Higher Ground

I’m CEO in Residence at Cambridge, so John’s invitation to storm Oxford’s ramparts was irresistible. I love talking to MBAs, because you’ll design tomorrow. And Judge and Saïd are the chosen ones, shiny new apples on towering old trees. The world is at your feet, and needs you. You are young, fast, international. You’ve blooded yourselves in the arena. The one word equity for this is Edge, Edge of possibility, of creativity, of your dreams. My home is the Edge. New Zealand was forged on this attitude, a desire to smash barriers and invent worlds. This is your challenge.

Tight times are testing times, when pressure re-generates value, from the surprisingly obvious to blazing jump shifts, from a button-start Prius to Steve Jobs’ iPhone. Bill Gates, and Paul Allen started Microsoft in gloomy 1975. The world is geared to scare you, to commodify you, to manage you into oblivion. Your job is to sail across this and get to the future first. Mine is to ask you 10 big questions.

Lucky for you, I have the answers!

QUESTION 1: How do you cut loose?

You can stand out from the field with emotion. The ability to make emotional connections with colleagues, partners, clients, stakeholders, consumers. John Bargh, NYU psychologist, says everything is evaluated as good or bad within a quarter of a second. People are 80% emotion and 20% reason. Reason leads to conclusions. Emotion to action, and you are all in the action business. The more topsy-turvy the times, the more value emotion will generate. Make the big decisions with your heart, your gut.

Every business plan is written rationally, yet action comes from the “I”s and the “E”s.

  • I’s –  Imagination, Insight, Intuition, Inspiration, and Ignition.
  • E’s – Emotion, Empathy, Energy, Exploration, Edge, Enchantment, and Entertainment

Enchantment: Don’t give people what they want, but what they never dreamed possible.
Entertainment: In Britain, more people voted for Pop Idol on TV than voted in the general election.

Your job: To transform everything and everyone you touch with concentrated emotion, especially in tough days.

QUESTION 2: Who calls the shots?

The Consumer is Boss. The new consumer defines herself by who she is and what she stands for. She decides what she wants, why, when, where. She wants quality, rich information, authenticity, flexibility and choice. How can you improve her life, as spending power diminishes? By listening.

If you want to know how a lion hunts, don’t go to the zoo, go to the jungle. Don’t ask questions: observe, learn and live the consumer’s life. Understanding how consumers feel gets you to warp speed. The closer you get, the faster you go.

Your backgrounds are diverse. Whether you’re a Charles Darwin, a Joe Schumpeter, a JK Rowling, or Bill Gates, your destiny will depend on consumers. And every day they want more. The emotional construct of the next economy is not either/or. It’s and/and, positive tensions that are unleashed, not resolved. Local/Global, Cost/Relationship, Competition/Cooperation.

Welcome to paradox, unsolvable and unbeatable. Work with complex opposites at the same time so they enhance each other. No compromise, outside and inside, like Toyota:

  1. Move slowly and take big steps (Kaizen)
  2. Cut costs and splurge on what matters
  3. Pare back range and accelerate innovation
  4. Communications simplicity  and networks complexity
  5. Grow steadily and be paranoid (exposure, cost, innovation)

Your job: To become the consumer expert in your company, the expert on empathy AND execution. It’s a fantastic balancing act.

Information Economy, to the Knowledge Economy, Interruption Marketing, Permission Marketing, the Experience Economy, the Attention Economy toAttraction Economy.

Your job: To create Lovemarks – and Lovemarks are real

QUESTION 4: What are Lovemarks?

Brands have created huge value for companies, and still do, as consumer stress and insecurity rise. Our client General Mills – its stock trading higher than 12 months ago – just launched its first major brand equity campaign for Pillsbury since 2001, delivering a message of warmth and comfort in a modern world (“Home Is Calling”).

Imagine how much more value a Lovemark could bring when:

  • Brands are built on Respect. Lovemarks are created out of Love and Respect.
  • Brands are owned by managers and shareholders. Lovemarks are owned by the people who love them.
  • Brands create Loyalty for a reason. Lovemarks create Loyalty Beyond Reason.
  • Great brands are irreplaceable. Lovemarks are irresistible.


The Love/Respect Axis shows the possibilities – good and bad.  We’ve positioned everything on here – from products to politicians.

  • Low Respect. Low Love. Commodities without differentiation. US Airlines are here.
  • High Love. Low Respect. Fun and fast. Some fads break through to Lovemarks. Text messaging, once a fad, is now worth $100 billion a year.
  • High Respect. Low Love.  “e-r” words: faster, bigger… cheaper.
  • High Love and High Respect. Lovemarks – authentic, simple, sustainable – and loved.

QUESTION 5: How do you create Lovemarks?

Lovemarks create premiums with:

Mystery – Mixes dreams, icons and stories to create the attractions of the unknown. Stories matter. No one will listen to you if you can’t tell a good story.

“The highest-paid person in the first half of this century will be the story-teller.” – Rolf Jensen

Sensuality – Excite all five senses. Sight, scent, touch, taste and sound are the portals to the emotions. iPod is lickable.

Intimacy – Empathy, commitment, passion. It’s the small touch, the perfect gesture that takes loyalty beyond reason.

QUESTION 6: What’s with Digital?

47% of British men and 35% of women would give up sex for six months for a 50-inch plasma HD TV. Welcome to the Screen Age. The digital revolution is transforming marketing, entertainment, communications, technology. We call this SISOMO: Sight, Sound and Motion on screen. I even wrote the book on it.  The future is not about tools and technologies. It’s about the fastest, most exciting way to get emotional connectivity. Subtract Zune from iPod, you get SISOMO.

Word of Mouth was always the most powerful touchpoint. Now it travels at warp speed on screen. Who do you believe? Brad Pitt or your best friend? No contest.

Onscreen, online and in store, the winners will fail fast, learn fast, and fix fast.

Your job: To connect across and through screens. The only question is: Do you want to watch it again?

QUESTION 7: Where do you stand?

Capitalism is still the best ‘ism’, despite just being endorsed by Bush! World poverty has fallen more in the last 50 years than it did in the previous 500…due to Capitalism. The role of business is to make the world a better place for everyone. Business:

  • Connects the global flow of goods, ideas and investment.
  • Creates jobs, choices, opportunities and self-esteem.
  • Unleashes innovation. The purpose of innovation is to improve lives in the Age of the Idea, where business + academia is the killer app.

Unstoppable ideas are big, simple and seductive,

  • Toyota re-powered motion with hybrid synergy
  • Starbucks gets $9b revenue a year for connecting people, the third place.
  • Wal-Mart changed the sign over the front door from “Entrance” to “Welcome”.

20th century business strategy was built on the ‘er’ words.

21st century business strategy will form around wellness, happiness, partnership, optimism, imagination – and fun!

QUESTION 8: How do you build your team?

  • Start with a dream. Martin Luther King did not say: “I have a Mission Statement.”
  • Become an Inspirational Player. Management is not the answer. And nor is classic leadership.
  • Get into Flow, the secret ingredient to performing at peak.  Get into Flow through Harmony from joining a shared purpose and use your Passion as emotional connection to share the Dream.
  • Expect, give and live for four things: Responsibility, Learning, Recognition, Joy

QUESTION 9: How can you be the best you can be?

Ask yourself three big questions:

  1. What’s my 5 year dream?
  2. When am I at my best?
  3. What will I never do?

A genius is a person who makes the same mistake. Once.

QUESTION 10:  How do we sustain life?

“Sustainability” is the biggest opportunity of the next 50 years, the next differentiator. Those who eliminate and create around it will win the talent wars, and thrive. Progress is in how billions of everyday choices scale up, not in elites prescribing down. We need a revolution, a solution the size of the problem, not just new light bulbs. And Martin Luther King did not say: “I have a nightmare.”

We set up Saatchi & Saatchi S to address this.


  1. From limits to possibilities
  2. The power of consumers to change the world
  3. Sustainability is a catalyst for business growth
  4. No sustainability, no Lovemark

The big shift is fromGREEN to BLUE:

  • Green is about the environment. Blue fuses environment, economy, society and culture.
  • Green is about fear. Blue is about radical optimism.
  • Green is about obligations. Blue is about opportunity.
  • Green is about the planet. Blue is about the people who want to live on it.
  • Green asks “What’s to be done?” Blue asks, “What can I do?”

Your job: To unleash and inspire change – before it’s too late.