTO Ireland), we’d save money on Trident but we’d lose thousands of defence jobs at both Faslane and Rosyth (but we’d get our army back),

I am not a zealous pro-independent now.  I recognise the risks but I do feel I am now better informed and that I at least have an opinion that I can now shape over the coming year.

Hand on heart; do you?

Cheetahs are appealing
October 11, 2012, 10:25 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

As some of you may know my Sister Emily has given up years of her life, literally, to hand rear wild Cheetah cubs in RSA.The charity for which she does this sterling work is called Cheetah Outreach and has, post 2012 rearing season suffered a cataclysm.  I will let Emily’s partner, James, take over here by sharing the email he sent me earlier this week and I ask that you my dear reader and friend do what you can to help either financially or in kind.  At the very least please share this message with your own social networks in the hope that it reaches caring eyes and hearts.


Dear Markiemark


About a year ago, Emily regaled us with tales of the Kalahari and many kindly supported our fundraiser for Cheetah Outreach (CO), the charity that Emily has done the cub-rearing for these many years, as seen on TV !! It did well, raising nigh on SAR 50,000 for CO and £650 for Wildlife Heritage Foundation for which we thank you. Although this letter is rather long I plead with you to read it through as it asks a question of you at the end, well, three.


This year, Emily and I were together on the cub-project and ten cubs came to Eikendal, in four litters of differing ages. It was, as ever, exhausting and sublime and we’ll send pictures in an email soon, so as not to get spammed on this one! When we left the cubs, but a few weeks ago, Yell, Coll and Broch were back in Pretoria at de Wildt, Zingula and Ailsa were up at the main facility like big girls, and the wee five were still at the cubhouse amongst the vineyards. Emily has since been in constant contact aiding their nurture, so has not really stopped – she lives and breathes with cheetahs in mind! And talking of cheetahs, I need your help. 


There has been a grave disaster. Four nights ago, at dark late o’clock, after electrical storms and much deluge, a dam broke on the vineyard hill above the cub complex and the earth moved. Ton upon ton upon ton of mud slid through the Anatolian shepherd dog enclosures, taking all with it. A goat drowned,  but miraculously the dogs survived; several were found along the motorway some miles away, so very luckily unhurt. The wee wooden cottages abutting the main ops centre of kitchen and cubroom were smacked by a wall of mud, trapping folks inside whilst the waters lapped through to the very cubroom door; towels, fleeces, sand-bags and volunteers saved the day. The cubs were emergency evac-ed to the main facility some twenty minutes drive away in the darkness and everyone retreated from the assault.


The whole cub complex is now under a metre of mud and all ops switched to the CO main building at Paardevlei. Cubs and volunteers are squashed into whatever rooms they have, like London in the Blitz though fewer bombs, making do with the little they saved, higgledy-piggledy but, as ever, primarily succouring the cubs. The pictures that Emily has sent through all these years of cubs running in the garden, cubs sleeping in the cub room, cubs playing on the porch are now but artefacts, antediluvian memories of space that is no longer there.


All are pluckily braving it well, staff, volunteers and cubs –  but cataclysms have aftershocks. From the surviving comes the immediate coping and then the rebuild. I have little ability from here to aid, save to contact past supporters and plead for help to meet the inevitable strain on already overstretched finances and manpower. Charities are closely related, as cheetahs, and so when an ailment strikes such as the credit crunch or other biscuits, it weakens the whole and makes epidemic the danger of crisis. There is so much less to go around. A sudden event can make that fatal difference. This is a call to arms. And alms.


As Dawn Glover at CO puts it, “Although insurance will cover part of the disaster, they do not cover the very expensive clean up or the very expensive private kennels we currently have the dogs in while insurance agents, assessors and structural engineers get to grips with the disaster and decide how much damage has been done”.


If you are in South Africa, I do so hope that you get a chance to visit CO and the cheetahs. The main op at the facility will still be open 10-5pm 7 days a week on the R44. Only you will know what is going on behind closed doors! Meeting a cheetah will convert and inspire you and then I won’t need to ask you for any help you can give, be it your skills, your time or your address book! You will be proffering it. If you are not in South Africa, then I ask you to help as you can. Do you know folk there who might spread the word? Do you have a spare wine estate with a modern cub-rearing facility on it in the area that you’re not using? Can you spare a dime?


Donations are being gathered through on the same page we used last year  ( ) and even better for CO through direct international transfer to them. Donations can be thought of as how much they cost, or how much help they give 


Cheetah Outreach direct donation : 


Bank Details :

First National Bank

Adderly Street, Cape Town

Branch Code:  201409

Account Number: 62030813241

Account Name:  CCF – Cheetah Outreach Trust


First National Bank, 82-84 Adderley Street , Cape Town 8000.

Swift number: FIRNZAJJ

Bank Tel:  + 27 (0)21 487 6000


On line donations :


And PLEASE PLEASE Forward this email to folk who might care, or care to help


As ever,




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,439 other followers