This week has seen a number of changes from the retirement of Prince Phillip from official duties – although reports of his death in the Telegraph were greatly exaggerated – to Neymar’s record breaking €222m transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.
Then there was all change again in the White House with the departure of White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci.
In the media and marketing industry change is often painful and expensive, and introducing change while maintaining customer loyalty is especially challenging.
As a lawyer and strategic business adviser I work with several businesses and brands across various sectors helping with their strategic development in changing markets. From creation, protection and licensing of intellectual property rights to enabling brands to navigate the increasingly challenging world of regulations and changing consumer tastes.
I am proud of my reputation for the accuracy of my predictions of human behaviour and market trends, as well election results and the likely media coverage based on my deep understanding of psychology, magic and the fact that history invariably repeats itself.
As a member of the Inner Magic Circle with gold star on top of my day job, predictions and understanding of human behaviour come with the territory.
Once you cut through the particular industry jargon it is clear that the challenges faced are substantially the same whatever the business or brand. The first step on the road to change starts with understanding; highlight the problems and the solutions are more palatable.
Let's use food as an example: it's fair to say in recent years the media has turned its spotlight on food. From obesity to starvation, food waste and food banks, through to misleading labelling and packaging and coverage around the fact men have eating disorders too.
Change in the food industry is long overdue, and to enact change the media needs to cut through the spin and focus on the facts and figures.
To that end, I am producing a series on the scientific secrets of effective healthy eating with some industry-leading experts. I am also a trustee and on the board of UK Harvest a perishable not-for-profit food rescue operation which collects quality excess food from commercial outlets and delivers it, direct and free of charge, to charities.
The steps being taken to bring about much-needed change in the food industry provide a great case study as to how change can be brought about in other industries, starting with an understanding of the facts and figures presented in a way that ensures media coverage.
Those facts and figures are alarming. It has been estimated that more than 725,000 people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder. On top of this obesity is estimated to cost the NHS £16bn each year.
The proposed levy on sugary drinks originally introduced by George Osborne and fleshed out by Philip Hammond does not come into affect until 2018, but is already having an impact on ingredients in soft drinks, showing how the promise of action can facilitate change.
Appetite for change
According to a World Hunger report from 2016 there is enough food produced in the world to feed everyone and yet 793 million people are undernourished.
In the UK in 2014, an estimated 8.4 million people - the equivalent of entire population of London - were living in households that had insufficient food according to the Food Foundation.
Against that, one third of all food produced is lost or wasted, that's around 1.3bn tonnes of food, which as noted by the Save Food Global Food Waste and Loss Initiative costs the global economy $940bn per-year.
In the UK alone we waste £200m worth of food per-person each year, and an estimated 20% to 40% of fruit and vegetables are rejected even before they reach the shops – mainly because they don't match the excessively strict cosmetic standards imposed by supermarkets.
The fact is, wonky veg taste no different to perfect parsnips, beautiful beets and cosmetically cute carrots, and UK food waste is associated with greenhouse gas emissions of over 20 million tonnes.
Making people aware of these scandalous facts backed by clear supporting evidence creates an appetite for change.
Food labelling and packaging should also be reviewed. People are confused by 'best before' dates as opposed to 'use by' dates. In my opinion, best before dates should be abolished.
Simple changes in language from referring to 'excess food' rather than 'food waste' has already brought dramatic positive change. The word 'waste' obviously has negative connotations – no one wants waste, let alone to consume it.
For any change to be effective customers need to understand the reasons for that change. Understanding provides the framework for selling the benefits and awareness is key.
The Octopus TV series on the science behind effective dieting will look to revolutionise the industry by revealing the full facts and figures. In addition, work continues to raise both money and awareness around excess food with UK Harvest and the annual CEO Cook Off event we run which will resume next year.
By encouraging understanding informed decisions can be made and change effected.
If there are particular stories you feel should be subjected to a pressure test to find out whether they really stand up to serious scrutiny or you want help to avoid the predictable errors and omissions of others and/or to swell your pay package, get in touch...