March 31, 2023
It’s not new news to talk about the much-reported declines in attention spans that we’ve been seeing across society for a while now, with particularly pronounced drops amongst the youngest demographics and a lot of blame placed upon the way in which social media is engineered.
However, what does feel like new and urgent news is the fact that attention (or rather lack of it) could become one of the next great crisis points for humanity.
This might sound like a dramatic statement but let’s examine the evidence.
By the way, if you’ve read this far into the article — well done. One study found that college students now focus on one task for an average of 65 seconds, with a mean average focus of 19 seconds, whilst the average office worker focuses for 3 minutes on a single task. Perhaps more worryingly, 92% of car accidents are because of distracted attention (such as phones).
Johann Hari (in his book Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention) states that he now has the evidence to believe we are now in “a global attention crisis.”
But here’s the real issue with declining attention spans.
As Dr. Rangan Chatterjee (of the brilliant Feel Better, Live More podcast) puts it, “our ability to focus and put our attention where we want it to be. I think it literally underpins our experience of being human.” He goes on to say that “our relationships, our hobbies, our passions, our interactions with others, our ability to know who we are” all require us to pay attention.
If we unpack every major study on happiness, contentment and positive mental health, these are some of the most fundamental pillars to wellness and happiness.
But, it doesn’t stop at an individual level. Inattention at a societal level has profound implications for the kinds of narratives we will buy into. As Hari puts it, “people who can’t focus will be drawn to simple authoritarian solutions and are less likely to see clearly when it fails.”
Political campaigns ranging from 'Make America Great Again; through to 'Get Brexit Done' and 'Let’s Take Back Control' have all tapped the collective short attention span by making broad promises in just a few words which many haven’t perhaps had the time to question or analyse further. Andrew Tate’s social media machine successfully played to short attention spans by landing quick sound bites that millions of impressionable men have been seduced by.
If we can’t even pay attention to the things we love, what attention will we pay to the brands vying for our attention through interruptive advertising or product-led PR stories? Most likely very little.
What are the implications? In the immediate term, it means that brutally short sound bites will win out over substantial stories with depth. But, taking a much more expansive and meaningful approach must mean brands taking responsibility for the shocking declines in attention. Vast marketing communications budgets could be used to promote behaviours which will increase our collective attention. This will be in both the best interests of society as a whole, as well as the best interests of the advertising and PR media owners whose media spaces and titles will be seeing attention & dwell times fall off a cliff.
Hari showed us that social media isn’t the only, nor the biggest contributor to our declining attention. There is a huge role being played by, for example, the foods we consume. Consuming processed foods causes spikes and crashes in blood sugar, which in turn lead to slumps and energy crashes throughout the day. What an opportunity here for a food & drinks company perhaps? Not just to market but to create foods, drinks and meal plans that help our attention to grow.
Guess What? We’ve won our first SABRE Award. 🏆
Our ‘Grenfell Platinum Jubilee Street Party’ campaign, together with Justice4Grenfell, won the best Publicity Stunt award at this month’s ceremony — and now it’s officially EMEA’s best PR stunt. 🐉
The campaign has now won multiple awards including Creative Moment, Drum Awards and a Sabre Award. We’re extremely grateful to have our work recognised, especially for such an important cause. 💚
Earlier this month, we celebrated Mother’s Day by giving all mother figures in our lives the gift they desired most — time.
After conducting research on behalf of Moonpig and LEGO, which revealed that more than half of mothers in the UK wished for more time to themselves, we launched the “Time Tokens for Mum” booklets.
Designed to be filled out by children, partners, and family members, the booklets aimed to give mums back some additional time to spend how they would like, from simply winding down while reading a book to taking a brand-new hobby.
The super cool, aesthetically-pleasing booklets were available as free add-ons to any LEGO set purchase on Moonpig’s website for Mother’s Day. The story has been picked up by titles including BuzzFeed and The Independent.
This month saw the launch of Kimpton Fitzroy London’s creative residency, House Of Pankhurst. Inspired by the hotel being the site of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst’s former home, this year’s residency celebrates how poetry was often used as a vehicle to progress the women’s movement throughout history.
Kimpton Fitzroy London’s first creative resident is rising poetry star, Hayley Frances, who has penned a poem titled 'Fable of the Singing Queens Of England' which is inspired by the hotel’s history and striking architecture.
The residency will also support the wider arts community by hosting a quarterly programme and a monthly creative open house. Creatives can expect to experience anything from poetry slams to evening talks with industry leading guest speakers.
Throughout the month of March, Burr & Co. offered a Suffragette inspired breakfast porridge and cocktail for guests to try and immerse themselves in the campaign.
This month we hit the ground running with one of our newer clients Ryobi, the lifestyle brand selling cableless tools. We started by reaching out to key gardening journalists, introducing them to the Ryobi brand and some of their latest product launches. The Daily Express loved the new launches including a picture of the handheld cultivator in its Express Inside Out section.
Journalists were keen to receive comments from Ryobi experts, discussing how the products work and what they are used for. The expert comments and product reviews landed in the likes of The Telegraph and Top Ten Reviews. Overall, it was a successful start to working with Ryobi, and we look forward to achieving more in the months to come.
Both pieces of content highlighted the high end design of the LE Range, whilst bigging up its sound quality. Volume up!
Dominic Radcliffe, who has been a creative at Here Be Dragons since late 2021, will now formally lead the agency’s creative department, looking to build a “holistic creative focus” while advancing junior talent.
Before joining the agency, he founded his own digital marketing and creative studio, Rufus. Clients of the agency included Island Records, Spotify, and 23&Me.
Radcliffe said: “Here Be Dragons is a creative force which I have been lucky enough to be a part of. I’m very much looking forward to building on its previous creative success by nurturing new talent, doubling down on culture, and creating a diverse, thoughtful, energised team of creative minds.”
Tailwinds — the hottest trend forecast service on the planet (even if we do say so) — is back. Serving up insights around what makes a good brand collaboration and asking all the tough questions as to whether every x leads to treasure, we’re again partnering with The Drum and will be featuring a panel of experts to dish out what’s hot and what’s not when two brands collide.
Full deets are below:
We’d love to see you there, so please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
News of this year’s Glastonbury line-up caused quite the stir, with many commenting on the lack of representation in the Pyramid Stage line-up
Arctic Monkeys, Guns N' Roses, and Elton John were announced via a very apologetic comment from organiser Emily Eavis, who seemed to go out of her way to address the issue, but in a way that caused other stage headliner Lana Del Rey to threaten to cancel her appearance.
It felt like a bit of a botched announcement, but does raise interesting questions about the music industry as a whole. It will be interesting to see what happens next year, and whether a certain pop queen will reschedule their highly anticipated headline slot after the cancelled COVID year…
Calling all fellow music lovers! This month, we unleashed "Dragon Radio" onto the world — a shiny new Spotify channel brought to you by none other than yours truly.
Every Thursday afternoon, we serve up a fresh batch of tunes inspired by current events or agency shenanigans. Best of all, it's a collaborative effort, which means everyone gets a chance to show off their music taste.
Now, we don't mess around when it comes to holidays. For St. Patrick's Day, we brewed up a giant playlist overflowing with the likes of Westlife, The Cranberries, and, of course, the queen of Irish music herself, Enya.
So, what are you waiting for? Give us a listen and soak up all the musical goodness we have to offer.
Click this link to hear our latest playlist and scope out all the other fun themes we've cooked up!