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Abstract Digest #15

Welcome to Abstract Digest, a collection of the week’s best in news and creativity. Let us know on Twitter if we missed anything spectacular!


Elon Musk’s Hyperloop to start work on a $6bn test-track ‘within weeks’.

ESPN is shutting down its YouTube channel due to paid subscription model.

Should cyclists be allowed to run red lights?

Honda’s new hydrogen powered car is actually a good car.

Learn a new fact every minute.

How will technology enhance our bodies by 2025?

Google’s Project Loon internet balloons to circle Earth.

Tracking who’ll win the US party nominations via the use of bookies.

Antibiotic resistance, helium shortage, and more real-world problems to scare you this Halloween.



Why are brands taking agencies in house?

UCAS have announced they will implement a ‘name blind’ application process.

Morocco set to become a solar super power.

A new Barbie ad lets kids imagine their futures.

How MTV is using vloggers and Instagram to boost its brand appeal.

Processed meats as bad as smoking, says World Health Organisation.

“World’s first” Bluetooth padlock goes on sale in the UK.

SXSW cancels gaming panel on harassment following threats of harassment.

Jes Staley: New Barclays chief says reputation is his first priority.

Snapchat has added 3 new features and whole heap new content.

Osborne to launch National Infrastructure Commission.

Halloween round-up: devilishly good content from Snickers, Burger King, Airbnb and more.



Has Google been learning lessons from Facebook?

Is the end of the 24 hour booze license almost upon us?

Opinion: Feminism isn’t dead, despite the assassination attempts.

How Mumsnet is a barometer for brands.

Is the agency model broken?

Labour can’t just gloat over Osborne’s mess – we need a positive alternative says Guardian’s Owen Jones.

What Twitter must do to save itself.

Opinion: The Lords is a ludicrous affront to democracy and accountability.

Does social media actually sell products?

Stop learning, start applying.



London landmarks light up for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

TFL doing Buzzfeed partnerships right.

Filthy burgers.

Is this guy the most prolific internet troll ever?

This sportswear peels away when you’re hot and sweaty.

3D printing hair is as easy as using a hot glue gun.

This AI can tell if your selfies suck.

Data Visualisations: 10 worst cities to find a job.

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Is Your Business Prepared to Meet the New Transparency in Supply Chains Provisions?


New provisions on transparency in supply chains, which will place reporting obligations on thousands of businesses, are due to come into force in just a matter of days.

Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act otherwise known as the TiSC provisions will soon require all commercial organisations with a turnover of more than £36 million to produce slavery and human trafficking statements each year to increase transparency about what business are doing to tackle modern slavery within their business operations.

The government and the charity sector is heralding these provisions as an immensely positive step towards ensuring companies become directly responsible for the conditions of their supply chains and step up their efforts to tackle human trafficking and slavery linked to the provision and transportation of goods and services worldwide, not just in the UK.

Even though the provisions have been designed to minimise the burden on businesses, as with all change, the new obligations estimated to affect some 12,000 companies, will require additional consideration and bureaucracy.

Despite it’s far reaching impact, the provisions received rather limited coverage thus far, leaving many uncertain about what to expect. Here’s the most pressing information your business needs to know:

  • All commercial organisations with a turnover of more than £36 million will need to publish an annual declaration statement setting out what steps, if any, the organisation has taken to ensure its own business and supply chains are free from slavery and human trafficking.
  • Statements must be signed off at board level and made publicly available, with a web link featured in a prominent position on the homepage of the organisation’s webpage, or provided upon written request within 30 days in the event that the company doesn’t have a website.
  • The provision covers all sectors (retail and manufacturing), goods and services, and applies to the global operations of all companies operating in the UK.
  • Transitional provisions will be developed so that statements are not required for businesses whose financial year end falls within close proximity to the date the provisions come into force.
  • The government will publish Statutory Guidance by the end of this month to help businesses understand what a slavery and human trafficking statement might include and how they can best implement the requirements of this legislation. While the guidance will contain good practice for businesses to consider, the government will not dictate what action businesses need to carry out.
  • The provisions are intended to make it clear what action a business is or is not undertaking in order to allow investors, consumers and the general public to decide who they should and should not do business with.

The Home Secretary will have the power to force compliance of the publication of the annual statement requirement via a High Court injunction, but is most likely to use this avenue sporadically and only against high profile organisations to set an example when she does.

While enforcement action may be rare, we can expect investors, competitors, consumer groups and customers to play the biggest role in policing the duty. They may choose to do this by applying public and media pressure, naming and shaming or deciding not to deal with businesses that do not fully comply or take little or no action to tackle slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains. Although legal enforcement mechanisms are an extremely effective tool for ensuring compliance, our hunch is that the latter approach may prove to be much more powerful.

Paulina Jakubec, Account Executive, Public Affairs 

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TalkTalking one’s way out of a crisis


For all the perks of their position, no one envies a CEO in crisis. While some can manage the spotlight and maintain their roles, others succumb to public pressure and are forced to resign. What separates the two?

Consider Dido Harding, the Chief Executive of TalkTalk. She is in the hot seat after her company’s website was hacked last Wednesday, the third time in eight months. The company’s stock price has fallen by 10 per cent while four million worried customers are on alert for data theft and unable to cancel their contracts. Whether Ms Harding could have done anything differently to prevent the attack is beyond the scope of this column, rather it is interesting to consider how she has thus far survived the spotlight by three clever rhetorical strokes.

First Ms Harding has positioned the attack as an issue for the industry as a whole, thereby diffusing the focus on her and her company: “Cyber crime is the crime of our era, of our generation, every single company in the world probably isn’t spending enough money on it – we are not the only ones.”

Ms Harding has also deflected attention away from her onto her customers: “Our customers will judge us and judge me, and if I was busy worrying about my job or my bonus right now I’d be doing my job extremely badly – and I’m not, I’m focused on doing what’s right for customers.”

Finally she has emphasised the support she has from her chairman and shareholders, thereby indirectly rebuking critics who challenge her right to remain in post: “My chairman has spent most of the weekend in the office working with me, so I’ve seen a lot of my largest shareholder.”

By responding to the scrutiny in this way she shown how mindful she is of the broad range of audiences she knows she has to deliver for – at all times. Her critics may yet be appeased though as time passes their position weakens while hers strengthens. While enduring a crisis as a CEO is never an enviable experience—just ask Martin Winkelkorn, former CEO of VW—Ms Harding has thus far shown it can be a manageable one.

Jenny Brindisi, Account Director, Public Affairs

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Abstract Digest #14

Abstract Digest #14
Hello and welcome to this week’s Abstract Digest, a roundup of the weeks best in creativity, news and discussion. Let us know if we missed any articles on Twitter.

John Lewis predicts the rise of the ‘master shopper’ and virtual reality.
Affordable motion capture suit will let you experience the full potential of virtual reality.
Apple’s Tim Cook prophesises ‘massive change’ ahead for the car industry.
7 amazing online fashion startups changing their industry.
Junior doctors: 7 in 10 to leave NHS if Hunt pushes through new contract.
Oslo will be completely car-free by 2019.
Aspirin trial to examine if it can stop cancer returning.
Wikileaks to release contents of CIA chief’s email account.
London is now home to the Starbucks of the future.

This smart hairclip translates sound to vibrations for the hearing impaired.
Facebook has launched a feature that will warn you if it suspects that “state-sponsored” acts are trying to access your account.
Who is Justin Trudeau, Canada’s next prime minister?
Scientists make an artificial heart out of foam.
This clever ad uses everyday metaphors to describe fight with breast cancer.
Solar power can make a difference in the small, but important things.
An inside look at YouTube’s new ad-free subscription service.
Retailer Monsoon tops the UK ‘minimum wage of shame list’.

Ermahgerddon! What happens when you become a meme.
Playboy magazine has lost its cool and now its nudity – where does it go from here?
Game of trolls: how I took on the internet sexists with Misogyny Monday.
In politics the meaning of ‘moderniser’ is hard to pin down.
The ‘best times to post’ debunked – for good.
Eight ridiculous Americanisms I shed after a decade of international travel.
10 tricks to appear smart during meetings. (Maybe).
‘Snapchat makes me feel insecure’, writes 15 year old.
What marketing predictions did Back to the Future Part II get right?
Should we ditch kids menus in restaurants?

NYC taxi pilot will ditch the meter and calculate your fare with GPS.
Proud amputees celebrate their prosthetics as fashion accessories.
A digital skills charity are pushing to make sure that everyone has ‘the five basic digital skills‘ – do you?
World record holding chicken sends first tweets for fast food outlet.
Traditional Japanese instruments make this ‘Smooth Criminal’ cover cooler than the original.
As promised, Nike finally reveals sneakers with powered laces.
Stanford built a self-driving, electric DeLorean and it does donuts.
Take a stroll through an abandoned castle.

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Can the SNP’s Patriotic Patience Endure?


Patience and politics are not commonly partnered. But this year’s SNP conference held in Aberdeen demonstrated that the party remains focused on national independence—and willing to bide its time to achieve it.

In both her opening and closing addresses, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made clear that she wants another referendum, while recognising that the timing of it will be key to its success. As Angus Robertson, the Parliamentary Group Leader in Westminster made clear, the party has studied Quebec closely and appreciates a second defeat would be fatal to the cause. The party leadership remains convinced that many referendum voters were scared into voting “no” by either a biased or uninformed London media, though Robertson did wryly suggest that a second referendum would give the BBC another opportunity to reconsider its coverage of the party.

The ‘arms length’ relationship with Westminster was emphasized with comments from the platform suggesting that Westminster is out of touch – both procedurally and geographically. Promising new MPs Callum McCaig and Dr Philippa Whitford, the respective party Westminster spokespeople for Energy & Climate Change and Health, won over the crowd with quips likening the House of Commons to both a zoo and a place for children. At a fringe event, Hull was spoken of as “down south”, indicating by comparison how very far away Westminster must feel.

However, with the exception of one tense fringe event with the BBC, the conference had a confident, upbeat atmosphere. Speakers were clearly delighted to take the stage of a proper auditorium that seated record numbers of delegates and corporate representatives. But with power comes responsibility and some veterans were overheard grumbling that party MPs were now too busy taking meetings to say hello and chat.

The party is clear, however, that it does not want to “rest on its laurels” and take its current good fortune for granted. Though Labour was castigated by the First Minister for its “disunity” and inefficiency, Angus Robertson declined to berate it at length acknowledging that it would be “cruel”.

In comparison, the party stressed repeatedly that to achieve its overarching goal of independence will require continued tight management. A veteran MP remarked on the difficulty of trying to mentor so many new colleagues given that the party has taken the “quantum leap” from 6 to 60 MPs. One young MP has even allegedly been allocated two minders down in Westminster to ensure that despite her rock star status, her feet remain on the ground.

This conference will be seen as a victory for the party—inspiring and informing their own while demonstrating to Westminster that they have properly arrived. Indeed as First Minister concluded her final speech, a countdown to the 2016 elections flashed on the screen behind her and a pounding instrumental rang out in the hall around her. Delegates patiently queued to exit the auditorium. Whether they can last the distance between now and a second independence referendum remains to be seen.

Jenny Brindisi, Account Director, Public Affairs

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LinkedIn: Where Connecting Through Content Means Business

Today’s business elite are constantly getting hit by professional content. As traditional media is taken over by its online counterparts, more and more business professionals are stepping into the digital world. As a result, an increasing number of social media platforms, are becoming the new reigning champions of professional content.

This comes as no surprise; equipped with professional content marketers, post scheduling devices and an ocean of user-generated content, it is no wonder that these platforms are considered fundamental to the business elite’s content strategies.  With LinkedIn’s professional marketers publishing an average of 80 posts per month, or three to four a day (and that’s just one example) there is a never-ending stream of knowledge available[1].

This consistent outpour of content is not only exposing the business elite to a huge amount of new information though, it’s also forcing them to become constantly connected in order to successfully define their professional identity. By connecting their professional identities with the content they engage with, the business elite place high importance on its reliability. This inevitably raises the issue of authenticity and begs the question – in this sea of content, what can be trusted?

As the most highly used social media platform among the business elite, reaching 59% of Europe’s key decision makers (a statistic that places it ahead of other channels including the BBC at 45% and CNN at 34%), LinkedIn is inextricably connected to the production of professional content. In fact, 69% of the business elite who use LinkedIn use it to access professional content; including current events, industry trends, opinion pieces by industry experts and financial news. To put that in context, it’s twice the amount of Facebook[2].

Unlike on a channel like Twitter, where you will find a larger range of articles appealing to the interests of a wider audience, LinkedIn’s content is tailored to the professional and screams, ‘Share me and I will make you look like a leading thinker in your field’. It is this characteristic that is so vital in terms of creating trust, and the reason why 71% of the business elite describe LinkedIn as a suitable environment for sharing credible content[3].

The likely catalyst for this is the association of LinkedIn’s identity with its ability, as a platform, to help its users create new professional networks and increase professional influence. LinkedIn users are concerned with both reading content and doing something with it – no matter how insightful and inspiring it may be. They are interested in the creation of a personal network and gaining influence through sharing in order to better develop their professional identity.

With content at the heart of this equation the business elite will settle for nothing less than trustworthy and authentic information.

Abigail Epstein, Graduate Trainee

[1] via LinkedIn’s ‘The Sophisticated Marketers Guide 2015’
[2] The Mindset Divide: Spotlight on Content, LinkedIn 2015
[3] The Mindset Divide: Spotlight on Content, LinkedIn 2015

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Abstract Digest #13

Welcome to Abstract Digest, our round up of the week’s best in creativity, news and inspiration.



AI researchers digitise a slice of rat brain.

Pepsi confirms it’s building a smartphone.

Facebook launches pre-Christmas charm offensive to woo retailers with new shopping features.

This rocket engine could soon put planes into outer space.

New ‘Concorde 2‘ could fly from London to New York in an hour.

Facebook reveals video discovery platform: a YouTube killer?

Self-driving cars will be tested on Canadian roads in 2016.

The first Braille smartwatch is available to pre-order.

FIFA wants to have a wearable tech standard for soccer teams.



How Guinness is aiming to win over the South Korean market with #TasteofBlack campaign.

Google’s new video teaches you to how to Google.

3D printing tech is helping disabled kittens walk again.

Man watches ‘Insidious’ in virtual reality, turns into a screaming wreck.

Those annoying hover-boards are illegal as of yesterday. Thank goodness.

A step too far? Flirtmoji reveals vagina emojis to enhance sexting.

Who needs Netflix? A US poll reveals the most rewatchable movies of all time.

Sweden introduces six-hour work day.

Need content? Take a hint from GoPro, and train your top users in storytelling.

Marijuana not a gateway drug, says addiction psychiatrist.

What’s it like to answer angry tweets about trains?



Are infographics dead?

The Apprentice should challenge candidates to develop a new Facebook – not flog fish fingers.

How brands took part in 2015’s “Great British Bake Off” conversation.

Ten direct actions by women that changed the world.

How the Periscope summit restored my faith in humanity…

This app is building a giant network for free messaging.

In this 24-hour media age, a divided party will always damage itself.

Is native advertising the answer to ad blocking?

How women make it work: Lessons from young female entrepreneurs on getting ahead.

Why generation z are deleting their social media accounts and going offline.

How the black dot campaign turned into a dangerous viral hoax…



Cyborg limbs help children overcome disabilities as Iron Man or Queen Elsa.

13 photos of dogs in midair that will make your heart soar.

Notebooks shaped like internet tabs – reverse engineering at its finest (irony).

Looking to bolster your arguments? Use this handy tool.

This real-life Thor hammer can only be lifted by its creator.

This man joined Grindr and only used quotes from the Pokemon games to chat to guys.

Isis ‘wasn’t my cup of tea‘, says British women who wants to come home.

China’s street food vendors are creating edible works of art.

A lot of people go to shopping centers to… eat?


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‘You’ve got to be in it to win it….’


Following EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker remarking ‘it takes two to tango’ with officials calling on Britain to set out a more detailed negotiating agenda, FleishmanHillard takes a look at other well-worn phrases that sum up the developments we have seen this week:

  • ‘Put up or Shut Up’ – there is considerable frustration among member states and EU officials that progress has been slow from the UK side, with no ‘text’ for officials to look into the legal aspects of the UK’s proposed reform agenda. The Prime Minister has now promised to issue details in November ahead of the December summit that was agreed in June.
  • ‘A Win-Win Scenario’ –  the usual process in European negotiations (where most countries are used to governing though consensus) is to set the bar high, and accept publically that demands are whittled down to a compromise. This doesn’t sit well domestically with Cameron who is under pressure to show he has ‘brought home the bacon’ and in doing so has the ability to lead in Europe. The UK benefiting from a reformed EU is one thing. The UK benefiting at the expense of other EU nations from the process is another matter entirely.
  • ‘Mine’s bigger than yours’ – with the rival referendum campaigns launching over the last week, despite the ongoing negotiations, politicians are inevitably being called on to stand up to be counted. Many though still have to choose a side, with around 200 Tory MPs thought to be undecided. The pressure on the Prime Minister to set out his stall has now increased, and will only grow.

Will Thavenot, Account Manager, Public Affairs

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TechMunch: Safe Harbour – what is it and should you care?


The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that the transatlantic Safe Harbour framework is invalid, but what does that really mean for business?

Hang on, what is Safe Harbour?

For businesses of all shapes and sizes, data and analytics are arriving from multiple sources at a startling velocity, volume and variety. Businesses are required to capture, understand and store a gigantic amount of data on a day-to-day basis. The storage part is where Safe Harbour comes in to the picture.

For up to 15-years, over 4,000 businesses have been storing personal EU data using US cloud services through the use of the Safe Harbour framework. The self-certification framework has been used to certify the security of personal data by asking businesses to abide by seven principles.

The framework allowed the majority of businesses to employ US-based cloud services to store or process personal data, whilst adhering to European regulations.

On Tuesday 6th October this framework officially became invalid according to the ECJ ruling.

What went wrong?

It all started with Max Schrems, a 28-year-old Austrian law student, who filed a series of complaints against Facebook in Ireland. Max requested that Facebook stop the transfer of European users’ data to its US servers. He argued, following the Edward Snowden’s revelations, that the data storage risked the US government snooping on personal EU data.

This complaint, that the US did not provide sufficient privacy safeguards for data, was upheld by the EU’s highest court. The ECJ therefore declared that the self-certification Safe Harbour agreement stood in the way of Europe’s national data protection watchdogs, which intervene on behalf of citizens who complain about privacy infringements.

What does that mean for the future of business?

Right now, it is too early to tell what the future will hold for transatlantic data storage. The future is in the hands of the ECJ and the US, as we await the renegotiation of a data sharing agreement. Ray Pinto at FleishmanHillard Brussels has said that the recent ECJ decision “will likely complicate the talks and lead to an increasing of the legal bar and requirements to be considered adequate safeguards.”

The verdict

At the moment it may be all up in the clouds, but businesses do need to take this issue seriously. Many organisations have already started to reorder their data storing strategies to make sure that they don’t take a big risk with big data. Whatever the outcome, it seems clear that last week’s ruling will have far-reaching implication for both business and consumer cloud services for some time to come.

Stephanie Croucher, Graduate Trainee

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Storytelling on the World Stage


During Social Media Week I attended the event “Creating Emotional Connections Through Content” hosted by Aspect Film and Video at The Hospital Club in Central London.

The presentation focused on film clips and TV adverts and outlined the fundamental story ingredients brands need to tell their stories effectively and authentically.

These ingredients included the basic components of a story: a quest, a conflict, a climax, and a resolution, but also highlighted the necessity of making the role of the product or brand clear and authentic.

In this context, authenticity relates to the emotional response/connection that your content aims to create. An authenticity gap emerges when the end emotion or message fails to align with your brand and what people think of your brand.

With the Rugby World Cup in full swing I started to think about brand storytelling during large international events and the difference between authentic brand content and more event-focused content.

Millions of people around the world tune into the Rugby/FIFA World Cup’s and Olympic games, making them a major brand marketing opportunity for companies worldwide. In a 2012 article for The Mirror, Jim Shelley detailed how some companies will easily spend up to £3 million on a single ad with big hopes of it going viral and bringing in extra sales.

But with this opportunity comes the temptation to step away from authentic content in light of creating ‘content for content sake,’ where the prospect of viral success overrides alignment with brand values.

While some brands succeed in creating brilliant content that not only tells a story while relating to the event, but also maintains the role of the product/brand, others tend to fall short on the authenticity front.

Now, I’m not trying to suggest that there is anything wrong with creating this type of content, in fact sometimes it’s so good that it doesn’t even matter that the role of the brand is hidden. Look at Budweiser’s adorable #BestBuds adverts first released for the 2014 Super Bowl in the US and again for this year’s game; the Budweiser brand is essentially absent until the final moments of the ad, but it still creates a strong emotional connection while telling a great story.

But there’s something to be said for the emotional response that can come from authentic content where the brands story is told alongside the event rather than in its shadows.

For example, take P&G’s reoccurring “Best Job” campaign first launched during the 2012 London Olympics and again for Sochi in 2014, and more recently, #BleedForEngland launched by NHS Blood and Transplant during the Rugby World Cup.

Both videos succeed in creating strong emotional connections to audiences while telling a story that is authentic to the respective brand and its values and goals. Both campaigns have enjoyed immense public support with the Telegraph recognising the “Best Job” adverts as some of the best of the London Olympics and #BleedForEngland trending on Twitter as the rugby tournament began with users stating they were inspired to register to donate.

In the end, authenticity stands as an influential storytelling component. It serves to establish that link between the story being told and the brand doing the telling, and creates a response that relates to the brand and its values.

While events like the Rugby World Cup are undeniable opportunities for brand storytelling worldwide, in all of the excitement it is important not to lose sight of your brand values. Ultimately it’s an opportunity wasted when your brand is lost in the crowd.

Georgia Sibold, Intern, Creative Strategy

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