Drake’s Uncle

I never really had no one like you man this all new, shit,

Made the world I knew bigger, changed the way that I viewed it.

Drake – Look What You’ve Done


We all need someone like Drake’s uncle. Someone who comes with a fresh perspective, expands our existing frame of reference and changes the way we see things. Someone who, as Daniel Kahnman might say, provides the outside view, not the inside view.


We plan ahead based on what we know – the inside view of our lives, of past experiences and our abilities. This, combined with usual human optimism, means we always think forecasted projects will be faster, cheaper and less risky than it is. Big government projects continually come in wildly over budget and over time, as the general public could gloomily predict. Or, on a more local level, your kitchen renovation always costs double what it was meant to.


Kahneman and Tversky recommend instead ‘reference class forecasting’. Instead of relying on what you know – or what you think you know, study the outcomes of other, similar projects and estimate the probability of the most likely outcome of yours.


The outside view shouldn’t just be for the economics of new train lines and Olympic Games. It’s worth us remembering that everything we do is praised and okay’d within a very small circle of similar people. In advertising, we optimistically predict our Youtube advert will be a huge viral success – after all, have we not lavished our talents on it, sweated over it, produced it? Our client loves it. But just one person less close to the project could tell us how boring it really is.


Often in meetings, I have to stop myself saying ‘my brother wouldn’t get this’ or ‘my mum would love this’. And while it’s a mistake to base a whole campaign off one relative’s likes or dislikes, it’s probably worth hearing their views. After all, the target customer is unlikely to be the web-savvy, hyper-connected, bandwagon-leaping advertising exec. Maybe you can’t imagine life without them, but only 16% of the UK’s population are on Twitter and 50% are on Facebook. So it’s time to ask – what are the other half doing? How can they make our world bigger?

A Smooth Choice

ImageA few months ago, Innocent launched a 160ml smoothie.
It’s a good idea. I’ve always found the last couple of mouthfuls are unnecessary. It’s nice to have the choice of a smaller smoothie that’s conveniently under 100 calories. They’re priced closer to £1 than £2, unlike the bigger version, so seem good value as we do the maths in our head. And they’re being sold as part of supermarket meal deals, so there’s a good commercial reason.

Another great reason might have something to do with framing.

After all, all your choices are made in context. You pick a smoothie by considering it alongside other brands of smoothie, other sizes of smoothie and whether you should give up altogether and buy apple juice. Suddenly, adding this 160ml version makes the usual 250ml version look bigger. It makes the child size version look smaller. It provides another choice of sizes from Innocent to deliberate between – you can now compromise if you’re indecisive on a smaller size.

And it adds an anchor for smoothie prices. The 160ml smoothie is £1.09, the 250ml £1.79. Now you feel smoothies should cost between those ranges – Innocent doesn’t seem unusually priced. It’s not surprising Sainsbury’s own brand smoothies are £1.25, a bit cheaper than the premium Innocent brand, but more expensive than a Coke – they’re pricing within their category.

If only I could find a way to persuade all of London’s coffee shops to stop charging upwards of £2.50 for a latte, just because Starbucks does.