Ad Review Awards

Thursday, 23 April 2009 - Johannesburg, South Africa

Creativity Kevin Roberts

Presentation Summary

In 2008 you had to be a radical optimist. 2009 demands the same. And more. In this keynote presentation at the South African Ad Review Awards in Johannesburg, Kevin Roberts serves up seven ways to Win Ugly in 2009 and talks about the importance of creativity and ideas to get through us these stormy economic seas.

This is an amazing time to be in South Africa. A general election yesterday and a new president on his way.

We’re here to celebrate the people who rocked our world last year. Ideas people doing great work with great clients. Radical optimists every one of them.

In 2008 you had to be a radical optimist. 2009 demands the same. And more.

The next 6 months will not be pretty…

  • The global economy will shrink for the first time on record.
  • Trade is slowing.
  • Commodity prices are down.
  • Investment is drying up.
  • Governments and bankers can’t fix this. We need major change in the way the global economy is run.

Fact: Large-scale global survey by the BBC survey revealed that 70% of people believe we need major change in the way the global economy is run.

But we can adjust to this new reality. “Keep calm and carry on.”

In our world:

  • Consumers are realizing they have to live within their means. They want to spend less, but get more.
  • They are evaluating their habits and choices.
  • Clients too are demanding more for less.
  • We have to keep coming up with fantastic ideas that create value and – maybe – win awards.

Focus on:

  • Priceless value
  • Surprising with the obvious
  • Sustainability
  • Authenticity
  • New Ideas

And do it all by ….


I’ve heard enough about losing. Let’s put our hearts and souls into winning. Be as rough and ready as it takes. Do your best, take the win, keep moving, win again.

Vince Lombardi, American football coach of the century: “Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all-the-time thing…a habit.”

The World Cup in 2010 is a fantastic example of what Winning Ugly is about. As fans and players we’ll always take the win. Beautiful or Ugly.

Under pressure we find out who we really are. Here’s how to win:

1. Expect the unexpected.
No one has been here before. Get used to bad news. Be fast and flexible.

Quote. It is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change – Charles Darwin

2. Control the controllables.
We get to choose. We can inspire our people – or not. We can be radical optimists – or not. We can eliminate what’s irrelevant – or not. We can listen to the voice of consumers – or not. At Saatchi & Saatchi we say, “Listen!!”

“Saatchi & Saatchi will never know more about cars than Toyota – and we will never know more about the people who buy them than Saatchi & Saatchi.” Yoshi Ishizaka, Toyota.

3. Focus on what’s core.
The ad industry talks ‘holistic’ and ‘integrated’ and ‘digital’ but little has changed. The hierarchies are the same, the jobs are the same, the results are the same. Figuring out what’s core and what’s not is the only way to get out front.

For Saatchi & Saatchi Lovemarks is core. We are The Lovemarks Company. But the idea is bigger than us. We don’t own it. Lovemarks are owned by the people who love them.

  • Brands are built on Respect. Lovemarks are created out of Love and Respect.
  • Brands want customer understanding. Lovemarks aspire to revelation.
  • Brands invest in Trust, Performance and Reputation. Lovemarks involve with Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy.
  • Great brands are irreplaceable. Lovemarks are irresistible.
  • Brands offer help. Lovemarks offer help and hope.

4. Act decisively.
At Saatchi & Saatchi we’ve come up with the 3-Day Rule. Someone has a problem, they get it to me. I promise to get back to them in 24 hours with a decision. They promise to action it in 24 hours. Fail fast, learn fast, fix fast.

Example. South Africa’s launch of Saatchi & Saatchi X was decisive.

5. Face Forward. Stand tall. Be brave.
Clients want to hide behind metrics and play it safe. Don’t let them. Inspire them with your confidence.

Example. Saatchi & Saatchi South Africa’s new Lovemarks research. The Love and Respect brands in 8 categories inspire.

6. Differentiate price from value.
Price is an easily matched commodity. Essential, but table-stakes. Today you have to create priceless value for your clients. Consumers are redefining value constantly. Price plus quality, authenticity, sensuality, community.

7. Win with transformational Ideas.
An idea is an idea once. No one has seen it before. It should be a revelation.

Hyundai had a great idea. Customers could return a new car if they lost their job. Ford and GM made similar offers within weeks. Followers, not ideas people.


True Blue is a transformational idea. Inspire people to make the best choices for themselves and for the planet.

We founded Saatchi & Saatchi S on True Blue principles. To make doing the right thing fun, irresistible and viral.

Example. Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong unites people to fight cancer. The yellow wristband is a visible sign of support. Nearly 70 million have been sold.

We believe:

  1. The role of business is to make the world a better place
  2. Consumers can change the world
  3. Change is ignited by emotion
  4. Sustainability is a catalyst for business growth
  5. No sustainability, no Lovemark

Business in the 20th century was built on the ‘er’ words: bigger, faster, cleaner, cheaper. More mattered most.

Business in the 21st century is being created out of emotion: health, value, happiness, partnership, experience, social and cultural responsibility, fun.

The winners of Ad Review Awards tonight are all 21st Century people. Let’s celebrate them – and let’s have fun.

How to Win in the Age of Now


Spanning creativity, leadership and execution, Kevin Roberts’ presentation to the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Wellington Chapter is an inspirational primer in: Wanting to Win, Ways to Win Now and Ways to Keep Winning – the secrets of Peak Performance so that winning becomes a habit.

Up, Up and Away – Rotary Newmarket


Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi, talks to the Newmarket Rotary Club about Winning in the Age of Now, and how to turn a brand into an irresistible Lovemark for the next generation.

Start Me Up


Kevin Roberts gives keynote speech at the 6th Annual Global Competitiveness Forum “The Entrepreneurship Imperative” held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, sharing three ways to win in the region.

Set Fire To The Rain


In this presentation to Spotlight On Lancaster at Lancaster University, Kevin Roberts talks about enabling, energizing and activating creative partnerships and achieving Vibrant, Crazy, Unreal and Astounding impact.

Brighter Than Sunshine


Presenting to AAC Saatchi & Saatchi in Bermuda, Kevin Roberts shares three key ideas on connecting people around ideas that create Loyalty Beyond Reason.

Magic Time


In this presentation to EmoDay in Amsterdam, Kevin Roberts shares five key ideas on emotional innovations and creating Lovemarks.

Just Can’t Get Enough


Presenting to the Institute of Development Professionals in Education in Oxfordshire, Kevin Roberts presents three ideas on creating Loyalty Beyond Reason and creating frameworks for development discussions.