Nigel Oakes

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Nigel Oakes

Nigel John Oakes (born 3 July 1962) is the Chief Executive Officer of Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL), the "leading supplier of strategic communications, information operations and public diplomacy to governments and military clients around the world".[1] He is the older brother of Alex Oakes.

According to The Independent:

His career has included working in the record industry, giving lectures at Harvard and running a company which fills shops with nice smells to encourage spending. Indonesians who have met him speak of his charm, good manners and immaculate tailoring. But during the 1980s, he was known for rather different reasons. Mr Oakes enjoyed a brief period of notoriety as the boyfriend of Lady Helen Windsor, now Lady Helen Taylor, the daughter of the Queen's cousin. On her engagement in 1992, he gave an interview to the Sunday Mirror which was perhaps less than discreet. "She was quite passionate and demonstrative," he said of their physical relationship. "It would be done in an old-fashioned, romantic way, wearing a nightie and pyjamas."[2]


Nigel Oakes was born into a military family, the eldest son of John Waddington Oakes and Annette Christine Swire.[3] His father John was a Major in the Irish Guards educated at Downside and at Sandhurst,[4] while his mother Annette was the daughter of Colonel Cyril George William Swire, who served in the Royal Dragoons.[5] Alex Oakes, the youngest of the three children in the family was born in 1968 and later went into business with his elder brother.

John and Annette Oakes are Warwickshire landowners[6] and trustees of the Oakes Charitable Trust registered to their home address near Chipping Norton in Warwickshire.[7]


According to the press reports and his own account Oakes attended Eton[6]between 1976 and 1980.[8] He has claimed to have studied psychology at University College London, but UCL have denied that he was ever a student at UCL. On his LinkedIn page Oakes states that he attended the Dartington School of Music in 1980 – 1981 and the National Broadcasting School studying 'Broadcasting' in 1981 – 1982 to 'Grade: Diploma'.[8]


By May 1984, when he was 21 years old, Oakes was reportedly a 'record producer'[6] who was the 'friend and business partner' of John Benson with whom he ran 'the mobile society disco Raffles'[6] Just over a year later in July 1985 the Times referred to him as 'an Old Etonian disc jockey and record producer', who 'runs a Knightbridge-based mobile discotheque named "Traitor"',[9]

In 1984 the Globe and Mail referred to Oakes as 'a hard-up Old Etonian of the "London set," of whom it was recently rumoured he was an MI5 spy.'[10]

In Oakes own account of his career there is no mention of jobs as a music producer or DJ. His account begins in 1982, when he says 'he joined Monte Carlo TV as a producer and in 1985 became the Head of International Production.'[11] If true, this account confirms that Oakes was 19 or 20 years old when he started at Monte Carlo TV, by which time he was presumably not old enough to have completed a degree course at University. This account would, however, appear to contradict the press reports cited above which refer to Oakes role as a 'music producer' or 'disc jockey'.

According to Oakes he then 'joined Saatchi and Saatchi as a senior producer' in 1987.'[11]

Royal connection and arrest

Oakes was reportedly in a relationship with 'Lady' Helen Windsor between November 1983 and May 1984.[6] She reportedly 'mixed with a relatively racy set who never received the full royal stamp of approval including Nigel Oakes who tried to sell the story of their romance to the press'.[12] According to press reports 'She shocked the Queen by smuggling her... boyfriend - Nigel Oakes - into York House, her parents' grace and favour home in St James's Palace.[13]

After this - on Saturday 22 June 1985 - Oakes was reportedly involved in 'gate-crashing her 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle.'[14] He was reportedly 'ejected by staff'.[13] Police were called to the 'birthday ball that the Queen gave for [Helen Windsor] and three other members of the Royal family' and Oakes was 'arrested on an outstanding warrant'[9] according to the police. They 'said Nigel Oakes, 23, was escorted to a police station Saturday night from Windsor Castle where the 700-guest party was in full swing... "He was arrested on a warrant in connection with traffic violations and later bailed," a police spokesman said.'[15] The case came to court in July 1985. The Times reported that Oakes:

was fined a total of £155 by magistrates at Horseferry Road, London, yesterday. They also endorsed five penalty points on his driving licence. Oakes, aged 23, of Maida Avenue, Maida Vale, northwest London… admitted driving his BMW car without insurance in King's Road, Chelsea, in June last year, having a defective silencer and a loose number plate.[9]

Events managment

According to Campaign the advertising trade journal, in 1994:

Since it was founded in 1989, Harrington Oakes has built its reputation on a detailed understanding of how communications work. It originally traded as Behavioural Dynamics, a concept company which - through a body of knowledge built on psychology - dealt in the methodology of communications. Through courses and consultancy, it helped communications companies understand the psychological profiling of an audience and how to motivate that audience. Harrington Oakes is now a production company in its own right with Behavioural Dynamics as its guiding principle. Oakes says: 'There is a distinction between the scientific and creative approaches to information. Those who ignore the scientific approach will be left behind. We would much rather be in competition with consultancies which use behavioural knowledge because it makes for a more advanced industry. 'Some 75 per cent of communications is bought because it looks pretty - which is ridiculous. In a few years' time, if you don't know what you're doing and you keep hiding behind an artistic, creative veil, you will get fired. The guesswork has to stop.' 'We don't have a name that people understand. The terminology changes all the time which makes it difficult for clients to appreciate what we offer'.[16]

Selling with smelling

Oakes launched Marketing Aromatics Limited in August 1992:

WHAT BRITISH companies need, to shake off the foul stench of recession, is the whiff of something heady and confident. That, at least, is the theory behind yesterday's launch of Marketing Aromatics, the world's first designer fragrance agency, devoted to persuading companies that along with their corporate image they need a corporate smell.Smells can influence attitudes and therefore behaviour, Nigel Oakes, the agency's managing director, said. And we know that behaviour, whether in employees or customers, is the dominant deciding factor in corporate achievement. At the launch he demonstrated a range of smells, including autumn, coconut, new-mown meadow, ocean, red wine, and golf - a subtle mixture of pine and sweat. Customers can choose any of these or have an odour made exclusively for them. It can then be incorporated into their company literature and stationery.
Fragrant crystals can be scattered on the carpets of their offices, so that visitors, when treading on them, will be met with a cloud of corporate fragrance.You could fill a car showroom with the smell of new leather, Deborah Sims, in charge of the agency's publicity, said. And you can have different smells for particular offices. A place of high tension, like the accounts department, could be given a relaxing odour, or you could have a perking-up smell for offices where people come back dopey after lunch. Smell is a powerful behavioural stimulus, David Fellowes, a consultant with Behavioural Dynamics Ltd, the parent company of Marketing Aromatics, said. Human beings are more sensitive to it even than dogs. People associate smells with experiences. So if you have a seaside smell it will make people think of their last seaside holiday - and they'll feel good, assuming they enjoyed the holiday. We can make restaurants smell of food rather than smell of burnt grease. And you can change the taste of food by changing its smell. Nasty smells can also be created - one of those let loose at the launch was farmyard manure.[17]

In 1992 Oakes popped up all over the place talking about the use of smell in marketing:

The room is small, sunny, white-washed. The location is London's Chelsea Harbour. The meeting is an unlikely one. A group of worried businessmen and a Walt Disney scriptwriter who might just be able to dig them out of a hole. The businessmen are faced with a huge corporate collapse. Their shareholders are baying for blood. The writer will produce an AGM script, using all his fairytale-making skills to weave the crucial elements of hope, suspense, fear and relief into a tale that will send shareholders home, happy ever after. Business is getting into bed with psychology. And it's not just a one-night stand. It's a long-term commitment which has huge implications for marketing. 'We use the same techniques as Aristotle and Hitler,' explains Nigel Oakes, a former Monaco TV and Saatchi Group director and now managing director of Behavioural Dynamics, employers of the scriptwriter. 'We appeal to people on an emotional level to get them to agree on a functional level.'
Behavioural Dynamics, set up in 1989 by a Swiss consortium of businessmen, claims to deliver 'competitive advantage to clients through the understanding, modification and control of human behaviour'. To this end, it employs a network of psychology professors from universities around the country, notably University College, London and Warwick University.
Its subsidiary Retail Dynamics works on the simple premise that consumer behaviour - and therefore sales - are determined by the relationship between several linked factors. These range from layout, display and store size, through to consumer motivations, desires and previous experience. Clients include Boots and Kingfisher, Forte and British Telecom. Perhaps the most controversial of its methods is its newly launched 'smell' service (Marketing, August 20), provided by its subsidiary Marketing Aromatics. This offers 'smells' to companies designed to influence their staff and /or customers. Working with researchers at Warwick University, Marketing Aromatics will tailor-make 'corporate identity' smells with which companies can infuse their headquarters, company stationery, and their public interface - be it stores, stations, telephone boxes or labels on clothes. A high street convenience store chain is already discussing the idea (Marketing, August 27) which Oakes claims is commonplace in Japan. Smells range from the tangible, like the smell of apples, to the abstract, like the smell of winter. They can be designed to neutralise bad odours, reduce stress, induce a feeling of well-being or evoke an emotion that will influence behaviour. For instance, the faint whiff of coconut and rum in a travel agency will increase foreign bookings, says Oakes. 'Smell is one of the quickest senses - with almost no thought process between nose and brain,' says Marketing Aromatics director Kate Foster. 'Smell is an emotional, not a rational, sense. It influences people's feelings and may well influence their behaviour.'
So, for example, Gucci could develop a singular designer smell, implanting tiny 'smell' crystals in its clothes labels. Or BT could lay crystals to be broken underfoot each time someone enters its phone boxes that give off a BT corporate smell, replacing the more common varieties of cigarette ash and urine. Or British Airways could imbue its aeroplanes with its own aroma so that no other airline 'feels quite right for some undetectable reason', says Oakes. 'That's all very well, but Virgin might get its own smell and provide better chocolates,' says the corporate communications director of a major company. 'Imagine, you could end up with smell espionage as people smuggled stinkbombs onto aeroplanes.' In a supermarket, sceptics argue that one particular smell might not suit all the different food areas. 'But,' admits the director of one of the top four chains, 'with store site saturation approaching, which store feels more comfortable to shoppers may make the difference between winning and losing.'
Thirty years ago, corporate colours may not have been considered important, yet today, thousands of pounds are spent on getting them just right, he adds. 'Perhaps it's a logical extension that other senses should be tickled.' The company's other activities are rather less controversial. It says it can help retailers plan their stores more efficiently if they do so on the basis of how consumers actually behave, not how they say they do. In tests customers often wear Scantrak headgear which measures their eye movements precisely. re-tailers can measure the effects of new store layouts and product groupings. Would customers buy more, for example, if jam was found next to the bread? Or should it be with all the other jars? Oakes argues that sales would increase by between 30 and 40% in a supermarket where layout was determined by consumers rather than retailers.
Light is used to draw people into different areas of a store. Bright light attracts consumers' eyes. But it's not quite that simple: the brighter the light is, the faster they walk through it. Noise in a store - perhaps from the back room - can be very irritating to customers if they feel they can not control it. But silence can have a similarly disastrous effect, making a shop feel empty and cold. In these situations, Retail Dynamics might apply 'white noise' a sound like radio interference that can mask other noise, including silence, but which the brain automatically cuts out after a short period of time. Or it might replace the sound with a tape of music and jingles. This can fulfil other aims too, by conveying messages hidden in straightforward information. For example, a shopping centre with security problems could repeat a message about forthcoming events which contains subtle references to security guards. Honest customers will pick up the ostensible message. Thieves will get the warning. It's all based on 'selective perception' part of the well-known psychological theory by one of the leading scientists of persuasion, Leon Festinger (1957). Shoplifting in one centre dropped by 34% as a result, claims Oakes.[18]

And in 1994:

marketing companies have started collaborating with chemists to whip up a range of whiffs that operate under our level of consciousness to evoke sweet feelings and irresistible impulses in us. Leading the pong offensive is Aromatics Marketing, a subsidiary of Behavioural Dynamics, itself a Swiss-owned company headed by ex-Saatchi Group director Nigel Oakes, which draws on psychologists to help businesses shape their customers' buying patterns. Aromatics Marketing uses research by its scientific adviser Dr George Dodd, a chemist specialising in olfactory research at Warwick University, to produce scents that supposedly prompt that buying feeling. Marketing director Paul Roach says it is developing corporate aromas for a range of companies, including a chain of high-street convenience stores.
'We develop a fragrance to suit the corporate identity and the environment,' Roach explains. Depending on the complexity of the brief, this could cost the client from £2,000 to £10,000. The resulting scent (Roach flinches delicately from the word smell - 'We don't flog smells') is then sold to the company in jars of liquid which can be squirted into the air or distributed through the air-conditioning system. THE question is: does it make customers buy? 'There's been remarkably little research into the commercial consequences of creating a pleasant aroma in the environment,' muses David Booth, professor of psychology specialising in consumer behaviour at the University of Birmingham. 'But common sense says people will linger longer in pleasant smelling environments and hurry out of an unpleasant one.'[19]

And again in 1996:

Most feel there's something unsavoury about subliminal tactics. When a number of US companies tested subliminal advertising, Coca-Cola tried one commercial involving split-second images of the word "THIRSTY". Not only were the results inconclusive, but consumers were put off by the covert manipulation. Oakes describes titillating and targeting consumer's senses as "subrational" rather than "subliminal": "Subliminal means below the threshold for detection. If that were the case, it wouldn't work." Tackling one sense in isolation is unlikely to result in increased sales. "But producing the right ambience undoubtedly has results."
Yet Oakes remains cautious. "It's more than a gimmick: it's being driven by companies trying to increase profits. But they would be foolish to believe they can rely on tactics like these to guarantee success. After all, these tricks are mainly cosmetic. And they're tantamount to manipulating the customer, which is largely un-ethical." Instead, he advocates: "The creation of an environment conducive to selling. You need only a few people to start talking about 'trickery' and you've lost all credibility." Even so, he concedes, there is a fine line to tread between "encouragement" and "persuasion".[20]

Role in Jakarta in 2000

Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid has turned to British public affairs consultant Nigel Oakes to help manage his image amid a tide of unpopularity which threatens to engulf his presidency. Wahid hired Oakes, who runs Jakarta PR and public affairs shop Strategic Communications Laboratories, on the word of his advisers. His tasks include monitoring and evaluation of media coverage of the Wahid administration, which has been criticised as ineffective since the recent resumption of ethnic and separatist violence on several islands in the Indonesian archipelago. Oakes' appointment comes shortly before this month's session of the People's Consultative Assembly at which some members have threatened an attempt to remove the president. Wahid came to power nine months ago on a reformist platform after the dissolution of president Suharto's 30-year term in office in 1998.[21]

The Jakarta Post reports:

President Abdurrahman Wahid and Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri have failed in eliminating the corrupt practices of their predecessors. In fact, the indications are abundant that the President and Vice President's close circles are engaged in the same practices... As if the President's alleged nepotism were not bad enough, Gus Dur's sense of Indonesia's economic crisis has also left many of his own friends bewildered. Last September, people were shocked to read a statement by a palace spokesperson that the travel-hungry head of state was considering buying a US$60 million twin-engined Boeing 737-800 for the President's use. The President immediately dismissed those reports (Associated Press, Sept. 6, 2000; Indonesian Observer, Sept. 6 & 8, 2000). A similar brief controversy developed in Jakarta, when the media reported that Gus Dur's family and inner circle of friends had hired a British political consultant, Nigel Oakes, to launch a US$2 million public relations campaign to improve the President's public profile. Oakes eventually closed shop and left the country, after one presidential insider had paid him US$300,000 cash for a two-month media campaign (Asian Wall Street Journal, Aug. 1, 2000; The Independ-ent, Aug. 6, 2000; Sydney Morning Herald, Aug. 8, 2000).[22]
A British political consultant, hired to help lift the deteriorating public image of Indonesian President Ab-durrahman Wahid, has quit after his public relations methods came under scrutiny. Old Etonian Nigel Oakes, 38, was said to have left the country for Singapore and shut down his media centre in Jakarta. The centre, established under the guise of an independent monitoring agency, was quietly campaigning on behalf of Mr Wahid, who is said to have first met Mr Oakes in June. One report suggested that members of the Wahid family and inner circle of supporters had paid for the campaign with up to $US2million ($A3.4million). But staff last week were reportedly seen carrying away televisions and computer screens, and newspaper had been plastered over the windows. The closure followed an Asian Wall Street Journal report questioning its role. According to the report, the agency monitored local and international media but also engineered a PR campaign in the name of the "Foundation of Independent Journalists". This included the screening of televi-sion commercials stressing religious and ethnic harmony that gave implicit backing to the beleaguered President. The centre also held a seminar on journalistic ethics and independence, but shielded from participants the fact that it was being funded by the presidential palace. Mr Oakes' main company, Strategic Communications Laboratories, has operated in Indonesia since the final days of the Suharto regime. Asked yesterday by London's Sunday Times why he had closed down the centre, he replied: "The reason that it has been closed down is that any PR organisation does not want to be in the news. You don't want a higher profile than your client."[23]

The Independent added:

UNTIL LAST week, when it evaporated as suddenly as it had appeared, the headquarters of Behavioural Dynamics was one of the hidden wonders of Jakarta. Even the people who worked there speak with awe of the vast room, with its 25 computers, its 16 hi-tech flat-screen monitors, and the two giant TV screens. Men and women sat glued to the internet, or analysed news stories from home and abroad. Above their workstations stretched a long mirror, and it was behind here that the real business of Behavioural Dynamics went on. From the far side, some of the most influential people in Indonesia were discreetly ushered in to look down on the scene below through the one- way glass. Visitors compared it to a Tom Clancy novel, or to the greatest secret agent of them all. "It was fun and exciting, but also a bit dangerous because everything he did was so secretive," an Indonesian who worked in the operations room, officially called the Jakarta International Media Research Centre, said of his boss. "We didn't know the purpose of it all, we just did what he asked. We called him Mr Bond because he is English, and because he is such a mystery."... it was around this time, in early June, that members of the president's family met Mr Oakes, head of a company called Strategic Communications Laboratories. Under discussion was the crescendo of attacks on Mr Wahid in the media: when Mr Oakes outlined ways of turning this around, his listeners were impressed. Money changed hands - reports vary from $ 300,000 to $ 2m (pounds 207,000 to pounds 1.3m). Within days, the gleaming operations centre had been set up... According to diplomats he first made his presence known in Jakarta towards the end of Mr Suharto's new order. He unsuccessfully offered his services to Mr Habibie and set up an earlier version of his ops room in Jakarta's Mandarin Hotel. Finally he was introduced to Mr Wahid's daughter Yenni. Two months later the fusillade of criticism of the president has eased somewhat, but whether that is Mr Oakes's doing is another question.
His work appears to have been rather limited. A series of television messages were produced in the name of the obscure Foundation of Independent Journalists, stressing religious and ethnic harmony - implicitly saying only Mr Wahid could deliver this. He then organised a seminar on journalistic ethics and independence; ironically, its participants appeared to be unaware that it was subsidised by the presidential palace. Otherwise, the operations centre monitored stories about Mr Wahid, but its primary function appears to have been cosmetic. "It was just like a movie set to impress the clients, to calm down the family," said one Indonesian who visited it. "They are really desperate." Indeed, it is unclear how much say the 60-year-old president, who is almost blind, had in the hiring of Mr Oakes. There appears to have been little coordination with other departments: sources in the presidential secretariat say that the first they knew about Mr Oakes's contract was a newspaper report last week. Others say that it was a personal initiative of the Wahid entourage. "I'm not sure whether (he) knows about it," said one. "It's the family and the people around him. They need him to keep his power."[24]

The Sunday Times:

Nigel Oakes says he was caught up in a dangerous web of intrigue and disinformation ahead of a crucial session of the Indonesian parliament this week. President Abdurrahman Wahid, whose officials hired Oakes to boost his image, is fighting to maintain his position amid political turbulence and outbreaks of secessionist and religious violence. Oakes, 38, flew to Singapore last week after an article in The Wall Street Journal detailed criticism of his practices in running a campaign on behalf of the president. A "media-monitoring centre" set up with banks of televisions and computers in Jakarta was rapidly shut down and staff were seen carrying equipment from the premises. "The reason it has been closed down is that any PR organisation does not want to be in the news. You don't want a higher profile than your client," Oakes said yesterday. He acknowledged that the monitoring centre "looked like something out of James Bond", but said its role had been misunderstood.
"I've terminated all my connections. I'm no longer in the country," he added. "I do not want to be the centre of attention. I shall come back when I'm no longer of interest." Oakes runs a consultancy whose website ( emphasises confidentiality and security. However, he has a colourful past, recorded in tabloid newspapers that chronicled his friendship with Lady Helen Windsor in the 1980s. Oakes, an Old Etonian, says he does not want to talk about his past. He may have appeared to be the right man to help the hapless Indonesian government tackle the daunting crises that have beset the country since the fall of President Suharto, its long-time strongman, amid riots in 1998 that cost at least 1,200 lives. Thousands more have died since in conflicts ranging from East Timor to the western province of Aceh.
Oakes is listed as a director of 10 companies, but his main business appears to be Strategic Communication Laboratories. SCL describes itself as an "elite communications team" of 32 "senior partners" and 72 "staff consultants" working with governments. SCL's website promises expertise in "managing public opinion, whether for the purposes of winning election campaigns, handling disruptive minority groups or broadening government popularity". Perhaps most appealing to the beleaguered Indonesian government was SCL's pitch that "traditional methods of utilising force to tackle dissent may still be efficient in the short run, but tend to have negative repercussions in this more liberal environment". The company pledges strict confidentiality, saying that "absolutely no information concerning any of our past projects will be made available under any circumstances". Oakes acknowledged working in South Africa but refused to talk about any other clients.
However, he has now been thrust into the limelight in one of the most corrupt and conspiracy-obsessed countries on earth. He came to Indonesia ahead of the presidential elections in 1999. At that time he was looking for business from the then president, BJ Habibie, and was pitching for work from the ruling Golkar party. Oakes and his associates are believed to have identified General Wiranto, the then armed forces chief, as a saleable candidate for president. But Golkar officials said the consultancy price was too high and no deal was done. Wiranto was purged from power by the new government after the military was implicated in massacres in East Timor last year. Oakes says he renewed contact with the presidential palace earlier this year. The new president's aides were desperate to assert the coalition government's authority over a fractious military and factions still loyal to Suharto.
To conform with Indonesian law, Oakes says, he worked through PT Ellipse, a local public relations firm run by Tony Gourlay, an Australian. Oakes set up an operation to monitor media coverage for the palace. He also disbursed funds to a local group called the Foundation of Independent Journalists and helped it to sponsor a conference on journalistic ethics, addressed by the president. The foundation says it did not know that the funds came from the government. Oakes and the Ellipse team created a series of television advertisements to persuade Indonesians of the virtues of tolerance and democracy. Viewers had no idea they were paid for by the government, but Oakes says the commercials were non-political. "It is hearts and minds but it is hearts and minds from the point of view of the population," he says. "We were completely open and above board."
Oakes has been practising advanced techniques to mould public opinion since the 1980s. Among the methods he offered to British companies were pumping smells into retail outlets to influence customers, and using tapes to deter shoplifters by constant subtle references to security guards. "We use the same techniques as Aristotle and Hitler," Oakes was quoted as saying by Marketing, a trade magazine, in 1992. "We appeal to people on an emotional level to get them to agree on a functional level." The problem in dysfunctional Indonesia is that the depth of its crisis defies any glib marketing solutions. Such is the paranoid nature of its politics that any hint of foreign plots or interference can prove dangerous. "I have no connection with any British agency, the British embassy or the military," Oakes emphasised yesterday. The work is continuing through PT Ellipse, he says, although he cut all ties to it last week. "They are a straightforward PR company," he says. "I am a political consultant, which always carries a negative spin-doctor tag."[25]
UCL response to FoI request on Nigel Oakes

False account of background

Screengrab of the claim that Nigel Oakes was educated at University College London. Created from <> Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 23 August 2007, accessed 27 June 2012.
Screengrab of the website after the removal of the claim that Nigel Oakes was educated at University College London. Created from <> Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 6 October 2008, accessed 27 June 2012.
The claim that the Behavioural Dynamics Working Group - the progenitor of the Behavioural Dynamics Institute - was set up at the University of London. Screengrab of <> Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 19 November 2008 on 27 June 2012.
The Behavioural Behavioural Dynamics Institute website once the claim about the link with the University of London had been removed. Screengrab of <> accessed 27 June 2012.

According to the SCL website in August 2007:

Oakes was educated at Eton College and UCL, where he studied Psychology. In 1982 he joined Monte Carlo TV as a producer and in 1985 became its Head of International Production. He joined Saatchi and Saatchi as a Senior Producer in 1987.[26]

FoI requests to UCL revealed that 'Nigel Oakes never attended UCL'[27] and that 'we can find no record since 1955 of Nigel Oakes studying psychology at UCL. We have been trying to locate information about the BDWG, but so far have failed to find any information. However the psychology department have still to confirm definitively one way or the other. We will continue to investigate, and respond one way or the other.'[28] Finally it was reported that 'Neither the Behavioural Dynamics Working Group or Nigel Oakes are known to the UCL Psychology Department.'[29] UCL then wrote (on 17 September 2007) to Oakes asking him for details of his alleged involvement with the university and that 'If [he] did not study at UCL [to] please confirm that [he] will amend the SCL website'[30] according to UCL Oakes did not reply. However the SCL website was altered to remove references to UCL. In 2008 it read:

Nigel Oakes was educated at Eton College and later studied Psychology. In 1982 he joined Monte Carlo TV as a producer and in 1985 became its Head of International Production. Two years later Nigel joined Saatchi and Saatchi as a Senior Producer. In 1989 he established the Behavioural Dynamics Working Group and, in 1990, the Behavioural Dynamics Institute (BDi) was formed as a centre of excellence and a research facility for strategic communication and social marketing.[31]

Elsewhere, on the BDI site in 2008 it was stated that 'In 1989 Nigel Oakes set up an academic working group at London University to develop a more effective method of communication for conflict reduction.'[32] An FoI request to the University of London drew the following response:

There is no record of a person of this name being designated a Professor, Reader or Teacher of the University of London, although he could have been connected to one of the nineteen self-governing Colleges without being given one of these designations. The central University has no knowledge of or connection with a Behavioural Dynamics Working Group or a BDI.[33]

Later the BDI website history page was changed to omit the claim about London University. It stated only: ‘In 1989, he established the Behavioural Dynamics Working Group’[34]

What is the BD Institute?

So what of the Institute? There is a company called Behavioural Dynamics Holdings Limited which was created in 1991. In 2006 it had one director (Nigel Oakes) and a secretary N Dickens. Documents at companies House show that the company 'was under the control of Diggle Investments Limited, a company incorporated in Jersey'.[35] These documents also show that the company was dormant in 2006.

Other directorships

Name: NIGEL JOHN OAKES Nationality: BRITISH Latest Address: 11 BATTERSEA CHURCH ROAD, LONDON Postcode: SW11 3LY Date of Birth: 03/07/1962

  • Company Appointments: Current: 2 / Resigned: 6 / Dissolved : 9
  • SECRETARY Appointed: pre 28/09/1991 Dissolved: 01/01/1999 Occupation: DIRECTOR Company Number: 02544175 Company Name: BEHAVIOURAL DYNAMICS LIMITED Dissolved
  • DIRECTOR Appointed: 18/03/1993Dissolved: 30/06/1998 Occupation: DIRECTOR Company Number: 02801165 Company Name: THE HOTLINER COMPANY LIMITED Dissolved
  • DIRECTOR Appointed: pre 09/11/1991 Dissolved: 08/10/1998 Occupation: DIRECTOR Company Number: 02558780 Company Name: UNIVERSAL LIVE COMMUNICATIONS LIMITED Dissolved
  • DIRECTOR Appointed: 18/03/1993 Dissolved: 04/02/2003 Occupation: DIRECTOR Company Number: 02801160 Company Name: HARRINGTON OAKES LIMITED Dissolved
  • DIRECTOR Appointed: 14/01/1994 Dissolved: 29/12/1998 Occupation: DIRECTOR Company Number: 02693710 Company Name: ULC LIMITED Dissolved
  • DIRECTOR Appointed: 26/01/1995 Dissolved: 10/11/1998 Occupation: CHAIRMAN Company Number: 03014815 Company Name: FINANCIAL PRESENTATIONS LIMITED Dissolved
  • DIRECTOR Appointed: 08/02/1991Occupation: DIRECTOR Company Number: 02580903 Company Name: BEHAVIOURAL DYNAMICS HOLDINGS LIMITED Active
  • DIRECTOR Appointed: 23/07/1996 Dissolved: 12/05/1998 Occupation: BUSINESSMAN Company Number: 03228280 Company Name: LEVEL 1 CONSULTING LTD. Dissolved
  • DIRECTOR Appointed: 23/08/1996Dissolved: 16/06/1998 Occupation: BUSINESSMAN Company Number: 03241699 Company Name: ORGANISATIONAL SUPPORT SERVICES LTD. Dissolved
  • DIRECTOR Appointed: 29/05/1996 Dissolved: 10/03/1998 Occupation: COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT Company Number: 03204737 Company Name: BEHAVIOURAL DYNAMICS CONSULTING LIMITED Dissolved
  • DIRECTOR Appointed: 03/10/2005 Occupation: COMPANY DIRECTOR Company Number: 05514098 Company Name: STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION LABORATORIES LIMITED Active
  • SECRETARY Appointed: 19/12/1991 Resigned: 10/07/1992 Occupation: Company Number: 02674216 Company Name: RETAIL DYNAMICS LIMITED Active
  • SECRETARY Appointed: pre 09/11/1991 Resigned: 13/04/1993 Occupation: Company Number: 02558780 Company Name: UNIVERSAL LIVE COMMUNICATIONS LIMITED Dissolved
  • DIRECTOR Appointed: 08/02/1991Resigned: 13/04/1993 Occupation: PRODUCER Company Number: 02580903 Company Name: BEHAVIOURAL DYNAMICS HOLDINGS LIMITED Active
  • DIRECTOR Appointed: pre 28/09/1991Resigned: 13/04/1993 Occupation: DIRECTOR Company Number: 02544175 Company Name: BEHAVIOURAL DYNAMICS LIMITED Dissolved
  • DIRECTOR Appointed: 19/12/1991 Resigned: 10/07/1992 Occupation: DIRECTOR Company Number: 02674216 Company Name: RETAIL DYNAMICS LIMITED Active
  • DIRECTOR Appointed: 19/03/1993 Resigned: 08/02/1996 Occupation: DIRECTOR Company Number: 02801345 Company Name: MARKETING AROMATICS LIMITED, Dissolved[36]


Electoral Roll

The historical Electoral Roll reveals that at some time between 2002 and 2007 fellow advertising exec John Quarrey lived at Oakes’ house in Battersea. Quarrey co-founded the PR firm Krow Communications, which shares Oakes’ interest in controlling behaviour. Krow's website has a section called 'About Behaviour' which states: "Too much time, money and effort is wasted on trying to increase awareness or shift attitude. By using our understanding of behaviour, Krow’s intention is to trigger people to actually do something, rather than just think something."[37]


On the social networking site Facebook, Oakes lists Carey Schofield, a writer and journalist on military history and Thomas Antoniadis who heads the intelligence and strategic communications consultancy Critical Publics London. He also lists a Jeff Raleigh who is probably the former US Embassy spokesman in Kabul who resigned in September 2005.


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  2. Richard Lloyd Parry, 'Old Etonian smoothie fails to buff Indonesian leader's image', The Independent, 6 August 2000
  3. Burke's Peerage Nigel John Oakes, accessed 28 June 2012
  4. Burke's Peerage John Waddington Oakes, accessed 28 June 2012.
  5. Burke's Peerage Annette Christine Swire], accessed 28 June 2012
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 William Hickey 'Tearful Lady Helen gets the heave-ho', Daily Express, 15 May 1984, p. 17
  7. Charity commission 299998 The Oakes Charitable Trust, accessed 28 June 2012.
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  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Record producer fined The Times (London) July 30 1985, Tuesday, Issue 62203.
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  12. 'Wild child' royal sheds her image SOURCE: aap Sunday Mail (SA) January 19, 1992 Sunday
  13. 13.0 13.1 The taming of Lady Helen, wild child of the Windsors; ON THE LIFE OF A ROYAL REBEL WHO GREW INTO A BEAUTIFUL BRIDE-TO-BE, BYLINE: Jane Kelly, Michael Streeter Daily Mail (London) January 8, 1992, Wednesday SECTION: Pg. 14, 15
  14. AAPGROUP 'Royal Bombshell Settles for the Common touch in Love' Courier-Mail January 9, 1992 Thursday SOURCE: QNP
  15. Reuters, Man arrested at ball in Windsor Castle The Globe and Mail (Canada) June 24, 1985 Monday
  16. Conferences And Exhibitions: Event Stars Seek New Status - The events industry is shrugging off its past identity crises as it bids to take a more pivotal role in clients' communications strategies. Gail Kemp talks to the sector's leading players and finds an accountable business ready to pitch for a bigger slice of budgets, BYLINE: By GAIL KEMP Campaign November 11, 1994
  17. Fragrance agency scents a good business opportunity BYLINE: By MICHAEL LEAPMAN The Independent (London) August 26, 1992, Wednesday
  18. Scents of real purpose - Behavioural Dynamics is exploiting the role of psychology in consumer marketing with its offer of smells' to influence customers: Retail Marketing, BYLINE: By SUZANNE BIDLAKE Marketing October 15, 1992
  19. Will of the whiff; Increasingly, shops are leading customers by the nose with aroma marketing BYLINE: Suzanne Askham Evening Standard (London) February 10, 1993, Wednesday SECTION: Pg. 38
  20. what's the colour of money?; Do you choose your shopping or does your shopping choose you? Meg Carter on the power of subliminal selling BYLINE: Meg Carter The Independent (London) February 4, 1996, Sunday SECTION: REAL LIFE; Page 10.
  21. INTERNATIONAL: Oakes to revamp president Wahid BYLINE: MARK JOHNSON PR Week August 11, 2000
  22. 'Focusing on Bulog, Brunei scams' THE JAKARTA POST January 10, 2001, This is the last of two articles by George J. Aditjondro on how President Abdurrahman Wahid and Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri have failed in eliminating the corrupt practices of their predecessors.
  23. SIMON MANN PR tweaks president, then folds his tent The Age (Melbourne, Australia) August 7, 2000 Monday Late Edition SECTION: NEWS; International News; Pg. 9
  24. OLD ETONIAN SMOOTHIE FAILS TO BUFF INDONESIAN LEADER'S IMAGE BYLINE: Richard Lloyd Parry In Jakarta The Independent (London) August 6, 2000, Sunday SECTION: FOREIGN NEWS; Pg. 17
  25. Sunday Times (London) August 6, 2000, Sunday Briton quits Indonesia over 'psych war' claims BYLINE: Michael Sheridan, Jakarta SECTION: Overseas news
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  27. From: David Booth (mailto:d.booth AT Sent: Mon 12/10/2007 8:31 AM To: David Miller Subject: FW: FoI request
  28. From: David Booth (mailto:d.booth AT Sent: 20 August 2007 15:47 To: David Miller Subject: RE: FOI Request
  29. From: David Booth (mailto:d.booth AT Sent: 21 August 2007 13:31 To: David Miller
  30. Richard Furter, Letter to David Miller, Freedom of Information Act 2000, 8 January 2007
  31. SCL Nigel Oakes, Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 6 October 2008, accessed 27 June 2012
  32. BDI History, Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 19 November 2008, accessed 27 June 2012 Screengrab here (Created from <> Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 19 November 2008 on 27 June 2012.)
  33. From: Stephen.Plant AT (mailto:Stephen.Plant AT Sent: 03 January 2008 11:33 To: David Miller Subject: FOI Enquiry
  34. BDI History, accessed 27 June 2012. Screengrab here (Created from <> on 27 June 2012)
  35. Behavioural Dynamics Holdings Limited Financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2006
  37. Krow Communications, About Behaviour, (accessed 20 June 2008) Screengrab here, created from <> on 27 June 2012