London Gets Ready for Xi

Xi UK Visit

London is looking decidedly more red that usual at the start of the autumnal season.

President Xi Jinping of China arrives today for the start of a very high profile 4 day State Visit.

The Mall is now intermingled and lined with massive UK and Chinese flags. It is on the route from Horse Guards Parade where he will be officially welcomed and travel the short distance by carriage to Buckingham Palace, where President Xi will be staying for most of his time whilst in the UK.

His trip includes a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace with the Queen as the host.

Apple, Selfridges, Art and Branding

Apple Windows at Selfridges

It was odd.

The windows of the iconic department store Selfridges in London were all covered up with Rolex banners so you could not see in.

Then on Thursday all was revealed.

The covers came off. Not a Rolex in sight.

24 windows with a massive Apple Watch installation.

The theme?

Each window has flowers inspired by the flowers on the “Motion” face of the Apple Watch. Each window features an Apple watch as well.

It’s a tremendous, eye catching piece of art and brand experience.

A fusion of art, retail and brand that we should be seeing more of. And judging by the passers by… head turning and stop in their tracks ‘must take a closer look’… staggeringly impactful.

The “flowers” themselves are created through a number of techniques from 3D printing to more traditional resin casting. There are eight different flower variations decorating the windows, each of which was envisioned, scaled, sculpted, and hand-painted by artists. All in all, they created 24 large, 50 medium, 240 “small plus” and 5,525 small flowers.

The effort and attention to detail is paralleled to the original photography Apple used for the creation of their “Motion” watch face. For those flowers Apple shot them as they were flowering in real time. One flower taking 285 hours and more than 25,000 shots.

See all the windows in this on line flip-book and download the window image montage at the top of this post.

Congratulations to each artist involved. You have my respect.

Advertising? Retailing? Brand Experience? Art? …Discuss…









For The Very First Time

Just launched in Jakarta, Indonesia. For the very first time. The BrandZ Top 50 Most Valuable Indonesian Brands 2015.

In a transformative time for Indonesian development.

Growth, stability and consumer confidence create perfect conditions for brand building. Indonesia is fast becoming the  economic powerhouse of South East Asia and  in the midst of change on a massive scale.

Now is the time to understand the Indonesian brand landscape better.

Take a look at the top 50 countdown video and download the report from

Prepare to be surprised.

RoZie The BrandZ Robot Makes An Appearance in San Francisco

RoZie our BrandZ Robot made an appearance at The Intel Developers Forum in San Francisco today. Here she is doing some last moment limbering up.

She was a massive hit. Thank you David Brebner from Umajin and the team at Spark, Matt White and Rodrigo Solorzano.

Her next  appearance will be in my key note for the “Retailing To The  Customer of One In An Internet of Things Age” event on the 17th  September in London.


It’s Christmas


Even before you have had a chance to whip on your bikini or Vilebrequin swimming trunks, pack the factor 20 and hot foot it to the nearest beach. The sight and sound of Santa can be heard.

I was in New York last week. More on that in another post but on the obligatory walk down Fifth Avenue to see the latest and greatest in retail I spotted Santa. Well not just Santa but an entire Christmas store that had just opened its doors for the season.

I know a first mover advantage with Christmas decorations is a sharp retail strategy that works, but in July!

So I had to go in and take a good look around.




Quite a range as you can see and yes people were actually buying.


Things are looking up for holiday sales in 2015. The outlook is much more favourable than it was this time last year.

With Christmas marketing campaigns signed off by now and many in production, with stock on the high seas on the way to retailers across the globe the holiday season is mostly set. Now it’s all about execution…but do us all a favour please wait till the summer holidays are over!

Now It Gets Interesting


Not content with the established big national and religious holidays being turned into major shopping events retailers over time have invented their own calendar of shopping holidays that no one asked for or really cares about..

Undoubtedly the most successful of these recently has been ‘singles day’. This self-created day has been taken to epic proportions by China’s Jack Ma’s Alibaba.

What began in 1993, as a student led anti-Valentine’s Day at Nanjing University, situated in the capital of Jiangsu province in Eastern China, where single people could buy things for themselves has become a gigantic consumption event.

Alibaba embraced the concept to boost sales it has now become the World’s biggest online retails sales day. It compares with “Cyber Monday” in the US, the Monday after Thanksgiving, which is also marketed as a big online shopping day.

Here are the Alibaba ‘Singles Day’ numbers.

In November 2014, Alibaba rang up record sales of $9.3 billion dollars from “Singles Day” yes that right $9.3 Billion in 24 hours.

Nearly all the 30,000 merchants on the internet retailer’s platform offered discounts the 2014 event attracted the participation of more international brands a well including Japanese label Muji, Spanish clothing retailer Desigual and American outdoor clothing label The North Face.

That 24 hours trading resulted in 278.5 million packages in transit through China. Jack Ma himself appeared to reporters to say the logistics of delivering these packages made him nervous.

To find out more about singles day watch this video


So enter the latest ‘Prime Day’

Slated for today Wednesday July 15.

This time by Amazon. Ostensibly to celebrate Amazon’s 20 year birthday and for the now ubiquitous 24 hour period only.

Billed by Amazon as bigger than Black Friday with deeper discounts and new deals being released every few hours. Its point of difference is that it’s only available for Amazon Prime subscription service members and in only 9 countries.

In normal times that would be that.

But we don’t live in normal times.

We live in a dog eat dog fight in omni channel retail. So enter Walmart to the party. Raining of Amazons parade – or at least trying to.

It is launching 2,000 exclusive roll backs, across categories such as electronics, baby, home and toys and it will last for 90 days. In addition to these Walmart promises some ”atomic deals”


Perhaps a year ago Walmart could have ignored this Amazon move but not today. With its stock having lost some 23% of its value since January 2015, it needs The Street to know that it’s still an Amazon fighting force.

Amazon meanwhile is perusing its own strategy. Whilst it is notoriously fugal with its sales and customer data. It is not too difficult to see the Amazon Prime strategy at work here, on Prime Day.

Signing on more Prime members. According to non Amazon sources 45% of Amazon customers in the US have signed onto Prime. That’s some 40 Million and that’s nice but this is even nicer…

Amazon prime members spend more than double non-members.

Happy Birthday indeed.

The Next Few Days Will Be Crucial


And no I don’t mean Greece and the Euro…

The Shanghai Composite Index has been seeing a lot of Red. Normally in China red is good…But not this type of red.

The Shanghai Composite has lost some 30% of its value since its June 12 peak.

Over the past two weeks of trading more than $3Trillion has been wiped off the value of Chinese companies. Everything in China is big but if you put it into context that is more than the Spanish, Russian, Italian, Swedish and Dutch stock markets combined according to The Financial Times.

Perhaps the most significant element to this is that the policy makes in Beijing have been trying to stop the decline with a number of financial measures, not least buying shares it appears. But, unusually the strong arm of Beijing is having little impact with both direct and indirect intervention.

Bank of America Merill Lynch forecasts the composite to close at the end of December at around 3,600 from the June high of 5,166.

This might not be far off the mark for if this goes on for much longer more investors will face margin calls which will require more liquidation of their holdings…

This is the first time many retail investors in China have felt the pain of the sea of red. Investing in the stock market has been a one-way bet. Now they are experiencing the downside in investing in Companies they really don’t understand and for the first time they don’t like what they see.

Don’t underestimate the Chinese Government determination to bring order back to the market. Thy have thrown a lot at this problem but they still have more left.

Red really is the new black.

Countdown The Top 100

Watch the entire BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2015. Great video production by Tuhin…Thanks  very much.






Interview with Sir Martin Sorrell

As part of the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable  Global Brands 2015 launch activity we interviewed WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell. Here you can see my interview with Martin. As 2015  is the 10th anniversary of the BrandZ global brand rankings we covered a lot of ground… I asked him first to give his perspective of the last 10 years from a global business leaders point of view. You might be surprised by his answer…

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