Innovation Stories and Marketing Strategies with Giles Lury

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Giles Lury is a Senior Director at The Value Engineers, a marketing strategy consultancy. He has over 30 years of experience in the business and is known for his creative spark, storytelling, and ability to constructively challenge conventional thinking. 

Giles is also the author of eight books on marketing, including four storybooks in which he relates short marketing tales that each revolve around a lesson. He is a regular contributor to The Marketing Society and MediaCat

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Giles Lury shares the origin story of Barbie, previously called Bild Lilli doll, and Unilever’s Magnum bar
  • Why big companies don’t have to buy rights to some ideas
  • The story of Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop 
  • How branding has evolved over the years and what Giles likes about marketing 
  • How to get in touch with Giles

In this episode…

Branding and marketing are very important components of growing a consumer brand. Over the years, the strategies that companies have been using to increase awareness for their products have changed, mainly driven by changing consumer needs and evolutions in market trends.

Due to increased competition, companies also have to find creative ways to market their products better to cut through the noise and increase excitement, appeal to their customers, and stay ahead of the competition. 

In this episode of the Innovations and Breakthroughs Podcast, Rich Goldstein is joined by Giles Lury, the Senior Director at The Value Engineers, to discuss innovation and marketing strategies. Giles also shares some innovative stories from his book and explains how branding has evolved over the years. Stay tuned.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

This episode is brought to you by Goldstein Patent Law, a firm that helps protect inventors’ ideas and products. They have advised and obtained patents for thousands of companies over the past 25 years. So if you’re a company that has a software, product, or design you want protected, you can go to They have amazing free resources for learning more about the patent process. 

You can email their team at to explore if it’s a match to work together. Rich Goldstein has also written a book for the American Bar Association that explains in plain English how patents work, which is called ‘The ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent.’

Intro (00:09):
Welcome to innovations and breakthroughs with your host, Rich Goldstein, talking about the evolutionary, the revolutionary, the inspiration and the perspiration and those aha that change everything. And now here’s your host rich Goldstein.

Rich (00:33):
Welcome to innovations and breakthroughs where I feature top leaders in the path they took to create change. Past guests include Joe Polish for Oland Frazier and Rick Zari. This episode is brought to you by my company, Goldstein patent law. Will we help you to protect your ideas and products we’ve advised and obtained patents for thousands of companies over the past 27 years. So if you’re a company that has software or product or a design, you want protected go to Goldstein patent, whether are amazing free resources for learning about the patent process. And you could email my to explore for its match to work together. You could also check out the book I wrote for the American bar association that explains in plain English, how patents work it’s called the ABA consumer guide to obtaining a patent. I have with me here today, Giles Lu Giles would describe himself as a Lego watch wearing Disney, loving, Canon photo shooting.

Rich (01:27):
Chelsea supporting father of five, who also happens to be a senior director of a leading strategic marketing and brand consultancy, the value engineers. He has over 30 years experience in the business, and he is known Chris creative spark, his storytelling, and his ability to constructively challenge, conventional thinking, which has led to him being given another title, director of deviancy. He’s the author of eight books on marketing, including four story books in which he relates short marketing tales, drawing out a lesson from each he’s a regular contributor to the marketing press and, and pieces published by the market society and, and media cat, and writes for two blogs, uh, the, the prisoner and the and the wonder women wonder women, hyphen I’m very pleased to welcome here today. My friend Gil Lu welcome Giles.

Giles (02:23):
Good morning. Thank you very much for having

Rich (02:25):
Me. Yeah, my pleasure. And, uh, so, um, you know, among the, the, uh, the books that you wrote, um, you actually compiled a lot of, um, tales of innovation. There’s a book you wrote called inspiring innovation, 75 marketing tales to help you find the next big thing. And for people to this podcast often, that’s what they’re on quest to do. They have a notion of what might be the next big thing. They’re looking to find a path towards, uh, towards making that a reality. So, um, I’m just really excited to get into some stories here about innovation of people who’ve taken that road, uh, and, uh, taken that concept and, and gotten it out there into the world. So, um, really up to you where you’d like to start. Um, and, uh, and I’m just excited to, to hear, um, here interesting and, and inspiring tales of marketing and innovation.

Giles (03:23):
Lovely. Thanks for that. Rich. Um, um, I think I will probably start close to home for you. So perhaps a couple of, um, innovation stories that evolve the importance of legality copyright and, uh, owning, owning your there. Um, and then perhaps go on to some interesting sources of inspiration, um, because there are some really quite strange ones of that, but perhaps the one to start with is the chairman’s wife. Oh, well, it’s not quite the chairman’s wife. She was, um, the wife of a senior executive at Mattel and her name was Ruth. And she was watching her daughter who was called Barbara at the time playing with a paper doll. And she was really interested that it, the paper dolls weren’t being used as surrogate babies, but as adults. And at the time she thought this is really strange. There aren’t any adult dolls on the market. Why is this?

Giles (04:21):
She left pondering this and the family went on holiday to Switzerland, were in a tobacco shop of all three places. They saw a 12 inch high doll of a young female, a rather a luxury female of the time. And they went in and they bought three, or she bought three. She gave one to her daughter, Ruth and two to her husband, Elliot, who was actually the guy. And she said, you should make these dolls for, for the girls. And it was suddenly an eye opener for them in terms of what they were doing. The, the interesting twist though, was the doll was actually, um, the, a model from a cartoon strip in one of the leading mag, uh, magazines out there D built. And it was known as dil Lilly, and she was a somewhat risque, um, very one. So her figure was slightly toned down by the time she was launched into America.

Giles (05:27):
And of course they were looking for a name for her and the name they gave her was after Rose’s daughter Barbara. And of course, this is the beginnings of Barbie of that. And sort of many years later, what was interesting, how is this with a slightly questionable background? So what Mattel did was buy up the rights to Lilly and slowly, well slowly phased her out of production in, in Germany and Switzerland, where should be done by making sure that they have controlled the rights to do that. And therefore Barbie was free of her past and ready to go and, you know, woo the hearts of many, many, many children in, in years to come.

Rich (06:18):
Yeah, that’s fascinating. And, uh, and I guess it’s, it’s interesting. Um, uh, you know, first of all, how, how, um, Barbie or, um, um, originated, I, I never heard that story before. Uh, and, um, that essentially, um, someone had an initial idea and they, they built it to a certain level and then another company, a bigger company came along and purchased that from them. And they actually had a bigger vision, a different, uh, a different vision, but still the vision created by the originators of Lilly, you know, that was, uh, they, they had fulfilled a valuable piece, um, of the innovation, which was, um, creating adult dolls that for kids to play with, which was not something that existed prior to then. Yeah. Yeah. That’s, that’s awesome. That’s a great one. Um, the other one,

Giles (07:16):
The other, the other legal one, I thought I’d probably, uh, which we might well enjoy, um, takes us off to the south side of Chicago, um, way back, uh, probably in the sort of sixties and seventies where Leo Stefanus, um, set up Aion shop, which was fine during the winter, he had no problems, but in the summer, his two children would listen out for the ice cream van. And when they heard that they’d go Haring down the street, and he was really worried that they were gonna get knocked over or what, what would happen with him. And he decided he’d try and put his confectionary, um, skills to different use. And he created, um, an ice cream, a large block of really good vanilla ice cream dipped in proper chocolate on a stick. And it was the dove bar and he started selling it and it was a great success around Chicago.

Giles (08:14):
And it wasn’t until the 1980s, when he went to a state fair, that knowledge about it started getting bigger and you started to export it all across the country, uh, uh, and go all around. And in 1986, it was acquired by Mars. Great, lovely little story. There is however, a twist in the tale. The tale was that in 1980, an executive from Unilever was on holiday in the states and his children came across the dove bar and loved this rich creamy, vanilla ice cream covered in real chocolate that cracked when you both fit into it. And, uh, their dad caught onto this and said, oh, they really like this. Ooh. And so when he was back in the UK, he told them all about it. And in the UK, Unilever got very interested and create the Magnum bar. Now the Magnum bar has grown on to be a billion dollar brand for you. <inaudible>, um, it is also well known whether this is true or not. The story goes that it is the, the source of the phrase still with prime. And this is a technique that’s often used about, is there something else out there or in another country or another way of doing things that you can take and you can make your own, but in this case, because the, uh, the IP rights were her owned in America, Magna was free to go and operate elsewhere, completely free of any restrictions.

Rich (10:00):
Yeah. And, and that’s how it goes with IP rights is they’re territorial. Um, and, uh, um, throughout the years, people have had successful businesses by launching something in a, in a very different part of the world than where it already existed. Uh, and, uh, uh, and it’s interesting thinking back to the Mattel example previously, um, it’s, you know, Mattel probably didn’t need to, to buy the rights to Lilly to make Barbie, um, they, um, you, you can’t really own the concept of making an, an adult doll. Um, and so if they wanted to make their own doll, um, of following that concept of creating an adult doll for children to play with, they, they were likely free to do so, but they did go ahead and buy the rights from her. And I, I think the interesting thing to highlight there is that it’s, it kind of undermines, uh, an important myth about big companies and stealing ideas, uh, is that people think that big companies like, well, they are essentially the wolves and they will steal your idea and leave you with nothing.

Rich (11:10):
Uh, and the truth is most of the time they will err on the side of caution, uh, and buy, buy rights to things. When they think that it E either they might need to legally, or it would create a bad public perception if they didn’t compensate the originator of a certain concept. So often they’ll go beyond even the IP to, um, to, for the, of PR and for the sake of just that they’re, they’re too big to really want to get involved in some, some little disputes. And, um, so I think, you know, that, that’s an interesting thing that, that came from that. And, and then on the other side of it is here with the second story is it’s. It is, um, it’s kind of clear that, that a lot of times, if you don’t have IP rights that cover you in a territory, you are leaving yourself open to, um, having others pursue it there because your IP rights are geographic. They are jurisdictional. And, and you want to keep that in mind, in terms of, of where the potential market for your product exists.

Giles (12:23):
So one final legal story for you then, um, features, um, Anita Rodik, who, who was just setting up the body shop, the, uh, beauty and bath store, um, that was set up in the UK in the, the mid seventies. And she got the name for her shop from going around and seeing car factories, uh, car repair shops in the states. And so she decided to call it the body shop. However, where set up in Brighton was on a high street and either end of the high street were two CORs. So there were all the people there, they weren’t too pleased with this new shop set up in the middle, called the body shop. They thought this was gonna be bad for business for them. And so sent a solicitor’s note to her saying that they were going to, uh, you know, take her to court over the name.

Giles (13:23):
Anita rod was nothing. If not resourceful. She phoned out the local paper and planted the story about poor single woman who was just starting out on a, her business who was being attacked on both sides by these well-established brands over a, nothing attack on her name and surprise, surprise. The case soon got dropped and the body shop went from strength to strength, but it is just quite interesting sometimes when you get to name it, just the, the issues of like legality in and around it. And just how, whenever you start out with whatever name you start out with, someone will find something wrong with it.

Rich (14:08):
Yeah, absolutely. Uh, that’s awesome. And, you know, um, uh, I I’d like to shift the conversation a little, little bit to something that’s more of the day to day that you do in, in marketing strategy. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and, uh, um, and so we were talking a little bit before about the next generation of brands and how things have really shifted. So yeah, if, if you, if you’d like to talk a bit about that, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how things have shifted in the next generation of brands.

Giles (14:40):
Yeah. I, you know, I’m, as you can tell, as somewhat of a historian about brands, I love digging into their past, but one of the things that has interested me is sort of the evolution of branding and how that has gone through various stages and how it started out, obviously with a market of ownership, you know, you branded a cow or whatever in terms of there, but it moved on into the marketing world where it really took off in consumer goods, the sort of package goods that we all see and buy off supermarket shells. And there was the age of those, perhaps in the 1980s, you start to look at what starts to emerge, which is the age of service, service brands and the law of the service brands, whether those are airlines, banks, telecoms, all of those come into their own, but there seems to be a new generation.

Giles (15:41):
Now, if you look at the most valuable brands of the world, the ones that are really at the top are tech content, um, direct consumer brands. And what is interesting about these brands is they’re not playing by the same rules. They play in different ways when you were a fast moving consumer, good. You spent lots of money all the time, because if somebody was gonna make, make a choice about a soft drink, they’d make it every day. Whereas if your Netflix, you’ve only gotta get somebody to renew once a year, that puts a completely different spin on how you go about doing things when it comes to what you ultimately deliver, increasingly consumer goods, because they’re easy to properly have become much more personality led. Um, and it ain’t what you do. It’s the way that you do it. It’s important. However, what’s really interesting is for these new brands, it’s the customer or the user experience that is so important. And that’s why that focus is on. And it’s interesting that in, you know, firms like Amazon and Google, the chief marketing officer now reports into the chief experience officer and how that is changing. And I just think this fundamental change in branding and attitudes towards branding, um, I’m gonna be really important as we look forward and I’m doing, I’m starting to explore all this, starting to write some articles about it, and you never know there might be another book in it at some point.

Rich (17:21):
Hmm. <laugh> cool. And, and, um, and, and so just so that’s, you know, part of the shift, I guess that you, you mentioned is just in terms of the sales cycle too. It’s like, let it’s, it’s like, um, there are products that we use on a subscription basis that are kind of in the background, and we don’t think much about the purchase, uh, and until it’s time to renew and some of those are on automatic renewals, uh, and some of them, we have to affirmatively take a step to renew. And, um, I think part of what you’re saying is that the companies need to do things along the way, uh, to strengthen, um, your branding image so that when it comes time to make that second transaction, it becomes a no-brainer. So it’s like, um, you know, they’re not necessarily going to, um, kind of present the full value and make the sale on that day. You just might not even be open to it at the moment. If you hadn’t been thinking about it, if you hadn’t been using Netflix or whatever it is, that’s renew, that’s renewed, but subtly what they need to be doing is along the way, little reinforcement of value is that fair.

Giles (18:38):
It is though. It’s also interesting to think about how that different companies now will focus on product features where often in the past, the, a lot of the consumer goods were very image led. And it’s not to say that, you know, apple doesn’t have a great image, but Amazon and some of these other ones really focus on what they functionally bring to you. And that shift back to functionality is quite an interesting one, where if I produce a, a sparkling water, it’s yet another sparkling water, what’s gonna be different. And it’s often about what I believe, what I do, what purpose I’ve got behind me. Whereas some of the things that Amazon do now else can do yet, some of the things that Netflix can do, or the content it’s got is, is unique. And so there is a shift back towards some more functionality in amongst in amongst that, as you rightly say, that build up of an image that build up of the love for the brand, that’s gonna make the final sale.

Rich (19:51):
Mm, got it. So, um, ultimate question, like, what’s the thing about marketing for brands that really lights you up? Like, what do you, what do you enjoy most in this, in this realm, which you’ve been participating for decades?

Giles (20:08):
I think it’s a challenge. I think it’s increasingly the challenge has been that a lot of markets that I’ve worked in are long established markets. They may have been shown, shaken up or disrupted, or they may have got to the stage where it’s quite competitive and trying to work out how you do new things in new ways to actually cut through the noise. You know, we all see, I forgot what the latest figure is. Something like 5,000 commercial messages a day, how do you cut through those in a way that brings your brand, um, to the four and gives it some increased, um, interest, some increased excitement, some increased appeal and understanding your customer, delivering them a great customer experience. The challenge of doing that is something that it’s fresh every day. And it keeps me going.

Rich (21:10):
So cutting through the noise to, to, um, to have your message heard and then, and then how to deliver, um, a superb customer experience.

Giles (21:19):
Yeah. I, I think it’s it for me, I suppose. I, I, you know, I started out in advertising. I’m no longer in a, for me it’s how do I bring the total brand to you in a way? And that is probably customer experience led first messaging may well come after that. But how do you position your brand? How do you create a proposition that really excites and interests people?

Rich (21:47):
Yeah, absolutely. Uh that’s. That’s great. And, um, so people want to learn more about you or get in touch with you, how do they go about doing so

Giles (21:56):
Probably the two easiest ways? Well, the first would be to look me up on LinkedIn, I’m I’m there and, uh, fairly, um, you know, consistently publishing things or commenting on things. So by all means looking up there or go to, um, any good book seller, uh, of that, you know, there’s a certain large one beginning with and has got a two and, uh, look up my books there and you you’ll probably see them there. You mentioned the, the prison of the penguins, my first book of stories, not purely innovation based, but, um, a whole mix of why brands are important, innovation, marketing strategy, little stories, rather lightnings. Yep.

Rich (22:40):
Awesome. Yes. And the book is inspiring innovation, 75 marketing tales to help you find the next big thing. Uh, and, and that is on Amazon. We could say Amazon <laugh>

Giles (22:52):
Yeah. I thought you’d probably go. Yeah, I’ve been talking about it so much. I mean, but share where, you know, the BBC wouldn’t allow me to do that, you know?

Rich (23:02):
Right. Got it. Well, uh, I mean, thanks for looking out and, uh, um, in any case, I, I really appreciate you take the time to do the interview Giles. Thank you so much.

Giles (23:13):
Thank you.

Outro (23:19):
Thanks for listening to innovations and breakthroughs with your host, rich Goldstein. Be sure to click, subscribe, check us out on the and we’ll see of you next time.


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