in Speech, Thoughts

Intelligent Naivety

I bumped into a group of post grad students while I was at Vega last week. The brief interaction left me feeling really upbeat. For a number of reasons – they were energetic and passionate about the marketing, advertising and brand communication industry and they seemed to want to get stuck in and add value; I felt that they were all confident that they had something to contribute. The chance meeting reminded me of “intelligent naivety” a term that I picked up in a book by Adam Morgan titled ‘Eating the Big Fish’.

Adam Morgan is the founder of Eat Big Fish, a challenger brand thinking consultancy based in the UK. The consultancies first book, Eat Big Fish, made such an impact on me that VWV actually got into negotiations the consultancy to turn its content into one-day workshops, the idea was we could add their challenger brand IP to our brand experience expertise to create a globally sellable product. The partnership never happened but I remained inspired non the less.

So what is intelligent naivety?

Intelligent naivety is intelligence naively applied. It’s the notion that you don’t have to be the most experienced in the game to come up with the best idea. Its happened all around us – Richard Branson knew very little about airlines when he launched Virgin Atlantic but he was the first to bring personalized on-board entertainment onto planes – can you imagine a long haul flight without being able to select your movie of choice? Barak Obama showed up his fellow presidential runners when he made social media a real asset in his race to the White House, now even Jacob Zuma has a twitter account with 28 500 followers.

These students need to be accepted into the marketing fraternity with open arms, as they are the ones that will refresh our staid industry. They need to use their unique perspective of the world, their seamless integration with new platforms such as social media and their understanding of how the world works to their advantage. They should not try and emulate the behaviours and perspectives of others out there – there are enough of us doing that already.

They are intelligently naïve and that’s a powerful asset.

They also reminded me of how important it is for individuals in the industry to regularly share their perspectives and experiences to continue to fortify the foundations of our industry and inspire new thought leadership.

So what now? I’ve invited the students to VWV to get a better understanding of what we do, who knows – they may be the next step in our story.

Check out Eat Big Fish on

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