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

Weigel Isn’t Bad …

Martin Weigel.

The professor.

The planners planner.

The miserable bastard that never returns your emails.

Well he might be all of those things, but to me, he’s my mate.

What’s more, I think I’m his mate too – which means he’s not nearly as clever as everyone thinks he is.

But the reality is, he has his place as one of the best because he is. That simple.

Not just because he’s as smart as shit … but underpinning his intellectual ramblings are very simple, but powerful, beliefs that benefit everyone he is interacting with.

I say this because I recently heard his answer to the question, ‘What should a planner do and care about?’ to which he responded with this …

That’s it.

4 lines.

But those 4 lines cover so much.

Vision. Creativity [Not advertising]. Innovation. Cultural Resonance. Ambition. Action. Focus.

In other words, strategy that is designed to liberate rather than play nicely with others.

It’s what makes him so good and the work he does so great.

I should hate him, but I can’t …

And it’s not just because I bloody love his bloody lovely other half.

The reason I say this is that one of the things I’ve been shocked about in America is the standard of planning.

There … I’ve said it.

No, it’s not because I’m a snobby Brit.

No, it’s not because I don’t understand the cultural differences.

It’s because a lot of it is bad.

I’ve spent a lot of time exploring what is out there and in many cases it’s either strategy that the individual has used for pretty much every client they’ve worked on regardless of the situation, or at worst, it’s a snappy worded version of the client brief.

Or just bad taglines that say nothing and mean nothing.

In other words, packaging rather than planning.

Now of course there are some epic planners here – I am fortunate to have a bunch who work with me and there’s a bunch who I wish would work with me – but there has been a bunch who I’ve met/spoken to who have just underwhelmed.

I recently met one who said their main approach to strategy was ‘owning the social platform’.

I had to ask 3 times if I had heard right, and I had.

And when I said they weren’t the sort of planner I wanted in my team, he said I didn’t know what I was doing.

OK, there’s probably more than an element of truth in that, but even my worst planner skills is better than that.

And yet this individual was a senior planner in a good agency.

In other words, he was responsible for helping brands decide the direction they were going to invest millions of dollars in.


The World has gone mad.

There is a craft to planning.

You can’t outsource it all to data and media.

Of course those people have a place – and an important one at that – but the hard work is still done by those who realize it’s not about the ad, but the direction, tension and opportunity for the brand and culture.

The one’s who can think of ideas that aren’t really just an executional idea.

Which is why we need more Weigel’s than Gary V’s.

Because flash means nothing if it doesn’t address what I now call, Weigel’s ‘Four Principals Of Worthiness’.

23 Comments so far
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Martin Weigel’s brilliance is undenied. But your comment about American planning standards is interesting. I know exactly what you mean but I also think that is heavily influenced by the style of advertising made here. America doesn’t really do subtlety, or even audience authenticity, it’s all made to serve a client that wants a bombastic way to make their product sell be noticed rather than believed. That is why Wieden and Droga are so refreshing, because they try and put insight, texture and creativity into what they do and the results speak for themselves. Given where you were trained and your international background, I can imagine the standards have been shocking. But did you not experience this in other markets you worked in?

Comment by George

All good points and yes, I did experience a difference of standards (compared to the UK) in other markets, however those countries never positioned themselves as the gods of advertising so there was an openness to different styles and approaches (on both sides) whereas here it is less so. Not everyone of course, but way more than I ever imagined.

Now don’t get me wrong, I can’t come in saying the UK way is the best – after all, my experience in China had a fundamental effect on what I did and how I did it – but that was more about being open to cultural beliefs and values rather than planning approaches and I feel a lack of interest in some people do even explore that. Just find it interesting in an industry that bags the drum of curiosity.

Comment by Rob

Get a room.

Comment by Billy Whizz

planner shagging. 3 seconds of sex and 3, 3 hour powerpoint decks to analyse the result.

Comment by andy@cynic

And zero satisfaction.

Comment by John

Or get out of the greatest country in the world.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I bet you find planners who have travelled are better than those who haven’t. Even more so if they have travelled overseas.

Comment by Bazza

Yep. Same with people in all walks of life. It helps shape opinions and understand behaviours in a more rounded way. Surely you felt the same when you came to the US? And please note I’m not saying America is bad or all American planners are bad – at least no more than planners in every country – this is more about how the craft is being taught and developed. Or not, as it appears to be.

Comment by Rob

I believe you. Not sure the American immigration department will.

Comment by Bazza

planners shitter than other planners. thats the scariest fucking thing ive read in years.

Comment by andy@cynic

but its not all their fault. i cant believe im writing this but america has lost its advertising balls. look at the super bowl. if thats the fucking standard to aspire to can you blame them for being a bit shit. yes i can cut thats beside the fucking point.

Comment by andy@cynic

Preach. America used to be a powerhouse of advertising creativity. Now it’s a powerhouse of advertising spam. Clients and holding companies are to blame and yet they see they’re doing nothing wrong. In fact the opposite. They’re following the Trump approach to business.

Comment by DH

isnt weigel a kraut name? you are a traitor to england campbell.
of course you are, youre half italian. (sorry mrs c)

Comment by andy@cynic

Daily Mail readers will be proud.

Comment by DH

I thought the Russians owned the social platform.

Comment by John

Why don’t you do a new APSOTW and see which country the best responses come from. G’wan, you know you want to.

Comment by Oli

Actually we’re setting one up for the next month or so. That said, (1) I’m not saying all American planners are bad – my criticism is how the craft is behind taught more than anything – (2) even if being an APSOTW winner said something about your heritage (which it doesn’t) as far as I know, no American planner has entered an assignment in the 10+ years it’s been going.

Maybe you can help change that?
(Though I suspect you’re not American by your use of ‘G’wan’)

Comment by Rob

I doubt Martin will ever receive higher praise. I have never worked with him, but this post and his blog indicates I would enjoy it.

Comment by Lee Hill

youre so fucking gullible.

Comment by andy@cynic

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