Sutherland: Unite for common good

Outgoing IPA president Rory Sutherland has called on the industry to drop its robust independence and pool resources for the common cause.
He cites Defra’s recent decision to revamp the fishing policy, by harnessing the influence of leading chefs and large retailers in order to boost sales of the many kinds of fish (pollock, coley, pouting or hake) that stock the waters around Britain, but which are currently discarded.
He said: “There would be far more good ideas like Defra’s if only organisations – in particular Government organisations – could acknowledge that a large part of economic value is subjective, rather than material.
“By using psychology in this way, the British Government is at long last rediscovering an old and vital role for any intelligent ruler: that of setting fashions and establishing norms.”
Enlightened Monarchs were, in many ways, the marketing directors of their nations, wielding influence – rather than just power – to seed and accelerate the adoption of new foods, technologies and behaviours, he said. A large part of what is now considered fashionable (from the town of Brighton, to tartan, to inoculation against smallpox) owes its origins to royal marketing.
“It is through this realisation that people will learn that the act of encouraging someone to attach extra value to a thing (or a fish) is a form of value creation no less valid than making something new. (If you gave me absolute power for a day, I would make it compulsory for shoe repairers to polish beautifully and bag the shoes which they repair; this would help people – or men, at any rate – to discover that a newly repaired pair of shoes can be a greater source of pleasure than a new pair.)
“And if we want organisations to learn to think this way then, somehow, agencies need to learn, temporarily, to drop some of that gloriously robust indpendence, to conceive and promote, more thinking of this kind. Individually, as businesses, we are all too small to make this happen. Collectively we can.”
Sutherland stands down as IPA president next month after two years.

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