Shake, Rattle and Roll

June 1, 2005

Presentation Summary

An address to the 58th Newspaper Congress: A challenge to the age-old world of newspapers. What business are newspapers in? What do they stand for? How can they grow readership and revenue in a consumer-led digital future? The answers lie in a fundamental shift in the source, meaning and role of news production in the world. Newspapers must become Lovemarks in the hands of their consumers. They must warm to the glow of the screen age.


This is my first visit to this amazing country.

I love the growth story of South Korea.

Economically determined and culturally exuberant.

Export-led. Technology-driven. Big brand creators. Soccer-inspired!!

I work in the ideas business. Advertising is our product but world-changing creative ideas that transform businesses, brands and reputations, are what we aim for. Nothing less.

So I come to this conference not with research or analysis or statistics, you have enough of these mapping the future of your business.

Instead, I come with some ideas about the opportunities ahead. Hopefully big transformative ideas to meet the challenges ahead.

Conventional wisdom says that because I’m an ad guy I should be talking to you about the paper.

But I’m more engaged by the news. This is your product, and your future.

Function not form. Meaning not mode. Purpose not parchment.

Over the past decade, the information autocracy has become the digital democracy.

Welcome to the multi-mediated news-on-demand Consumer Republic, where every person has access to the tools if not the desire to be publisher, editor and scribe.

Consumers still like paper, but they sure don’t depend on it.

Their collective intelligence outstrips yours. They can do what you do, though not as well.

Half the time, half of them don’t believe you.

The impartiality credo does not work for them.

Most agree that the media generally gives a less than complete account of reality.

And meanwhile, ad revenue is Yahooing off into alternative forms of marketing and communication.

The power surge from manufacturers to retailers to consumers is the force majeure of global commerce.

Perfect, seamless information is regenerating value. The journey from zero to hero, and hero to zero, is now a heartbeat.

As AG Lafley, CEO of the world’s largest advertiser, Procter & Gamble, puts it: “your products run for election everyday.”

This applies from nappies to nations to newspapers.

Consumers have been handed the sceptre of creation.

They can be a car designer for Detroit , an advertiser for Apple, and a news journalist for the New York Times.

And they love it!! Just ask OhMyNews here in South Korea , where every citizen can be a reporter.

My message to you today is about your place in this paradigm of passion.

Not just because communication spending will align to its demands, but because it threatens to sideline you, to diminish you.

  • We must work together to deter this from happening. We need a big idea. We need to re-invent the mission.
  • We need your rustle and hustle in the holistic communication pie.
  • We need you to put our advertiser clients in the hands of consumers.
  • We need consumers to love you – not leave you.

In a hurricane you can run, erect a shelter or build a windmill.

This industry is erecting shelters, trying to manage its way out of a decline.

Shifting from a newspaper company to an information company won’t do the job.

Getting smaller, free papers and going on-line all matter, a bit.

But they are strategies of incremental inches not quantum returns.

The quantum generator is in the power, and the possibility of paradox.

I want to throw down three provocations:

First, newspapers know everything about their business, but seem to know little or even care little about news consumers.

Second, newspapers are still declaring what is news, while consumers – who ultimately fund the business – define news on their terms.

Third, Newspapers want to survive long term, but – by definition and practice – are pathologically focussed on the short term.

These counterpoints open the space between return on investment and return on involvement.

They ask if this industry will stand for something greater than its version of the human story.

Because consumers are looking for a better story, an inspirational story.

What business are you in?

What do you stand for in the hearts and minds of your news consumers?

Because believe it, this is all that counts now.

The Love / Respect Axis provides some clues:


We use it to reality check everything from products and presidents to companies and industries.

Start here with Low Respect, Low Love. Standard commodities. US Airlines. Newspaper can fall in here. Florida election-reporting. Newsweek on the Koran. Jayson Blair attributions. Power without responsibility.

Low Respect, High Love. The Fad zone. The newspaper industry’s work zone. Chasing ambulances to hell and back. Fixated on the detritus of humanity. An assortment of truth that leaves readers feeling like they’ve spent a day on Jerry Springer and a week at the Michael Jackson Trial. The problem? Shock and horror are moving online. The real juice has moved into the blogs, wikis and conspiracy websites.

High Respect and Low Love. Where major brands are stuck. Home of the “e-r” words. Brighter, stronger, faster. For today’s “trust me” journalism – faster, looser and cheaper. A dogfight to be convenient and relevant. A fight that the physics of paper is not equipped to win.

High Respect, High Love. This is the territory of Lovemarks . A new paradigm. A new future. A comeback opportunity

  • Lovemarks inspire loyalty beyond reason.
  • Lovemarks are owned by consumers, not by marketers or companies.
  • They run on deep positive emotion.
  • They are powered up by inspiration.

The newspaper model of the 20th century was production-driven. The newspaper model of the 21st century must be inspiration-driven.

The title of this Congress speaks volumes. Calling yourself “newspaper” is like calling sushi cold wet fish. Bust out of it!!

I’m not saying that the editorial / advertising separation model isn’t sacrosanct. I’m saying change what you stand for.

If you stand for nothing you fall for everything.

Lovemarks do something more than set out to change the world.

They try to make it a better place for everyone, a subtle but dramatic shift.

Journalists are intrinsically engaged with the world and have always tried to influence it.

My presumption is that you do want to make it a better place, not a grimier one.

The idealism of Unleash and Inspire gets reeled in by the pragmatism of Command and Control.

As I told several US intelligence agencies earlier this year when I was invited to address them about how to connect emotionally, reflecting the worse parts of life leaves you with low positive equity.

I said redefine the mission from “the war on terror” to “a fight for a better world.”

Move into an emotionally positive and inclusive space, where people can see they have a contribution to make and they’ll love you forever.

What I’ve learnt from Lovemarks is that consumers embrace this “make-the-world-a-better-place” idea.

  • They’re inspired by it. They can’t get enough of it.
  • They want to buy into a life-enhancing not a life-defeating role.
  • The world needs you to be operating at your best.

At we’ve got 10 million downloads and six thousand stories to back us on this….

This doesn’t mean you ignore the bad stuff.

It does mean you make it part of a powerful story that leads us all to a better place.

Newspapers are Lovemarks in waiting.

They must, as Rupert Murdoch suggests, become a destination.

But only, I believe, by becoming inspirers of a better world.

Do not interpret this as a call to become soft. Far from it, the world has startlingly big problems to address.

As a planet we are wracked with poverty and disease.

These are weapons of mass destruction, just with longer fuses.

Recently 30 of the world’s top economists met in Copenhagen to address the world’s greatest problems.

Their challenge was to find which problems should be prioritized for the most benefit. How to spend most effectively to achieve the greatest results.

Heading their list was HIV/AIDS prevention, fighting malnutrition and malaria, and freeing-up world trade.

These are problems directly faced by hundreds of millions of people with whom we share this planet.

For them, making the world a better place is the difference between life and death.

And what role for newspapers? It’s certainly not the Martha Stewart way. On her release from the penitentiary, her first editorial in Martha Stewart Living magazine was about how to make better egg nog.

The challenge for newspapers is to become Lovemarks in the hands of your consumers.

Engage with the global and with the local by driving deep emotional connections. Lovemarks exude Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy, and sizzle with Sight, Sound and Motion.

Creating Mystery is antithetical to newspapers – your job is usually to uncover it! But consider this: Mystery is created through great storytelling, by tapping into dreams, by being emotional, by being symbolic and by threading past, present and future together.

This is inspiration at work, not production, not explanation, not analysis, not reason. This is beyond reason.

Creating Sensuality is a challenge for an industry whose physical product is a pulped dead tree squirted with ink.

Touch and vision are your key sensual elements but what about your sound?

Look at the magical incursion into music that Starbucks have taken. Music is a shortcut to the heart. How can you create a sound experience aligned to your brand? And I don’t mean giving away free CDs!

What is your scent? Your aroma? Maybe you should be investing in Starbucks!

And creating Intimacy. As a young man I found the Personal ads in the newspaper to be pretty intimate, but you’ve truly been overtaken by the web in this regard.

In fact the most intimate space I find in a newspaper today is the Obituaries page.

This is a journalistic art form in itself – so translate the reverence shown for the departed into empathy for the living?

And, don’t forget, have fun.

I’ve been playing TV ads and I make no excuse.

Lovemark are mediated by Sight, Sound and Motion. SiSoMo. This is a bigger idea than online.

It is about getting around the campfire of the 21st century, the ubiquitous screen.

For telling the story and getting the feeling, SiSoMo has no marketing equal. From TV to mobile, this is a huge opportunity for newspapers to build equity.

Steve Jobs says creativity is just connecting things.

P&G have moved from R&D to Connect and Develop.

Newspapers need to define their screen presence, and not just by putting everything up on the web.

You should have your own TV shows. You’re good looking people – mostly.

Get the editor reading her editorial. Get the journos around a bar setting the world to rights.

The screen is where the action is. The screen is where consumers are headed. The screen is the new global commons.

Design the newspaper around and through the screen. Become more visual, more menu-driven, more connecting, more screen-like. Design as a screen-based entry point. Design for adaptation and reconfiguration by consumers.

Newspapers have fantastic intellectual and brand properties so give them multiple screen properties.

Consumers will love you. Advertisers will love you for it.

Consumers want to be uplifted, inspired and dazzled, not shocked, dismayed and depressed.

Advertising will take place in this holistic, optimistic space.

Your challenge and opportunity is to go deep inside the language and practice of Inspiration.

Leaders and managers are 20th century concepts.

  • Become Inspirational Players.
  • Make a positive difference in the world.

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