The Bristol Distinguished Address: The future of brands in a post truth world; Paul Geddes

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Date: 08 February 2017
Venue: UWE Exhibition and Conference Centre, BS34 8QZ
Time: Reception: 18:00 Lecture: 18:30 Networking: 19:30

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The future of brands in a post truth world

To many, brands are little more than symbols in adverts and packaging. But Paul Geddes, CEO of Direct Line Group, argues that they play a far more vital role in society. They are one of the last lines of defence for consumers faced with the impossible choice about which companies to trust in an increasingly unpredictable world.

The core purpose of all brands has been the same since a dairy company first put an Anchor symbol on a slab of butter to promise it wouldn't be contaminated and kill the unwary consumer. They represent their owners' promises to their customers about why they are their best choice.

But things have become a lot more complicated for today's brand owners. Evidence shows that consumers are ever more willing to avoid thinking too hard about facts, making instinctive decisions instead. And they will almost certainly receive endorsement for their choices in the echo chamber of social media.

In this post-truth world, it takes a deeper connection to be considered. The brands that successfully earn consumer brain time today tend to frame their products, services and conversations in terms of their purpose. And in the future, as AI moves into homes, this will become even more critical. Consumers will be able to delegate choices that don't interest them to machines. And only brands with a strong core purpose and the agility to adapt to ever-changing consumer needs will survive.

Discuss this event on Twitter using the hashtag #BristolLectures.


Registration will open on 11 January 2017.

You may also be interested in attending this interactive workshop also taking place before the Bristol Distinguished Address:

Leading Edge Thinking Workshop 17:00-18:00

Cybercrime - the threat posed by financial crime:

Professor Nicholas Ryder, Professor in Financial Crime, Faculty of Business and Law, UWE Bristol

The aim of this workshop is to provide an overview of the emerging threats posed by financial crime via the internet to the digital economy. The workshop will highlight the threat posed by internet related financial crimes and in particular considers money laundering, fraud and the financing of terrorism. The workshop also presents an overview of the related financial crime regulations and outlines the penalties that can be imposed for breaches of the regulations

To register for this workshop email:

BDAS Lecture Programme

  • 18:00 - Registration and refreshments
  • 18:30 - Lecture
  • 19:30 - Networking


Paul was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Direct Line Group (formerly RBS Insurance) in August 2009, and since then has led the business through an IPO as part of the divestment from RBS in 2012, and into the FTSE 100 in September 2014. Direct Line is a leading insurer of cars, homes and small businesses in the UK through its own brands (Direct Line, Churchill, Privilege, Green Flag and NIG) and through partnerships.

He is deputy chairman of the ABI Board. Prior to Direct Line Group, Paul was CEO of RBS Group's mainland UK retail banking business, following a successful career in multichannel retailing and marketing at leading companies such as Kingfisher, GUS and Procter & Gamble. He read politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford.

Discuss this event on Twitter using the hashtag #BristolLectures.

About the Bristol Distinguished Address Series

The Bristol Distinguished Address Series provides a unique opportunity to hear about the challenges, issues and decisions being made at the highest level of strategic leadership. The series is delivered by the Bristol Business School in partnership with ACCA, Bristol City Council, Bristol Junior Chamber, Bristol Post, Business West, CBI, CMI, FSB, IoD, ICAEW and the West of England LEP.

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Cost: Free
Contact: Corporate Relations Service
Telephone: +44 (0)117 32 81805

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