Clients, shareholders and employees of WPP are right to pay respect to the man who built arguably the biggest ‘advertising group’ in the world but also to wonder what impact his departure will have for them. The more interesting question is what impact it will have on the industry, indeed how even the industry is defined, an impact not necessarily centered on the man himself but by the debate that his predictable yet unexpected resignation will spark. Predictable – well, he is into his 8th decade and no-one lasts forever particularly when times are a’changing and your share price is weak. Unexpected – because he said himself they’d need to carry him out in a box and no-one doubted that he meant it.
In the UK, most of the population lives in urban areas. In fact, in 2014, 74% of people lived in an urban area, the highest in the OECD. In Australia too, it’s high, at 70%. Across the whole OECD, the figure still stands at 46%. Given that cities and towns are home to most of us, it’s clear we need good urban design to generate the best quality of life. This article looks at how one company is working to leverage behavioural insights to design better cities and public spaces which celebrate how people and communities live, work and play. These insights could facilitate mass behaviour change in cities all over the world. How pedestrians have been squeezed out by the car Over the past few decades, cities have been designed for cars, not people, leading to poor and even unsafe experiences for city dwellers. Cities and urban areas are still, as the esteemed Danish architect Jan Gehl (pictured) says, the “product of the traffic engineers’ heyday”. Often, the ratio of space for cars versus people is completely out of balance.
As I seek valiantly to recover from a recent skiing accident (pause for waves of indifference), I am reminded of just how much the benefits of physical exercise contribute to my life. I have never been touched by faith in a deity but keeping fit, striving for a healthy body, is bizarrely the closest I have come to a committed behaviour regime along the lines of quasi-religious observance. And it works, both as a source of energy and an antidote to the daily cut and thrust. I am grateful for this in part because there is unnervingly little comfort to be gained from a quick scan around the world. Actress, lecturer and author Ruby Wax, now with a master’s degree from Oxford University in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy, sums it up beautifully: “You open a newspaper, everyone’s dead”.
The Neurodiversity Fishbowl was very different from many Marketing Society events - There were no comforting rows of seats to offer anonymity, just a big circle of chairs facing inwards. Although a challenge for speakers trying to involve the whole audience – The Marketing Society’s chief executive, Gemma Greaves, was the first to note the potential for dizziness – the format left nowhere to hide and was fully aligned with the Society’s bravery agenda. And the topic – how to embrace neurodiversity in the workplace – was a trailblazing one. I spend my working life researching brain response, so am very aware that there are physiological factors underlying how our brains work. Women, for example, tend to have more connections between the parts of their brains that experience emotions and the parts that are responsible for speech, and consequently find it easier than men to talk about their feelings. It doesn’t make either men or women better or worse human beings – but we are different.
I went to The Marketing Society's Collide session expecting to pick a side by the end of the evening. Throughout my 15-year Marketing Career, I have only been exposed to the “classical” model of agency and client being two separate entities. I was happy to hear new perspectives and open my mind to new ways of doing things. As the discussion progressed, I realized that picking a side was not the real question. We had a well-balanced panel with the two ends of the spectrum represented by both client and agency: On the one hand we had JLR's marketing director, Hannah Naji with Berardo Jun, MD at Spark 44 (a subsidiary of JLR) and presenting the other hand, EVP of Emirates NBD Bank, Vikram Krishna with FP7 Dubai's managing director, Jon Marchant. To balance things out, our 5th panelist was Michelle Walsh COO of Vox Cinemas who uses a hybrid model of in-housing and external agency use.