Clear Defendable Territory

Week #08

Google, Ocado and McLaren play Wild Cards
Week #08

We've been starting conversations with big brands to get them thinking about what really makes their brands tick. Wild Cards are 100 questions designed to get fun, healthy debates going, launched last month with a panel of industry leaders including McLaren, Google and Ocado at an event called ‘The Secret Life of Brands’. Robert Rowland Smith, a philosopher from our Wild Cards partner The School of Life, picked out different cards and subjected the panelists to a gruelling hour of questions. One of the questions they answered gave us a fascinating insight into their creative process, so we thought we'd share that with you this week.

When the poet Louis MacNeice was offered a job as a BBC producer, he insisted half his weekly timetable remain empty ‘for thinking’. How much space to think do you allocate yourself each week?

John Allert, Group Brand Director, McLaren:

"When I’m walking the dog or cycling, I can erase the hard drive. I’m more honest with myself the older I’ve got. When I get to work it’s like knowing you are going to be in a tsunami – I go with it, and just deal with it as it’s happening. At the end of the day, I put A Flock of Seagulls on and I think."

David Benson, Director of Branding EMEA, Google:

"I don't have fixed time: I call it "loading the washing machine". I absorb stimulus, let it mull around, trust my subconscious and then just let it come. I do things like run or cycle, rather than actively think - because when I'm in the office, my thoughts are bound by my environment. There’s being creative with a capital ‘C’ and a small ‘c’. The capital C is being a Creative. The small c is applying creativity to every problem. You have to allow people to be creative you can’t tell people to do it. Give them the license, ability and permission to solve their problem. If you want to be creative it’s about managing and controlling your environment. Be conscious of your own bad habits. Do you have a roast every Sunday? Be a vegetarian for a week, you will be surprised what happens when you break routine."

Kristian Brugts, Group Head of Brand, Ocado: 

"Driving - my thoughts are in the car. You can’t assign a time because you can’t force thought. It must be fluid and natural. No original thoughts ever came out of a brainstorm. I get my breakthroughs at 3 a.m. from my subconscious."

Through conversations like these, you can really get to know your brand and its views, opinions and details. We're continuing to ask questions. The next Wild Card event will be in July, email us on if you'd like to be added to the waiting list for an invite.


What are Wild Cards?

The Clearing have been working with The School of Life to develop 100 questions designed to help you see your brand from new perspectives. We think great conversations begin with a great question. Each week, we’ll share another question and our response to it. Email us with your own answers on – we’d love to know what you think.