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Critical Insight Skills Training

Do you want to develop Critical Insight Skills that get to the heart of your target audience? 

This course has been jointly developed by the APG and The Nursery to train a new generation of planners and strategists in the skills they need to understand target audiences and develop people-based strategic insights. 

For more information visit:


Are estate agents the masters of behavioural science?

I always dread having to look for a new place to live. For those in the renting game, like myself, this tends to be every couple of years.  This year my search started a few weeks ago, and already I’ve found many estate agents to be pushy, untrustworthy and generally stressful to deal with.

But when I started to analyse their tactics and techniques, I realised some of them were pretty...

Numbers are people too - understanding the impact of injury

I am a quantitative researcher. I don’t have a mug saying “I love spreadsheets”, but I do tend to be sat at a desk digging through Excel rather than speaking to people day in day out like my qualitative colleagues. 

We’ve recently worked with National Accident Helpline to explore the extent of the impact that injury caused by an accident can have on people’s lives as part of their “Make It...


In April this year, Netflix released a talk by Researcher-Storyteller Brené Brown on vulnerability and courage. Brown is a Social Scientist from Texas with 5 New York Times Bestsellers and a Ted Talk with over 38 million views under her belt. The Netflix Special is really great, she truly is a wonderful story teller, using personal anecdotes to clearly communicate well constructed arguments....


Last week I went to see Avalanche at the Barbican followed by a Q&A with actor Maxine Peake and director Anne-Louise Sarks. The play was really impressive, a one woman performance exploring the rollercoaster of IVF treatment. The Q&A also started strong, with discussion led by Sarah Hemming from the Financial Times. However, things took a turn when the Q&A was open to the floor.


Only is Massive!

Only is massive

One of my favourite tasks is reviewing other people’s reports. A fresh pair of eyes and a critical view is a great way of stress testing arguments and work data harder.

It’s also a great way to fine tune the headlines and cut out those words or phrases that ring alarm bells – the weasel words as we call them. Research unfortunately has a lot of these.

For example:

‘On the other hand...

Fighting Talk! - Brands that ‘attack’ other brands

If a competitor is the main barrier on your way to the top, one way to get around them is to bring them down so you can take their place (rather than elevating yourself up). We see it all the time in sport, with boxers psyching out their opponents at weigh ins and in the build up to a fight and performance stats constantly compared between football teams. But brands can do this too. Comparative...

It's not big and it's not clever

“It’s not big and it’s not clever” - Mums everywhere

I love a good swear.

Pain, humour, passion, frustration, anger all deserve a good cuss.
A joke can be funnier.
A point can be more pointed.
Anger can be angrier.

I wish the Queen would drop the f-bomb (but I’m pleased she doesn’t do it all the time).
A well placed swear can nail an argument, a barrage of expletives is best left to the drunks.

What can high street retailers learn from Supreme

This past year has not been kind to our high street retailers, nevertheless the popular streetwear brand, Supreme, appears to be stronger than ever. Amidst this year’s football fever the nation saw British High Street staple House of Fraser fall into administration, Marks and Spencer close down several branches and we all waved goodbye to our childhood favourite, Toys ‘R’ Us. Be that as it may,...

Introducing Tracking Plus

Helping brands grow | helping businesses grow

Life for brand marketers is getting tougher; it’s never been more important to find the edge that makes communications spend go further. That’s why The Nursery has reinvented tracking for embattled marketers. We call it Tracking Plus, because conventional tracking isn’t always enough.

Nursery Tracking Plus explains not only how your marketing is...

Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another

Last week I was fortunate to attend the APG strategy conference, a fantastic event with seven brilliant and eclectic speakers.

A reoccurring theme running through a number of the talks was our preoccupation with our own world, our privilege and our middle-class, London-centric professional bubble.  

Margaret Heffernan reminded us of our tendency to surround ourselves with people like us,...

APG Conference - On the Contrary | The power of contrarian thinking to sharpen strategy and inspire creative

The APG conference took place this year on Monday 8 October at the Royal Institute in London. The day consisted of seven engaging and wide ranging talks, delivered by speakers including a psychologist, a police officer, a lawyer and an organisational change expert. Here’s the Nursery’s round up of the day’s offering:

Professor Nick Chater – The Mind is Flat
Professor Nick Chater kicked off...

The Nursery at the heart of effective campaigns

It's Effectiveness Week (and Vegan week for Bake Off fans). Agencies and clients have been immersed in seminars, festivals, dinners, webinars, conferences chasing the holy grail of finding the secret to making effective ad campaigns.

Perhaps it isn’t such a secret

Because every week is effectiveness week at The Nursery – and whether we are sowing the seeds of new campaigns in creative...

The Nursery acquires market research consultancy Arkenford


Market Research consultancy, Arkenford has been acquired by award winning London based brand research agency, The Nursery Research and Planning, for an undisclosed amount.

The combination of Arkenford’s innovative quantitative research methods and analytical skills together with The Nursery’s inspiring and constructive brand research will make this a powerhouse of...

Lies and why we tell them

Pauline McGowan waxes lyrical, once again, on her favourite topic.

One of the most difficult reality checks a researcher faces is that human beings are innate liars. Timothy Levine, the chair of communication studies at the University of Alabama, has run some well-constructed studies and while they are based on self-reported lies, they have been repeated and cross referenced. He has found that...

What researchers can learn from a comedy writers' festival

Pauline McGowan and Kate Benson recently presented our humour research to comedy writers at the Craft of Comedy festival in Llandudno.

‘As Swift once said, haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate’ … as conference keynote speeches go, Dave Cohen’s at the Craft of Comedy was one of the most fun, inspiring, practical and creative we’ve come across. And you didn’t need to be a comedy writer to...

Uniqlo - LifeWear and the lifestyle it sells

Uniqlo sells clothes. They are not unique in that. Their clothes are not unique either, they make comfortable clothes with a slightly utilitarian aesthetic. Their LifeWear collection, well-designed basics designed for everyday, particularly embodies this.

Where they are different is in their adverts. Working with Droga5, they have grown further and further away from focusing on clothes in the...

Thinking Around Corners

On Tuesday 8 May Google hosted the APG Thinking Around Corners event at their Soho HQ. The evening saw Martin Weigel, Head of Planning at Wieden + Kennedy, and Richard Shotton, Deputy Head of Evidence at MG OMD, sharing their thoughts on two hot topics within the planning community:

  • How do you get people to entertain facts that don’t accord with their world view?
  • How do you get society/a client/a...

The Paradox of Tinder

Psychologist Barry Schwartz taught us that, paradoxically, the more choices he have, the less happy we are. Rather than enhancing our lives and allowing us to make the most relevant decisions, having more options can overwhelm us, and leave us feeling that the grass is always greener. As Schwartz says:

"Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in...

Feeling tap-happy: 2018 as the year of the contactless donation

In December, I predicted that 2018 would be the year that sees contactless charity payments go mainstream – you’ll be able to tap to donate for your poppy, daffodil or geranium badge, and I think it can’t come soon enough. In an increasingly cashless society, and with contactless payments now accounting for more than half of all transactions under 30, I’m hopeful that charities will be able to...

Coffee anyone?

In 2017 The Nursery predicted that 2018 would be the year of the Reusable Cup. As awareness of the waste built up by millions of morning latte habits has grown, we felt sure consumers would be seeking a better more permanent alternative to all those paper cups, plastic lids and corrugated surrounds clogging up litter bins. The shocking truth is that the UK throws away 2.5 billion paper coffee...

You're feeling very sleepy....

It’s time to get down to the real basics now.  Sleep is the current big thing we’re being sold.  It was my prediction at the Nursery predictions for 2018.  I’ve seen it mentioned in loads of articles in Jan and Feb, so thought I’d talk about it and remind everyone where they heard it first.

It’s relevant to everyone and with tech keeping us always on we’re heading for a sleep...

Nursery Rhymes

If anyone has read Dave Trott's latest blog
They'd find he has given our memory a jog
He discusses advertisers' use of rhyme
And reminds us of a more rhythmical time

A time when an apple a day kept the doctor away &
A mars helped you work, rest and play
The trick with rhyme is it makes things important
And can act as an effective prompt or portent

For an issue that needs addressing
That is urgent or...

Home hackers - what does the future hold?

Before Christmas, one of my predictions was that increased usage of the Internet of Things would lead to the first ‘home hacks’. Hackers will start to attack individuals by unlocking their doors, generating random online orders to Tesco or making their living rooms uncomfortably warm.

And although this may sound like a bad joke, or even an episode of Black Mirror, ‘home hacking’ is a growing...