OPINION7 November 2023

Rory Sutherland: Don't overlook the basics

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Impact Innovations Opinion Trends

The Impact columnist finds plenty of room for innovation in commercial decisions that don't change the product, but change how it is consumed.


I recently spoke to Dr Stephan Vogel, the creative director of Ogilvy in Europe. Stephan is German. He is also a genius, as evidenced by his authorship of a wonderful campaign promoting Deutsche Bahn, the company that runs the German railways. The creative team used artificial intelligence to find photographs of places in Germany that visually resembled more exotic foreign destinations and then, using behavioural economics reframing, juxtaposed live rail ticket prices to the German attraction alongside the (vastly higher) airfare to reach the more distant, but equally attractive, national attraction.

One question I had for Stephan was this: why was Germany such a bit-player in the global tourism market? I’ve always regarded German tourism as a missed opportunity, a dog that doesn’t bark in the night. It is a glorious country with reasonable prices, marvellous infrastructure, fabulous landscapes and historic towns and cities rich in culture ...