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APG Big Thinking on Strategy – 1 Thing I Learned From Each Speaker

Rather than try and summarise the varied points of discussion around, and different perspectives on strategy into one neat article, I thought I’d write something with the aim of being short and helpful. So, in running order, here is one thing I learned from each speaker;

Strategy Diluted - Tracey Follows

Despite strategy being in rude health (guess how many books amazon stocks on the subject), it is also in danger of being stripped of all meaning. She illustrated this by recounting her favourite recent tweet, ‘What is your Ice Bucket Challenge strategy?’.

Glocal – Guy Murphy

The first time I ever heard this term I thought it was just another pretentious buzzword. As I began to work on global accounts I soon realised that the practice of adapting one big idea across cultures is an extremely difficult one and I gained slightly more respect for the word. Guy Murphy made me realise that Glocal is not a challenge to be overcome but the competitive advantage of global brands over local ones. People love it when global brands take notice of what’s important locally.

Purpose - Bridget Angear

In judging effectiveness awards Bridget has observed that 50% of papers get binned because, put bluntly, people aren’t clear on the purpose of the campaign (objective / effect) upfront. A great example of a campaign with a clear purpose at it’s heart is Amex Small Business Saturday, coincidentally also a brilliant example of a global brand taking interest in local matters.

Product Manager – Ben Malbon

A product manager at Google must be an expert in at least one of, and proficient in the other two fields of UX, Business and Technology. Only by merging these disciplines together is it possible to develop products that people actually want. Suddenly the job sounds a lot more exciting than the title suggests.

Unreasonable Combinations - Adam Morgan

There are companies that create ‘Unreasonable Combinations’ thereby gaining competitive advantage. Traditionally you make a trade off between good and cheap, especially with food. Not anymore. Aldi are selling lobster and wagyu beef cheap, and with a Good Housekeeping award. Push for pizza is another great example. ‘I want a Pizza but I don’t want to order it’ – perhaps the most unreasonable demand ever…

Military Strategy – Sir Lawrence Freedman

Strategy is the art of creating power. Notably, not a science. And in order to do this it must be continuous. It must carry on after you get punched in the mouth. Strategy (over planning) is ‘the evolution of the big idea through changing circumstances’.

Presentation Presentation Presentation – Russell Davies

And his presentation stood out over all the others as he’d seemingly done it during the conference (there were pictures of the other talks in it), it moved, played videos, sang… It was bloody entertaining, just what everyone needed in that long conference. There’s a MASSIVE lesson in there for advertisers.

Ageism – Charity Charity

The average age of women featured in advertising is ridiculously low.

Don’t Lose Me - Malcolm White

When asked what his match strategy was Ronnie O’Sulivan responded ‘talk about strategy and you lose me – I play with instinct’. A stark reminder, for me, that people who do or make, aren’t overly interested in chatting theory. Because they are busy doing.

And that's it! Did anything at the conference strike you as particularly interesting?

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