Helping brands navigate the Scylla and Charybdis of digital and social media

In the latest in the occasional series of Small Data Forum podcast interviews with industry mavens and thought leaders, SDF co-host Sam Knowles caught up with Christian Polman, UK MD of brand communications and publishing house Looping Group.

To this content and creative-driven role, Christian brings a consultant’s mindset (with years at Bain and an MBA) as well as digital marketing smarts (from Digitas and Google) and marketing analytics expertise (his role before Looping was with Ebiquity).

Christian Polman of Looping Group chats with SDF podcast co-host, Sam Knowles

Sam starts by asking Christian where the smart money is going in digital marketing.

Christian’s view is that digital marketing must rest on the twin levers of marketing optimisation and effectiveness, and that on this foundation brands need to build holistic customer experience. We are going through a period of renaissance, currently, for both research AND creativity and content.

Continue reading “Helping brands navigate the Scylla and Charybdis of digital and social media”

Big Dog, Novax and the Andrew formerly known as Prince: lessons in entitlement

Big Dog, the Andrew formerly known as Prince (as per the cracking headline in the Irish Daily Star) and NoVaxx DjoCovid walk into a bar… Sadly, that’s not how we started our latest podcast on the uses and abuses of entitlement – oops, I meant data big and small in politics, business and public life.

Neville kicks us off our recording on Friday 14th by outlining the Politico perspective of possible scenarios regarding the future of Big Dog (although that label, uncovered by The Independent, wasn’t public knowledge by the time of our recording, what with events eventuating so fast and unpredictably these days).

The upshot: degrees of likelihood of survival pour Le Grand Chien.

Since recording, Operation Red Meat has been added as the tactical ops part to Operation SBD. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was the unedited plot of some third-rate D-Day / Nam / Iraq / Afghanistan war spoof script, when in fact it is the real-life UK government panto in all its glory. No it wasn’t a work event. Oh yes it was. Boo hiss Beeb. We don’t know yet what the Transformation Scene will bring, but Dishy Rishi and The Truss are leading contenders.

Continue reading “Big Dog, Novax and the Andrew formerly known as Prince: lessons in entitlement”

This is the end of the year, as we know it

“It’s been a funny old year,” muses Thomas as we three kings of the Small Data Forum podcast begin our last ramblechat of 2021, with Thomas sounding like a football manager trying to sum up the most bizarre of seasons.

His erudite pun quotient – talking of Johnson’s wretched government of 24-hour party peoplePfeffelling along – is a treat for podcast fans old and new.

Sam believes that Thomas’ question as to whether we should see this oddest of odd years as “Plus ça change …” (and so “… plus ç’est la même chose”) is spot on.

Accusations of a series of catered parties at Number 10 are becoming more tangible and less tittle-tattle by the day – parties hosted when London was under Tier 3 restrictions and “mingerlin’” was definitely verboten. Screenshots and grainy footage of canapés and revellers crawl out of the digital woodwork to add the fire of verity to the smoke of accusations.

Spokesperson after government PR flack is being hung out to dry, resign, and spend more time with their families. The lies are mounting up like yet another set of Covid mortality statistics, and the mud sticks to everyone but the leader himself.

For Neville, the PM is deploying Steve Jobs’ notorious “reality distortion field”, and if Johnson declares black is white or up is down, everyone around him is required either to agree or get out … preferably by the back door so that no waiting media can spot and snap them, adding to the evidence pile.

Continue reading “This is the end of the year, as we know it”

From metaverse to pyroverse. Caution: this episode contains strong language

Recorded just a week after Facebook’s rebranding announcement, this latest episode of the SmallDataForum podcast is less about “Greeks bearing gifts”, and more about the Greek and other connotations of Meta, the new company brand bringing together all of Facebook’s apps and technologies for the leap into the metaverse – although this wouldn’t be the first time Facebook’s commercial strategy is being likened to a Trojan Horse.

In keeping with the Classic Greek theme, and the various meanings of meta – some of which appeared to have been overlooked by the rebranding strategists, such as the word meaning death in Hebrew – I share my thoughts on Facebook’s After/Underworld cast, with Mark Zuckerberg as Hades, Nick Clegg as Cerberus, and Sheryl Sandberg – well I’m undecided between Hecate and Persephone. Much to the amusement of classicist Sam, whose knowledge of the Odyssey and the Book of the Dead is a lot more profound, than mine.

Mark Zuckerberg as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, courtesy of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Walt Disney, and Ingram Pinn in the Financial Times

For Sam, this is less about mythology, and more about good old crookery: a classic misdirection strategy by “pound shop table magician” Mark Zuckerberg to make Facebook’s manifold legacy problems disappear down the magician’s hat. Kevin Roose at the New York Times calls it Mark Zuckerberg’s Escape Hatch, to rebrand himself as “above-it-all-futurist … a visionary technologist rather than a destroyer of democracy.”

Continue reading “From metaverse to pyroverse. Caution: this episode contains strong language”

We’re 50!

It’s been a long time coming, this in-person get-together of the three SmallDataForagers (I assume that’s what you call someone moderating a forum?) to celebrate our Golden Jubilee.

1,955 days, in fact, since our fateful first encounter in the now sadly defunct Hospital Club in Soho. And nearly 650 days since our last Olivelli feast, just before Christmas 2019, when the world was a different, less pandemic place.

That is of course all small fry compared with the 5,788 days that Angela Merkel has held the office of German Bundeskanzler. More of her and German politics later.   

So, a long time coming, and well worth the wait: great company, inspiring conversations – the three of us don’t just have now 50 SDF episodes to reminisce over, but also a shared professional history of one time (Sam, Thomas) and other (Neville) working in the London office of what is now Real Chemistry, a power house of digital analytics alchemy driven business insights in life sciences.

As rebranding is such a thing, and in light of our professional interests (not least Sam’s second book), perhaps we should start calling ourselves the SmallDataBigInsightsForum?

Demonstrating resilient continuity in the face of pandemic disruption, we also reconvened at the Picturehouse Central members bar high above Piccadilly for one of those rare occasions, a live in-person podcast recording.

Continue reading “We’re 50!”