I one the Nobel prize for literature, what was your crime. Pasternak cartoon by Maudlin won Pulitzer prize

This Bill Mauldin cartoon celebrated the plight of Russian author Boris Pasternak. 

 Pasternak won the Nobel prize for literature 1958, after his manuscript for Dr. Zhivago was smuggled out of the USSR, translated and published in Western Europe.  

 Pasternak narrowly avoided being exiled from Russia by the authorities, because the text was subtly critical of Stalinism, the purges and the Gulags.

 Maudlin’s cartoon won a Pulitzer prize. The cartoon shows a Soviet Gulag scene, with two prisoners talking while they work on splitting a tree trunk in a forest. The caption reads: “I won the Nobel Prize for literature. What was your crime?”


Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov




David Bailey on TV advertising










I remembered the above quote from David Bailey and thought you might like it too.  David Bailey also describes himself as an advertising amateur, because he has only worked on around 600 ads – including quite a few TV ads.  A nice touch of self-deprecation.

The above quote on TV is a little cheeky, as he is, but as a photographer he certainly brings an interesting perspective to creating TV advertising.   I must remember this quote when I next hear an advertising agency creative team complain at being restricted to ‘only having 30 seconds.”

The quote is taken from his BBC Radio 4 interview on Desert Island Discs from 1991.  When the Beeb kindly opened their back-catalogue for several programmes, it allowed me to listen to some very interesting people that I’d missed when the programmes first aired.  Find someone you’d like to know more about through their Desert Island Discs interview here:

The Desert Island Discs Archive home page

The archive catalogue - this allows you search for people interviewed, their interests and specific music tracks selected.

The David Bailey interview





Top 25 ranking of the finest smartphones currently available in Europe

Each total score is shown as a Percentage (%).  Each smartphone was reviewed against 10 criteria, with each criteria scoring a possible 1-10% toward the total final score of up to 100%.

The top performers all scored very closely together, but for slightly different brand, design or performance reasons.  So if you wish to use this ranking table to select your next mobile phone, I suggest you also check the two or three of the very best, based on the scores below and then go and try these hands-on for yourself in a mobile store before you buy one.  But it’s unlikely you will be disappointed with any of the two or three that meet your particular criteria from the data shown below in a table.

The top 5 smartphones, listed here in alphabetical order:

- Apple iPhone 5S 32GB and 64GB versions (counted here as 2 separate alternatives, as there is a high price point between them)

The iPhone is still popular, if an expensive choice.  But both are a joy to use.

Apple iPhone 5S








- HTC One M8

A design icon, with great character and stereo external speakers. Only the camera is average in this otherwise excellent smartphone.

HTC One M8









- Samsung Galaxy Note 3

A large, high performance media, gaming and business-use phablet.  It goes beyond the Samsung Galaxy S5 and really is a mobile powerhorse.  It virtually replaces the need to carry an iPad Mini or an iPad.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3








- Sony Xperia Z2

Possibly the best mobile phone for social media, with an excellent camera and amazing in-ear sound quality with the supplied headphones.

Sony Xperia Z2









Please click on the table below to read the detail more clearly.

Ranking the best 25 smartphones in Europe July 2014


Each of these smartphones have been reviewed extensively online, but I couldn’t find a ranking that compared all of the best against each other in an easy format to reference.  So I compiled the data from my own reviews, cross-checked for product specs with manufacturers web-sites and other reviews mentioned below.

The 10 criteria used to create the ranking

- Brand Appeal (Brand desirability and social acceptance)

- Design Appeal (includes the visual appeal and physical feel of the design, the materials, textures and colours.  As well as the range of Accessories available, such as cases/covers and the adoption of a standard charger)

- User Interface (including Ease of Use and if it is a pleasure to spend time using)

- Battery Life  (including whether there is the ability to swap out the battery to extend use as you commute)

- Screen Display (including ability to view out of doors in sunlight, Full HD etc.)

- Camera  (including rear facing and front facing camera, video mode and image stabilisation)

- Built-in Features & App Store (including functions that are likely to be used by many owners, rather than bloatware that fills up space, ease of use, fair pricing and wide range of apps available. A built in feature, such as front facing stereo-speakers, excellent camera will also improve the score awarded).

- Robustness & Longevity (Robustness includes resistance to scratches, or more severe damage; such as screen cracking when dropped. If the smartphone is waterproof it also improves the score.  Longevity includes the estimated ability for the smartphone to both continue to  operate and be supported with the latest software upgrades, as well as whether it is likely to remain socially admired/credible when seen in public in 2 years time)

- Form factor & Expandability (includes weight and dimensions, memory card slot. Excessive pre-installed software bloatware that fills up internal memory is penalised.  Additional functions that are useful to many owners, such as fingerprint security or health apps are credited extra merit)

- Value for money (This is the perceived value offered by the price of the smartphone purchased standalone, or as part of a contract)

The ranking table and some further details on how scores were formulated are included in an Excel spreadsheet that is downloadable from here:

Smartphone Analysis


In addition to personally conducting a hands-on comparison with each of these smartphones.  I have also referred to reviews from Pocket Now, Tech Radar and Phone Arena.  The ranking scores are my own informed opinion.  So who am I?   I’m the former brand manager of a major mobile phone retailer in the UK.  I provide consultancy, research & planning support to mobile networks and mobile manufacturer clients.  The views expressed here are my own.

I am contactable at kevin.sugrue@plannersphere.org

And via Twitter at #plannersphere

Please also be aware that while the HTC One M8 is a relatively new smartphone in 2014, Samsung are launching a new Note 4 late this year. Also Sony are due to launch an updated Z3 in the Autumn and Apple possibly 2 new iPhones in September 2014.

“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready.  I have this feeling now that actually no-0ne is ever ready to do anything.  There’s almost no such thing as ready. There’s only now.  And you may as well do it now.  I mean, I say that confidently as if I’m about to go bungee jumping or something – I’m not.  I’m not a crazed risk taker.  But I do think that, generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”

- Hugh Laurie

Hugh Laurie



My job is to guide brands, conduct research, understand consumer behaviour, analyse data and improve marketing campaign performance.

I’ve been posting to this blog since April 2007, but I haven’t posted in a while.  I thought about this today and realised there have been a few reasons holding me back.  But perhaps only one that really mattered:

- Time (lack of).  Yes, like everyone else says, I have also been busy in recent months.  But even if I have a very very busy week, I’ve previously managed to post at the weekend occasionally over the years.  So this can’t be the main cause.

- The confidential nature of the work I’ve been engrossed in has been interesting and all-consuming; but hasn’t been possible to discuss here for contractual reasons.  I do dive deeply into subjects and live and breath them, before moving on to the next study, campaign or presentation.   While I can’t share my work directly,  I’ve previously found it possible to post a few times each month on things that don’t directly reveal my current work.  So again, this point doesn’t seem to have been the primary cause for my lack of posting to this blog.

- So this final point is probably the one that triggered me to write this post.  I realised that I’d stopped writing about brands here, because what I have to say might discuss activity by a future client.   I sometimes get involved in pitching for business from new clients and, quite naturally, the ones I write about are often working within the business sectors that I’m most knowledgeable in.

I work a lot in Media, Tech & Telco, Financial Services and Automotive.  My concern of possibly commenting on the actions today of a potential client tomorrow was limiting what I wished to publicly give a point of view on, or share some inspiration about.  I’m often either reviewing competitor work for a client, or creating strategies to improve their brand and product sales performance against competitors.

As well as celebrating great technology, advertising, media and brand experiences; I advise when things go wrong.  So I guess I caught myself out, as I’ve been censoring my own point of view outside of work hours, in order that I don’t inadvertently make a potential new client feel negative toward me, should they Google my name and read my blog.   This seems strange upon reflection, as I also use Twitter (@Plannersphere) and I don’t feel as restricted there.  Twitter has, to an extent, become a quick and lazy way of sharing a point of view or something I find interesting; rather than stopping for a few minutes to write about it.

I still believe self-censorship, as well as the contracts I’ve signed, play a role in defining what can’t be shared publicly online.  As in business I build relationships through trust and the guidance I provide, not just through non-disclosure agreements.

But what I think and have to say is of of value for both commercial and education reasons.  While my clients are major international brands, my blog readers are more typically students and an eclectic international mix of account planning, insight specialists and marketing people.

So, while I’m not promising a rapid flood of new posts here, I will start to post again more frequently.   I continue to love to celebrate good news when it is merited; wishing to help great work be noticed and rewarded.   But I must also continue to offer analysis, constructive and insightful criticism, if I believe this is merited.

Self-censorship doesn’t have to mean silence and inactivity.





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