What the World Needs Now

Tuesday, 15 May 2001 - London, UK

What the World Needs Now is Love

Presentation Summary

An address to the Cambridge Alumni in Management / Judge Business School. Cambridge University has centuries of world-changing stories: Newton and Darwin, Wittgenstein and Rutherford, Wordsworth and Sylvia Plath, Erasmus and Monty Python. But how well does it go through the Lovemarker?


These are challenging times and this is a challenging occasion. A bunch of smart graduates from the mighty Cambridge no less, a smattering of smart (and probably highly cynical) consultants gathered together. What, me worry? But tonight’s just fun – for me at least.

How did tonight happen? Last March I was invited to Procter & Gamble’s CEO Forum at Cambridge University. Twenty-four heavy hitters, and me. John Chambers from Cisco was there – don’t be distracted by headlines of “deep fiscal losses”, we should all be thankful for Cisco every time we use the Internet. There was Lee Scott from Wal-Mart, Naoyuki Akikusa of Fujitsu, Alan Webber from Fast Company, Paul Saffo from the Institute of the Future, along with Sandra Dawson, Gianni Montezemolo and a few other big shots. I was the token consumer guy.

The Forum obsessed about distribution channels, electronic media, the Information Age – and all that stuff. I said forget it. They’re survival table stakes. The action has moved already. Forget the channel, it’s all about the consumer.

I said to them Brand Management is dead as a marketing practice. Too much perspiration and not enough inspiration. Brands have been strangled by too much information, explanation and analysis. Their special friends, the research vampires, try to measure and manage emotion and behaviour with proprietary tools, programmes, matrices, hi-tech vocabulary. The fools.

Brand managers are obsessed on the ER words: Newer, brighter, stronger, bolder. Rational benefits nailed by comprehensive metrics. The job of brand managers today is to stomp out intuition, instinct and imagination. Analysis, research and information reign. Researchers are locked into the rearview mirror (not the windscreen). In a consumer-owned market, they’re inevitably playing constant catch-up. Consumers have been liberated by the Internet, red-hot competition and a dazzling array of customized choices – from “blobjects” to designer organics. Brands today are table-stakes – they just let you pull up a chair at the conversation. Brand management processes don’t have a chance today.

New times call for new theories and new tools. Brands and management are dead or dying; Lovemarks and Peak Performance are the kiss of life. Lovemarks is the conceptual vehicle; Peak Performance is the executional engine that drives them. Tonight I’m going to focus principally on Lovemarks – if I’m ever invited back we can move on to Peak Performance.

I showed the assembled CEO’s at Cambridge last March my Love/Respect Axis. Everyone enters a relationship – with a lover, with an experience, with a product, somewhere on this Axis. The high respect area is where most successful businesses and brands fit. High Respect equals reliability, quality, innovation, trust, values. This is where the ER words live.

Then I hit them with the bad news. Everyone’s doin’ it. All this stuff is just what customers have come to expect. It’s what we all have. High respect is a parity offering. The challenge for a brand is to break through the respect barrier into the uncharted territory: the Love dimension of the Love/Respect Axis is where the breakthroughs are. You need High Respect and High Love.

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The Love/Respect Axis is a thermometer of emotional heat and commitment. Love is the best shortcut ever invented for marketers. Love goes straight into the bloodstream.

In the market, as in life, the best relationships draw on both High Respect and High Love. High Reason and High Emotion. Reason leads to conclusions; it’s emotion that leads to action. Human beings think with emotion. We just can’t help it. Rational man is a myth. Women, of course, have always been too smart.

High Love/High Respect is where instant attraction and life-time love affairs belong. This high emotion quadrant is where a brand now has to be to get the premiums, the share, the margin, and the profits. Alan Webber, editor of Fast Company, got it straight off. We pushed and pulled over several conversations, his September interview with me in the magazine was like a firestarter. Lovemarks were on the loose.

Lovemarks are meta-level thinking about business and branding;

Lovemarks are where billion-dollar brands need to be;

Lovemarks get you to Number One and keep you there;

Lovemarks are the foundation of lifetime relationships between the people who make stuff, and the people who buy stuff;

Lovemarks are a game-breaking opportunity to reinvent branding;

Lovemarks are the future of successful mass marketing.

This thinking has been contested: turf battles of mind versus heart; reason versus emotion; transactions versus relationships; profit versus love. I think all the arguments are nonsense. It’s not “versus” or “either or”. It’s mind and heart; reason and emotion; respect and love. It’s about building love on a base of respect. A Lovemark results from the fusion of Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy. All stuff that never comes up in Brand Management School.

Mystery deepens the relationship between the customer and an experience. It draws together the stories, metaphors and icons that give a relationship its texture.

Sensuality is fundamental to the human condition. In this screen-mediated era, you have to ooze sensuality or be squeezed dry in the marketplace. The five senses are an acute benchmark of lasting customer relationships, outstanding innovation, inspired execution.

The third signature of a Lovemark is the close-up world of intimacy. These are the moments that seal loving relationships. A broad brush-stroke won’t do it. We need small but significant gestures. The perfect three words: “I love you.”

Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy. Three powerful concepts. Lovemarks are a work-in-progress. I have two web sites for developing the idea, at www.saatchikevin.com andwww.lovemarks.com. I do email so join in, throw me ideas, kick the tires. I’m hungry for new insights and stories.

The tool that is at the heart of Lovemarks is the Lovemarker. It builds on Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy. You can put anything through the Lovemarker’s 14 elements. It has helped us develop insights into Fortune 100 brands, countries, major religions, a US President, magazines, auto companies, apparel producers… In every instance we have found insights leading to immediate improvement.

The Lovemarker addresses the big questions: How can you hold your ground, build and win your dreams and earn the love of people around the world?

Let’s start close to home and take Cambridge University through the Lovemarker. It’s a great question: is Cambridge University a Lovemark? How can it be more Lovemark-like? I sense Cambridge would make a great client for Saatchi & Saatchi. This is what I would tell the Vice-Chancellor about warming up Cambridge to be the first choice of the best students, corporate partners, benefactors.

Currently, I would locate Cambridge in the extreme High Respect corner of the Love/Respect Axis; but low on Love. It’s not that people don’t love you, it’s that you invite no love. Cambridge does not have Love and emotion on its radar screen.

At first glance Cambridge seems to have been competitively out-positioned by Oxford – even when in the High Respect camp your people have been awarded 50% more Nobel Prizes than Oxford, your 60 to their 40. Oxford has cachet, an X-factor, and I’m not just talking about Bill Clinton. So sit tight for how you can have new insights into your own companies. Put the Lovemarker on the agenda for your next executive board meeting and see how your own company goes.

First, let’s test Cambridge for Mystery.

1. The first ingredient of Mystery is the Story, and Cambridge scores incredibly well. Every culture has a narrative tradition – story telling is the scaffolding of relationships.

Cambridge has more stories than all the skyscrapers in Manhattan. Things have happened at Cambridge University that have changed the world: Isaac Newton publishing Principia Mathmatica in 1687; Charles Darwin setting off in the Beagle in 1831; the Kiwi from the Edge, Rutherford, splitting the atom in the Cavendish Laboratory in 1932; Crick and Watson discovering the structure of DNA 20 years later…

These are big stories. And where the hell are they? The Cambridge websites are totally patchy about telling their great stories. Does the University just assume that everyone knows these stories? The way you tell your stories is critically important.

2. The second element of mystery is the unity of past, present and future – the way you fix yourself in time and space. Of course, Cambridge gets maximum points for tradition. It’s such a big feature in the British intellectual landscape it seems it’s always been there. There were times, though, when it seemed Cambridge wouldn’t make it. When Newton was building the foundations of modern science things at Cambridge were so shaky that fewer than 200 students were matriculating each year.

Cambridge in the past 30 years has taken huge steps to renew itself – dealing with the present to safeguard a future. Making the university more loved is totally compatible with this enterprise. It is vital to incorporate change within a continuum. It is vital to find ways of defining Cambridge’s role and position in the future in the context of its past and present. The job is to romance the future.

Saatchi & Saatchi faced this challenge in New Zealand, where we introduced the Adidas logo onto that most sacred of national symbols: the All Blacks’ jersey. Communicating this deal and getting 100 percent support was fundamental to rugby’s competitive vitality in New Zealand. We had to link with the past to avoid national backlash and criticism of “tampering” with a nation’s heritage.

3. Lovemarks tap into dreams. In New Zealand, playing for the All Blacks is still the dream – especially to young Polynesian kids looking for avenues to success. In Britain, studying at Cambridge should be a dream in Hackney as well as Hampstead. Is it?

Cambridge shouldn’t be just tapping into dreams; it should be about building North Sea-strength rigs above bright, clear dreams of betterment. All those intelligent young people; all that adrenalin…the University gets people at the time of their lives when they are most passionate, most ready to experiment.

There’s lots in it for the University, as well as for students. The Jesuits used to say give us a child till he’s seven, and we’ll have him forever. A university has a great opportunity to turn a degree into a commitment for life. You’re here tonight – that’s an example of what I’m talking about.

So – how is Cambridge performing as a dream-miner? You’d know better than I but, from what I’ve seen, I’d give it a B minus with a “must try much harder.”

4: Mystery has secret ingredients. That’s not news to Cambridge – the happy hunting ground of Burgess, McLean, Blunt and Philby. Arcane rituals, peculiar practices, the covert world of academic politics… and also charm and humour and friendships. It’s entirely possible to retain individuality and uniqueness while reaching out to people. It’s good to keep a little back, especially at a time when everyone seems to want to spill the beans about everything.

5: Mystery requires mythic characters and icons. Again, for Cambridge, this should be money for old rope. Let’s see what we have:

Byron, the all-time bad boy of poetry; Charles Babbage, the great figure of computer pre-history, thinking at Trinity his ideas for a calculating machine – in 1812! Wittgenstein turning up from Vienna in 1911 to begin a career as the most compelling philosopher of the 20th Century; Nehru soaking up British learning before going home to kick the British out of India; Keynes developing the theories that dominated western economics for 50 years; Sylvia Plath, messed up and mesmerising; Stephen Hawking becoming to physics what Nelson Mandela is to politics …

What a hand Cambridge has dealt! How is it played? Not strongly enough. Is Cambridge embarrassed by its riches? Or does it just not realise what it has got? At Saatchi & Saatchi we work with companies who make soap powder, diapers, juice…What wouldn’t those companies do to get their hands on Cambridge’s icons?

For Cambridge University, there’s so much untravelled mileage in mystery. Let’s have a look now at the University’s sensual appeal. The senses sustain and energize lifetime love affairs. Before they sustain, though, they must be aroused. I doubt that Cambridge University has ever given much thought to its capacity to arouse the senses. But why not? Human beings have not yet evolved into disembodied heads, communicating like advanced life-forms on a Star Trek episode.

So, to Cambridge University in the realm of the senses.

6: Touch. University is the place where many people remember feeling at their most alive; the place where many people have their first serious, intense, passionate relationships; the time of life when longing for the touch of another is so strong it aches…

There are all sorts of ways to convey the experience of touch. Take an example from sport. There’s more passion and emotion in the simple phrase “I kiss football” than in all the predictable diatribes about commitment. And if you can kiss football, why can’t you kiss Cambridge? There’s a great t-shirt: “I Kiss Cambridge”. That’s Passion.

7: Taste: I’m sure that Cambridge left all sorts of tastes in your mouths: Café food? Warm beer? A mouthful of mud, if you played rugby? Each of you will have your oral memories of Cambridge. How do you put taste into a University? It’s probably not as hard as you think. Apple managed to give a taste dimension to a package of silicon and plastic. How did Apple evoke the sensuality of IMac computers? By putting them out in colours like tangerine and strawberry and grape, and adding one little word: Yum.

8: Sight: What’s the look of love? Again, your visual memories of your time at Cambridge are your own. The view from the window above your desk? The face of a person – the person – caught in a glance? How do you put visual appeal into Cambridge University? I’ll tell you one way you don’t do it – through a cold-looking website like cam.ac.uk. Talk about getting the blues…There’s no passion, no excitement, hardly any life. Murdered in 12pt Times Roman. This is the face the University shows to the world.

Cambridge should warm up its look. The face you show the world should be the one that has launched a thousand world-changing ideas.

9: Sound: This Lovemark element should be a shoe-in for Cambridge, but I only hear faint murmurings from the University’s sensual repertoire. The sound of Cambridge might be Sir Alec Broers’s beloved choir, in King’s College Chapel; for me, the choir’s job on the Cambridge Lovemaking journey is to score a Number One cross-over chart topper. The sound of Cambridge might be a teacher’s brilliant oratory, the words you heard that changed your life. For the rest of us, the sound of Cambridge is the sound of silence. Think of the voices that have spoken at Cambridge. Byron, Wordsworth. Rutherford’s booming certitudes. No sounds of them on the website of the University where the atom was first split.

10: Smell: We’ve got four genes for vision and a thousand for smell. Scent connects more completely with the emotions than sight or sound. The smell of Cambridge? That sounds so personal.

If a computer can evoke taste, we’ve got to be able to give Cambridge a scent. Fresh-cut grass at Fenners? An autumn evening on the Backs? The Botanic Gardens in May? Plenty to play with.

Finally, let’s get up close and intimate with Cambridge University. Let’s see how it registers for emotion, empathy and inspiration.

11: Emotion. I’ve told you I don’t buy that “We’re intellectuals, we don’t do emotion line.” Of course intellectuals do emotion – they’re just careful about showing it. It’s all there, though. Anyone who knows anything about universities like Cambridge knows that, compared to many dons, Robbie Williams’ ego is a blip on the radar. Channel those egos. Turn the emotion outward to the world – it’ll be a lot healthier than locking it up in Cambridge cloisters.

What should this emotion express? At Saatchi & Saatchi we have created a simplicity tool in response to the bewildering complexity of global markets. All organisations today must be able to operate emotionally in both the local and the global. We call the tool a Worldwide One Word Equity.

We distill the essence of a model to just one word, and use this as the core of the brand’s positioning everywhere. A Worldwide One Word Equity. It’s nailing that single, defining word that says it all. It focuses everyone in the communications mix. It means a company, a brand, a product can talk with one distinct emotional voice around the world.

The single, defining word that tells the world what Cambridge University is about is, as I see it, “world-changing”. Stop for a minute, and check how your heart responds to “world-changing.”

12: Empathy. Not a good word for Cambridge. I think it’s because the University is so used to people trying so hard to get in, it’s never been great at reaching out. Your website illustrates this orientation. Take us – or leave us. No one can afford to say that anymore (not even Millwall Football Club).

It’s not just that there are a lot of other places that bright young people can go. It’s what the University is missing out on. The Boat Race and the Varsity match appeal to parts of Britain. What about all the young people that don’t give a toss about either?

13: Inspiration. This surely is where Cambridge should be playing at home. All the great stories about all the fascinating people – from Erasmus to Monty Python. All that respect, just waiting for some love. Cambridge shouldn’t be a suffix. Enough with Oxbridge. Let’s hear it for Camford.

My conclusion is that Cambridge University is a Lovemark-in-Waiting. It needs a good shunt. It needs to engage the world in an emotional conversation. It needs to pump up the Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy on all fronts. In particular I would look at the university’s appeal to women.

At Saatchi & Saatchi we have a major focus on women. Women are one reason brands are faltering. Women are a huge part of why Lovemarks will succeed. Women influence or control 81 percent of all consumer purchase decisions. Last month, for the first time, more women than men used the Web. You may not know that the sale of power tools last Mother’s Day equaled those on Father’s Day! What does this add up to? This is a new era for women and every business has got to be up for it. My belief? First, women are smarter than men when it comes to love and to emotion.

Second, our culture is becoming more feminine. Everyday we have to think faster and more flexibly, as women do. We need to juggle more stuff. We have to become experts at judging people fast and at making personal connections. All this says “women” to me simply because they do it better. This transformation is reaching seismic levels. Women can do anything in any way they choose.

In the rebirth of Brand Management, if Lovemarks deal to the brand side, Peak Performance deals to Management. Peak Performance is inspirational practice for fast-moving, ambiguous times. This work stems from a global research project I undertook with colleagues at the Management School at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. The result is our book Peak Performance; Business Secrets from the World’s Best Sporting Organisations.

We had been totally dissatisfied with management orthodoxies, especially ones based on military metaphors. We were sick of downsizing, centralising, rightsizing, re-engineering and restructuring. These theories weren’t tackling some big questions: How do organizations keep improving year after year? How do we sustain success? How do we keep on winning? For answers, we searched in that most competitive of all human domains: elite professional sport.

We went looking for universal truths. We found the framework for sustained Peak Performance. And we confirmed that human beings are positively motivated by causes and forces greater than themselves. Our research uncovered patterns of peak performance. These seldom depended on hierarchy, structure or process. We distilled nine principles within a One-Word Equity for Peak Performance “Inspiration.” Here’s a taste:

1. Set the greatest imaginable challenge. Every organization needs a goal: a prize that rewards real stretch. I’m on the Board of Team New Zealand and our greatest imaginable challenge is to win the America’s Cup forever.

2. Have an inspirational dream that moves people and makes them want to belong. Express that dream into a few defining words. “Make magic”, said the Chicago Bulls. Saatchi & Saatchi’s Inspirational Dream is “to be revered as the hot house for world-changing creative ideas.” Cambridge University has earned the right to the phrase “Change the world”.

3. Get focused. Give the dream deadlines. Achieve a result – in the next 100 days. Forget annual plans, five-year forecasts, budgets – the world is shaped in 100-day lumps. One-hundred-day rolling game plans are long enough. Set the priorities and knock ‘em off. Get focused and stay there to follow. The best focus stories are of quantum shifts achieved against the clock. You want a moment of pure ecstatic focus? Take Michael Jordan’s last second goal which won the Bulls’ their last NBA title.

The other principles we distilled are: sharing the dream; creating the future; fostering community, exceeding personal best, to the last detail and game-breaking ideas. Peak Performance transforms the role of people. We have created entirely new ways of looking at the contribution of people to their organisations. There’s a massive amount of interest in Peak Performance around the world.

Everywhere CEO’s are searching for ways to work smarter, to achieve more with less; their biggest under-utilised asset is their people – most of whom are operating at less than 50% of capacity. If you can unleash the power of your people, allow them the power to fail, learn and grow, you convert their efforts at an amazing profitable rate it’ll unleash them. Peak Performance won’t replace management and leadership … it’ll unleash them.

Managers are still the necessary pre-condition to run organisations. They do things right. And leaders will thrive; they do the right things. But leadership is forever haunted by its one essential need – followers. And we weren’t born to follow. You weren’t either. Inspirational Players are the means by which Peak Performance is embraced by everyone. Inspiration awakens, arouses and animates people to action because of its intrinsic appeal, not because it dictates to them.

In this orbit there are several new organisational roles: Instigators. Inspirers, Dream Catchers. Carriers and Coaches. Harmonisers. Passion Perpetuators, Flow Finders and Family Planners. We are redesigning major global companies around these principles.

I don’t have time to tell you more today but, if you are interested in how you can turn your company from an HPO to a PPO, just email me at www.saatchikevin.com

Inspiration is what Peak Performance is about – giving your people the confidence to be the best they can. Inspiration is the confidence to go deep into the territory of the emotions; the confidence to push beyond respect, and become a Lovemark.


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