• Hi there,

    Whisper it… but it feels like spring is in the air. And how welcome that is as we finally return to a more open society and publish this, our third Gluesletter.

    Our lead article, courtesy of Electric Glue co-founder Kevin Brown, explores the issue of digital media accountability and specifically what is allowed and what is enforced by Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta.

    Inspired by the stance of our client Starling Bank, we think it speaks to every brand we help navigate the world of big tech and the companies ending decades of business with Russia following Putin's invasion of Ukraine. As our chairman Sir John Hegarty says, “Principles remain, processes change.”

    It also reflects how we are guided by our ‘Sacrifice’ philosophy in media: doing ‘fewer, bigger, better' things.

    We hope you find it useful and, as always, we thank all our clients and supporters for inspiring us.



  • Facebook, Starling Bank, and a word about morals in media

    In January Starling announced that it had pulled its budgets from Facebook and Instagram and would not review this decision until the platform’s parent company, Meta, cracked down on the scammers who target consumers. Many others share this view, including Which?, UK Finance and MoneySavingExpert’s Martin Lewis who tweeted his support: “We need more advertisers to realise publishers allowing scam ads decreases trust and tarnishes their brand association”. And the really striking thing is that Starling’s boycott has not impacted its marketing performance or growth.

    Electric Glue co-founder Kevin Brown explains

  • Actions speak louder than words


    I’ve been lucky, in my life and in my career, to be surrounded by amazing people. The very best were not just brilliant at their job but went about it with absolute integrity. Not just trying to do it well but also doing it right. They believed that “Truth is the best business strategy you can employ” – a slogan that is writ large on our walls at Electric Glue.

    I’ve been a media planner and strategist for nearly 40 years – and I can vouch for the fact that this is a world that never stands still. Not for a second.

    The biggest change that has occurred across those years is not digitisation but globalisation. It has fundamentally changed our business structure, the context and process of developing communications – and it has led to the emergence of a media landscape dominated by the FAANG phenomenon. (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google; the five-letter acronym is not quite so neat following Facebook’s rebrand as Meta and Google’s parent company rebadging as Alphabet… but market analysts still use it so we will too).




  • Words speak louder and create actions


    From a media planning perspective, the FAANG five have done a brilliant job at positioning themselves as “performance marketing” experts, fuelled by data, technology, algorithms and ROI tools. In many ways, this positioning has effectively repositioned everyone else, by implication, as heritage tools, less good at performance.


    But the truth is that all media and all marketing delivers “performance,” just in different ways and to different effects. And the reality is that media and marketing must continue to embrace both performance and brand building goals.

    The value of brand building as the ultimate driver of long-term business success is well documented, although I fear not well understood. I’d argue that more people should spend more time in particular with the work of advertising effectiveness guru Les Binet, someone whose views are backed up by years of experience and rigorous analysis.

    I absolutely agree with his conclusion, for instance, that advertising works at its best when it “creates positive feelings and associations via broad reach ads that people find interesting and enjoyable [in conjunction with] targeted activation that they find relevant and useful.”

    It’s a simple, yet compelling, summary of the marketing funnel.

    But we sometimes lose sight of this, thanks to the widespread debate there’s been, in this revolutionary era, about the very “definition of media.”

    Operators in the social space in particular have denied they’re comparable to traditional media companies, preferring the term “platforms” in order that they might escape regulatory pressure.

    Yet they are however happy to be judged comparable when it comes to the share of advertising revenue. In 2020 Facebook Group total revenue was $86billion and 97% of that was advertising.

    These “media platforms” – an open marketplace of people as both creators and audience – have also been celebrated for opening up new possibilities for democracy and free speech. The reality has not always lived up to expectations and we are well aware of the downside of this (unregulated) utopia – fake news, political coarseness, fraud, bullying, poor mental health, teenage suicide to name a few.

    And we also know from whistleblowers that, whilst senior executives at the companies in question are aware of these problems, they rarely move quickly to deliver solutions, preferring instead to prioritise their pursuit of profit and power.

    What price media accountability when there’s so much apparent societal unaccountability?



    Words and actions speak the truth


    We are very lucky at Electric Glue to work with amazing clients and brands.

    In some sectors of the marketplace, media is sometimes regarded as a commodity – and this pushes media planning towards the lowest common denominator of all – the pursuit of the cheapest price and an obsession with CPTs as a measure of efficiency.

    Enlightened marketers, however, know that this is an unprofitable mindset. Efficiency is no measure of effectiveness.

    One such forward-thinking client is Starling Bank, whose CEO and founder, Anne Boden, recently pulled all paid advertising from Facebook and Instagram owing to concerns over financial scams. In a statement she explained: “It cannot be right that these platforms profit from crime and yet remain beyond the reach of law.”

    Starling Bank is committed to listening to its customers and meeting their needs under the mantra “Changing Banking for Good” – so the lead it has taken in its media behaviour demonstrates a profound commitment to its values. As Anne Boden puts it: “We want to protect our customers and our brand integrity.”

    It's simply a case of moral accountability taking precedence over commercial opportunity. It reminds me of DDB founder Bill Bernbach and the stance he took against tobacco advertising in the early 1960s. He said: “a principle isn’t a principle until it costs you money”.

    But in 2022, this equation is more complex than you might think – a growing number of brands are discovering that they see better returns when they review their “performance drug focused on demand fulfilment” strategies and focus more on creating brand desire. And I think that raises an interesting question. If there is one thing we can all agree on it is that media proliferation and consumer choice have exploded beyond almost everyone’s comprehension. To take just one example, this chart shows the growth in hours of original content delivered by the streaming platforms.



  • As media planners we are navigating this world of infinite choice – and some clients have found the sheer market complexity daunting. It may have helped push them towards an over-reliance on the simple one-stop-shop options offered by some digital platforms.

    But this is where we at Electric Glue are ideally placed to help. Rather than being bewildered by the avalanche of possibilities, clients are able to use our media evaluation tools to support media owners who place reputational issues at the top of the agenda.

    Our view is that media planning should always look at the bigger picture – and no advertiser, no matter how big, needs to work with every media owner. After all, one of the realities of the digital age is that media owners are no longer defined by a single channel but are “multi-channel ecosystems” which in themselves have the scale for broad reach and the capabilities for targeted activation.

    At Electric Glue we talk about the power of Sacrifice – encouraging clients to do fewer, bigger and better things. And by better, we mean advising clients to invest their media budgets with accountable and responsible media partners.

    So: words, actions, speaking the truth. How hard can it be?

    A quote I like neatly sums this up: “If someone says it’s raining and another says it’s dry, it’s not your job to quote them both. Your job is to look out the window and find out which one is true.”

  • Our latest news


    Campaign magazine featured Charlie Bigham’s food and lifestyle content

     partnership deal with the Guardian. Negotiated by Electric Glue, it highlights the brand’s

     commitment to quality ingredients and sustainability


  • Mediatel asked us to discuss the four-day working week (1) ...

     and the Advertising Association/Warc Expenditure Report (2)

    Article 1

    Article 2

  • We planned and executed Starling’s new campaign during premiership football on Sky and must-see movies and drama across Channel 4 and Sky, including BVOD

  • Pippa has been nominated as a ‘diversity and inclusion trailblazer’ for the IPA iList 2022. She also contributed to Thinkbox’s report on what the industry watched in 2021, planning an unforgettable dinner party with her favourite TV stars: Villanelle (Killing Eve) and Roman Roy (Succession)

  • Since 2012, we have supported the charity Dallaglio RugbyWorks. Through the power of sport this incredible organisation has helped hundreds of disadvantaged young people towards more positive and productive futures. The Cycle Slam is a vital part of RugbyWorks' fundraising and this year the 10-day Slam covers over 1,150km from Spain to Portugal.

    Kevin has participated in the Slam since 2012 and has, so far, cycled 8,900km and his target is 10,000km. Please support this achievement by donating here - every penny counts.

  • Views worth gluing into

    Not a definitive ‘best of’ list, simply a few recent articles and ideas our team have enjoyed.

  • Charles Vallance, founder of VCCP, sometime colleague of Kevin Brown, is brilliant at simplifying the complex. His recent piece in Campaign demonstrates the power of emotion in creating effective communication. Media planners should liberate the creative idea, balancing the emotional (ESP) with the rational (RTB).

  • This long read, nominated by Nick Kendall, is an interesting hymn to the potential of the metaverse. If it’s accurate, the world of gaming is going to drive many things beyond just gaming.

  • As a useful antidote to tech codswallop, we like this essay in

     Noema magazine on the myth of tech exceptionalism:




    One of the most technically informed writers on the current crypto bubble

     has an amusing ‘full disclosure’ page on her excellent blog:




    Want to unplug from your digital life? Lego now makes an old-fashioned typewriter.




    Thank you for reading and as always, we hope that Gluesletter 03 was worthy of your time.

    Do please let us know what you think.

    Gluesletter 04 will be out in May.

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