In 1874, when he was 26, Arthur Balfour became a Conservative MP.

Which was fortunate, because his uncle, Sir Robert Cecil, was the Prime Minister.

Naturally, this worked out very well for young Arthur.

In 1885, Sir Robert made him President Of The Local Government Board.

Arthur’s performance wasn’t very distinguished.

But it didn’t matter, because the next year his uncle Robert made him The Secretary For Scotland.

Again, Arthur didn’t do anything memorable.

But it wasn’t important, because the next year Sir Robert made him Chief Secretary For Ireland.

Once again, Arthur didn’t do anything we remember him for.

But it made no difference.

In 1891, Sir Robert appointed him First Lord Of The Treasury.

Then Sir Robert appointed him Leader Of The House Of Commons.

Arthur Balfour was not a particularly brilliant politician.

But it didn’t matter, because his rise was driven by his uncle, Sir Robert Cecil.

Everyone knew that.

Everyone knew it wasn’t based on ability but on nepotism.

Nepotism is derived from the Greek word ‘Nepo’ meaning nephew.

And Sir Robert Cecil made sure his nephew was promoted often.

We may not remember Arthur Balfour or Sir Robert Cecil for anything they actually did.

But we remember their relationship, because it entered our national consciousness.

We remember it in the phrase “Bob’s your uncle”.

That phrase meaning everything is sorted, don’t worry about it, no problem at all.

Originally, it was applied to politicians.

Need a promotion?

You’d be alright if Bob was your Uncle.

But over the years it’s become much more general.

Baking a cake?

Just follow the recipe, and Bob’s your uncle.

Nut and bolt rusted?

Just put some WD40 on it, and Bob’s your uncle.

Can’t convert Centigrade to Fahrenheit?

Just double it and add thirty, and Bob’s your uncle.

I love the fact that everyone uses the phrase and no one knows, or cares, where it came from.

That’s a really important thing to learn.

If we want something to ‘go viral’ that means getting it into the language.

In which case we have to look at the people using the language.

Most advertising dies because we don’t do that.

Agencies, and clients, just say what they want to say and assume people will behave like parrots.

Whatever they put in the ads will be remembered and repeated.

But it won’t.

Most of it is forgotten before the ad break is over.

That’s why we have to come off broadcast and go on receive.

Learn that the audience is more important than the agency or the client.


Just do that, and Bob’s your uncle.