BITE Focus

The BITE Big Read

We asked some of the leading minds in our industry what they are reading this summer when their smartphones are firmly in their pockets and their out of offices firmly on.

Nicola Kemp

Managing Editor, BITE

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In our always on, digitally driven marketing ecosystem, giving yourself the time and permission to read a book can in itself feel like a radical political act. Yet curiosity is the life-blood of creativity and taking the time to discover something new or something that challenges your thinking is increasingly vital for success. With this in mind we have asked some of the leading minds in our industry what they are reading this summer when their smartphones are firmly in their pockets and their out of offices firmly on.

The Power

Naomi Alderman

Hannah Johnson

Hannah Johnson, Blue State.jpg

Managing Director

Blue State

I often get the impression that we’re making ‘fake progress’ when it comes to female rights. When we think about recent headlines, #metoo, the ever-widening pay gap, just seven women holding CEO roles in FTSE 100, it feels we have a way to go until women are offered the same privilege as men.

Enter Alderman’s The Power, a novel with a touch of sci-fi that inverts the status quo to propel us into a world where women have more power than men, to devastating effect. Echoing two current talking points in the industry.

Using power for good. The effects of power are explored through the characters, two young girls using it for reinvention and discovery, a young male striving for equality and a political leader. The book acts as a cataclysm for these journeys showing how power can quickly be exploited to the detriment of others and society. Yet, if an individual has a sense of the weight of their actions and is thoughtful and responsible, good outcomes can prosper. This speaks to leadership, as we revisit the right qualities that people in these  positions should uphold, moving away from dictation to empathy and from top-down to modern pod leadership proven successful by businesses like Monzo and Netflix.

Desire for diverse leadership. The Power concludes that balance is where stability comes from and whilst our industry seems ahead of some, only 11% of Creative Directors are women. This isn’t just a gender issue either but a need to ensure an accurate representation of society with the right breadth of age and ethnicity. And look out for the historical illustrations between parts, which offer a fascinating dip into female representation across centuries.

The Transformational Consumer

Tara Nicholle-Nelson

Danny Blackburn

Danny-Blackburn, Reprise.jpg

Content Director

Stickyeyes

I’m not really one for gurus. But if I were to have a guru in marketing it would be Tara-Nicholle Nelson, author of The Transformational Consumer, which is without doubt the best book on the topic I’ve ever read.

I first became aware of Nelson as the marketer behind calorie tracking app MyFitnessPal, which was eventually acquired by sports apparel brand Under Armour for a jaw-dropping $475 million in 2015. That was in no small part thanks to her success in building the app’s user base to over 100 million people.

And, as she explains in her brilliant book, she did it by “spotting patterns in what people wanted in their lives, and their obstacles” and then creating content which helps people achieve those things and get over those obstacles.

Packed full of stories and case studies, Nelson’s brilliant book explains in great clarity the needs and wants of modern ‘Transformational Consumers’, people who see life as a “never-ending series of projects to live healthier, wealthier, wiser lives”.

At a point in time where marketers, quite rightly, get turned on to the massive power of data to understand how people transact with brands, The Transformational Consumer is a timely reminder of the meaning behind that data and the humanity behind those transactions. Marketing is and always will be about understanding people and what they want and need.

And as well as offering some genuinely practical and actionable advice, Nelson also inspires the reader with the story of her incredible personal journey from teen pregnancy to the top of the marketing ladder. It’s brilliantly human stuff.

Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

Caroline Criado Perez

Philippa Dunjay

Pip Dunjay, ACNE.jpg

Senior Strategist

ACNE

I made time this summer to read Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez. In a world increasingly run by hidden AI that base their decisions off proprietary ‘black boxes’ of data, it’s important that we acknowledge that data is not neutral. It is as biased as its collectors who, often unintentionally, end up passing on their own preconceptions, including those around gender. From the car crash dummies designed around the ‘average man’ to publicising the (male) symptoms for a heart attack, Perez shows how accepting the default human as ‘male’ has real and deadly consequences for women.

As a strategist, I’m always looking for a fresh perspective or a surprising insight drawn from data that unlocks a more interesting and effective way of going forwards. This book is packed with examples of where correcting for gender biased data has created better results for everyone. For instance, when a small Swedish town was mandated to check for gender bias in every action, they discovered even the way they snow-ploughed prioritised male drivers over female pedestrians, more often on foot, or pushing prams. Reasoning it’s easier to drive over snow than walk through it, they began clearing the pavements first, reducing the number of pedestrian injuries, and saving the town money.

As creatives, we should question where our own set of assumptions come from and continue to challenge our work to reach and include every type of person.

An Unsung Hero: Tom Crean – Antarctic Survivor

Tom Crean

Adam Reynolds

Adam Reynolds, Intermarketing.jpg

Senior Copywriter

Intermarketing

One of the joys of my job is that I get to know a little about a lot of things. But sometimes I like to get a little deeper. My current obsession is the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. Falling down this rabbit hole started with what’s possibly the best recruitment ad ever written, and an even better use of the pratfall effect than Marmite. It reads: Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honour and recognition in case of success. A briskness of language that would no doubt delight Hemmingway.

But step off the well-worn paths of Scott and Shackleton, who wrote that ad, and you’ll discover the lesser-known men of those pioneering expeditions. Men like Tom Crean. His story is told in the book I’m recommending, An Unsung Hero: Tom Crean – Antarctic Survivor. Born into an ordinary farming family in Ireland, he went on to live a truly extraordinary life. And if curiosity is the lifeblood of creativity, then Tom Crean is the patron saint of curiosity. Driven by an insatiable desire to go where no one had been and see what hadn’t been seen. Which seems a valuable lesson to me. I’ll take freewheeling possibilities over sea-of-same conformity any day. So, put down those best practice guidelines and pick up a book that might just unhinge your thinking.

Business for Punks

James Watt

Andrew Pittendreigh

Andrew Pittendreigh, Hatched.jpg

Co-Founder & Managing Director

Hatched

'We reject the status quo,' a statement made by every 'challenger' brand at some point within their lifespan. But how many brands can actually live and die by this? One brand that can and does is Brewdog. Whilst in one of many favourite London shops, Foles on Charing Cross Road, I stumbled across Business for Punks by James Watt, the Chief Executive of Brewdog. This unorthodox, beautifully produced business book, about beer, was definitely going to accompany me on a holiday to a Greek island.

One-size-fits-all formulas, strategies and processes within business are consistently talked about and discussed at length. This book was the first to open my eyes to a different way of running a business. Unconventional ways to financing and marketing, along with a strong passion for what the Brewdog duet believed in. Explained, in this somewhat eccentric read, their journey in creating Brewdog, in my view, led them to becoming one of the top challenger brands, that truly live and die by their purpose and values. So why is this important? Well, in 2017 Brewdog sold a 22% stake in the company for a whopping £213 million and they are constantly pushing their brand and advertising in a very Brewdog way.

Business for Punks is a book I consistently return to when advising brands and clients that it's okay to step outside the norm, to get out of the comfort zone and to make sure purpose is ingrained in everything they do. 

The Trust Manifesto – What You Need to Create a Better Internet

Damien Bradfield

Ricky Wallace

Ricky Wallace, Zone.JPG

Marketing Manager

Zone

If, like me, you recently downloaded FaceApp to see whether you would scrub up well in your old age, you probably didn’t think to check the small print. As the media later warned us, by downloading and using the app we were giving our permission to its creators to access our photos and use them however they wish in the future. Was this just scaremongering? Do we need to wake up to how companies store, use, sell and manipulate our data? Do we really need to care?

We are producing data every single day. From updating our social media profiles to listening to our favourite playlist, we often don’t realise the extent of which we are sharing our unique digital footprint from the moment we unlock our phones or switch on our laptop.

This October, Zone partners with Penguin Business and Campaign for the second in their Book Club series which sees WeTransfer’s co-founder and president, Damian Bradfield, discuss his new book, The Trust Manifesto – What You Need to Create a Better Internet.

Questioning how our information passes between the hands of tech giants and ruthless data miners, Damian discusses how big data has drastically changed our social economy, online and offline. With striking analogies, industry insights and interviews with Jimmy Wales, Stephen Fry, Gary Kasparov and Martha Lane Fox, The Trust Manifesto demystifies the dangers of data misuse and challenges web users, tech founders and business leaders to realise a more honest internet.

Sign up for your free place to debate if we need to rethink our trust in the internet, and bag yourself a complimentary copy of the book.

DEEP WORK

Cal Newport

James Whatley

James Whatley, Digitas.jpg

Strategy Partner

Digitas

On a recent trip to Italy, I (re-)picked up the excellent DEEP WORK by Cal Newport. I had previously attempted to read it earlier on in the year but was ultimately too distracted by pitches, parenting, and PlayStation (possibly in that order, possibly not) to get really under the skin of it. I am glad I went back for round two.

Initially purchased on the indirect recommendation of my pitch strat team leader, who himself wrote an excellent write up of the theory of DEEP WORK after reading, a summary that equally covers the main points but leaves enough out to pique the curiosity of your average planner brain, it is an excellent read.

If you can get past Newport’s rigid dedication to the ‘tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em, tell ‘em, then tell ‘em what you’ve told ‘em’’ school of writing, the book does a great job of not only expanding on the reasons why DEEP WORK is a core fundamental to being successful in work and in life but also explains the methodologies, of which there are a few, of how to actually get there. This last part is what I’ve found to be most valuable. Reading is one thing, switching off another. Understanding exactly how to reach the plane of DEEP WORK? That’s where the meat is. Go get. 

Caroline Criado Perez will be speaking at BITE LIVE 2019 to lift the lid on the impact of data bias across the creative industries.

Tickets now on sale

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