Welcome back! Here we are. 2013. Don’t worry, we’re halfway through January already. Only about 300 shopping days until Christmas. Half-term shortly, then Easter, then we’re all off for our summer holidays.
Though it’s an odd year, 2013. It features in a lot of science-fiction futures as The Year That Something Happened. 2010 was taken by Arthur C Clarke. 2015 was too obvious and 2012 already has resonances of its own. So lots of futurists plonked us thoroughly into their future. I guess the next big year for futures will be 2017. I think the world ends quite badly then. In quite a lot of different ways. Look out for that.
We should have arranged something for ourselves, though, shouldn’t we? There should have been something to look forward to after that brilliant summer – a consolation fry-up after the Olympic hangover. We need the national equivalent of looking forward to the Boxing Day turkey curry. All you brand owners who poured every last penny into an Olympic maelstrom you could never win: that’s what you should have done. Saved your money and spent it on the day after. Now we’re all bored and you’ve got no budget. That’s not right.
One of the joys of working at Nike was that it understood the rhythms of these things very well.
Nike’s lucky in that it’s tied to deep cultural patterns – the cycle of sporting events. So, every other summer, you know you’re going to be doing something about football. Every four years, it’ll be running. Every other four years, it’ll probably be snowboarding and, every March, it’ll be basketball.
Tying yourself to these "natural" patterns is a great way to run a large organisation. It gives you a sort of resonant frequency – one that’s connected to the world; not just an internal rhythm of quarters and sales periods, but something that "everyone" is doing.
Nike’s particular genius was that it spotted that every time a World Cup finished, the whole football group would be knackered and sales would take a dip – right when the new football season was starting. So it invented "Back To Football" to get everyone cranking again. At least that’s what happened in my day. It probably does something even cleverer now.
Some people don’t like new years. They’re January Scrooges. They see them as some sort of artificial conspiracy by the calendar business, like Father’s Day – a confection of the Temporal-Industrial Complex. I don’t, I love them. Rebirth, renewal, new hope, new optimism. I fall for all of it.
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