News & Opinion

Rory Sutherland: "Recognise the extraordinary bubble in which we exist"

Speaking at the launch of IPA TouchPoints 2018, the vice chairman of O&M Group UK shared his views on interpreting the data.

Opening the morning, Sutherland warned delegates about cherry picking data in order to fulfil personal assumptions. While he recognised there is a tendency in the media industry for statements such as "X is dead", "The future is X", "Millennials don’t do X" to dominate popular discourse, we should read data as a whole and understand how it fits together, rather than focusing on one particular "quarter of the Sudoku".

As an industry the media world needs to "recognise the extraordinary bubble in which we exist" (a conclusion Sutherland came to on realising that the lounge at JFK is the place he is most likely to bump into someone he knows). While those that work in media are often fixated on the new, it's worth bearing in mind that "a hell of a lot of people are doing exactly the same sh*t as they did last year and as they will do next year".

Expanding on this point, Sutherland said: "[We are] obsessed with barking at every new car when we should be obsessing about what actually doesn't change very much – human behaviour... Really big trends will always be very horizontal and stable. We forget that at our peril." 

Sutherland also explained that "mass media has a virtue which targeted media doesn't". Why? "There is a trustworthiness to a message that is viewed in a public place." 

by Jessie Sampson 13/09/18

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