The Reception


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Default settings

“Of all of the tools in the choice architect’s repertoire, default rules may be the most promising; they are almost certainly the most discussed. Whether the area involves savings behavior, poverty reduction, or the environment, default rules have had significant effects on outcomes.” Cass Sunstein, 2017[1] Introduction The concept of creating or changing default settings is possibly one of the most powerful ‘nudges’ in any behavioural scientist’s ‘toolbox’ - one of the surest ways of changing people’s behaviour. By defaults, we mean that when people are presented with default options already set, or are automatically enrolled into something, they tend to accept them. We accept the status quo and go with the flow, without considering other options or investigating further. A very simple example is the default (factory) password setting for our mobile phones or our voicemail, which an astoundingly high proportion of people never get around to changing.

Ideas make a difference

At AAI the most exciting thing in the ‘glory days’ was to sit in conference room after conference room, and watch the reality of ideas being sold, and now and then bought. During the couple of days when the final presentations were being made, all the agencies would be offering ideas – developed to specific briefs – that simply had not been there before. It is a thrilling moment for a client team (particularly on a global brand, where people don’t meet that often) to see shiny new ideas for their brand. Most of us dream of finding opportunities where there used to be a problem. To meet for the first time an opportunity in the shape of an idea makes all the late nights and travel worthwhile. So much of the conflict I have seen over the years between what agencies are trying to do and clients’ lack of receptiveness is mainly because I don’t think there’s sympathy for the idea process. I think if you’re not stretching the idea brain regularly, you don’t even notice your lack of ideas. It’s a bit like the huge change we’ve seen with eating sensibly, keeping fit, and going to the gym or running. If you keep fit you can do so much more.

Go Big or Go Home

I just got back from the annual TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference in Vancouver. It takes ten hours to get there, and costs ten thousand dollars a ticket, and this was the tenth time I’ve been. I’ve been asked a few times what it’s like and what I get out of it – so this seemed like a good time to reflect on why it’s worth attending. When I first came in 2009 it was already quite well known but it wasn’t the phenomenon it is today. Now there are over 2500 talks available online, they’ve been watched over a billion times and the most popular talks have been viewed over 50m times each. The original annual conference has spawned all sorts of complementary branded properties including TEDEd (schools programme), TEDSocial and there are now ten TEDx events worldwide held EVERY DAY!

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