Having a new baby is tough. The nappies. The baby-talk gibberish. The lack of sleep. It’s brutal. Every parent you meet serves up the same stale platitudes and sympathetic looks – if I had a pound for every time I’d heard the phrase ‘it gets easier’, I’d have enough for a lifetime supply of Aptamil already.

On the plus side, the extra money and time you save as your social life grinds to a juddering halt gives you the space to contemplate life’s big questions.

How did we get here? What’s my appendix for? What is Marketing, anyway?

I know we got here via the Storks and twinkles in our parents’ eyes; my appendix is long gone so I’m ducking that question; but Marketing – well now that’s an interesting question.

When you boil it right down – all the way – it’s really quite simple.

Marketing is about getting your brand seen, heard or talked about. It’s about elevating it above the noise of similar brands or the general marketing hubbub of the day. It’s about making your brand stand out – for a moment or, with luck, forever.

Every single CMO I’ve ever met, talked to, read about, ‘followed’ or ‘liked’, says the same thing. “It’s about cut through”, they say. “It’s about being different”. “It’s about being brave”. They say lots of other things as well but that’s another blog. Perhaps John Hegarty put it best years ago when he said, and I apologize for paraphrasing here, ”when everyone else zigs, zag”.

So why are there so few things out there that make us stop, and actually engage? Why are so few things memorable these days? Where are all the zags?

Or more simply put, why are so many CMO’s prepared to talk the talk but not walk the walk?

Instead, what happens is that brands use the same old methods they’ve always used. The same ideas. The same media to communicate those ideas. And wonder why the results are a little bit disappointing. To be really effective you need big pockets and scale to buy the best TV, the best billboards, the best print –the cost of which escalate as brands compete for the best spots.

So modern, young, digital savvy CMO’s are deserting the old ways and methods in droves, pushing to social and digital strategies to cut through – after all, they get measurable, targeted, cheaper communications out to their target audiences.


It’s really very simple. Just do something different. Standing out is that easy. Zag, don’t zig.

Unilever’s Magnum ice creams are just ice creams. Tasty, sure, but still just ice creams. So how is Magnum standing out?

They’ve just opened a Magnum Boutique in the heart of London’s Mayfair – alongside such brands as The Kooples and Whistles. Go inside and your ‘naked’ Magnum is ‘dressed’ anyway you like with rich, luxurious coatings and toppings.

It’s marketing ice cream as high fashion, and it’s different.

Beagle Create is about to undertake a world tour for a global clothing retailer – a pop-up tv studio in-store that broadcasts live fashion ads starring customers, then aggregating that content on-line and presenting the winning ‘star’ with an opportunity to be the face of the store, worldwide.

It’s making real people into models and driving footfall, and it’s different.

The forward-thinking and consistently remarkable agency ‘Cult’ have an entire philosophy to make brands stand out and makes fascinating reading. They eschew the normal, and champion the different.

It’s marketing in an entirely new way, and it’s different.

All Marketeers say they want to be deliberately different – but do they? They fear experimentation will fail and they’ll be out of jobs – when in reality those who don’t experiment will be the ones out of a job, eventually.

In a way it’s good news for those that really do walk the walk – allowing the truly brave to easily rise above the mundane marketing pushed out by 99% of businesses. Their mediocrity and lack of imagination allows the brave to really cut through.

And when my baby grows up and is bombarded with millions of ad messages and communications each day, I hope it will be the brands that genuinely do things differently – that enrich our lives with creativity rather than drag us down with the mundane - that he comes to me with and says “wow – look at this, this is different”.

That’s what Marketing is.