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Earlier this year, a cereal brand faked a whole set of endorsements and got away with it. The reason? They explicitly stated so, right beneath the pretend endorsement. UK cereal brand Surreal’s campaign featured a whole series of ads which all read along the lines of:
“Serena Williams* eats our cereal.
*She is a student from London and we paid her to eat it but the point still stands.”
Each statement came with an asterisk, leading the eye to the ‘fine print’ beneath the endorsement which acknowledged that it wasn’t actually the celebrity who gave the endorsement, but a random individual with the same name that they had paid for the glowing report.  The campaign went viral across social media, with the public appreciating the ironic humour and sarcastic self-deprecation.
While the dust has largely settled from the pandemic, the reworking of work that it set in motion is still going strong as companies and employees attempt to navigate their different needs and interests. Across the board, workers’ levels of stress and disengagement are at a high, as many are facing economic pressures, workplace tensions and unsatisfying team culture. For leaders, the need for intentional engagement with teams is pressing, and for workers the stakes are high.
The Return to Offices Revealing ‘The Great Mismatch’
Google’s recent update to its hybrid work policy has sparked backlash among workers and the public as it announced that in-person office attendance will be factored into performance reviews. Frustrated employees feel that the new policy represents an overly rigid approach to physical attendance by management.
We all know the importance of a ‘why’. For individuals and organisations alike, clarifying purpose is essential as a way of orienting goals and strategies, unifying teams and incentivising action. Many organizations have attempted to answer the ‘Why do we exist?’ question by crafting vision or mission statements, but these are all-too-often a concoction of policies, practices, strategic aims and goals. True driving purpose, however, is more fundamental, long-term and even philosophical than these things.
Years ago, I released a book named Memento that took me way out of my comfort zone. Unlike my previous nonfiction business books, Memento was for a completely new market and required an entirely different approach. It was a giftbook journal featuring a series of questions designed to prompt parents to write down their life stories as a keepsake for their children. Ten months after signing a big publishing deal with Chronicle Books in San Francisco, my family and I packed up and headed to the U.S. for a PR tour leading up to the book’s release.
While the media flurry took the predictable form of radio and print interviews, one appearance that popped into my PR calendar intrigued me. It was to record an infomercial on the Home Shopping Network. When the day of filming arrived, I caught a plane to Fort Lauderdale in Florida. At the airport, I was met by a driver who whisked me straight to the studios for hair and makeup. Little did I know how fascinating the experience would be.
Across the board, organisations are changing. Post-pandemic workplace practices, changing tech trends and generational shifts are impacting the way organisations must run and respond to the world. Local governments are not exempt from the trends dominating the workplace and the world at large, which represent a whole new set of opportunities, or threats, for those paying attention.
Here are 5 trends local governments need to watch.
The fashion industry’s history of highly homogenised models has been an object of wide criticism for years now. Companies have made clear efforts to diversify the identities and appearances of the models representing their brands in order to more inclusive of the wider population.
Recent integration of AI within some of the world’s big fashion brands is seeing the diversification of models and the representation of customers become a much more viable reality. In partnership with AI company Lalaland.ai, Levi Strauss & Co is trialling a new approach to modelling their denim, using AI fashion models in place of humans.
Retrospect makes fools of many of history’s giants, consistently proving true the proverb, “Pride comes before a fall.” From enemies to empires, individuals to organisations, it’s the players who grow too comfortable at the top who suffer the hardest fall.
When I’m working with clients, I strongly encourage them to keep a watchful eye on the forces of disruption that they may be least expecting or least concerned about. Unconventional competition is constantly the catalyst for the downfall of the big players, not least because it is often dismissed, underestimated or simply undetected until it’s almost too late. Of all the many forces of disruption organisations are vulnerable to in the modern world, unconventional competition might be the hardest to monitor and respond to.
A couple of years ago, I caught a typo in the Wall Street Journal. It was in one of the regular email newsletters that I had signed up for, called The Future of Everything. Written by staff at the WSJ, the newsletter always has a warm and conversational tone while keeping the polish and elegance of a publication of such prestige.