Hit List | 100 Quotes from Call To Action | The Blogfather | ...Gasp!

Hit List

Monsieur, with 100 quotes from Call To Action® catches you are really spoiling us.

The Blogfather has the perfect tonic for all those underwhelming Secret Santa gifts this week; 100 unmissable quotes from every guest we caught in the first 100 episodes of the Call To Action® podcast.

Almost 4 years ago, …Gasp! gaffer Giles Edwards set off full ahead both engines on the good ship Call To Action®. It’s been one hell of a voyage, but the pod is now dead-set on being the go-to podcast for anyone trying to make sense of the world of marketing, advertising and beyond.

We've snared so many marvelous minds as we navigate an industry that is a minefield of utter bollocks, a century of them (not out) in fact; our heroes and allies from the front line that we’ve had many a good chin-wag with.

This blog really is a bit like Pokemon Go, as we’ve gone and caught ‘em all, with choice cuts of marketing wisdom from the first 100 episodes; everything from Nick Ellis talking Sex and Drugs and How Brands Grow, to Jenni Romaniuk on building distinctive brand assets.

So here's to another 100, but for now, apply this blog liberally around any areas of marketing irritation and wait to soothe. 

Feel better about marketing with the Call To Action® podcast*.

1) Richard Shotton: “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.”

2) JP Hanson: “Marketing is about increasing sales and solving business problems, not a fine art project.”

3) Stevyn Colgan: “When the pyramids were built, there were still mammoths wandering around.”

4) Amy Kean: “To not give a fuck is such a powerful thing to do.”

5) Eaon Pritchard: “They’ve called the opposite of the dunning-kruger peak the Jon Snow trough.”

6) Vikki Ross: “I’m sick of seeing brand books that say we are ‘human, friendly and honest’ – these should be default characteristics of a brand.”

7) Fredrik Hallberg: “We always think we have a cyborg coming into the market, but that doesn’t reflect the reality of who the consumer is.”

8) Glenn Fisher: “Give me a couple of hours with Mark’s Mum…and I could improve her copywriting.”

9) Murray Calder: “People use words that you would never use in a real conversation. We’re talking to people like us, that like to go to the pub for a drink and a chat. So keep the language simple.”

10) Wiemer Snijders: “A very good question to ask yourself is; ‘can I really tell that from the data?’ It’s like a thread on a sweater, keep pulling on it, interrogating it, and you may well be left with the Emperor’s New Clothes at the end.”

11) Rory Sutherland (Part 1): “The amount of effort put into optimising the efficiency, and even the effectiveness, of targeting, relative to the amount of effort that’s put into optimising the creative approach, is totally out of whack.”

12) Giles Paley-Phillips: “It’s probably easier to write for brands than children! At least you get a brief from a brand. And children can be a lot more brutally honest.”

13) Rory Sutherland (Part 2): “We don’t choose brands because we think they are great, we choose them because we think they are definitely not terrible.”

14) Lee Davies: “I like designs that are unrefined, not really polished. This translates into a sense of urgency that is really impactful, as regards to what is being talked about, communicated.”

15) Tricia Wang: “Quantitate Data only gets you so far. You also need Thick data – I rebranded Qualitative Data as it sounds so boring. Let’s just make it sexy. We place too much value in the measurable, over the immeasurable.”

16) Giles Rhys Jones: “The power of press coverage is to always have a point of view that is slightly different, and gets people talking. Our benchmark for a quote was – ‘is this something that someone else could have said?’ If the answer was yes, then we scrapped it.”

17) Dave Harland: ““David; your face is going to explode” – This is what my Mum said when I hit 21 stone. Perfect, concise, to-the-point copywriting. I soon shifted those extra pounds.”

18) James Victore: “To be misunderstood is Genius. Galileo, Pythagoras, Jesus were all misunderstood, so have a God damn opinion and get used to it, and f*ck those people that move away from you, as those are not your people."

19) Jane Evans: “I’m often told; ‘your brutal honesty is so refreshing!’ And I’m like, hang on; when did we stop being brutally honest, I thought that is the whole point of what we do?”

20) Brian Macreadie: “I keep going on about balance, I sound like Yoda. Obi-Wan Kenobi said; ‘Only the Sith deal in absolutes', and we know that the Sith are a complete bunch of tossers, so anyone telling you their way is the only way, take it with a pinch of salt.”

21) Paul Mellor: “Too many brands are like U2. More of them need to be like Oasis. Oasis will come in, smack you round the face, headbutt you. There isn’t anyone that does not have an opinion on Oasis; it is either love or hate. Whereas no fucker likes U2.”

22) Stefanie Johnson: “I get mistook for a non-professor all the time. Before one talk, a lady asked me to get her a coffee, so I did, and then she asked; ‘do you know when the speaker will get here?’ and I was like; ‘yes, it’s me!’”

23) Di Wilkins: “I’m not the most polished person in the room. I never will be. But I’m probably going to end up being your friend for 20 years. And I hope that makes up for my lack of smooth."

24) Bob Hoffman: “One of my first jobs was getting hired to write adult fiction. In the first day I used everything I knew about sex and was out of material so quit.”

25) Colin Lewis: "I want people to walk around with a new lens and ask: Is this friction? Who is creating this friction? Why was it created? Can it be cut out?"

26) Tom Goodwin: “The world needs both Bob Hoffman and Jessica Alba.”

27) Gavin Strange: “Don’t make it perfect, make it now. A wonky something is better than a brilliant nothing”

28) Shelina Janmohamed: “Muslims buy stuff. It’s a fact. They spend $3 trillion a year, but people are not selling to them in a way that connects to them strongly.”

29) Kerry O’Connor: “You’d be surprised how many agencies don’t know where they are going, in terms of their objectives. And if they have objectives, are they practical?”

30) Charlie Russell: “Comedy needs to be a bit painful. But that is why it is so funny.”

31) Phil Barden: “It’s a lot smarter and a lot braver not to change strategy when you move onto a brand. You want to make your mark with a relaunch, new comms strategy etc. That might be the worst thing you can do for a brand as you’re playing with those memory structures.”

32) Nicole Yershon: “I started to learn to read people to get things done. Some need stroking, some cajoling, and some need a rocket up the arse.”

33) Nick Parker: “Copywriting is all about clarity, so everyone easily understands. Fiction is different. I still don’t know what some of my short stories are about.”

34) Liane Dinghile: “We did have a vineyard in the family once, but it got gambled away in a card game.”

35) Matt Watkinson: “It’s a bit of a fantasy to manage customer experience centrally and directly, as it is emergent. You can influence it, but not directly manage it.”

36) Richard Chataway: “It is critical to nudging that choice stays with the individual, they still have choice in the way they want to behave.”

37) Ryan Wallman: “Being relentlessly positive can cause issues. Pointing out something that is inherently wrong is actually positive and helps takes the industry forward.”

38) Jenni Romaniuk: “When we’re building distinctive brand assets, the context is the brand, and when building brand, the context is the category you are operating in. Context is vital, as without it you cannot embed the brand or asset in the memory, and it cannot be retrieved later.”

39) Nic Marks: “You can ask a CEO or a truck driver if they are happy and they can both answer it. It’s a language everyone can relate to if you want to create common goals.”

40) Paulina Tenner: “Because I was comfortable showing my arse to strangers on stage, I was more confident in business, and because I was a capable businesswoman, I was more organised and goal orientated in my burlesque career. They helped and fed each other.”

41) gem Higgins: “If you have writer’s block, you’ve just got to fucking sit with it. Go to a café and sit. I mean be aware of the emotion you are in, acknowledge it, take stock and be OK with that.”

42) Alex Jamieson & Bob Gower: "Take the time to really talk about something. Just by creating an hour to talk about something high stakes that you are all going to do together, to listen to each other, is ground-breaking.”

43) Sarah Townsend: "There's a lot of self-discipline involved in knowing when to take a break"

44) Doug Melville: “On my first day at TBWA, what we did was we looked at Diversity as if it was a client. So, if Diversity walked into the agency and said, “help us”, what would we actually do?”

45) George Tannenbaum (Part 1): “Ageism now is more like ‘I don’t want to payism’. Agency structure now is all about making owners richer, not about the clients.”

46) George Tannenbaum (Part 2): “We are supposed to deeply listen. That’s the reason behind our disdain for advertising these days, no one listens.”

47) Andrew Spurrier-Dawes: “Most people’s favourite ads are ones they can talk about to their friend. Not some DCO one of a million ad that randomly puts together a call to action and an image just to try and get half a second of your attention”

48) Zoe Scaman: "The smartest person in the room isn't the person who knows all the answers. It’s the person who can put themselves out there to ask the right questions to inform everyone else"

49) Shekhar Deshpande: "Your ability to lead can only be honed by discovering your own strengths and personality and learning to be comfortable with both"

50) Nick Ellis: “The truth is if you create something and it does not move the needle then it has not been successful no matter how beautiful it was”

51) Gillian Rightford: “I sat watching TV one night and saw 3 bad ads in a row and I just thought; Isn’t is amazing how so many clever people sit around a table, with so much money involved, and it takes so long, yet so much of what comes out of the creative process is so mediocre?”

52) Tommy Mason: “When it comes to accessibility, we’ve got this amazing resource which is the world wide web and it’s important that every person has the same right to access that. You wouldn’t build a hotel without any elevators or lifts.”

53) JP Castlin: “We’re trying to create context free rules in a context specific world and it just doesn’t work like that”

54) Harriet Minter: “As a complete lifetime overachiever and classic Type-A personality, it has taken me a long time to realise that achieving is actually less interesting than learning”

55) Andrew Willshire: “Statistics is the art of losing information”

56) Will Humphrey: “Find some way of showcasing your thinking. Find some way of showcasing your conscientiousness and interest in advertising and marketing. Then write a few case studies about what you would do about business problem x or y.”

57) Sarah Benson: “Get a train ticket, go to a town you’ve never been to (not a cool town that sells lattes and The Guardian) and spent a full day in that town. Then come back and write down what you saw, what you felt and what was different.”

58) David Granger: “My race reports weren’t in depth analysis of tyre strategy. They were more about what Fernando Alonso had had for breakfast that day”

59) Fernando Machado: “When people question you on creativity, just look at the person. Usually that person is wearing a Nike shoe or an Apple watch or a Lacoste polo. And then be like, why did you choose that? I can make an argument that the Samsung watch is better technically but why did you pick Apple? Isn’t it funny that they are doing better creative work than the other brand?”

60) Laurel Stark Akman: “This is a very self-congratulatory industry. We love to talk about ourselves, about work we made, about work we wished we made. We can talk about that until we’re blue in the face. But we never talk about mental health. If we turn our mental health into work maybe we can get people to talk about it.”

61) Richard Huntington: “I’m not saying go and join a choir…but go and join a choir"

62) Louis Grenier: “People don’t like to be sold to, so they only notice sh*tty campaigns. But good marketing is everywhere and influences everyone’s decisions every day. But they don’t seem to think it’s marketing.”

63) Izzi Hays: “You can’t attempt to design something for a world if you have no idea who is living in it”

64) Marcus Brown: “Coming up with ideas happens when you’re not trying to come up with ideas. It’s when you’re bored or sat on the loo having a poo. That’s where the ideas come from, somewhere behind your left buttock.”

65) Sophie Cross: “At some point you have to stop reading business books and actually do the thing”

66) Steve Harrison: “It’s the weirdest paradox that as advertising has drifted to the margins of British cultural life, its sense of its own importance and sense that it has the right to tell people what to do has increased exponentially”

67) Giles Edwards: “Liking an ad is just as important as liking a parachute. It either works or it doesn’t work. The more we allow subjectivity to influence decisions, the more trouble we’re in”

68) Victoria Rosselli: “To me, I want to make good stuff but at the end of the day, it’s just advertising. We’re literally making things that regular people actively avoid. At what cost?”

69) Drayton Bird: “Half the people in advertising haven’t read a bloody book about copywriting. They think it’s something you pick up…like diphtheria”

70) Thomas Kolster: “Patagonia say ‘we’re in the business to save our planet’. What sort of self-glorifying nonsense is that? You make t-shirts for people who live in a one-bedroom apartment in London and wish they were more connected to nature.”

71) Molly Baker: “We have to take the accountability of asking ourselves: Would I want to be getting this message right now? Would I be ok with this? If I knew I was being targeted in this way, does it feel like it’s crossing the line for me?”

72) Andrew Boulton: “If you are doing a creative role the worst thing you can do is try to fit your creative skills to what is an accepted as traditional working methods”

73) Paul Feldwick: “There’s no better grounding in understanding advertising than sitting regularly in front of rooms full of people, showing them ads, talking about ads with them, and understanding how they respond”

74) Jess Gregson: “Learning to say no to stuff and not being afraid that your business will fall off a cliff as you turn down work, is really important.”

75) Rania & Trevor Robinson OBE: “It’s important that diversity is cemented into your values, put into your business strategy, and embraced from the top down. It’s not a problem, it’s an opportunity; the speed and the power of that untapped creativity.”

76) John Lyons: “I’m not one of these ‘it’s shiny we must do it’ tacticians but I have always been one of these ‘here’s something new, sounds like it might be interesting, I will have a look at it myself and if I see something in there that might have value to us or our clients then we’ll see what that is”

77) Andrey Ivanov: “Golden rules suck. It is your worst enemy in making strategic decisions.”

78) Luke Sullivan: “When stuck, quit trying to write and just talk to the page.”

79) They Might Be Right Round 1: “I have a dog and even he would leave if he could get snacks elsewhere. Loyalty as it is built today is largely a corporate mirage where people are conning themselves into believing that is what loyalty is.”

80) Prof. Karen Nelson-Field: “If you put a cat on the skateboard, it can be the fluffiest cat you have ever seen, but if nobody sees the ad, this fluffy cat will never be famous.”

81) Nick Asbury: “If you ‘start with why’ you get led in a very generic direction. It tends to lead to very samey, vague propositions. Every brand becomes another version of ‘we’re here to make the world a better place’ and the whole point of branding is meant to be to make you different, distinctive, and memorable”

82) Laura Jordan Bambach: “I think we do ourselves a disservice not talking enough about the value add of creativity. We tend to go ‘look this is a really cool idea’ and then the poor client has to decide: is it this really cool idea or this safe idea that I know is going to get results? We don’t do enough to prove that the more creative the idea is, the more effective it is"

83) Lee Grunnell: “If you’re working with people who are innately sceptical about marketing, being able to show them a theory, law, evidence, chart, graph or spreadsheet will be really helpful. Even if they don’t get what you’re talking about at least they might think ‘oh, there is evidence and thought behind this”.

84) Amy Ferguson: “People don’t really want to watch ads. That’s what we have to remember, and I think we forget. People forgive the giant logo at the end more when it makes you laugh”

85) Keerti Nair: “We should be extremely proud of being marketers. And we should be extremely proud of the value we bring in both commercial and convenience. There is a lot of value in being a marketer and we do not need to shy away from it”

86) Rob Mayhew: “As a brand you don’t need to pay people. If you can find content creators who love your brand, like I love Rowing Blazers and Salad Cream, just talk to them, reach out to them and work with them. Because I will make content for salad cream for free, they just haven’t asked me”

87) Rich Kirk: “Risk is absolutely something that media planners should be talking about more with clients because it’s something that the people who sign off the advertising budget, CFOs and Finance Directors, want to have a conversation about. And they want it to be a grown -up conversation.”

88) Dave Wakeman: “Nightclubs are where I learnt every lesson that I have applied to my marketing career. It’s a place where you are really connected to the customer and where I came up with the greatest question I have ever thought to ask: What gin do you prefer?”

89) Alex Murrell: “If efficient media is cheap, targeted and communicates to a highly engaged audience, and if the inverse is the critique, that traditional advertising is expensive, untargeted and often ignored. Maybe there’s room for push back here that those things aren’t so much critiques or weaknesses, they’re actually points of strength. Being expensive, being mass and being ignored might actually be a good thing”

90) Carolyn Barclay: “I’m no longer taking orders in my copywriting business. And what I mean by that is no more people rocking up and wanting to order 10 blogs with a side of social. This ain’t Burger King.”

91) Cameron Day: “When you sell a great idea, oftentimes you have to go in there and say the reason why this will work is that nobody will ever forget seeing it and that’s a good thing. Don’t talk about awards. Talk about the fact that people will remember it.”

92) Marc Lewis: “When I think about agencies today, I don’t see commercial creativity. I don’t see them in tune with culture. And I don’t see them leading the brand into a brave new future. And that’s why places like management consultancies are eating their lunch”

93) Tom Roach: “To divorce the creativity, the message, from the medium is nonsense. We know those two things are so connected; we know the best creativity is indivisible from the medium it appears in. So, to divide up the process and the people completely and silo them, it’s just plain wrong”

94) Dr. Grace Kite: “Some people who are doing analytics can try and justify their existence by going “I’ve done this really clever, technical, exciting thing” and they’ll tell the client all about the technicalities of it and how smart they are. All the subtext is just “Look at me I’m so clever” and that just makes client’s feel stupid and then they close down and don’t listen to it.”

95) Derek Walker: “I can tell by the work that we see on TV, hear on the radio, and see on the internet, some of these young creatives have never been to the client's place of business. Dear god, what an abomination.”

96) Stefana Bosse & Jennifer Tessler: “Trying to change without going on a retreat in a way is a bit like trying to rebuild a train station without stopping the traffic.”

97) They Might Be Right Round 2: “It seems bizarre that a world that should depend on creativity, free thinking and innovation yet is utterly stifled by the operating model. It seems as if it’s created a system and is now enslaved to that system which actually completely hinders what it is an agency is supposed to do”

98) Steve Harrison & Giles Edwards [BONUS EPISODE]: “We’ve turned down pitches and won the work. Not because we turned it down but because turning down the pitch opportunity has led to questions and given us the opportunity to qualify the client and understand they really do want us to work with them.”

99) Mark Ritson: “The thing you learn about pricing from real experts is: there’s price setting, then there’s the price itself, then there’s communicating the price to consumers. That last point is the most important part about pricing. It’s not the price itself, it’s not the way we set the price, it’s the manner in which we frame and communicate the price to our consumers is success or failure. And that means it’s a marketing thing.”

100) Andy Nairn: “One of the problems with luck is that people think it’s the opposite of skill and intelligence as opposed to an accompaniment. You have got to use your skill and intelligence to make use of the lucky opportunities.”

Thank you to everyone who has lent their ears and their brains for 100 episodes of Call To Action®. It’s a real privilege for everyone at …Gasp! to be involved with. Please share and review the podcast to help more marketers feel better about marketing.

*WARNING: consume this blog with caution, as there’s more wisdom here than at a monks’ reunion at the Blackfriar pub. It can cause excessive marketing knowledge and capability. #CTAPod 📣

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