Vision 100: the lightbulb moment that changed our visionary marketers’ thinking

There is a critical moment in all of our visionary marketers’ careers that has defined the way they think and influenced the strategic and creative direction their work has taken since.


Keith Weed
Chief marketing and communications officer

“My lightbulb moment was hearing a young girl called Severn Cullis-Suzuki who addressed the delegates at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. She talked passionately about the environmental issues we were facing from her perspective as a 12-year-old, reminding her audience that they were all children once.

“She then asked ‘why do you keep breaking things you don’t know how to fix?’ And that thought has resonated with me ever since because I think as a human race we break lots of stuff we don’t know how to fix. It was a truly inspirational sentiment from a very young voice. I’d advise all of you to go and watch her speech on YouTube.”



Syl Saller

“Realising that growth begins when you leave your comfort zone.”


Abigail Comber
Head of customer
British Airways

“There is a great phrase: ‘good marketing takes your message from the eyes to the brain, great marketing takes it to the heart’. The reality is that it won’t get anywhere unless you start with customer insight and the right kind of data. Emotion and big ideas will only get you so far, and presuming you have to get it past the CFO at some point, you need to be able to talk their language to ensure they are listening to yours.”


David Timm
KFC UK & Ireland

“For me it was learning about neuroscience and behavioural psychology, and the realisation that science could influence the art of marketing.

“I was first introduced to the latest neuroscience techniques in 2010, while in my previous role as CMO of KFC South Africa. I was fascinated by how the brain works, and how we make decisions. For me it totally challenged the underlying assumptions that marketing historically has been based on. In particular, showing that decision making is driven by emotion, not reason; that the mind is associative, not linear; and that memories shape decision-making.

“It’s been a huge influence on my thinking and has shaped the strategic and creative direction of my work since then.”


Gary Bramall

“Speed is absolutely key to creativity. The more time it takes to create something, the less likely you are to create it.”


Martin Glenn
Outgoing CEO
United Biscuits

“Recognising that better usually beats different.”


Patrick Venning
Marketing director
Pernod Ricard

“Many years ago [while working at the former Birds Eye Walls business], we put vanilla pods into Magnum’s and were hit with a huge backlash from consumers, because they simply didn’t know what it was as we hadn’t communicated it.

“We relied exclusively on data that suggested there was a high level of awareness that these little black specs were a premium ingredient. The lightbulb moment for me was that research data is just one part of the decision making process, and gut feel, judgement and experience should never be ignored.”


Penny Herriman
Global brand and marketing director

“If you don’t have a plan to radically change the way you do business, you’ll be out of business. Digital has fundamentally changed the business playing field. You can’t ignore it or innovate at the edges.

“It challenges your entire business model. You’re either a start-up or a turnaround but either way momentum is the only KPI worth measuring. Focusing on the status quo is the perfect plan towards ruin.”


Sherilyn Shackell
Founder and CEO
The Marketing Academy

“Without a doubt the best thing that happened to me was the recession. While it was a tough time, I realised that I really didn’t need the status, big teams, large income, fancy car and all the trimmings to be truly happy and fulfilled. I needed to do something with a real purpose, that wasn’t focussed on commercial gain, that made a difference to others.

“After 20 years running my own company and probably totally unemployable, the lightbulb was in realising that life is too short to be doing something that doesn’t make your heart leap with joy on a daily basis. I had to find a way to utilise my skills, experience and relationships in a completely different way. The result was the Marketing Academy.


Sue Chidler
Marketing director
Cath Kidston

“I’ve found that relating to consumers as real people, rather than ‘targets’ or ‘demographics’ is definitely the best way to engage them. When the penny dropped, it made producing engaging work far easier.”