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  • Game Change

    When researchers first began to explore how people could become so utterly immersed in virtualworld computer games, they were mystified. How is it that people put more effort into these games than they put into their day jobs and personal relationships? Why, when they’re playing, are they content to work so hard for so long without pay?

    Were these gamers, having misspent their youth in darkened rooms, now just wired differently? Were we seeing the evolution of a Millennial step-change in human psychology?

    The insights emerging from this research have profound implications, not just for the world of work, but for aspects of a nascent “engagement economy.”

    And notions of “gamification” – the implementation of highly engaging game mechanics, loyalty programmes and behavioural economics, to drive user engagement – lie at the very heart of the matter.

    As we build a new digital economy, it’s almost inevitable that we’ll all have more leisure time – and “gamified” platforms will help us use that time beneficially.

    Game Change explores some of the truly revolutionary initiatives we’ve seen in this field. It unpicks the compelling mechanisms in play and offers insights on putting theory into practice.

    So, game on.

  • PHD to Gamify the way it works

    PHD is set to gamify the way it works with the launch of a new global operating system that will encourage participation and collaboration across its network.  

    The system, called Source, has been constructed using game mechanics - with the objective of fostering high-levels of collaboration.  The system functions as a strategy framework and, at the same time, a live-collaboration engine that allows for everyone within PHD to work together in real-time, effectively functioning as what’s known as an MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) game. The thousands of people within PHD will be able to see how they are performing on a real-time global leader-board. 
    Mark Holden, worldwide strategy and planning director of PHD said, “Source has been in development for close to two years. It is our attempt to allow everyone within PHD to be able to tap into the PHD mind.  We have so many brilliant thinkers across the world, now they can innovate across many other briefs and be celebrated for this.  By 1st of January 2013, anyone that joins PHD is also joining an MMO - a 'massively multiplayer online game'.”
    Mike Cooper, worldwide CEO of PHD said, “Implementing a gamified system is of huge benefit to our clients, with the best thinking rising to the top.  It also fosters strategic planning and promotes the function by implementing it into daily activity”.
    The system, which has been developed over the last two years, has been built based on cutting edge marketing theory drawn from three key areas:
    1. The latest insights that have emerged from the social sciences – particularly the recent studies into Behavioural Economics and, with this, Choice Architecture.
    2. The most commercially applicable insights that have emerged from cognitive neuroscience – particularly studies into Neuromarketing and insights from PHD’s own fMRI research
    3. The paradigm-shifting learnings that have emerged from marketing meta-analysis – particularly the insights uncovered by The Ehrenberg Bass Institute.
    “This intelligence has enabled PHD to create a strategy and idea generation system that will foster incredibly powerful thinking” says Holden. 

  • What's your challenger type?

    PHD and eatbigfish have launched their latest book 'Overthrow: 10 ways to tell a challenger story' which defines 10 different types of challenger brands and the approaches they represent. It identifies shining examples of companies that fit into each of these challenger types, with interviews from each, and examines the media implications facing each type of challenger.

    To find out more about what challenger type you are or for further information on the book please visit

  • Overthrow: 10 ways to tell a challenger story (published in 2012)

    Anyone interested in challengers is interested in compression: how do you make a story utterly compelling in a very short space of time? And one of the reasons that the concept of the ‘challenger brand’ has caught on, you might argue, is that it itself does just that: within just two words you surely have all the ingredients of an engaging story – conflict, a protagonist and an adversary, an anticipation of a future event whose outcome is uncertain, the new order looking to overthrow the establishment. It’s all there. 

    Except that it isn’t. Not really. Because for all that people talk about challenger brands more than they ever did, all too often it is a clich├ęd and superficial view that persists in what that challenger narrative actually is: either ‘little brand explicitly calling out big brand’ (think Avis or Ryanair) or ‘turn every category rule on its head’ (think the young Red Bull or Grameen Bank).
    But if we look at a new generation of challengers from the last ten years, do they really all fall into one of those two different approaches? Al Jazeera, for example, or Airbnb. Audi, kulula, Zappos, and One Laptop Per Child – there’s a range of challenger narratives out there, each being powerfully told. But they’re not as simplistic as ‘David vs Goliath’.
    It’s time to learn from this new challenger generation, and put on the table a more evolved model of what it means to be a challenger. So what if we were to group all the different challengers from the last ten years into the ten most common challenger approaches they represent? What if we were to identify for each of them what, not whom, they were challenging, and how they were doing it? What if we interviewed ten shining examples to get an insight on what it really meant to live in that narrative? What if we could unpack the media implications for each?

    Good idea, we thought. Let's do it. 

    This book is available to buy on Amazon

  • 2016: Beyond the Horizon (published in 2011)

    "PHD details how a social approach to technology will drastically alter institutions from
    government to gaming, from media to marketing," says Facebook’s David Fischer

    Over the last five years we have seen the most dramatic changes to the world of communications, which has led to changes to the very fabric of society.

    Right now, one in every two people within the developed world is connected-up through social networks, with an increasing amount accessing via the mobile. This is resulting in a quickening in the speed at which information, and therefore influence, is moving.

    And with this, it is changing the actual physics of how marketing works. And this rate of change is accelerating. The biggest driver of this accelerating change is technology, which in turn is driven by us.

    This book explores what is actually driving us and therefore what is driving technological development.
    This paradigm is then used to predict what sort of technological developments we should expect to see in the next five years across the three areas of infrastructure, interface and internet.

    The book explores the likely developments within areas such as connected TVs, markerless augmented reality, enhanced voice-recognition, Natural User Interface (NUI) and NFC (Near Field Communication).

    From this the book paints a picture of society and the marketing and advertising industry in 2016.
    The book is available to buy from Amazon with all proceeds going to Unicef.