Applications for The EMEA 2025 Fellowship Program are open  – APPLY NOW

Nominations for The UK 2025 Scholarship Program are now open  – NOMINATE NOW

Ross says goodbye to some inspiration


Been a bit of an odd week this week, but in the theme of the Marketing Academy, full of learning.  This week saw the departure from Cadbury of Phil Rumbol, someone who has probably inspired me more than anyone else in marketing.  If you’re not familiar with him, here’s a few examples of his work (one of which I was involved with):




So it’s been a bit of an “end of era” week for me.  It’s not like Phil’s disappearing, he’ll still be around to speak to, but my days of stalking him to get him to approve my brief/script/treatment/ad are numbered.  However, rather than getting all down about that, I thought I’d share three of my favourite bits of Rumbol-advice on advertising that he’s given the Cadbury team over the years:

The Role of Brands and Emotional Advertising
In an era of information overload, where consumers are bombarded with over 3,000 commercial messages a day and there are over 30,000 choices in any supermarket, the most important role brands play is in helping consumers to not have to think.  And so if brands are helping consumers to not think, talking to them in a way that demands they rationally process information is likely to be ineffective (and I can produce several studies that back this up).  Accordingly, great advertising stirs emotions – laughter, warmth, awe, exhilaration, admiration, pride – in a way that’s relevant to the brand.

You get the Advertising you deserve
Great advertising isn’t produced by the client posting a brief like an exam paper and walking away – it’s about teamwork between the client/agency, and as much about investment in people as it is investment in work.  As a client, you need to invest time in building a rapport, respect and understanding such that you have a shared ambition and either party will ‘call it’ when you’re not hitting the mark.  Along the theme of “personal responsibility” that underpins what we’ve learnt on the Marketing Academy,  what comes out at the end of the process is everyone who inputted’s responsibility.

Listen to the song before you read the lyrics
When you’re hearing/seeing new creative work, make sure you recognise how it makes you feel before you start applying logic to understand what it makes you think.  The feeling you get should be similar to what you want your brand to evoke – and you need to make it easier for those around you to give a gut/instinctive reaction.  If you as a consumer respond on this level, you can then go on and work out whether what the ad is saying is right.  But the analogy is important – no-one bothers to read the lyrics of a song they don’t have an emotional reaction towards, so applying a logical lens first in creative development is like writing a song without a melody.

Now, if Phil was planning on making a pretty penny in a public speaking sideline I’ve probably just ruined that by giving away his secrets, but fingers crossed he won’t mind me sharing.  If he does, you probably want to note down the above before I’m sued and the blog is taken down…

Thank you Phil for four incredible years at Cadbury – and to finish, here’s an ad I know is one of his favourites.  What do you think?




One thought on “Ross says goodbye to some inspiration

  1. Loved the last element of Phil’s sage advice Ross. I’m a real fan of strategic thinking when it comes to brands but as a result I’m increasingly scared of losing sight of what it feels to be Joe Public. It’s so easy for us on the ‘inside’ to completely overthink it. Do people really take notice that logo in a photo? Do they really read that italic footnote at the end of an interview? PR is a trickier area to work in emotive responses, but generally I completely agree on the need to go with the gut – I feel that passion branding is the lifeblood of strong marketing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Scholarship – a 9 month, free, part time program for 30 of the UK’s fastest rising stars in Marketing, Advertising, Media and Communications.

The Fellowship – Equips CMOs and Marketing Directors with the tools, knowledge and insight to make the move onto Boards and into General Management / MD / CEO roles.

12 month full paid Marketing Apprenticeship for young adults who because of challenging backgrounds, lack qualifications or poor life choices are normally overlooked for this kind of work experience