Clarity First Newsletter, February 2, 2018

Clarity First
A notebook about how we work, and learn, and love and live.

This week I was stopped by a quote from Stephen Hawking. He was talking about the life-draining effects of economic inequality. I put it here because I think we all benefit when we talk about economic inequality too. Learning to share our wealth is certainly one of our most challenging appeals to our better selves. Pass this topic on, please.

Stephen Hawking says we should be scared of greedy owners, not robots.

“If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.” – Stephen Hawking                 (Thanks to

Study finds the middle class portrayed in advertising is twice the size of the real middle class in the U.S.

“Between WWII and 1980, all social classes in the U.S. grew at about the same rate as income. From 1980 ’til now, income inequality has increased and our upward mobility has stagnated. The bottom line is, we live in a different world but advertising is still behaving as if we don’t.”
Article: The Ad Industry Keeps Selling An American Dream That Most Aren’t Living

Using Whoppers to explain net neutrality

Burger King’s global chief marketing officer Fernando Machado has built the junk food brand by green-lighting audaciously edgy advertising. “If you’re not afraid, it probably means the work does not have enough voltage,” Machado has said. “We’re always afraid. As a client, if you’re interested in doing good work, the important thing is not to be fearless, the important thing is to be brave—to do it even though you are afraid.”

Two Burger King customers who have just been told that if they want them immediately, their Whoppers will cost  $25 each.

His bravery pays off with this ad, which uses the delivery of the Whopper to explain net neutrality. The results are hilarious. Needless to say, the costs of this great creative have been leveraged nicely by social spread.
Article/Video: Whopper Neutrality: Burger King Social Experiment Goes Viral

“It’s important to consider your employees as at least equal to your most important external customers.”

I sound like a voice on loop. Your brand isn’t just for marketing anymore. Your definition of who you are and how you help is a driving force for your whole company. Noreen Seebacher does a great job of summarizing how that understanding helps create human-focused workplaces.
Article: Why Better Employee Experience Creates Better Brands

Global, local. Two vantage points. Two different messages.

“Results showed that when the message was framed as global, an appeal based upon fear enhanced viewers’ attention …However, when the issue was presented in a local context, a hope-focused appeal was more effective.”
Article: In Green Communications, Fear and Hope Have Different Uses

7 questions to help you write an audience-centric presentation

My voice is stuck on loop again. Go to heroic ends to understand your audiences as deeply as possible. Here’s a simple audience needs map from the people at Duarte, people who know a whole lot about effective storytelling.
Article: How to Craft an Audience-Centric Presentation

Tools and resources for naming things

“A good name can help a company or product become successful, of course, but it can also help the lowliest code library find an audience, help formalize an informal process, and propel ideas about the world.” But naming is hard. So two makers have created an open source resource for naming things. It’s deep, diving from dictionaries to mythology to trade jargon. #cooltool


Last week the South African trumpeter and band leader Hugh Masekela died at the age of 78. Masekela, who was known as much for his political activism as his musical contributions, collaborated with a who’s who of master musicians, including Harry Belafonte, Herb Alpert, Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, Paul Simon, and his ex-wife, Miriam Makeba. Here he is leading a TED Talk and concert, in which he talks about how cultural imperialism is eroding the sense of self shared by African youth. And here’s a 2009 concert recorded at the Estival Jazz Lugano. R.I.P., Hugh. Thank you for helping to make the world a smaller place.

Images of the week

The smaller of the two images is named Jitterbugging in Negro Juke Joint, Saturday Evening, outside Clarksdale, Mississippi. The larger is named Negro Going in Colored Entrance of Movie House on Saturday afternoon, Belzoni, Mississippi Delta, Mississippi. Both were shot in 1939 by Marion Post Walcott. Historian and photographer John Mason said of Walcott’s work: “The word ‘iconic’ is overused, but these photos are unquestionably American icons. Their beauty and visual sophistication are givens. What makes them iconic is their ability to show us deep and complementary truths about the experience of race in America. In them we can see reflections of our troubled past and present. Through them we can imagine a more democratic future.”
Article: Marion Post Wolcott in a Mississippi Juke Joint

What’s Clarity First?

If you’re new to Clarity First, it’s the weekly newsletter by Mitch Anthony, and Clarity, the consultancy that helps mission-driven companies use their brand – their purpose, values, and stories – as powerful tools for transformation. Learn more.

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