Fran Clayton’s Strategy Diet

What are you reading/watching/listening to recently that helps you be a better strategist?

On Strategy Podcast for a behind the scenes perspective on some of the most famous and effective campaigns in the world. I try to minimise email but I’ll always read emails from Contagious and I’ve recently discovered BAMM’S ‘THE DROP’ newsletter – thanks for the reco Michael Sinclair – great for ethnographic deep dives into culture and fandoms. For more random inspiration I still love an airport magazine stand.

What sources do you turn to when you need a fresh perspective on a brief?

Go to the frontline; the store, the branch, the call centre, the stadium. It’s ridiculously easy and hugely underestimated. A tried-and-true research trick is to pay attention as if you’re experiencing it for the first time. Notice and question the stuff that everyone takes for granted. The most interesting truth is often right in front of us.

Where do you go for a uniquely Australian perspective?

DDB’s Culture Shaper Community; a few hundred Aussies from all corners of the country. A few years ago, we realised we were missing a direct connection to Aussies, we were too reliant on research reports and partners. The C Space platform we use allows us to run activities and conversations on a daily and weekly basis, talking about everything from car culture to savings goals.

What are your go-to tricks/tools when you’re stuck or struggling?

Go for a walk – or very occasionally a run – without ear pods. The silence and the rhythm help me get out of my head and solve problems in more creative ways. Or I’ll talk it through with a long-suffering friend who has nothing to dowith marketing or advertising. I notice how my language changes; how easy it is to hear my own bullshit.

What would you recommend for people just beginning their strategy career, where’s a good place to start?

Read winning Effie papers. They are a masterclass in how to define a problem, articulate a solution and prove it all works.

What’s the most unexpected or unusual source of inspiration you’ve found to be surprisingly helpful?

School bus drivers. Or anyone who gets to listen in on people’s conversations unnoticed. I once met a school bus driver while doing ethnography in Texas. She could tell us more about middle school kids than anyone else. The school bus is a zone between school and home where kids speak freely, away from teachers and parents.

What have you watched or read for pure entertainment that turned out to be a source of insight for work?

I took my kids to Disney World in July. It’s a brilliant example of the truth that our memories are not fair. Disney designs their experience with memories in mind. They create peak moments to cancel out the pain points. Queues don’t seem so bad when you get to meet Storm Troopers while you wait.