Monday, 8 August 2011


“For the first time the consumer is boss, which is fascinatingly, frightening, scary and terrifying because everything we used to do, everything we used to know, will no longer work.”That was what Kevin Roberts of Saatchi said.

And then there’s the story of investors in the early days of the web demanding to be told who the CEO of the internet was – “there must be a CEO. Who is it? Why’s he hiding?”

If someone isn’t in charge we get worried.

As children it’s our parents and our teachers who are in charge and those incorruptible authorities…”I’ll call the police and they’ll take you away.” My grandsons think the police are quite wonderful…they’ll learn.
Journalists used to call the Prime Minister “Sir” – he was seen to be in charge. And he wouldn’t have dreamed of going to Tuscany for a holiday – why do they do that?

And now?

This dilemma certainly distressed pundits on the Today Programme recently as they demanded to know who was in charge of the EU.

The answer is everyone and no one.

The accepted wisdom is “let the markets decide.”

And yet we know a thought becomes a  rumour becomes gossip becomes an urban myth becomes fact now in a blink. The marketplace rather than the market decides sitting round the metaphorical well in the town square on the web.

No amount of leadership beats that crowd.

We live today in a state of perpetual intellectual riot.

Decisions are made by focus groups “they don’t like your voice Ed…fix it”; “they don’t like immigrants Dave get them outta here” or they aren’t made at all until enough money, opinion or noise makes something happen because…”the public is expressing outrage.”

Liberal democracy is a wonderful thing but it has a downside. Loonies like the Tea Party and the Norwegian Breivik get to express themselves and begin to think they can actually be in charge.

The world it seems is managed by market-confidence yet politicians would clearly not even pass GCSE in psychology (were it an optional subject) if they believe you can preach “austerity” and expect your voters to rush out shopping, simultaneously.

In the end Kevin Roberts is right but as we know in marketing, consumers don’t really know what they want until they get it.

Everyone’s waiting for someone else to make a move.

Anyone who’d like to be in charge this week, just call.  Otherwise leave it the experts (again).

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