advertising, planning, praising, thinking

Why we do what we do and what comms can do about it: how the IPA is learning the lessons of Behavioural Economics to shape a better future for us all

Barry_Progression_of_Human_Knowledge_and_Culture James barry's The Progress of Human Knowledge and Culture, which – appropriately – surrounded us at the RSA yesterday

“Behavioural Economics provides a floodgate of inspiration to our industry. Our challenge is to ‘chunk’ it down, and apply it in ways which make a meaningful difference to client agency dialogue and communications planning and execution. It’s just the sort of breath of fresh air we need to stimulate our intellectual juices and rise above conversations about time sheets and schedule. It gets us back to the core of what we do and why we do it.”

Rory Sutherland, IPA President

and so yesterday I gathered at the RSA with other industry folk as the IPA, led by Rory, began its journey into the world of Behavioural Economics.  and a brilliant session it was.  it was such a stimulating morning that I'm at a bit of a loss on how to capture it all – so I'll have a go at listing the gems that I took out of each of the talks before adding some thoughts of my own at the end.

First up was Doctor Matt Grist who is director of the RSA's Social Brain project

Nudge Grist introduced us to the notion that Behavioural Economics are a "patchwork of theories that predict irrational behaviour", (versus rational behaviour as predicted by neo-classical theory) – essentially its Economics + Psychology

Behavioural Economics in action has been popularised by books like Nudge.  'nudges' work by guiding behaviour thru changes in choice architecture…  ie its not awareness and consideration that primarily dictate our choices but the context in which those choices are made, here's a good example…

historical consensus has been that there are two systems in the brain; automatic and reflective.  automatic is when we take our regular tube journey or are reading a book.  reflective is when we have to concentrate on taking a new / different route to work or have to write an essay.  but Grist proposed a third element and a new model:

Brain_systems_of_behaviour Grist's model of the brain's three behavioural systems

this opened up the interesting question of how much of our behaviour we actually have control over?  Grist observed that we ought to think of these brain systems as "libertarian paternalistic" ie they are supposed not to erode autonomy and responsibility – this is achieved thru training; top-down, sideways and bottom up.  I then got awfully lost and at one point I fear I scratched my head and squinted.

anyhoo the next stage, for Grist, is understanding to what extent thinking in terms of the threefold system above empowers people to be more autonomous and responsible?

next up was Nick Chater, Professor of Cognitive and Decision Sciences at University College London

his three themes were how we perceive magnitudes, decisions and valuations all without the context of internal scales.  it turns out that we have very limited capability to put a value on anything…  everything is relative.  when perceiving magnitudes we only have about five 'buckets' in which to separate out degrees on any particular perspective on the world.  the system is limited at a very basic cognitive level.

when it comes to decision making, we're similarly it turns out "all over the place" – all we have is binary judgments.  take for example £300.  if I was to say I'm going to put £300 in your wallet, right now, your response would probably be "whoo hoo" or something similar.  if however I was to say I'm going to right now take £300 off of your mortgage, your response would probably be "so what?!" or something similar.

…the point is that exactly the same amount of money engendered totally different responses because of the context in which it was placed.  everything is relative, but relative in a very limited (binary) sense.  the same contextualisation applies when we get used to a variable having a certain amount – so for example in banks money generally goes in in much bigger chunks than it comes out…  the consequence: losing £300 is a lot more worse than gaining £300 is better.

the same applies for time discounting…  analysis of Google data demonstrates our pre-occupation with the immediate future and our ambivalence to the distant future.

finally, when it comes to perceiving valuations, we can't.  we know the price of everything and the value of nothing.  experiments with pain (like Dr Peter Venkman at the start of GhostBusters) show how the value of pain (ie how much we're prepared to pay to avoid it) changes depending on how much we have to spend.  demand is extra-ordinarily malleable.  how much is the value of a cup of coffee?  don't know, how much does it cost?  £2.  I guess its value is £2 then…


then it was up to IPA President Rory Sutherland to tell us why we should care about any of this

he's written a full piece on this in this weeks Campaign, which is a great read, but here are a few of his gems from yesterday…

most successful businesses of recent times have started by figuring out how to make value, and only then worked out how to make money off of the back of that value.  as an industry though where we make money and where we add value are different things – we've "hitched our fortunes to media spend", and here's the danger; if – as supply increases – media becomes cheaper, it will have less value to clients (see above) and those clients will skimp on the expense of getting the most out of that media (or other exposure).

people have a preference to solve problems with infrastructure solutions rather than persuasion solutions.  but persuasion solutions can be a lot more effective.  and we, the communications industry, should be experts in the applied-psychology business.  "ad-folk are better at ideation off of a theory"  …understanding and applying behavioural economics is fundamental to the success of most businesses and social problems.  he gave a wonderful example, I don't know if its true…

Rolls Royce were having problems selling cars in their regular showrooms.  so instead they sold them at Yacht fairs, where the items on sale go for a few million rather than a few hundred thousand.  "I think I won't buy that £8m yacht" says mister man.  then he sees a lovely Rolls Royce and thinks, "I've just saved £8m, what's £350k for a lovely car?!" …behavioural economics works.


the last speaker was Nick Southgate, who explored how we could apply all of this

first up brand preference.  people don't express a preference when they don't need to.  structure is more important than preference, indeed structure creates preference…  competitive positioning is very important to brands; it what creates the structure – and therefore determines preferences – within a category.

second, brand positioning.  in example after example, introduction of a third choice massively changes the preferences of the first two.  one implication – the launch of 'me too' products actually make the existing market leader look better.

thirdly from a creative perspective, testimonials don't work.  behavioural economics might help explain why…  the plan to make us buy something because someone expresses their preference for it is flawed by the – incorrect – assumption that behaviour follows attitude.  but we forget our attitude whilst automatically going on with a behaviour…   you get to the top of the stairs (automatically) and on the way forget why you were going upstairs.  chimpanzees do the same thing – they will remember that they're looking for a stick to get termites only whilst the termite hill is in view.  behavioural economics is something that would seem to apply to all great apes…

and then on to the panel discussion which I won't summarise but instead pick a few themes that emerged…


it had occurred to me throughout the session, and was suggested by an audience member, that understanding BE presented opportunities for better targeting.  does understanding what BE tells us make attitudinal targeting redundant?  if we don't make decisions based on attitude, then why are we segmenting people based on what they think?  and if so, what should we be identifying and segmenting people based on?  anyone?

NB Mark Lund (formerly of DKLW and now Chief Executive of the COI) who was on the panel noted that the COI would be publishing research at the end of November that "will affect segmentation" and that will demonstrate the requirement for another degree of (agency) segmentation.

agency and industry structures

Lund suggested that he believed that agencies will have to get flatter and wider; with expertise spread across a wider number of areas.  he referred to the adage that to a man with a hammer, every solution looks like a nail…  if agencies are to provide more holistic solutions, they're going to require more than hammers.

Kate Waters, Planning Partner at Partners Andrew Aldridge, observed that "we don't have the right relationships to make our ideas happen" – beyond the buying of conventional media spaces, experiential, DR we have little implementational skill.  if BE says we need to be creating structures that influence behaviour, then we're severely limited in the structures we can change.  our industry engine is one built around awareness generation and perception change.  we may need to seriously reconsider our long-term agency and industry structures.


a wonderful debate on this one, does the ability to sub-consciously affect what people do give us too much power?  and is there are conflict between planning the Change for Life campaign in the morning and a campaign for Snickers in the afternoon?

"there is no conflict" said Lund – paraphrasing Darth Vader, "clients would much prefer people eat less but for six decades … its about quality as well as quantity of consumption".  but this misses the wider point highlighted repeatedly by Waters; much of this isn't new.  we've been in the business of affecting what people think and do for a century – all BE does is bring us an appropriate, and consistent, language for what it is that we do.

I'll leave the last word on ethics to Rory – "I'd rather be perceived as evil than be perceived as ineffective"

and so that was that.  awesome morning and lots of questions raised which now need to be answered.  workshops are going to be held in November, details of which are here.  I urge you to get involved.  I'll leave you with more of the lovely Rory, talking recently at TED.  enjoy.


Whoops, they did it again: another great week for X, but a poor performance by Mediation on the Tipping-front

a poor performance by Mediation in the Tipping Competition this week.  no surprise to see Rachel in the bottom two and called that one no problem, and so nearly called Rikki too.  but nearly doesn't cut it…  my vote went to Miss Frank, a vote that cost me dearly – only 15 points and now in joint 21st place.  not good enough at all.

X_09_wk_2_Rikki_outbye Rikki, your eyebrow shall be missed (pic from ITV)

another awesome show though – highlights definitely being another comeback from another all-too wired pop icon, the birth of the Cheryl Cole Project / Army, another amazing performance from Joe, and then this…

X_09_wk2_show_john_and_edward Whoops, they did it again (pic from ITV)

what can you say other that genius, genius, genius.  we all recall the all-too uncomfortable Same Difference performances…  you remember – "I know they're just sister and brother but…" kind of thing.  John and Edward have no such reserve – they not only don't avoid the "are they too close for brothers?" debate, but come smashing through the other side and do a full on love scene in the middle of the song.

they're brave, they're different, and above all they're entertaining and deserve to be there.  Mrs Cole is talking nonsense when she says she can't believe that J&E are there and Rikki's gone; J&E leave us wondering how the hell they did that and – crucially – what the hell they're going to do next time.  and that Cheryl, means votes.  here's to the brothers keeping us entertained for a good few weeks yet.

here's that leader board…

Gordon 45
Kevin 45
Mat 45
Nuala 45
Alex L 40
Alex V 40
April 40
Bree 40
Chris G 40
Dale 40
Dave 40
Helen 40
Jason K 40
Jason W 40
Lawrence 40
Nicole 40
Ruth 40
Simon M 40
Simon W 40
Stu 40
Chris S 35
Paul E 35
Tom 35
Ashley 35
Paul W 35
Lucy 30
Neil 30
Nick 30
Saskia 30
Camara 25
Bimla 20
Mauro 20
Carole 20
Alison 10
Keely 10


More than a Newspaper: why the NMA need to understand that News Institutions deserve better than the ability to ‘hit’ people with communications

Mediation came across the above ad in today's MediaGuardian, which last week reported that the NMA – the Newspaper Marketing Agency – is seeking to highlight the benefits of newspaper advertising against a gloomy performance backdrop.  Group M forecasts that total newspaper ad market will be down 26% year-on-year, representing more than £900m vanishing out of the sector.

its a issue all right, but far from providing an answer, the NMA's solution (above) tells us more about the NMA's collective failure to understand, or admit ot understanding, the roots of te sector's woes.

do more than most readers of a newspaper will do and take a good close look at the above ad.  "Flies aren't the only things you can hit with a newspaper" … "Nothing targets customers quite like a newspaper".  sorry, did I miss something?  I can only assume that I've woken from the weekend's adventures in the mid-90s…

its like every discussion I've had over the last eight years… about a shift from scarcity to abundance of stuff, a move from push to engagement marketing, from brand to people-centricity of thinking, never happened.  its like Clay Shirky, John Grant, Mark Earls, Henry Jenkins or any other of the great thinkers who have helped us understand the shifting sands of the communications landscape never wrote a word.

we stopped (or should have stopped) thinking about how we 'hit' people with communications years ago.  the ability of people to now avoid being 'hit' with things that they don't want to see or engage with is one of the pillars of the NMA and it's clients' problems.  is this really how they want readers to feel?NMA_flies_ad_close

we need news institutions, and moreover we need them to thrive.  they investigate and report, they hold our public servants to account.  they inform, inspire and educate us about the world, our society and our culture.  The Telegraph's exposure of and reporting on MPs expenses, and the Guardian's success last week in propelling Trafigura's super-injunction into the public awareness more than demonstrate that.

but they are more than newspapers.  the solution for news institutions is not to fight for an unrealistic share of advertising media budget; the world has too-far evolved, there's too much stuff out there and habits have changed too much to win that battle.  news institutions need to understand what they are and adapt their business structures accordingly…  as Emily Bell so eloquently writes only two pages before the above ad, "here is the fork in the road … there is a new hierarchy of communication controlled by the user, and for the older hierarchies there is the dilemma of whether to literally "follow the crowd" or to try to make the crowd follow you"

we need right now to stop thinking about 'hitting' people with our communications, our news institutions deserve better.

engaging, selling

Vote for Chris to be the most stylish woman in media: how Grazia created an experience and how I “wear my style well”

whilst you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd stumbled onto the auditions for next top model, this is in fact not a professional effort.  rather its what happened when Grazia – in a bid to work their relationship with the UK's media industry – visited Vizeum towers to snap the girls for their Style Hunter Awards.

girls?  style?  whatever!

I'm sure you'll agree (if you do you vote here) with the official Grazia line that "Chris has clearly got a strong sense of style. Wearing G Star jeans, a Cold Method jumper and a scarf from Topman, he wears his style well."  they didn't mention the Nike 6.0s on my feet but we'll let that slide.

if you're so inclined you can vote for me here.

all joviality aside, its great effort by Grazia to come in and engage with we media types by doing what they're about rather than saying what they're about.  no presentations, no docs or bags with expertly crafted trinkets destined for recycling.  instead, a fun and disruptive experience to more firmly make agencies think that Grazia = style.  brilliant stuff.

oh, and did I mention you can vote for me here?!


content creating, praising, researching, understanding

Bringing our understanding of people to life: what happened when BAMM went to Africa for Nokia

one of the biggest challenges and opportunities we face is bringing to life our collective understanding of people in meaningful and engaging ways.  beyond the demographic, beyond the observation or statistic, beyond the quote or the screen-grab …there lies insight and understanding of people (I nearly typed consumer there) that inspires, influences and dictates the best of what we do.

its awesome then to see such interesting work emerging from the boys at BAMM, who sent me a note describing what they'd done for Nokia in Africa…

"As part of an international project for Nokia we looked at bonding behaviours in different cities across Africa, Asia and Europe. The team spent a week with a middle-class family in Lagos. We observed, interviewed, photographed and filmed Amaka with her extended family. We were guests at the naming ceremony for her eight-day old baby, which gave us better insights into how her community bonds."

BAMM_quote BAMM_people_pic
in a world where more information about more people is more available all the time, experts who can go somewhere, experience a place in time and the people within it, and return with valuable, genuine and actionable insights about what they saw and heard becomes increasingly valuable.  whenever I see what these boys do I redouble my own efforts to go beyond the observations and stats and mine for myself the insights that make our communications as meaningful and effective as they deserve to be.  brilliant stuff.

you can see the video of what BAMM did for Nokia here



How X Kicked Off: all the Ratings, Results, Tipping Scores and Events that were the first X-Factor live final

well any threat to a dull start was quickly seen off…  right people, here's how it went down.  Gray's Inn Road will be celebrating a ratings win…  12.8 million of us watched Saturday's show giving it a 44% share, compared to the 32% share of 8 million that strictly mustered.  but this was, crucially, followed by an amazing ratings performance on Sunday when on average 13 million of us watched the results show.  viewing peaked during Robbie's rather stimulated performance at 14.5 million.  thanks Tom J for the figs on this.

X_09_wk_1_bottom two
there was less wow-Factor to the results, I called Kandy but was surprised to see Rachel in the bottom two.  but then by the time it got to vote we'd had two hours of crazy crazy TV in which to forget her.  fairly easy first tipps therefore see most of the tipping pack sitting on 20 points, with one early Tipping hero taking an early lead on 25.  here are the full scores…

big shout out to Mat who predicted Kandy Rain and Rachel as the bottom two and bags 25 points.  the main field are following hotly behind him on 20 points – where Mediation is joined by Alex L, Alex V, April, Chris, Dale, Dave, Gordon, Jason K, Jason W, Kevin, Lawrence, Lucy, Neil, Nicole, Nuala, Paul, Ruth, both the Simons, Stu and Tom.  on 10 points are Alison, Ashley, Bimla, Camara, Keely, Mauro, Nick, Paul and Saskia.  finally with a disappointing first week is Carole, who is yet to score.

which brings up to this:

my Twitter feed really tells the whole story (ignore the Grazia style bit – thats a head's up for Friday's post), Danyl started really strong and gave an amazing performance but then Danni's foot in mouth happened.  cue the Guardian live blog going mental, about five IMs coming in and the Twittersphere spontaneously combusting.  OK perhaps it felt bigger at the time but Petit Chablis had been involved.

point is, I went to bed thinking bad Dannii and then watched the end of the show again on Sunday morning when less Petit Chablis was in hand.  Danni was, in retrospect, clearly trying to support Danyl by saying that he shouldn't feel compelled to change the 'gender references' when he sings.  that its OK for a boy to sing a song about a boy.  and on this she's right.  but on doing it on national television with a comment that went above the heads of most of the studio audience is something else entirely…  misjudged, yes; maliscious, no.

but a few nicely handled words for the judging bench last night and its all well that ends well, allowing us to move on to more fun-filled Factor frolics next week…  there's some good banter in The Blue Room on this but I'll leave the final word on Dannii and Daryl to Alexis Petridis' elegant testimony in today's Guardian to Stephen Gately who died at the weekend…

"On the night Gately died, X Factor judge Dannii Minogue tried a clumsy joke about contestant Danyl Johnson's sexuality. The studio audience received it in stony silence: not shocked so much as "so what?" It would be ridiculous to call that reaction the legacy of Gately coming out, but it is not entirely unlinked. He was the first person to prove mainstream pop audiences were less bigoted than some had feared."


The Joy of X: the return of Dale’s X-Factor Tipping Competition, the smart restraint of X advertising, and why a two-night schedule could be one gamble too far

here we are again.  the nights are drawing in and the leaves are beginning to turn so this must mean its time for the X-Factor Live Finals.  once again the lovely Dale is organising a tipping competition.  Mediation is of course once again taking part.  here's how it works…

each week Mediation will be picking two acts who I think will go through (my top two) and two acts I think have a chance of going home (bottom two).  for each act in my top two that advance Mediation gets 5 points.  if one of my two bottom choices gets kicked off I get a whopping 10 points.  if they are in the bottom two and don’t get sent home I get 5 points.

sounds complicated?  well it kind of is but it also kinda works, so here are my tips.  my top two are easy…

X_09_Lucie X_09_Jamie

Lucie is a gem – sweet, gorgeous voice, the nation will love her.  and Jamie is easily producers favourite – different, distinctive, brings something new and different and a nice guy.  Simon clearly believes this guy can make him some serious money.  and if its good enough for Simon its good enough for me.  as for the bottom two…

X_09_Kandy_Rain X_09_Miss_Frank

armageddon this year for Louis, didn't have much to choose from and reckon he made bad choices with what he did have.  first in my bottom two is Kandy Rain – the vocals are weak and they're not going to click with many of the voting public.  the second one is a lot harder, and Rikki was there in consideration for a good while but I'm going to go for Miss Frank.  I hope they don't go but the groups are just so weak this year I don't think they're going to garner many votes at all.

also, saw the above 48s on Tottenham Court Road.  restrained, cool, different, right.  good to see ITV / BBH investing in the show with such smart restraint (same can't be said for its News of the Screws partnership which I've seen advertised but we'll let that one slide).

it may be that this is more of a media industry targeted campaign – it is after all full frontal to where many of the planners and buyers of Vizeum, Starcom, Zenith, PHD and OMD will trot in the morning on their way to work.  in which case a lovely move too…  good to see ITV having and showing confidence after so many knocks of late…

its also likely of course that this confidence is the reason behind the splitting of the show across Saturday and Sunday…  mistake Mediation thinks.  it may generate more ratings in the short term but I'm not convinced its a long term winner.  part of the joy of X is going out after and debating the result.  chatter which always carried into Monday morning without the need for a Sunday night show.  the danger is that you leave people on Saturday night wanting more, but only deliver what's a bit of an anti-climax on the Sunday…  you need to build up all that hype again so that the jeopardy of the vote plays out to full affect.

it didn't work for Strictly, and it doesn't in my opinion work for American Idol.  the two-night schedule could turn out to be a gamble too far for the new-look Factor.

enjoy the show.

creating, experiencing, outdoor, user-generating

Digital and OOH collide in Dublin: what happened when Playhouse and turned a buliding into a digital playground

Dancers from Playhouse on Vimeo.

so about to head for the weekend and XFactor but just picked this up on the twittersphere and thought it was a rather delightful thing to end the week on.  from the 24th of September until the 11th of October, Dublin's Liberty Hall is being transformed into a giant 50 metre, low resolution, TV screen.  the best bit – anyone can join in…  members of the public are being invited to create animations that will be displayed on the building as part of the project.

brilliant example of digital spaces and places being amplified in the real world.  echoes of the HBO project but with an added open invitation for anyone to showcase their creativity…

here's hoping that they're investing in amplifying it… desktop applications that show what's going on in real time, lots of YouTubeness, and perhaps some kind of digital book that captures and showcases the best examples.

more of this kind of thing please…  and if you want to get creating then click here.

advertising, planning, social media-ising, social networking

Emperor’s New Clothes, Meerkats and who clients should trust: dispatches from the edge of the social media debate

IPA publish and broadcast thoughts on social media.  "that's not very social" said some socially-minded planning types.  "no its not is it?!" replied the IPA, "let's change that" …so it was that last night the IPA Social Media group hosted the most social of evenings to debate and discuss the ongoing evolution of all things socially media…

the always lovely Mark Earls kicked us off with five principles that outline the big picture:

  1. connecting people allows them to behave less independently
  2. connectivity makes things more volatile
  3. connectivity disrupts existing and established power relationships
  4. its not about what technology does but what it enables
  5. technology allows people to spend more time with other people

well worth a read of Mark's full text here

Neil Perkins then took us through ten principles – thought starters and jumping-off points for discussion and debate on all things social media.  they and their authors are thus…

  1. People not consumers – Mark Earls
  2. Social agenda not business agenda – Le’Nise Brothers
  3. Continuous conversation not campaigning – John V Willshire
  4. Long term impacts not quick fixes – Faris Yakob
  5. Marketing with people not to people – Katy Lindemann
  6. Being authentic not persuasive – Neil Perkin
  7. Perpetual beta – Jamie Coomber
  8. Technology changes, people don’t – Amelia Torode
  9. Change will never be this slow again – Graeme Wood
  10. Measurement – Asi Sharabi

Neil finished his section with a quote by John Dodds that really got me thinking…  “Are we actually talking about social media or has the advent of the internet simply revealed that the advertising emperor had no clothes and should have obeyed the the principles all along?”

I Tweeted at the time to "be wary of John Dodds [you quote you understand not John per se – sure there's no need to be wary of him] …Advertising is not the enemy, the too-narrow concept of the ad is. Fireworks are part of the solution"

the point I was making was that its easy and dangerous to treat social media as though its going to usurp the crass, unrefined and unsophisticated concept that is advertising.  which is just plain wrong.  a point made more than eloquently when Amelia Torode presented a case study of VCCP's Meerkat for Compare the Market…

Amelia was very keen to make the point that the Meerkat campaign wasn't a 'social media' campaign but a 'social' campaign.  but I think this misses the point…  Meerket isn't a social media or even a social campaign.  Meerkat is an advertising campaign, an advertising campaign that has made the most brilliant use of social media to extend the scope, levels of engagement and fame of the ad.

great advertising is John's Fireworks that get ooohs and ahhhs from people.  this is how one-to-many broadcasting advertising works.  its brilliant, but let's not pretend that its social-led.


we then had a break out session on which type of agency is best placed to plan social media…

there are echos of the "who owns communications planning?" debate here. the easy answer is that comms planning is owned by everyone and no one. the harder answer is that you have to understand the role of communications in conjunction with the capabilities of a given client.

great social media planning needs generalists who can understand the role that social media plays in a wider strategy and balance the weight of effort across different behaviours accordingly. but it also needs brilliant specialists who can bring the latest technologies and activities to bear on those strategies.

social media calls for new specialist agencies, but at the same time it calls upon all of us – no matter what our discipline – to understand the role it can play and how it might affect and change how we do what we do.

who should clients trust with their social media strategies?  they should trust the people most closely aligned to the role for communications…

  • are you looking to use social media to tackle head-on negative brand perceptions? …trust your PR agency
  • social media to actively create sales opportunities? trust your media / direct agencies
  • or to improve customer service? …that'd be the call centre


all in all an awesome night, but its only the start…  join in the debate via the facebook group, on twitter, or via Social on the IPA website.  and finally a big thanks to everyone who helped organise the evening…

buying, careholding, planning, responding

When Waitrose dumped Fox: why its right for brands to cede control of their media schedules

Fox's Glenn Beck's controversial comments cost the channel ad revenues

Waitrose has responded to an unreported number of complaints and removed Fox News – which is carried on Sky – from its media schedules.  the move comes in response to comments by the station's Glenn Beck who in July called US President Obama "a racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture" after the president said that police had "acted stupidly" in arresting the distinguished professor Henry Louis Gates.

a spokesman commented that:

"We take the placement of our ads in individual programmes very seriously, ensuring the content of these programmes is deemed appropriate for a brand with our values … Since being notified of our presence within the Glenn Beck programme, we have withdrawn all Waitrose advertising from the Fox News channel with immediate effect and for all future TV advertising campaigns."

the removal of the channel won't see Waitrose's media schedule suffer too much as a result of the move; but its a giant leap for transparency and – more crucially – the involvement of customers in a brand's activity…

I've posted thoughts previously about the idea of careholders.  and suggested that brands, as well as being responsible to and addressing the wants and needs of shareholders, should also treat customers as careholders…  as partners with a right to a say in how that brand behaves.  the logical conclusion of this is the crowd-managed brand, but there's a myriad of ways in which brands can each day demonstrate how they're listening, engaging and responding to careholder concerns.

but it doesn't have to be a negative defensive play.  I've thought a few times before when planning comms how much fun could be had in letting the people we're trying to talk to help place our ads…  and there's a lovely positive feedback loop in the form of people looking out for the ad placements they voted for or wanted.

but for the moment a big shout out to Waitrose, who listened and responded.  their media schedule is the better for it.