Love is in the Air – Borsen Executive Breakfast

Wednesday, 10 April 2002 - Copenhagen, Denmark

Leap of Faith Kevin Roberts

Presentation Summary

A speech to the Borsen Executive Breakfast. The over-analysis of customers can fragment your business vision. Companies must make the leap to love. Embracing Love and Peak Performance can arouse a long-term commitment – one based on curiosity, imagination and creativity. The Viking spirit and lasting relationships are scrutinised when Lego goes through the Lovemarker.

Thank you for organising this opportunity to speak to such an influential group of people – and to persevere even when I said I wanted to talk about Love.

Denmark feels a lot like my own home, New Zealand. Like us you are never far from the sea.

Like us you are proud of a long tradition of seamanship. Maori with their epic 4,500 mile journey from Hawaii. Your fearless Vikings who acknowledged no borders and no limits.

At home we are gearing up for another great ocean challenge. The America’s Cup. We wrestled it from the Americans and we will be racing to retain it in Auckland later this year. How New Zealand won the Cup against the best in the world is a fantastic story. Danes will understand the tough challenges of scale and resources we faced. I believe we succeeded because of to our special attitude. Creativity with a twist of commonsense. I see this same love of ideas and practicality here.

Denmark faces similar challenges to New Zealand in this new millennium. New Zealand’s has been a cool culture rooted in our largely British origins. Reserved, modest, reluctant to express emotion. As we have gained in confidence so has the emotional temperature gone up. As we feel we belong in the Pacific so can we show our passion, our inspiration and our emotional commitment. This is the level of pride and love New Zealanders are now confident about expressing.

Love is in the Air

When I first said the “L” word in public three years ago, everyone squirmed. Now serious business people say Love without blushing. And they mean it.

We need Love because the role of business is to make the world a better place for everyone.

We do this by creating jobs, growth, opportunities and choices. Who wants to be part of anything less?

To make a difference today every successful business needs to create life-long love affairs with customers. The emotional temperature of business is hotting up and the emotion is Love.

Flick through business magazines, check out the billboards. Love is hot.

The business magazine “Fast Company” picked up on my Love message in 2000. By the next year “Fortune” magazine was asking: “What’s love got to do with it?” Even Jack Welch got the bug … the love bug.

Now “Fast Company” is at it again with the February cover story: ‘Love is the Killer App’.

Advertising is falling in love with love too.

Chrysler has just launched a new tag-line Drive = Love.
Volkswagen has stamped love on the bug.
Ford have put their heart into it.
What took these car guys so long? I did my “Love Machine” presentation to them in Los Angeles February last year. They always asked “how much metal did you move today?” I challenged them to ask “how did the metal move you?” Finally, they’re all talking Love.

At Saatchi & Saatchi Love is more than hearts and this year’s slogans. Love is the air we breathe. Love is how we are transforming ourselves. Love is how we are transforming our clients’ brands. Love is where business has got to be to deserve those long-term emotional connections with customers.

A powerful dynamic has been driving business for decades. Commodification. Performance, quality, well-defined benefits no longer delivering premium prices.

Brands were a strategy to escape commodity status but they are struggling too. Business is bewildered. What’s gone wrong?

Brands have been buffed into blands. They are losing touch with consumers. They are losing power, prestige and value in every category.

And it’s our own fault. Too many years playing the same tune. Too many metrics. Too many dollars in the desperate search for customer loyalty and customer attention. Brands have stopped working – surprise! surprise!

Marketing in the last century was a journey: from products to trademarks to brands. Each in turn held off furious competition. But now it’s too late for Brand-Aid.

Trademarks are table-stakes. Brands are table-stakes. You’ve got to have them, but they are not winning game-breakers.

Michael Eisner of Disney calls the word brand “over-used, sterile and unimaginative.” He’s right. When the flowers in reception must reflect the brand, the invoices conform to the brand, every business card portray the brand essence – you’re hiding, and you’re in trouble. You’ve got to cut the crap and Be True.

The big questions. How can we create new sources of power and insight? How can we come up with fresh ideas? How can we inspire our people to be the best they can be?

Dissatisfaction with branding has led me to Lovemarks. From Trust to Lust to Love!

Dissatisfaction with management has led me to Peak Performance. How to perform at peak every day.

Lovemarks are an idea about fundamentally transforming brands; Peak Performance is about transforming organisations with inspiration and vision. Lovemarks is the destination great brands must aspire to. Peak Performance is the process for getting there.

Love and Lovemarks

Lovemarks are an idea that can transform not just brands and marketing, but how companies sees themselves and how they feel about their customers.

Lovemarks are the future beyond branding. Darwin would have got it straight off. Monkey to man. Brand to Lovemark. Lovemarks are super-evolved brands.

Lovemarks are a game-breaking opportunity to reinvent branding.
Lovemarks connect the company, its people and its brands.
Lovemarks create the energy of life-time relationships.
Lovemarks belong to their customers, not to their owners.
Lovemarks are the ultimate premium profit generator.

Lovemarks are personal. They’re local. Lovemarks stand out from the crowd. They are the charismatic brands that people love and fiercely protect. You know them instantly.

Harley Davidson, definitely. Suzuki? I don’t think so. Here’s an iMac; here’s a ThinkPad. Sorry IBM.
McDonalds is a clear Lovemark. Burger King has got the taste but not the Love.
New York Firemen. Lovemark. New York Parking warden. Not yet.

Saatchi & Saatchi’s challenge to brands started four years ago. We have now completed two years of research into Lovemarks – their metrics, their relevance, their stories and their superior profit potential.

Lovemarks evolved from one simple insight: the Love/Respect Axis. A fast, intuitive reality check. You enter every relationship somewhere on this Love/ Respect Axis.


Start here with Low Respect and Low Love. Straight commodities like iron, oil, sand. Public utilities like Gas, Water and Drainage. Essential but zero brand heat.

Move on to Low Respect but High Love. A real mix: from the “we-love-them-but-won’t-admit-it”, to the “too-cool-to-survive” fads. From Bill Clinton to Tommy Hilfiger, Harry Potter to the Furby. Likeable, distinctive, sometimes raffish and unrespectable.

This High Respect but Low Love area is where most major brands fit. This is where a lot of our clients are stuck. Great products, solid R&D, serious customer research. But all fixed on the “e-r” words: newer, brighter, stronger, bolder.

The problem? Great performance is what customers expect. More table-stakes. Cars start first time, the coffee is always hot, the beer is always cold. Today everyone has to be here just to stay in the game.

Now turn to this uncharted territory: the Love dimension of the Love / Respect axis. Here the breakthroughs are. Here we can make deep connections with customers.

Lovemarks are inclusive. They want it all. Forget “either/or”. It’s “and/and”. Love and respect. Heart and mind. Emotion and reason. Local and global. And, and, and.

Time to put the “and” back into brand.

Toyota gets it. For decades their passion has been Respect- but they hooking into emotion. We are now making major progress on Lovemarks together. We’ve developed the methodology, refined the processes and in the U.S. built the advertising we do for Toyota on Lovemarks.

Last September our first big test: the campaign launch of the new Camry. A $180 million transformation from “sensible to sensual.”

In my world the only metrics that matter are sales. Toyota closed out with its best year ever, posting the largest sales growth of the top six manufacturers and finishing the year in the top three of U.S. car sales for the first time ever.

The mind-set in Toyota has changed. Car guys always ask each other “How much metal did you move?” We turned the question around: “How much does the metal move you?”

Senior Vice President at Toyota USA Don Esmond crystallised the new Toyota challenge: “It’s time to move from the most respected car company in America to the most loved.” That would put Toyota right here: High Love and High Respect. A Lovemark.

Lovemarks put customers at the true centre. They don’t just analyse them. Lovemarks are passionate about emotions, not just their own brand attributes.

Brands can only evolve into Lovemarks when they have Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy.

Mystery to draw together the stories, the metaphors, the icons that give a relationship its texture. Complexity, layers, revelations, intuition, humour and excitement.

Sensuality as a portal to the emotions. Vision, sound, hearing, touch, taste. This is how we experience the world.

And the warm breath of Intimacy. Empathy and inspiration lit up with passion. The intimate connections that are more important than ever.

Saatchi & Saatchi have identified the fourteen elements that make up a Lovemark. We created an intuitive idea and insight generator we call a Lovemarker.

We’ve workshopped the Lovemarker for strategic direction, idea generation and consumer insights, product development, campaign evaluation. We’ve put Fortune 100 companies through as well as cars, cities and countries, universities, people, religions.

In every instance we came up with fresh insights for instant improvements. Unexpected new horizons. A twist in the tail of the familiar. What is your brand’s Lovemark profile?

For me Denmark has three great Lovemarks. Four if you count the Vikings – and I can only do that because they never got as far New Zealand!

My personal Danish Lovemarks are a person, a beer and a delight for the child in all of us.

Lego, Carlsberg and Hans Christian Anderson.

We included Lego when we launched in such companies as Harley Davidson, Coke and Disneyland. Lego was named by Fortune magazine as “Toy of the 20th century”.

So what does a brief Lovemark profile say about Lego? Some ideas, some insights, some soft spots around the brick itself. I’ll save the software, the theme parks and grown-up “serious play” for another day.


Mystery is what gives a great love affair its richness. Lego captures this in its inspiring tag-line – “just imagine.” I’m told there are over 100 million ways to connect six of the eight-stud bricks. That’s a lot of space for people to create their own stories. True building blocks of the imagination. Lego gives a nudge with themed sets: adventurers, castles, dinosaurs, racers and Harry Potter. Harry Potter? Orange light for me. Too specific. Too much “imagining” already done. I’d be watching the long-term effects of those entertainment tie-ins very closely. The risk of slipping from distinctive Lovemark to entertainment fad is very real.

Lovemarks are cultural icons; they are characters, emblems and logos that immediately evoke and emote. Nike has the Swoosh. Disney has the Mouse. The Pillsbury Doughboy is Mr. Personality. Lego has an iconic name and logo, but for two Lego six-headed bricks is where it’s at: always suggesting possibility, always reliable, probably as perfect as you can get something.


The Lego brick is about touch. The scale for small hands. The raised surfaces. The smoothness. It feels the way it looks. You sure can tell it’s Lego when you stand on it in the dark in bare feet.

This clarity is the hallmark of great design and can take us into new sensual realms like taste. Take the classic Apple iMac.

Apple took a quantum leap into taste. Named the iMac range after fruit flavours like Tangerine, and marketed them with the one word YUM!

Lego is so fixed in touch and vision that there are untapped dimensions. What flavour is Lego? Does each colour taste different? Can we do better than peppermint for white, strawberry for red? Should Lego team up with M&M?

Lego have moved sound into their systems but I’m missing that distinctive, great sound that serves as the reference point and inspiration for all the rest. It’s got to be those bricks clicking together. Mix it. Amplify it. Sample it. Get it onto Music creates mood. Let’s hear it people.


Lego puts kids and parents kids where they belong. On the floor. Together. Hunched over a dinosaur hunt or a besieged castle, heads almost touching. Intimate? You bet.

Fan sites are one of my personal tests of a Lovemark. Lego passes with flying colours. Search on ‘Lego film’ on Google. Yikes! Brick flicks are big. Very big. Short animated films of Lego figures doing just about anything – and I mean anything! What does this say? Lego customers own Lego. And their laid-back attitude to hackers of their software is a model of open source Lovemarking.

Is Lego a Lovemark? Definitely, but like any category leader this is no time to relax. The world of kids everywhere is being sucked up by the hyped emotions of entertainment. There is an opportunity here for Lego. Lego sees kids as what we should all aspire to with their curiosity, imagination and creativity.

This is a huge idea with huge potential. The greatest artist of the 20th century was headed in the same direction. Picasso said he spent his life trying to draw like a child. Let us feel Lego’s true and powerful emotion rather than admire and respect them.

To be successful you have to know who you are and what you stand for. Great ideas come from somewhere. Perfect example: the invention of Lego from the Danish “LEg GOdt” or “play well”. People live in the local. And they love it there. I have never met a global consumer. I never expect to. This is the challenge for brands with international markets. This is the game brands with strong local roots can play so brilliantly.

Inspiration and Peak Performance

Lovemarks are about transforming brands. But we need more. Enter Peak Performance. Lovemarks is the destination great brands must aspire to. Peak Performance is the process for getting there. How to transform organisations with vision and inspiration.

Peak Performance has a simple goal: for people to become the best they can be. This drives every element of PPO’s organisational change model. It’s the only way change makes sense to me.

To develop Peak Performance I worked with academic colleagues in New Zealand. We looked for answers where there is no place to hide. The tough world of elite professional sport.

The story is told in our book “Peak Performance”. We studied the world’s best, team-based organizations like The New York Yankees, the British Williams Formula One team, the US women’s soccer team, Team New Zealand.

We fixed on three questions that go to the heart of long-term organisational success:

How do you ensure your people care passionately about what they do?
How do you keep getting better when you are already the best?
How do you respond to extreme pressure?

It’s not just about management and doing things right. The right strategy, structure and systems are table-stakes. They are no longer the source of competitive advantage.

It’s not just about leadership and doing the right things. What do all leaders need to succeed? Followers. Who here has “born to follow” tattooed on their arm? Play follow the leader and you get performance at about 20 percent of peak. Too much listening to too many voices.

What makes a difference now is inspiration. Inspiration turns up the heat. Awakens people to action. Makes your organisation special and loved.

Inspiration arouses people’s long-term commitment to exceed their personal best. Not to exceed the performance measures, not the competition, but their personal best. Your ‘Great Dane” Paul Elvstrom has this commitment. The only man in the world to have won a gold medal at four consecutive Olympic Games.

With Inspiration you can transform an organisation. Without it you are stuck in the same rut. All the emotion and passion twentieth century business got rid of is what needs to come back to the centre.

People without passion or emotion never became great investors, great entrepreneurs, great marketers, great anything.

The indispensable element in every Peak Performing Organisation is the people at the centre. We call them Inspirational Players. The very term Inspirational Player sets people alight. Being a Manager or even a Leader is just another label. Stepping up to being an Inspirer – this demands personal transformation as part of organisational transformation.

Next, the Inspirational Dream. It moves people so they want to belong. It’s not made to be measured. It’s about reaching for the stars, not counting them.

In every successful sports organisation we analysed, in every successful business I have been part of, the Inspirational Dream is what made it work.

At Saatchi & Saatchi our Inspirational Dream is to be revered as the hothouse for world-changing creative ideas that transform our clients’ businesses, brands and reputations.

The Inspirational Dream is given shape in the Greatest Imaginable Challenge. A goal that is a clear ambition, not a fuzzy fantasy. A measurable goal defined by dollars or share or competitive positioning.

Saatchi & Saatchi’s Greatest Imaginable Challenge is specific and a real stretch: “To win our profit and revenue race through selling the most highly valued ideas.”

To be a Peak Performing organisation you must have Focus. Committed, shared Focus. It may look obsessive to outsiders, but insiders value it above all else.

At Saatchi & Saatchi our focus is “To create and perpetuate Lovemarks through the power of our ideas.”

The result is the almost unthinkable. A dream in action. A focus on what really matters. A tough challenge that can excite as well as be measured, stretch as well as achieve.

Over the past four years we have been transforming Saatchi & Saatchi from an advertising agency into an Ideas Company. From disparate offices around the world into a Peak Performing Organisation. The transformation of our people from effective leaders into passionate inspirers. Our clients from brand leaders into Lovemarks. Our core belief “Nothing is Impossible”. One Team, One Dream.

Other companies aspire to Peak Performance too. Take Procter & Gamble. Disciplined. Process-driven. The inventors of brands. The masters of metrics. We’ve been working with them on PPO for the last couple of years. Every quarter the Chief Executive A G Lafley and I lead a two-day workshop for 20 top Inspirational Players in P&G. It’s a big commitment but the impact is immediate. We’re taking P&G from Command and Control to Unleash and Inspire.

AG understood that for his people to live the brand and to aspire to a Lovemark, they had to perform at peak. To step up to Inspiration.

What This Means To You

I want to end with an action list. Three ideas to get started on right now to transform yourself into living, breathing, loving Inspirers.

Get intimate with Lovemarks. Check out my web sites and Join the discussion, learn to live with love. Talk with Saatchi & Saatchi people. Test what you are doing against Lovemarks thinking. Use the Lovemarker rigorously.
Embrace emotion. Feel it yourself, don’t just analyse it in your customers. Scary? Sure, but humans are powered by emotion, not by reason. Emotions are where long-term connections are made.
Become an Inspirational Player. You can all plug into that role. Commit yourselves to inspire others. And just as importantly, open up so others can inspire you. Become a force for good. For your clients, your colleagues, your customers, your country. Make a difference.

How to Win in the Age of Now


Spanning creativity, leadership and execution, Kevin Roberts’ presentation to the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Wellington Chapter is an inspirational primer in: Wanting to Win, Ways to Win Now and Ways to Keep Winning – the secrets of Peak Performance so that winning becomes a habit.

Up, Up and Away – Rotary Newmarket


Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi, talks to the Newmarket Rotary Club about Winning in the Age of Now, and how to turn a brand into an irresistible Lovemark for the next generation.

Start Me Up


Kevin Roberts gives keynote speech at the 6th Annual Global Competitiveness Forum “The Entrepreneurship Imperative” held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, sharing three ways to win in the region.

Set Fire To The Rain


In this presentation to Spotlight On Lancaster at Lancaster University, Kevin Roberts talks about enabling, energizing and activating creative partnerships and achieving Vibrant, Crazy, Unreal and Astounding impact.

Brighter Than Sunshine


Presenting to AAC Saatchi & Saatchi in Bermuda, Kevin Roberts shares three key ideas on connecting people around ideas that create Loyalty Beyond Reason.

Magic Time


In this presentation to EmoDay in Amsterdam, Kevin Roberts shares five key ideas on emotional innovations and creating Lovemarks.

Just Can’t Get Enough


Presenting to the Institute of Development Professionals in Education in Oxfordshire, Kevin Roberts presents three ideas on creating Loyalty Beyond Reason and creating frameworks for development discussions.