The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Talk Is Cheap …
November 14, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

One thing that really annoys me about planners is that we’re incredibly good at spouting a whole bunch of theories but rarely put our money where our mouth is at.

OK, what annoys me more is when we spout theories that have already been used and known for decades, but because we use ‘cool sounding names’, we act like we invented it.

Behavioural economics anyone?

Anyway, I get super-frustrated by people who spout theory … do nothing about it … and then, when something seems to prove their point of view, act like they were Nostradamus or something.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely guilty of it and I’m certainly not denouncing the importance of thinking about things … but if we’re not prepared to find ways to undeniably prove it’s validity, we are undermining ourselves and our discipline.

Of course there are many reasons this happens.

Lots of us are lazy. We rarely are given the time or the money to prove something. We all like running after the next new, new thing rather than take a moment to see if we truly understand and appreciate the old, old thing. And – if I’m being honest – our industry doesn’t really like being too ‘academic’ about stuff because we believe it could limit our creative freedom going forward.

Is that true?

Possibly … but working in China – a land with more rules and obstacles than almost any other major advertising market on earth – I’m of the view these things actually force you to be more creative, rather than less.

Anyway, the reason I’m saying all this is that I read an amazing story about a Professor who was desperate to prove his theory was correct to a bunch of medical practitioners.

Back in 1983, there was a conference in Las Vegas for the American Urological Association.

Professor Giles Brindley, a British physiologist, had been working on a project to prove phenoxybenzamine – an alpha-blocking smooth muscle relaxant – could help men who were suffering from erectile disfunction.

Despite having presented numerous papers at scientific conferences, the urological World was deeply skeptical about his findings with one American specialist suggesting that proof would require something “beyond charts, tables and graphs” … so with that in mind, Professor Giles – who was aged 57 at the time – devised a way to give undeniable proof he was right.

To cut a very long story short [which you can read here] he presented his key note speech by announcing to the audience that prior to getting on stage, he had injected his penis with his treatment, then – without a word of warning – he dropped his trousers to proudly present his massive erection [not my words, the words of an attendee] to the shocked crowd.

To really ram home the point [not the best choice of words there], he then walked around the audience offering them the chance to prod and poke his genitals to see how firm it was.

Given these are a couple of the quotes from DR’s in attendance, I would say he was successful in his quest:

“I had been wondering why Brindley was wearing sweatpants,” says Dr. Arnold Melman, chief of urology at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, “… suddenly I knew. It was a big penis, and he just walked around the stage, showing it off.”

Dr. Irwin Goldstein – a Boston University urologist – said, “He walked down the aisle and let us touch it. People couldn’t believe it wasn’t an implant.”

Now I am not suggesting we suddenly go to such extreme lengths to prove our point … especially given we work in advertising which means we should never [hopefully] have to show our privates to explain a theory … however it would be nice if we went to some lengths to prove them.

We work in an industry where talk is very, very cheap so if we want to truly get the respect that our egos crave, then proving our theories should be regarded with greater importance than simply having theories … even if it takes years to finally be able to prove we were right.

As I’ve said many a time, anything is easy if you don’t have to do it or prove it.


Your last line explains why planners always think they can make better work.

Comment by DH

Given how obsessed you are with your best friends cock, do you think the professors was bigger than that?

Comment by DH


Comment by Rob

The benchmark against which all future presentations should be measured.

Comment by Henry, 4rd Earl Rawlinson.

The dirty prof is a bigger wolf than the wolf of wall street.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Of course he’s a limey. Dirty teeth dirty mind.

Comment by Billy Whizz


Comment by andy@cynic

Well said Rob. The application of creativity should be the focus and judgement of a planner, not some theory that lives in a vacuum.

If this is what goes on at medical research conferences, what happens at sex industry conferences? Didn’t you once speak at one Rob?

Comment by Pete

he made a sex conference instantly fucking disgusting.

Comment by andy@cynic

Yes I did. Sexpo. I spoke next to a 4 foot long dildo. Most nervous I’ve ever been at a presentation.

Comment by Rob

Must have reminded you of the old Cynic days, standing next to a gigantic cock. 😉
(too good an opportunity to pass that joke up)

Comment by Rob (other one)

so says the fucking planner thats spouted 10 years of shit on this fucking blog.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by DH

Not in the sexual sense.

Comment by DH

I think we’re all relieved to hear that.

Comment by Rob

So your metaphor is saying that planners are massive

Comment by John

But your point about proof is an interesting one and I think you’re overstating the complexity of showing proof.

After all, it doesn’t have to be academically publishable and, as for resources, think how much is spent on those effectiveness papers that aren’t exactly of publishable quality.

Comment by John

Fair point John … except planners tend to rarely show proof to their theories and as an industry, our only demonstration of value to the broader business world tends to be via effectiveness awards – which, while very good [or at least some of them] – are still are within the bubble of adland and so often don’t penetrate the walls of bigger business that we are so in desperate need of connecting with.

Comment by Rob

who the fuck cares.

Comment by andy@cynic

Maybe agencies could start making some.

Comment by John

theyd make a fucking ad about it.

Comment by andy@cynic

Then do a case study video about it.

Comment by DH

So much for my positivity.

Comment by John

Planners are bad, but at least some have a go, even if the correlation between their argument and something they found on Google is flimsy at best.
Digital strategy folks in my experience tend to be even worse, as they have all the data in the world to use and still manage to prove nothing.
I’m excessively grumpy today, I think it’s because I’ve realised I’m seeing Queen.

Comment by Northern

Yes you are … which means that as bad as planners can be, they can occasionally do something so evil, it makes them brilliant. But then I would say that wouldn’t I.

Comment by Rob

yes would Mr Evil genius

Comment by Northern

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