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In 2012, Emma Sulkowicz was raped in New York.

But not on the streets of Harlem.

She was raped in her bed, in her bedroom, in her dormitory, in her university.

The place where she should have been safer than anywhere else.

She was a freshman art student at Columbia University.

Of course she reported the rape to the university authorities.

Two other students reported it with her.

But the university authorities didn’t do anything.

So she reported the rape to the local police.

But the police didn’t do anything either.

At American colleges, cases of rape are usually treated as high spirits amongst young men.

Especially if the young men are in a fraternity or on the college football team.

The view is, it isn’t really rape as such.

Not in a nasty way.

It was probably just some drunken partying that got out of hand.

This stuff happens at college, get over it.

But Emma Sulkowicz didn’t want to get over it.

She tried for two years to get something done, but the university ignored her.

So she decided to get their attention.

She decided to make it her final art project.

The piece would be called CARRY THAT WEIGHT.

Until she graduated she would carry her mattress with her wherever she went.

To classes, to the cafeteria, to the shops, to the bathroom.

Dragging it through the halls and across campus, twenty-four seven.

Whenever anyone asked her what she was doing, she’d tell them.

The mattress was the place she was raped.

The mattress symbolised the emotional weight she must carry around for the rest of her life.

The mattress symbolised the way the university ignored the rape as if it was her problem, not theirs.

And soon every young woman on campus wanted to join in.

Wherever she went there was a crowd of young women wanting to help her carry the mattress.

And the art piece grew to be a website, with dozens of young women signing up to participate.

And then an event, a gathering of hundreds of young women bringing their own mattresses.


The call-to-action said “No one should carry this weight alone as we are all affected by sexual violence and rape culture at our university”.

And like any large, controversial gathering it quickly got picked up by the news media: the papers, magazines, Internet, TV stations.

Not just across New York State, but across America.

Which means Columbia University is now getting a nationwide reputation for having a rape culture.

And parents will avoid sending their daughters to the college with a reputation for a rape culture.

And, given that half the students at Columbia are female, that will jeopardise fifty percent of its entire income.

And that is when you get the attention of the university authorities.

That is when the board of governors steps in.

Not for moral reasons.

For financial reasons.

That is when you make them realise you’re not just students, you’re customers.


Which is really what the art piece is all about: the art of predatory thinking.



In 1957 Dove soap started advertising for the first time.

They ran a press ad with a woman luxuriating in a bathful of bubbles.

The headline said HEAD OVER HEELS IN DOVE.

The copy had the woman saying “Dove makes me feel velvety, all soft and silky smooth. Just the most pampered, the most spoiled, girliest girl in the world”.

Advertising assumed that women were empty headed.

And all they cared about was what men thought of them.

In 1971, Dove ran an ad with a visual of a woman at a party nervously watching her husband talking to a younger woman.

The copy said “Somewhere between the vacuum cleaner and the kitchen sink you got older, and it shows.

But you can still help your skin look younger with Dove”.

Dove was always sold as a way for women to make themselves more attractive to men.

Because that was the way all soaps were sold to all women.

In fact, what made Dove different from other soaps was that it was 25% moisturising cream.

Around 1990, the client noticed Dove’s patent was about to expire.

He worried about a competitor copying their formula.

He knew Dove couldn’t carry on just saying the same as everyone else.

That was just Market Growth.

Dove’s unique advantage was about to come to an end.

Their advertising would have to work a lot harder.

Their advertising would have to be about taking Market Share.

Ogilvy put a young female creative team on the account: Nancy Vonk and Janet Kestin.

Like all good creatives, they researched the product first.

They found Dove wasn’t actually a soap at all.

It had been developed during World War Two to wash the wounds of burn victims.

So unlike soaps, it was pH neutral.

(That meant it had exactly the same alkalinity as human skin.)

Most soaps are really cleansing products.

They strip away the skin’s natural moisture, similar to a household cleanser.

The scientists demonstrated it with strips of yellow litmus paper.

They laid them on bars of soap and every single one turned blue.

Then they laid a strip on Dove and it stayed yellow.

Nancy and Janet couldn’t believe Dove was keeping this fact quiet.

They immediately turned that demonstration into a TV ad.


They also ran it as a press ad.


David Ogilvy was furious, he wrote them a letter saying “Science doesn’t sell to women”.

But Nancy and Janet disagreed.

They thought women could handle a rational argument.

It was time for Dove to talk about what made Dove different.

About why you should buy it instead of other soaps.

Nancy and Janet were right.

Dove sales went through the roof.

They were right about Market Share versus Market Growth.


And they were right about treating women as if they had brains.




Filtered cigarettes were originally only for women.

Men smoked masculine, unfiltered cigarettes.

The thinking was that men could take tobacco straight, but it would be too strong for frail women.

Delicate ladies needed a filter for a milder taste.

Plus, the cigarette paper would ruin a woman’s lipstick by sticking to it.

So, in 1924, Marlboro was launched as a woman’s cigarette.

The original advertising promised the filter would make the flavour “As mild as May”.

It also referred to the filter tips as “Beauty Tips: to keep the paper from your lips”.

To appeal to women, Marlboro had the classy, British-sounding name.

It also had a stylish red and white pack and an elegant serif typeface.

As a woman’s cigarette, Marlboro had just 1% of the market.

And that’s where it stayed, until the 1950s.

That’s when America discovered cigarettes were bad for your health.

But there was a belief that smoke inhaled through a filter would be less harmful.

So cigarette companies began advertising the benefits of filter cigarettes.

Explaining that filters could let the flavour through, but let less of the harmful tar through.

The only problem with advertising like this is that it applies to all filter cigarettes.

So it grows the market for everyone.

In Chicago, Leo Burnett were smarter than that.

They saw there was an opportunity to grow Marlboro filter sales.

But, with 1% share, they wouldn’t do that just by Market Growth advertising, they’d only do it by Market Share advertising.

Leo Burnett realised it was smart to let everyone else talk about the benefits of filter cigarettes.

And while they did that, Marlboro would talk about what made their filter cigarette different.

They’d reposition Marlboro from being a woman’s cigarette into a man’s cigarette, for tough guys.

That would establish their filter as letting more flavour through.

Which immediately repositioned all other filter cigarettes as having less flavour.

And to prove it they’d have men in tough jobs smoking Marlboro.

Construction workers, ship’s captains, war correspondents, even cowboys.

Of course, cowboys outperformed all the rest.


Suddenly it was okay for men to smoke filter tips.

Because Marlboro, even with filter tips, was a cigarette for real men.

In just two years Marlboro sales grew by 300%.

Fifteen years later, Marlboro was the biggest selling cigarette in the entire world.

Now Marlboro, along with Coke, and Levis, and McDonalds, and Harley Davidson is an American icon.

One of the most powerful brands on the planet.

All by understanding the difference between Market Growth and Market Share advertising.


That’s predatory thinking.



When Andrew Bastawrous was a little boy, he was failing most of his classes at school.

Then one day he had an eye test.

The optician found that he couldn’t see the blackboard properly.

Andrew didn’t know this, he assumed everyone else saw the same.

When his poor eyesight was diagnosed he was given glasses.

Now he could see the blackboard everyone else saw.

Immediately his marks changed, he became the top in the class.

That lesson stayed with Andrew his whole life.

He went on to specialise in ophthalmology at Leeds University.

For his PhD he monitored eye disease amongst 5,000 people in Kenya.

He took $160,000 worth of optical equipment in two trucks, and a team of 15 people.

That’s when he discovered the real problem.

In poor countries, around 285 million people suffer visual impairment.

39 million of those are blind. But 80% of that blindness is curable.

If you can find it.

And that’s the real problem.

Most of these people live in such remote villages the trucks couldn’t even get there.

Even if they could, there was no electricity.

The equipment would have to run on generators, which used huge amounts of petrol.

Andrew Boutawrous had a problem he couldn’t solve.

So he got upstream and changed it to a problem he could solve.

He knew these villages were very poor.

Most of them didn’t even have clean drinking water.

But one thing every village did have, however poor.

A mobile phone.

And Andrew thought, a mobile phone has apps that can do anything.

Checking train times, sharing photos, finding map locations.

Why can’t we develop an app that does eye tests?

And he developed an app to photograph the eye, and test for diseases.

It costs $500, less than 1% of conventional equipment.

It can photograph the retina at the back of the eye.

The photographs can be sent directly to Moorefields Eye Hospital in London, where the condition can be diagnosed.

Treatment can be prescribed immediately.

The phone can be carried anywhere, with solar charging panels in a backpack.

Even where there are no roads the patient can be located using the phone’s GPS.

It doesn’t need two trucks and a team of fifteen people. It doesn’t even need a doctor.

Anyone can be trained to use it in five minutes.

The results can be sent via email to London, and analysed by a team of specialists.

It doesn’t matter what language the patient speaks.

It doesn’t matter how old the patient is.

The phone uses symbols to communicate and eye-tracking to monitor.

And, in villages without roads in Kenya, there are now people who are seeing for the first time in years.

Because Andrew Bastawrous identified a problem he couldn’t solve, got upstream and changed it into a problem he could solve.


Predatory thinking doesn’t have to be predatory.



A J Lovewins was living on the streets of Seattle for five years.

He managed to get off the streets by helping run a soup kitchen.

For people, like himself, who just needed a break.

He also ran a programme for musicians who were trying to get a break.

Then he noticed something: the musicians couldn’t get any exposure, the homeless people couldn’t get any work.

Both groups were stuck.

The homeless had nothing coming in, the musicians had nothing going out.

Something clicked in his brain.

What if you put the two groups together?

He persuaded a local recording studio to record a track from each of the musicians, for free.

He now had a compilation CD of Seattle-based artists.

Then he started recruiting the homeless.

They could have 3 CDs free, which they would sell for $10 each.

They would keep all that money.

Then they could buy more CDs at $2 each, sell them at $10 and keep all that profit.

Homeless people began doing it.

What did they have to lose, the first 3 CDs were free?

When they saw how easily they made $30, they bought fifteen more CDs with that money.

Which they then sold for $150.

They were in business.

More importantly, they were off the streets.

People around Seattle happily bought the CDs to help local musicians.

But in fact, they were helping two groups of people at once: the musicians and the homeless.

That first CD made around $50,000 profit for homeless people.

He made a second CD, this one was distributed by the homeless in 3 cities: Seattle, San Francisco, and St Louis.

This time the CD made $100,000 profit for homeless people.

The project is called Harmonic Humanity, and he wants to raise money to help fund it in five cities, including Los Angeles.

What makes it different to any other charity is every dollar donated pays for a record to be made.

That record sells to the homeless for $2, the homeless sell that record for $10.

So every dollar donated generates $8 directly to homeless people.

They get the money they need for food, clothing, and shelter.

Meanwhile the musicians get the exposure they need.

When the programme expands to LA, the media capital, who knows who will hear their music?

Directors, producers, promoters, ad agencies.

That’s how it works: homeless people get a break, musicians get a break.

Two minuses make a plus.

That’s what I love: things start to happen when people get off their arses.

For sure, nothing happens when they don’t.



But when you set the game up right, everybody wins.



In 1904, Amadeo Gianni spotted a gap in the market.

Many poor Sicilians seeking a new life had emigrated to America.

Some stayed in New York, but the poorer ones, the hard-working fishermen, wanted to escape the crime.

They went to San Francisco.

Amadeo Gianni knew these men, he understood them: they worked hard, they saved their money.

Gianni knew they needed a bank to keep their money safe.

But no such thing existed for Sicilian immigrants.

Banks were just for rich WASPs (white, Anglo-Saxon, protestants).

And that was the gap in the market Amadeo Gianni saw.

The gap for a bank where Sicilians would feel welcome.

He didn’t know anything about ‘branding’ but he knew the name must be something they trusted.

He opened a little shop front with a big sign outside: BANK OF ITALY.

That said to them this is your bank, not just for rich WASPs.

And the Sicilian fisherman deposited their savings.

But in 1906, San Francisco was destroyed by an earthquake.

All the buildings were flattened, there were riots and looting.

Gianni made his way through the mob on a horse and cart carrying crates of oranges.

Just a fruit-seller, no one paid any attention to him.

What they didn’t know was that hidden under the oranges was every penny of the bank’s assets.

Gianni knew that as long as he had the money he still had a bank.

He went down to the docks where the fishermen worked.

He re-opened ‘Bank of Italy’ there, just a plank across two barrels.

They needed to borrow money to rebuild their homes and businesses.

He asked how much they needed.

When they told him, he said raise half yourself then I’ll lend you the other half.

This would prove they were serious and capable.

He was always proud that every penny was repaid.

Bank of Italy grew and grew until it became the only statewide bank across California.

Now it was time to stop being a bank just for Sicilian fishermen.

He needed a brand that the all US citizens could feel was their bank, Amadeo Gianni needed to rebrand.

In 1930, he changed the name to BANK OF AMERICA.

Now it felt like it had stature, it felt like it had history and tradition.

And Gianni was right about the rebranding.

Bank of America grew so fast that, in a few decades, it would become the second largest bank in the entire USA.

One of the largest banks in the world.

In 1958 they launched the world’s first credit card.

It was called the BankAmericard.

It created the credit card market around the entire world.

Which meant it wasn’t just a credit card for Americans.

It needed rebranding.

A name to underline the freedom it gave everyone to travel with their money anywhere.

BankAmericard was renamed VISA.

Today VISA has 38% share of the world’s credit card market.

It handles 62 billion transactions a year, amounting to $4.4 trillion.

Proving what Amadeo Gianni knew all those years ago.


Your best advertising is your brand.



Have you ever wondered why Bank Holidays are called that?

After all, it isn’t only the banks that get a holiday.

So is it because the holidays started with the banks?

Well yes and no.

Sir John Lubbock was a Liberal MP.

He was a reformer who wanted to improve the lot of the working class.

Which, until that time, had been poverty and misery.

The Liberal party had already made some improvements:

Children under nine were no longer allowed to work.

Children under thirteen could only work six hours a day.

Children under thirteen also had to have two hours a day schooling.

Women could work no more than ten hours a day.

But Sir John Lubbock wanted more.

He wanted something that was unheard of for poor people.


The only time they got off was Christmas Day and Good Friday.

Lubbock wanted them to have four more days throughout the year.

He chose: Boxing Day, Easter Monday, Whit Monday, and the first Monday in August.

But this would never get through the House of Commons.

Most of the MPs, particularly the Conservatives, were landowners and industrialists.

The moneyed classes, who didn’t see why the work-shy lower classes should get time off to laze around and do nothing but sleep and drink.

It could start a trend.

They would start wanting more and more time off for more and more pay.

Until it became impossible for the ruling classes to keep the factories open at a profit.

Giving the working class time off would be taking money straight out of their employers’ pockets.

They’d never vote for it, Sir John Lubbock knew that.

But he also knew that the banks needed to close at various times during the year.

They needed to suspend transactions while they got their books in order.

And of course, lots of the MPs were bankers themselves, they could understand that.

So John Lubbock presented his bill as The Bank Holidays Act 1871.

It went through Parliament pretty much on the nod.

Most of the MPs who would have voted against public holidays didn’t even bother turning up to vote.

The Bank Holidays Act was passed.

The MPs had no idea how important this innocent sounding act was.

But Sir John Lubbock knew, if the banks were formally closed no business could be done.

A day off was inevitable for everyone.

And now it had passed into law.

Sir John Lubbock regarded it as his greatest political achievement.

He said “If we had called our bill the “General Holiday Bill” or the “National Holiday Bill” I doubt that it would have been approved. But the more modest name the “Bank Holiday Bill” attracted no attention”.

Thanks to Sir John Lubbock, most of us who now work for a living take holiday entitlement for granted.

Because he got upstream and changed a problem he couldn’t solve into one he could.

That’s predatory thinking.



European farmers throw away three hundred million tons of fruit and vegetables a year.

There’s nothing wrong with them but they’re mis-shapen.

So the supermarkets won’t take them.

The supermarkets will only take perfect fruit and vegetables.

They believe that’s what their customers want.

Of course, this makes the best fruit & veg more expensive.

Simply because so much is rejected.

It also creates a lot of waste, which no one feels very good about.

Intermarche is a chain of French supermarkets.

They are famous for providing low prices and quality fresh produce.

Intermarche had a blindingly obvious insight.

At least, it seems blindingly obvious once you hear it.

The fruit and vegetables may look different, but they still taste the same.

If you’re going to use them in cooking, what’s the difference?

Once an orange is squeezed into juice, you won’t know what it looked like.

Once a carrot is chopped and cooked in a stew, you won’t know what it looked like.

Which is a great opportunity for predatory thinking.

People would happily buy less-than-perfect fruit & vegetables if they were cheaper.

The farmers will happily sell them much cheaper because they were only going to throw them all away anyway.

So Intermarche decided to give its customers a choice.

Bins of imperfect fruit & veg are displayed next to bins of perfect fruit and veg.

But 30% cheaper.

Which is just right for the supermarket brand that’s built on value and fresh produce.

Intermarche made it the basis of it’s new advertising campaign.


Each poster features a funny looking fruit or veg, shot beautifully.

Each has a relevant line, like:

“A grotesque apple a day keeps the doctor away just as well”

“A ridiculous potato still makes delicious mash potato”

“A disfigured eggplant, so cheap who cares what it looks like”

“A failed lemon tastes exactly like an expensive lemon”

Of course, customers loved it.

Store traffic immediately increased by 24% with sales up accordingly.

Intermarche sells an average 1.2 tons of imperfect fruit & veg each day in each of its 1,800 stores.

The campaign did what every client wants: it went viral.

In the first month, 13 million saw it for free on social media.

Millions more people saw it for free on the news, as commentators tried to get other supermarkets to follow Intermarche’s example in cutting waste.

Intermarche became different from all the other supermarkets.

It became the only supermarket that was sensible, thoughtful, and ecologically aware.

Not just big and greedy and expensive.

The supermarket that thought of their customers first.

Intermarche tapped into what Bill Bernbach called “Simple, timeless, human truths”.

One of these is something my dad always used to say to me years ago.


“I don’t mind spending money, but I don’t like wasting it”.



Advertising is now taught as an academic subject.

It’s a sub-set of marketing.

So you can get a degree in marketing and one of your modules will be advertising.

You’ll do modules in: pricing & distribution theory, market research, brand planning, category management, ethical marketing, social and mobile media, presentation skills, and, oh yes, advertising.

So advertising is just a part of a marketing person’s job.

Once you’ve got everything else right, you’ll look at the advertising.

Because, if you get everything else right the advertising must work.

Hmmm, I wonder.

Let’s look at that from another angle.

Bill Bernbach said, “If no-one notices your advertising, everything else is academic”.

That’s important enough to repeat.

“If no-one notices your advertising, everything else is academic.”

That’s the word ‘academic’ used rather differently.

We know that £18.3 billion is spent on all forms of advertising and marketing every year.

We know that 4% is remembered positively, 7% is remembered negatively, and 89% isn’t noticed or remembered.

So that’s roughly £17 billion of advertising that fits Bill Bernbach’s definition of ‘academic’.

Advertising that might as well not have run.

Advertising as a sub-set of marketing.

The dictionary defines the word academic as “Having no practical importance: not involving or relating to anything real or practical, only of theoretical interest”.

But advertising isn’t an academic subject.

It does have practical importance.

So it isn’t just a sub-set of marketing.

Advertising is actually the voice of marketing.

Adam Morgan talks about ‘in front of the curtain’ and ‘behind the curtain’.

In front of the curtain is what we want the audience to see.

Advertising is ‘in front of the curtain’.

Behind the curtain is what we don’t want the audience to see.

Marketing is ‘behind the curtain’

The audience isn’t supposed to notice marketing.

But if the audience doesn’t notice the advertising, what’s the point in doing it?

So advertising is not a sub-set of marketing.

Advertising is about amplification.

Making sure your message is part of the 4% that gets noticed and remembered.

Because, otherwise, however clever all that marketing thinking was, it will all be wasted.


“If no-one notices your advertising, everything else is academic.”



In an article in the Economist, a neurosurgeon talks of her experience at a dinner party.

She was explaining a book she’d written to a group of people.

One of the men kept interrupting her.

He wanted to tell to her that he’d just read a book on that subject.

He wanted to explain various topics in the book to her.

His friends kept telling him it was her book he was talking about.

He interrupted three times before they eventually got through to him.

The neurosurgeon says this is an example of ‘mansplaining’.

Where men feel the need to put things into simpler terms for women.

But she says this is actually a misconception.

Women think men just do this because they patronise women.

Actually no.

Men do this to each other, they do it to everyone in fact.

‘Mansplaining’ isn’t exclusive to women.

It’s just that men are cruder creatures, and women, because of their more subtle and sophisticated communication mechanisms, interpret it as patronising.

For a woman to do it would indeed be patronising.

But for men, it’s just how they communicate.

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and previously Google, has written a book on this.

It’s called ‘Lean In’.

Put very crudely (well I am a man) men are on ‘broadcast’ women are on ‘receive’.

Or, as a female planner once explained it to me “Men talk at each other, women talk to each other”.

And women are responsible for encouraging men’s behaviour.

The neurosurgeon talks a bit more about that dinner party.

She says during the first half of the evening, she talked to the woman on her left.

She was also a medical specialist and they had a good conversation.

Discussing and exploring each other’s work.

During the second half of the evening, she turned to the man on her right.

She asked him what he did, and he told her.

Then she asked him some questions about his work, and he told her.

Then she asked him some more questions, and he told her more.

At no point did he ask her what she did, or even seem interested.

He did what a man does: answer questions and talk about what interests him.

She did what a woman does: ask questions about the other person.

So that, by the end of the evening, she and the woman on her left knew a lot about each other.

She also knew a lot about the man on her right.

But he knew absolutely nothing about her.

She says this is because men view communication as a ladder to be climbed, each one racing to get to the top.

Whereas women view communication as a web, creating new interlocking networks.

Her analysis is really interesting.

It could explain why women work better in jobs where interpersonal skills are important.

Why women make better account handlers, management, and CEOs.

And why men work better in creative departments.

Women are more naturally geared to develop relationships, to create a bond one-on-one.

Men are more geared to winning in a competitive environment.

Making sure their advertising dominates and achieves cut-through and standout against the competition.

Of course, as the article was at pains to point out, it’s a generalisation and not true in all cases.


But it’s crude enough for men to understand.

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