Sunday, January 13, 2013

10 Reasons Why 'Canalside View' Is The Best Advertising Blog On The Internet

The other day I started reading an advertising blog that was so good, it actually made me think I should stop writing mine, since it's so inadequate in comparison.

But then I thought 'Nah, I'll just take the best bits from his blog, and use them for a post on Scamp.'

Hopefully Martin won't mind…

Martin Weigel is the Head of Planning at W+K in Amsterdam. His blog has been going for about 2 1/2 years, so I'm late on it - apologies - but in my opinion it is easily the best writing about advertising that can be found today, anywhere.

Here are 10 reasons why.

1 He's angry. "If you cite Apple, Zappos, or Nike+ one more time I may just punch myself in the face," says Martin.

2 He doesn't pander to clients. "Approve or improve," is his advice.

3 He demolishes buzzwords. "'Always be in beta', 'constant iteration'... not all content easily lends itself to fast creation. Take the blockbuster film element from Nike’s Write The Future campaign. How would one have constantly iterated this?"

And "I’d like to suggest that we all try not to use the word ‘engagement’ ever again. It might just help us focus on what really matters. And free us from having to endure yet more vacuous bullshit."

4 Although a strategist, he reveres execution. "People didn't get excited by the intellectual idea that footballers have the chance to make history at the World Cup.  They got excited by an epic piece of film that brought that idea to life with flamboyance, scale, wit, star players and pop culture references a plenty. Execution is what stirs the emotions, excites, intrigues, and ignites desire."
5 He has a very clear view on what Planning is 'for'. "Planning is not precious about the brief. It IS precious about the precise nature of the task and objectives it defines. “Does this work achieve these objectives?” is the one question we must be able to answer each and every time."

6 Likewise on how brands should behave. "Great brands talk about and act upon what they love. What they’re passionate about. Even what they’re against. But not themselves. The dull dinner companion can only talk about him or herself. If your brand isn’t interested in, connecting to, advocating, inspiring, or enabling something Out There in the real world that it truly loves, then the chances of connecting to a human being are pretty slim."

7 He hates Brand Onions
“Is it ‘Friendly” or ‘Approachable’?”
“How about ‘Accessible’?”
“I prefer “Confident.’”
We’ve all been there. In that place that feels like some surreal parallel universe otherwise known as Defining the Brand. Spending days, weeks and even months horse-trading over adjectives. Filling in geometric shapes of various kinds. Keys, onions, pyramids, temples and so on. If I found myself one day being asked to complete a dodecahedron I don’t think I would be surprised. And while we tell our clients that it isn’t a tagline or indeed anything consumer-facing, we’re still trying to work out what precisely that ‘brand essence’ thing at the center of the onion or top of the pyramid is anyway. And when it’s all over, and everything has been dutifully filled in and everyone is ‘aligned’, what happens to that precious document? Absolutely nothing.

8 He has a great take on the age-old originality debate. "Whether they are scientific or artistic, tangible or intangible, successful ideas Рtrue acts of creativity Рare perfect crimes in action. Theft, done well Рintelligently, imaginatively Рis nothing to be ashamed of. Cliché however, is a very different matter. It is mere laziness and thuggery."

9 He makes a 100% rational case for why work ought to be provocative. "The bland, the safe, the unadventurous, the stuff that is afraid to divide people, that doesn’t take a position and offers no point of view has no hope of encouraging people to come in and play. If we want people to respond, and to respond actively, then we’re going to need some appropriately powerful stimulus for action and behaviour. Provocation then, is absolutely crucial."

10 And finally, he's a huge believer in the power of creativity. "Treating creativity merely as a means of tricking or bribing the viewer into paying attention to the message within it profoundly undervalues and undermines the both the nature and the value of creativity. Creativity isn’t some kind of distraction tactic, bait or bribe. It isn’t a wrapper or envelope for a message. It IS the content."

Or "I acknowledge that the intangible dimensions that we invent and surround objects with may well be but the froth on the cappuccino of life – 99% inconsequential, useless air. But ladies and gentlemen of the jury, without the froth, it just isn’t a cappuccino. I thank you.”

By the way, Martin's blog, which I urge you to subscribe to using the WordPress 'follow' feature, is called Canalside View.

And that picture at the top - one Martin posted a while back - is that view.


Paul McEnany said...

Totally agree. Depressingly, wonderfully fantastic blog. Love some MW.

@alana_colley said...

The no BS advertising philosophy and use of wit and humour reminds me a little of Bob Hoffman's The Ad Contrarian. another great blog.

Anonymous said...

These are fantastic rules if you want to create great advertising. However, I think the world is moving on - advertising agencies (like W+K) are becoming production companies off other peoples ideas. It's why W+K do the ads for the cool stuff RG/A and AKQA create with Nike.

oh thank you said...

Thanks for the link.

A perfect summation of our industry. Some 'high profile' ECDs should read that.

CBs top twenty ECDs would be a good start.

Ralph said...

ECDs? Canalside should be required reading for every client in Christendom!
Cheers for the link Simon

Bojangles said...

What creative wouldn't want to work for this guy?

And when will clients tire of having smoke blown up their septic tanks and want to work with somebody with an opinion?

Reminds me of planners pre-GFC.

Great spot Scamp.

Martin said...

Hello Simon,

I've been a fan of your blog for years. Though I was always far too timid to dare and dive into the shark-invested waters of the comments. Though it certainly has sustained me in the fight against mediocrity and stupidity.

And I bought and loved your book 'How to be an Advertising Creative'.

So 'surprised' doesn't quite cover my reaction adequately to your post. 'Gob-smacked' or 'fuck me' probably gets a little closer.

I am very touched and enormously humbled by your incredibly kind words. Acts of pure generosity are hard enough to come across in real life. Let alone in this silly business of ours. A very sincere thank you.


P.S. If you ever find yourself passing through the dam, let me know. I think a beer or two is in order.

P.P.S The irony is that I was sitting on my sofa worrying about the fact that I didn't seem to have any new things to get angry about when I read your post.

Anonymous said...

I've stumbled across his blog quite a few times...but...I just don't like reading it. Yes he makes a lot of sense and I agree wholeheartedly. But it's just not very entertaining.

Scamp said...

Martin don't be timid about entering the shark-infested waters of the comments. Just dive right in and slag people off anonymously, like the last guy!

Martin said...

"Criticism is a study by which men grow important and formidable at a very small expence. The power of invention has been conferred by nature upon few, and the labour of learning those sciences which may by mere labour be obtained is too great to be willingly endured; but every man can exert such judgement as he has upon the works of others; and he whom nature has made weak, and idleness keeps ignorant, may yet support his vanity by the name of a Critick."

Samuel Johnson, The Idler, Number 60, Saturday, June 9, 1759

Anonymous said...

I wasn't slagging anyone off nor was I saying it's shit. Just that it's not worth my time reading it when I've heard most of what he is saying before and it's not presented in a new way to me. That and overly lengthy posts that take more than 20 minutes to read.

Scamp said...

Well, seeing as I'm calling it the best ad blog on the internet, I clearly disagree. Much of what Martin says IS new to me, and I like the fact that his opinions are usually backed up with data, rather than being pure waffle, as is the case with nearly every other ad blog (including mine!) And 20 minutes to read a post? Come on, man! You are reading left to right, are you?

Alison said...

Martin's definitely got a refreshing insight in a world of stale.