In Your Eyes

December 6, 2011

Presentation Summary

Presenting to nextMedia in Toronto, Canada, Kevin Roberts shares three key ideas to winning in the Age of Now.


We live in a VUCA world.

Volatile: Earthquakes, revolutions, insurrections, debt busts and price booms.

Uncertain: Who saw the Arab Spring? Strategy has become guesswork.

Complex: How can 7 billion people all have shelter, secure food, stay healthy, get along, feel great, be happy, pay for it all – and fight off aliens!!?

Ambiguous: Europe has banks that can’t fund themselves.

America has giant corporations that don’t pay taxes.

Being thin makes you happy in America and sad in Russia!

Creative leaders and radical optimists see the world as ‘superVUCA’.

Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy, Astounding.

In superVUCA times, where it’s fast and fun, it’s the surfers, the young at heart – not leaders and managers – who will prevail.

Everything is digital, nothing is digital.

We live in the Age of the Idea.

There is a premium on originality.

Creativity has an unreasonable power.

Creativity cuts through the tsunami of noise that is the internet.

I’m in the creative ideas business.

We don’t employ legions of engineers, programmers, and algorithm designers.

We are the storytellers. We have writers, visual people, music people, participation people, revelation people, and producers who are driven by the imperative of speed-to-market.

SuperVUCA is an era of instant expectation. Audiences respond immediately – and expect an immediate response.

There’s no Next Media. There’s no New Media. There’s only NOW Media.

We are in the Age of Now.

People are connected 24/7. Liberated by technology, channel-agnostic, and driven by primary impulses to go where the brightest light is.

Today people are living right in the moment. 80% of people’s happiness is in the Now, Angry Birds and all.

Attention Participation
Inform Inspire
Interruption Interaction
Return on Investment Return on Involvement
Pumping Markets Creating Movements

Speed and constant innovation are critical to winning in the Age of Now. Nothing is ever finished. We are in permanent beta mode.

The currency of the Now is emotion, and digital can make it or kill it.

Bore people to death with information, emails, demos, benefits, and all the ER words – or create fields of love bigger than any brand.

Create an emotional experience and you get action.

Reason leads to conclusions; emotion leads to action.

Emotion is how we imagine, decide and share.

There isn’t a person here who isn’t motivated by peak performance.

You all want to be winners.

You all want margin growth, bigger returns, more participation.

No-one is satisfied by going backwards or standing still.

Growth is a human characteristic.

Online, instore, out of home, the Holy Grail of business – whether you’re a platform, an application, a publication, a utility, a club, a car, a game, an event – is to become a Lovemark.


  • Brands are owned by companies, marketers, and stockholders. Lovemarks are owned by the people who love them.
  • Brands are built on Respect. Lovemarks are created out of Respect and Love.
  • Brands build Loyalty for a Reason. Lovemarks inspire Loyalty Beyond Reason. Beyond Attribute, Benefit, Range, Price.
  • Brands aim to be Irreplaceable. Lovemarks are Irresistible.

There are 3 keys to winning in the Age of Now:

The more platforms we invent, the more stories we need.

Futurist Rolf Jensen: “The highest-paid person in the first half of this century will be the story-teller.”

A recent Lovemarks poll told us what creates brand buzz.

Having a fantastic product was rated #1. Being known for doing good things was #2.

The role of business is to make the world a better place.

Stories therefore are critical to winning in the “Lifestream” we are in.

Search optimization, email fulfillment, discount turnover, price transparency, screen resolution yada yada – these are all technical details.

When you’re a marketer with an annual sales target to hit, stories are your best friend for connecting with consumers.

Here’s how:

Great stories are fast workers, outstripping our reason and logic, with their compelling truth.

In the Age of Now you have to get your story across quick and clean.

Great stories touch us.

They locate our inner fears, hopes and dreams – vampires and werewolves included!

Great stories are contagious.

The three things to ask when judging creative work are:

  • Do I want to experience it again?
  • Do I want to share it?
  • Do I want to improve it?

Great stories bring people together for shared experiences.

Sport is an innovator. The 2012 London Olympics will bring the next wave of interactive and collaborative television.

Great stories reframe the market.

  • Lady Gaga reframed weird as wonderful.
  • Steve Jobs reframed presence into absence.
  • Facebook and Twitter have reframed Madison Avenue by literally moving into the street.
  • SwaggerWagon reframed the family transporter.

Great stories introduce us to great characters, people we want to spend time with. And some you don’t.
Great stories make us laugh.

Humor is the short cut to the heart.

Great stories create a bigger meaning.

To do this you must have a consistent equity across screens, across borders, across retail end-to-end.

Tactical promotions and micro-digital CRM plays have their place, but all too often brand managers slip into off-message tactical promotions.

Great stories Surprise with the Obvious.

They make you think “Why didn’t I think of that?

Apple’s retail stores are so obvious!

The Start button of the Prius is so obvious.

To develop a pen that could write in space, NASA spent millions on advanced technology.

The Russians used a pencil.

Great stories are crafted.

If you want your talent to shine, give people Responsibility, Learning, Recognition, and Joy.

Great stories result from continuous practice.

Like ideas, you have to produce lots of small ones all of the time.

This is dedicated work, like Gladwell’s 10,000 hours. Perfect practice.

Big ideas are scarce, strung out over time, investment hungry.

Shelve the idea of writing the ‘Great Canadian Novel.’

Fail fast, learn fast, fix fast.


The Now is lived on a family of screens.

There are 30 different types of screen devices in our lives, from TVs to PCs to tablets and mobiles to ATMs, billboards, kiosks.

Sight Sound and Motion are the compelling ingredients to digital communications.

A Lovemark is simple and it has a loveable usability, whether it’s an interface, a device, an operating system.

You can trust the manufacturer to do it right. I don’t for a moment get stressed about the battle for the living room.

The job to marry TV, PC, tablet, smart phone and dishwasher so they work seamlessly with each other is happening in labs and factories around the world.

TV is still a killer app. It has survived everything the Internet has thrown at it and emerged stronger.

We watch 4+ hours a day on average, everywhere – while multi-tasking on other screens. 70% of TV watchers are using a second (or third, or fourth) screen at the same time.

TV is integrating technology and absorbing and colonizing new media, exploding over the web and beyond.

YouTube is TV, VOD is TV, Vimeo is TV.

Everything we look at on tablets and phones and computers is TV.

TV generates half the chatter on Twitter. Reality TV and talent shows rule, for better or worse.


People don’t care how stories are created or delivered, just as long as it’s fantastic. Lovemarks win the day with three secrets:

  • Mystery is inspirations, dreams, icons, symbols and stories, sharing the attractions and wonders and sometimes the horrors of the unknown.
  • Sensuality is the portal to the emotions, Vision, Sound, Scent, Touch, Taste. The job for any brand is to make the complex simple and create sensory excitement.
  • Intimacy is empathy, commitment and passion. Intimacy is the small touch, the perfect gesture.

Put yourself in the audience’s heart, (not the audience at your heart).


All this creating, sharing, and connecting is useless unless there is a final business ingredient – and that is winning. Or more precisely, wanting to win.


Three “E” words to bring it all together. They are the difference between ‘getting things done’ and ‘making things happen’:

  • Enthusiasm – From the Greek enthousiasmos (they gave us great language!). Be an irresistible force of nature. Overthrow the status quo. Start a movement. Be 100%. Be fired with enthusiasm.
  • Edge – Radical change happens at edge of the species, near the coasts, down in the basements, on a shoestring. Empower your margins. Roar at the impossible. Dance with consumers at the frontier of possibility. Play at the edge.
  • Execution – Do it! Now! The customer won’t wait for inspiration. 100 day plans. Fail fast, learn fast, fix fast! Meet, Beat, Repeat.

Filter Speeches

Subscribe to our newsletter

To stay updated with the latest workshops & speeches

Subscribe Now