Author Archives: Julian Stubbs

Doom & Gloom. But a Glimmer of Light on a Dark Swedish Night

Stockholm, Sweden, December 11th, 2014 Watching the news nowadays isn’t much fun. Ebola. The middle east. Global warming. Liverpool Football Club’s rubbish season. You’d think the world was going to hell in a handbasket. In fact one US news channel, if you can actually call Fox a news channel, even polled viewers on the topic. Their telephone survey asked whether viewers thought, considering the world situation, ‘Things are going to hell in a handbasket’ or ‘Everything will be alright.’ 58% of the respondents thought the world was already on the slippery slope to doom (in fact 71% of Republicans, but maybe that’s another story). But despite the fact that it gets dark here in Stockholm (The Capital of Scandinavia) before 3pm, I saw a glimmer of light here this week in the depths of the Swedish winter. It is of course Nobel week, which means we have lots of people with very big brains descending on Stockholm to get their medals (and cheques) in recognition of their work and contribution. Without doubt this is something every scientist aspires to win (despite James Watson, the 1962 winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine trying to get rid of his own medal this week but actually failing to do so – see link below). The Nobel’s are a wonderful way of recognising and rewarding these brilliant people’s extraordinary contribution. But these superstars of science are not actually the reason for my feeling of hope. Nobel Prizes tend to be given retrospectively and it is often many years after the actual scientific contribution has been made and even longer before their work translates into something that actually has an impact. I’m more interested in the young generation of scientists doing stuff today. At UP, we’re lucky enough to be involved with something called The Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists. It’s a prize we actually helped create a couple of years ago when we brought together two of our clients, the Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab) and the journal Science, as joint sponsors. The prize recognises young scientists at the very start of their careers. Funding for these very bright young people is really important and so the prize not only helps recognise their contribution (pat on the back) but also provides some support (money in the bank). Our awards ceremony are held annually in the same week as the Nobel Prizes, and we hold our ceremony in the magnificent Hall of Mirrors, in The Grand Hotel Stockholm – the original venue of the very first Nobel prizes. Our lucky prize winners also get to attend many of the Nobel events and speeches.  
The Hall of Mirrors, Stockholm's Grand Hotel

The Hall of Mirrors, Grand Hotel, Stockholm

One of our young scientist winners this year was Chelsea Wood, who received her PhD from Stanford University. Chelsea gave a fascinating perspective on the Nobel prizes and really brought home the fact that there is still so much to be done. Chelsea’s winning essay and thesis was on the topic of the environment and environmental change and the ecology of infectious disease. She told the story of Ronald Ross, who had been awarded his Nobel Medal in the very room where we were seated on Tuesday evening. Ross was the Nobel Laureate in Medicine in 1902 for, and here I use the official quote, ‘his work on malaria, by which he has shown how it enters the organism and thereby has laid the foundation for successful research on this disease and methods of combating it’. Ross received his award one hundred and twelve years ago. Today, according to the WHO, about 3.2 billion people – almost half of the world’s population – are still at risk of malaria. In 2013, there were about 198 million malaria cases with an estimated 584,000 deaths. Chelsea’s speech makes you think. The pace of change needs to pick up and improve. At UP we are also involved with promoting an event called Digital Health. This two day conference takes place every August in Stockholm and provides a glimpse into the future and focuses on the latest innovations in health and how the digital world is starting to make a significant impact on healthcare. Healthcare is normally the biggest cost any government faces so the potential impact is enormous and needed.
Picture shows from left to right Anne Burrows (Senior Account Director UP), winners Liron Bar-Peled, Dan Dominissini, Simon Johnson and Chelsea Wood, Jenny Aarnio (account Manager at UP) and Susanna Appel (SciLifeLab).

Picture shows from left to right Anne Burrows (Senior Account Director UP), winners Liron Bar-Peled, Dan Dominissini, Simon Johnson, Chelsea Wood, Jenny Aarnio (Account Manager at UP) and Susanna Appel (SciLifeLab).

So why am I so hopeful? This years Science & SciLifeLab Young Scientist winners were, as last year, exceptionally bright and committed people. But most of all they were passionate. Passionate to change things as fast as possible by using science and technology for the greater good. This next generation, who have grown up in an age when innovation happens at the speed of thought, are the people who will help find the solutions to combat malaria effectively, as well as a whole host of other infectious diseases affecting humanity. These are the people who will help change the world for the better and who, despite the doom and gloom and Fox news, give me a glimmer of hope in the depths of the Swedish winter.  
The Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists -

The Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists –

Julian Stubbs is founder and CEO of UP THERE, EVERYWHERE.    SciLifeLab news on the 2014 winners James Watson and his boomerang $4.8m Nobel Medal UP THERE, EVERYWHERE and The Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists Digital Health Days  

Place Branding: Roffa Rising

Years ago I used to work on the Beefeater Gin business in the UK. It’s where I first came across the phrase Dutch Courage. It goes back to the British army who, many years ago, would issue a portion or two of Gin to the troops before they charged off into battle. Gin is made with juniper berries and juniper berries came from Holland. Well Holland to me, but more rightly The Netherlands – the place where the Dutch live. OK, so they possibly have three identities. Now I know The Netherlands pretty well. We have a very active and growing UP member base there and the thing I like is that it seems you can get pretty much anywhere in the country within 45 minutes by train. I’ve been to Amsterdam a lot but never Rotterdam. Where? Yes, Rotterdam, the un-sung second city that everyone kind of overlooks. Well, if you get a chance, check it out – things are happening. I’ve just spent a day there and it’s a cool, happening, city with more of a business beat than most places and an impressive skyline. 32041024_ml
Rumour is that the folks from Boston’s Cambridge Innovation Centre (CIC) have been checking out Roffa (as some street slang calls the city) as a potential European base. That puts it in competition with cities like London, Amsterdam and Berlin etc.  so the city is punching above its weight. But it has a good list of assets such as a strong Life Sciences, Medical, Food and Cleantech offering; the Erasmus University and Medical Center and The Technical University of Delft. Added to this it has some very cool new and renovated spaces for younger start ups at a more reasonable cost.
Thinking of the difference between Amsterdam and Rotterdam raises some interesting thoughts as well. As one friend, local resident and UP member, Don pointed out, if Amsterdam is the me, me, me approach (as in I amsterdam) then very much Rotterdam is about We rotterdam – as the city is all about working industriously together. Another viewpoint I picked up from a  local coffee shop owner was ‘In Amsterdam they spend the money, in Rotterdam we earn it.’ Proud, industrious, lot this Roffa bunch.
Anyway, if you get a chance check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
Tourist bits
Not every night you get to stay on your very own boat in a harbour. Added to that the boat was a former dope smuggling boat. The Lammie is moored in a small basin off the Maas in downtown Rotterdam. So if you fancy breaking away from normal hotels for a few nights, and like the idea of being rocked to sleep, The Lammie is the perfect alternative location. Find it on Airbnb.

The good ship Lammie


Cardiff? Definitely not Lagom

I’ve lived in Sweden a good few years now but my Swedish doesn’t appear to get much better. I speak what I call ICA Swedish (ICA being the name of the local grocery store, where I can make myself understood pretty well, but that’s about it). One Swedish word I do know however is Lagom. It’s a word that is central to the Swedish psyche, and in fact pretty much everything else that has gone on in Sweden for the last few hundred years. It means just enough – but never too much. It’s about being average. Everyone being the same – equal. Now I’ve battled this word for a good number of years, as average is not really something I have an affinity for and I’ve come to the conclusion that Lagom is so embedded in the Swedish way of life, it can never be removed. Which is probably why they’ll never win a world cup – but that’s another story.  In my work with cities and place branding I find that far too often most places are Lagom in the way they approach their marketing. The positioning of cities, what they stand for, is key in their successful marketing. Too many places end up doing something average, creating what I call wallpaper positioning – trying to be all things to everyone and in so doing achieve and stand for very little. Cardiff, the capital of Wales, is certainly not a lagom city. I was recently asked to be a keynote speaker on City Branding at the Capital City Vision Event in Cardiff ( They asked me to talk about my experience with the branding and marketing of Stockholm and other places. I realised I had not been to Cardiff in well over 20 years and when last there it was not particularly a city I had looked forward to visiting. Wales was a place I knew well however, having spent many holidays on the west coast, Cardigan Bay. Added to this my grandmother, now sadly no longer with us, was Welsh. She was from the valleys. So, in the words of Granny Stubbs, ‘I had a bit of an affliction for Wales’. So back to Cardiff. What a spectacular difference to the city of my youth. Modern Cardiff is a welcoming and interesting place with a dramatically changed architecture from when I knew it. The millennium Stadium is spectacular. It looks like something from another planet, that has been dropped from the mother ship to fit perfectly into the centre of the city. I walked round all sides of it in awe. Built for the 1999 Rugby World Cup, it’s hosted many other great sporting events, including one of the most memorable FA Cup Finals ever, between Liverpool and West Ham (which after extra time and a 3-3 score, ended up with Liverpool winning on penalties). There are several things I really like about the Millennium Stadium. One being that it’s right slap–bang in the centre of the city. It gives it a very special feeling, for such a major stadium. The other thing I love is the cost – at somewhere under 150 million pounds, it makes Wembley Stadium, which cost closer to 750 million, look incredibly expensive and actually a waste of money. I know which I prefer. The list of other dramatic new architecture in the city is impressive as well – the Millennium Centre,  Richard Rogers  Senedd (or Welsh Senate building) and the fantastic new Cardiff Bay Development. By 2018 the new BBC Wales head office will house 1200 staff right in the very heart of the city. Today the city is already home to many well known BBC productions, most notably Dr.Who (check out the Dr Who Experience if you’re into Daleks).     
Dr Who.Made in Cardiff

Dr Who.Made in Cardiff

    I had my family with me and we walked the city streets one evening looking for a good restaurant and we were spoilt for choice (we eventually chose a Brazilian restaurant called Viva Brazil, where the Passadors, or meat carvers, move from table to table, offering fifteen different cuts of meat.)   Walking through The Hayes and around the St Davids Centre the choice and variance of restaurants and food is spectacular and again a far cry from the fish and chips city of my youth.  
Cardiff Bay development.

Cardiff Bay development.

Eric Kuhne.   The St Davids Centre development is by renowned architect Eric R. Kuhne and his company Civic Arts. The centre combines leisure, retail, entertainment, office, and residential spaces into a vibrant new centrepiece in the very heart of the city. I had the huge good fortune that Eric was one of the other  keynote speakers on the platform with me in Cardiff and what a speech it was covering as a professional many of the things I appreciate about good urban thinking and design. Eric is the founder of Civic Arts which he describes as ‘a research and design practice dedicated to rediscovering the pageantry of civic life‘. Civic Arts is currently building both mixed-use and specialised projects on four continents, from urban regeneration schemes to entire city master plans. He believes that ‘the city has been, and always will be, the ultimate ‘Marketplace of Ideas.’ As a city person it’s sentiment I can easily embrace. It was a true pleasure to listen to Eric’s speech and share the same platform as such an urban visionary.
The Miner by local sculptor Robert Thomas, is a reminder of the sweat and blood that the city of Cardiff is built upon. It makes the point wonderfully well of  how very different, and comparatively easy, our modern day life is.

The Miner by local sculptor Robert Thomas, is a reminder of the sweat and blood that the city of Cardiff is built upon. It makes the point wonderfully well of how very different, and comparatively easy, our modern day life is.

Tim Williams CEO of The Committee for Sydney

Another key participant at the Capital City Vision Event, was Tim Williams – CEO of The Committee for Sydney. Tim, a proud Welshman, was formerly CEO of the Thames Gateway London Partnership where he made the Gateway in East London the key urban regeneration project for London and indeed the UK. Tim is recognised as one of the leading urban renewal thinkers and practitioners at work in the field, with an international reputation.

Tim’s brilliant speech focused on the future of cities. People are flocking to cities and most interestingly back to city centres. The dream of our parents and grand parents of living in suburbia is in full reverse. Thirty years ago inner cities had connotations of being dangerous, low quality slum districts but today more and more people want to live in the heart of cities. The easy access to amenities, connectivity and being able to conduct daily life in a simpler, lower cost way are some of the major drivers. These new urbanites offer many benefits to society as well, such as reduced carbon footprint as daily commutes are impacted and with people living in smaller city centre accommodation.

Bright Flight

These people are educated and seeking knowledge based jobs as well. This phenomenon is what the demographer William Frey has in mind when he says “A new image of urban America is in the making. What used to be white flight to the suburbs is turning into ‘bright flight’ to cities that have become magnets for aspiring young adults who see access to knowledge-based jobs, public transportation and a new city ambiance as an attraction.”

The point is to ensure you have some of what attracts ‘bright flight’: walkable urbanism.

And it’s not just the young. Interestingly the baby boomers, who are now approaching retirement age, are seeking easier, lower cost, life styles with their larger homes in the suburbs now costing them more time and effort to maintain and heat. City centre living also reduces the need for cars. This means cities need efficient, good quality, public transportation systems as well as offering walkable urbanism.

Place Branding: The Drivers and Issues

My own speech in Cardiff focused on three aspects of developing a strong city brand. Firstly I looked at some of the drivers for city branding such as the attraction of tourists, inward investment as well as new tax paying residents. Place and city branding is one of the most complex marketing tasks that can be undertaken and has to involve a high degree of stakeholder contact. Identifying and involving the key stakeholders is central to any place branding strategy. Finally I looked at positioning, which goes to the very heart of place branding. Here I referenced my own work for the city of Stockholm and its positioning as The Capital of Scandinavia. The art of marketing is the art of branding. The art of branding is the art of positioning. What do you stand for and represent? I play a little game of asking people what one word they would use to describe a city. It’s one of the most challenging questions to answer for any brand and goes to the heart of positioning.

Place branding has grown enormously in the last ten years and as one place markets itself, very other place has to. Many of the disciplines of consumer marketing apply however to place branding. Like a traditional brand, places need to develop long term strategies. These should have a ten and twenty year perspective and not change with every political cycle. This means politicians need to be engaged early on and the strategy needs to have cross political party agreement to have a long term future. Stockholm’s has been in place now over ten years and has been through different political administrations successfully.

Building strong place brands can have a remarkable impact on cities. Just take the case of Barcelona. Today it is seen as one of the world’s most successful cities. However, it was all very different forty years ago. In the 1975 series Fawlty Towers Manuel, the hapless Spanish waiter who lived in fear of Mr Fawlty, was cast as coming from Barcelona. His home town was chosen with great care – as at that stage Barcelona was considered by many foreigners to be a run down, dirty, industrial black hole. It wasn’t until the death of Franco in 1975, that a new regional focus was put in place to get the city back on a path to regeneration. One of the key springboards in the strategy was the winning, and hugely successful staging of, the 1992 Olympic games, Barcelona is one of the few destinations to have run an Olympics at a profit. More than most places, the case of Barcelona proves that it is possible to turn around the fortunes of a city given the right strategy, a high degree of stakeholder involvement, focus and – most importantly – investment.

The Barcelona case was I felt relevant to my Cardiff presentation. Cardiff has been through a remarkable transformation since my youth. It’s already impressive. But the UK needs to embrace a more decentralised approach. London still dominates but turning the UK’s regional cities into new economic power houses would have tremendous benefits for the entire UK economy.

I was asked what one word I would use to describe Cardiff and spontaneously I replied passion. It’s a city with genuine passion and pride. You can feel it in meeting the local people and politicians. Lagom? Certainly not. Cardiff is a place that deserves to succeed and stand out. As the Capital city of Wales it also has a gravitas that most cities can’t match.

Cardiff has yet more potential to offer and I believe the best is yet to come. Granny Stubbs, my Welsh grandmother, would be proud.

—————————————————————–   Watch an extract from the Capital City Vision speech here:            

The Rise of Independent Workers & E-Ployment

The UK’s Daily Telegraph ran a feature this past Tuesday October 28th, 2014,  on the growing trend of people living and working where they want, as independent workers, through the use of cloud based tools. These global digital nomads are becoming an increasingly important part of the global shift in employment economics and cities and countries are having to consider the best ways to attract and retain these people as new residents. Daily Telegraph Article A new book covers the topic called E-Ployment: Living & Working in the Cloud. e-book-4 copy The book makes the point that globally there is a dramatic shift taking place in employment norms. We are seeing a large rise in the number of self-employed people around the world. Not all of them wander the globe either. Some observers in the US have called this the rise of the 1099 economy, a term derived from the form Americans fill in and and file to the IRS (US tax authorities) to denote their self employed status in their annual tax assessment. This 1099 economy is predicted to count for a large and growing proportion of the total US working population within the next decade. Although the US self-employment rates are a topic that are debated, some commentators predict that self employed people will account for a major proportion of the US total workforce. In an article on GIGAOM, a US blog that follows technology, Gene Zaino, CEO of MBO Partners, predicts in a report from his company that there will be 65 to 70 million independent workers within the next decade. The same report also states that the majority of people in independent work chose it, and had not been forced into it, and that a large number of those in traditional employment are considering moving across to work independently because of the lifestyle benefits and because of a lack on fulfilment with traditional employment. This rise in the number of freelance workers obviously raises a number of different issues with regards to insurance, healthcare and pensions etc. These issues vary greatly depending on where in the world you are located. As an independent worker in Sweden for example, provided you are paying your personal tax, the governmental systems for health and pensions will cover you.   E-Ployment Living & Working in the Cloud is available on Amazon.    

3 Lessons in Place Branding Excellence

I was recently fortunate enough to one of the judges on the PlaceBrander of the year awards in Sweden. The ceremony event was held at the very modern and stylish Copperhill Mountain Lodge resort in Åre, Sweden. The very worthy winner of the event this year was Umeå, which is the European Capital of Culture.   Umeå winners It was interesting in reviewing the various entries from around Sweden and to reflect on what made for an outstanding entry. The official criteria, which are extremely valid, were a Place Branding project that led to the growth of the destination in terms of tourism, inward investment, residential growth or an increase in activity such as congresses and exhibitions. The three things I look for But what more was I looking for as a judge? What else was important to see that went beyond these initial worthy criteria? 1. One of the striking things is that too many place branding activities are ‘campaign focused’. Campaigns in my mind tend to be too short term. Places are difficult things to market and create strong brands for. Branding takes time and a campaign tends to be a shorter term, one off, event. I think part of the issue is that traditional advertising agencies themselves are very campaign oriented. Traditional advertising agencies aren’t terribly good at dealing with the greater complexity that Place Branding really demands. Equally the place or destination itself needs to clearly identify goals with definable long term strategic objectives. What is the place trying to achieve? What are their goals in terms of either inward investment, tourism or residential growth. Too often these are missing and even when present, tend to be expressed in generalities. Each place is different and demands a different, long term, set of objectives. 2. Once these longer term goals and objectives are identified the focus should be on creating a really distinct positioning. The art of marketing is the art of branding. The art of branding is the creation of a distinct positioning. Being number one in your chosen category. It is the hardest thing to get right. We did it wonderfully well with the work we did for Stockholm – as The Capital of Scandinavia. A simple and clear proposition.  A distinct positioning means being just that – distinct. You can’t be all things to all people. You need to stand for something and that will probably lead to some people not liking it. But if you produce wallpaper that doesn’t stand out, odds are you won’t offend anyone- but equally you won’t stand out either. 3. Communications that really communicates. Beyond the branding elements I obviously look at the communications thinking and increasingly a good mix between traditional media and activities and social media use.  I think nearly all places and destinations engage in some form of social media activity nowadays, but unfortunately too much of it is disjointed and sporadic. The world of marketing has been turned on its head in the last ten years and nowadays customers are in control of what they want to see and experience. They can get more information, and form opinions about places, and brands, without ever looking at your website or following your social media posts. The whole focus nowadays should be built around attracting the right customers to seek you out and the way you do that is with great quality Content and strong Inbound Marketing programmes. If you are not using this approach in your marketing yet, odds are you are producing lots of content but it is probably being wasted, and measurement of results is not being utilised to refine messaging and campaigns. The key is creating great quality content, without it being overly sales oriented. It firstly needs to be great quality content on a topic. Approach it as you would a relationship with a person. On the first date you don’t normally offer to get married and have kids. You get to know each other and gently build the relationship. It’s like that with marketing and especially content and inbound. If you have not yet started thinking about Inbound, give us a call or visit the Inbound page on the UP THERE, EVERYWHERE website. We have teams of Inbound experts globally who can advise and help.