Magic Dance

April 16, 2009

Presentation Summary

In this presentation to students at the American University in Dubai, Kevin Roberts talks about the role of business and creativity in this new Age of Ideas. Dubai is at the crossroads of culture, creativity and commerce so it has the perfect opportunity to get to the future first – Roberts gives the students five shortcuts.


The world is in for a rough ride. Even Dubai-Mumbai-Shanghai is braking. The old model is out. A new inclusive model is in – and it’s you.

The new model:

  • Is competitive, passionate and restless.
  • Surfs on a wave of radical optimism, at the crossroads of culture, commerce and creativity, aka, Dubai.
  • Understands that the role of business is to make the world a place for everyone.


  • Plans, connects, and dreams the global flow of goods, ideas and experiences….
  • Creates jobs, choices, and self-esteem.
  • Unleashes innovation. Wheel to Wiki, the purpose of innovation is to improve lives.

You are the launch pad of the future. Big responsibility, huge privilege, limitless excitement!

I’m not going to talk advertising. I signed up in 1997 when the company’s Dream was faxed to me. My first act was to exit Saatchi & Saatchi from the industry…

Whether you’re becoming a metrics monster or a conjuring wizard, the art of the idea is now the only discriminator. Creativity is King, and we live in the Age of the Idea, especially with money evaporating…

Everything else is a distraction, because power has left the brands of my Casablanca days and surged into consumers. The Consumer is Boss.

As the physics of the financial markets implode, she is taking control of Value for herself. She knows price is what companies put on the tag; and value is what she feels she gets out the experience.

Consumers are:

  • More thoughtful, evaluating old habits
  • More open, experimenting with the new
  • More flexible, in a land of and / and: health and indulgence, familiarity and novelty, time and money, shopping more and spending less
  • More connected, flocking virally to find value.

In a climate of chaos, all bets are off. Your brief is to get to the future first. I’m going to share 5 shortcuts… starting with…


Fear strangles ideas. Take Risks, be spontaneously reckless, the missing magic in advertising here!! Position yourselves at the extreme end of the creative range.

The idea with the most attitude, personality, authenticity and truth, wins. People who buy the current act don’t make it into history books.

Ideas can come from everyone and anywhere. They drive for ultimate solutions and Zero Compromise, balancing complex opposites for higher order value.

Think paradoxical and near unattainable goals. By imagining a car that cleans the environment, Prius was born. Toyota:

  • Moves slowly and takes great leaps (Kaizen),
  • Pulls back and pushes forward (marketing),
  • Delivers rational and priceless value (emotion).

Don’t back off an idea because it’s tough to test and tougher to measure. If the odds are calculable, the tension loose, anyone can do it. If not, only you can.

The best ideas come from consumers. If you want to understand how a lion hunts, don’t go to the zoo… go to the jungle. Xploring for insight to get to creative foresight. I learnt this lost in the souks…

Your job will be: To understand consumers better than anyone – and to act fast.


Creativity is “just connecting things” as Steve Jobs says – with emotion poured in.

Creative performance happens when Emotion rules, when emotion gets tough, when emotion pushes the boundaries beyond.

People are 80% emotional and 20% rational. Reason leads to conclusions. Emotion leads to action.

Neuroscience proves this. John Bargh, NYU psychologist, says that everything is evaluated as good or bad within a quarter of a second.

The digital revolution is transforming marketing, entertainment, communications. The value is in the emotional touch, not the technology that enables.

We call the convergence of tech and touch SISOMO, Sight, Sound and Motion on screen. It captures the amazing possibilities of the Screen Age.

SISOMO is you as creative connector, delivering the fastest, most exciting way to get emotional power.

Without burning emotion, no one created anything worthwhile. No job is worth it without 4 things to love: Responsibility, Learning, Recognition, Joy…..

Your job will be: to connect ideas, emotion and technologies with deep consumer desire.


Brands were designed to achieve premium sales, margins and preference, but they’re out of juice.

  • Brands are built on Respect. Lovemarks are created out of Love and Respect.
  • Brands are owned by management and stockholders. Lovemarks are owned by the people who love them.
  • Brands build Loyalty for a Reason. Lovemarks inspire Loyalty Beyond Reason.
  • Great Brands are Irreplaceable. Lovemarks are Irresistible.

The Love / Respect Axis maps every value zone:

Love Respect Axis Lovemarks


  • Low Respect. Low Love. Commodities without differentiation. US Airlines, US banks!
  • High Love. Low Respect. The creative zone of “NEW” and “NOW.” Most fads flare and die, Croc shoes are a recent casualty. Some fads endure. Mobile texting broke through to Lovemarks.
  • High Respect. Low love. “e-r” words: faster, bigger… cheaper. Here’s where most investment has gone over the past 50 years.
  • High Love and High Respect. Lovemarks – authentic, simple, music to our ears, from iPhone to Emirates airlines. In recessions consumers say: “I’ll make sacrifices before I give this up.”

Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy are the fast track to Lovemarks, in fair times and foul.

Mystery mixes dreams, icons and stories to create the attraction of the unknown. Most communications are overloaded with information.

As times tighten, value can be found by surprising with the obvious. Buy a Hyundai and if you lose your job, they’ll buy it back off you.

If you know everything, there’s nothing to attract you.

Sensuality brings sight, sound, scent, touch and taste. The five senses are portals to the emotions. Music creates moods. Listening creates relationships. Vision stimulates. Touch pulsates. Scent and taste take you to places of delight. Think Apple.

Intimacy is about shared emotional experiences, knowing without knowing, feeling before saying, loving before wanting. We’re infusing empathy, commitment, passion here with: “My City, My Metro.”

Your job will be: To saturate performance, reputation and trust with mystery, sensuality and intimacy.


We have to rewrite the rules of business to build beacons of possibility, not bonfires of fear. Martin Luther King did not say: “I have a nightmare.”

We need a shared dream to make the world a better place. We need to make a difference because we want to, not because we’re told to by elites. And we need a solution the size of the problem, not just new light bulbs. Saatchi & Saatchi S was made for this.

The big shift is from GREEN to BLUE. Green is about the environment. Blue fuses environment, economy, society and culture.

  • Green is about fear. Blue is about radical optimism.
  • Green is about obligations. Blue is about opportunity.
  • Green is about the planet. Blue is about the people who want to live on it.
  • Green asks “What’s to be done?” Blue asks: “What can I do?”

Your job will be: to know BLUE starts with you.


Ask yourself three big questions:

  1. What’s my five year dream?
  2. When am I at my best?
  3. What will I never do?

Management is not the answer. And nor is classic leadership.

Inspirational Players give their people a Dream, not an instruction manual. Martin Luther King did not say: “I have a Mission Statement.”

Inspirational Players understand that their Dream makes everyday matter.

You want to know what it’s really like out there? The answer is simple. It’s what you make it.

You can be part of a new wave of optimism that business can make a difference, that inspired business performance can uplift the world.


  1. Launch your 5 year dream with a 100 day plan
  2. Take a ‘Katherine Mansfield’ risk; as she said: Do the hardest thing on earth for you!
  3. Decide on your Personal Sustainability Plan, and push GO

Let’s do this – before it’s too late.

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