Since the beginning of 2018 I’ve been collecting quotes, articles and reports from many tweeps and organisations like BBH Labs, the IPA and Thinkbox, who — to me — are an invaluable goldmine of information. Here’s a list of most of what I found useful.


Where did it all go wrong? – Eaon Pritchard
Digital Darwinism – Tom Goodwin
How brands grow – Byron Sharp
Good Strategy Bad Strategy – Richard P. Rumelt
Space Race: An Inside View of the Future of Communications Planning – Jim Taylor
A Master Class in Brand Planning: The Timeless Works of Stephen King
Truth, Lies, and Advertising: The Art of Account Planning – Jon Steel
How to Plan Advertising – Alan Cooper
Thinking fast and slow – Daniel Kahneman
The Choice Factory – Richard Shotton
How not to plan – APG

BBH – Value of a brand
Think Box – Gain Theory, Profit ability
BBH – Numbers every marketeer should know
IPA – The greatest of Binet & Field
JWT – Planning guide
Radio-center- Reevaluating-Media
Tom Morton – A Hunter’s Guide To BS-Free Insights
Julian Cole – 10 Award Winning Strategy Case Studies (Under Armour, REI, Seamless, Apple)
150 innovative advertising examples
Deck of Brilliance

Planning Etc – Russell Davies
Mark Ritson’s seven ways ways to make marketing great again

The Case for Chaos (revisited)
Escape from Fantasy
What is a Comms Planner vs. a Media Planner vs. a Brand Planner vs. a Digital Strategist?

Marketing sites

Dave Trott
Mark Ritson
Tom Goodwin

China sites
That’s Mag Shanghai
Sixth Tone

China articles
NY Times – Aiming at China’s armpits
Wikipedia – Wanghong economy
BCG – What China Reveals About the Future of Shopping
BCG – The Chinese Consumer’s Online Journey from Discovery to Purchase
BCG – What China Reveals About the Future of Innovation
BCG – How Companies in China Blend Digital and Physical Commerce
Seventy Magazine – Contextual China
What China wants – The Economist


  • Marketing
    • Les Binet: “Most marketing is not communications, its conditioning”
      • Advertising increases / maintains sales & margins
      • by; slightly increasing the chance that people will choose your brand
      • by; making the brand easy to think and easy to buy
      • and; creating positive feelings & associations
      • via; broad reach ads that people find interesting & enjoyable
      • and; targeted activation that they find relevant & useful
  • Strategy
    • Is a great job, says to Group Think:
      • You get to think for a living.
      • You get to write for a living.
      • You get to talk for a living.
      • Sometimes that results in cool things getting into the world.
      • Even if your mom still doesn’t know what the hell you do all day.
    • Russell Davies: Planning will probably outlive advertising. It basically invented a discipline that requires you to be good synthesising lots of different information, understanding it, representing it in a way that people do stuff. That’s a really useful skill, in general.
    • Russel Davies: The core of the business is standing up for a twenty minute presentation and get a large corporation to do something.
    • Carl von Clausewitz: The talent of the strategist is to identify the decisive point and to concentrate everything on it, removing forces from secondary fronts and ignoring lesser objectives.
    • Lucian Trestler: Strategy is timeless, but the execution must be timely
    • Mark Pollard: Strategy is:
      • An informed opinion about how to win
      • A set of intentional risks to take
      • Solving problems with insight
      • A plan of action to achieve a goal
    • Dave Trott: Our job isn’t a summary
    • Lee Clow: The idea is the launch pad, not the moon
    • Strategy cycle
      • Planning questions
        • What is the real problem we are trying to solve?
        • What is the desired outcome?
        • What are the constraints?
      • JWT planning cycle
        • Where are we
        • Where do we want to be?
        • How can we get there?
        • Are we getting there?
    • Simplify. Find the relevance. Make it remarkable.
    • Lucian Trestler: Strategy is the art of sacrifice, it means putting your expenditure against the point at which it can make the biggest impact.
  • Briefings
    • Emma Cookson’s briefing format:
      • The product is:
      • The brand is:
      • Why are we advertising in this instance?
      • Who are we talking to? What do we want people to think or feel?
      • What justification are we providing as support?
      • What practical considerations?
    • Rob Estreitinho: Briefings should be:
      • Small in size
      • Big in meaning
        • Never the other way around
      • When briefing a team, what we’re doing is:
        • 1. Turning complex stuff into simple stuff (our brains love single-minded things)
        • 2. Making something feel feasible (creatives aren’t miracle workers)
        • That’s why ‘let’s change the world’ or ‘sky is the limit’ are often terrible briefs.
    • Russell Davies: I don’t believe in easy or difficult briefs. Good ads aren’t the result of good briefs, and bad ads aren’t the result of bad briefs. It’s circumstance. Loads of work on the Honda brief we did weren’t any good, but the circumstances were favourable for making good stuff. Nike briefs are also always the same, ‘do what we did last year, but do it different’. But the work is often great.
  • Presentations
    • Rob Campbell: Never go into a presentation with the objective of having another presentation.
      • Answer:
        • What do we want our client to do?
        • What do they need to agree to?
        • Who do we need there to say ‘yes’?
      • Be on time, introduce yourself, explain what you’re going to present, why, what you hope the outcome will be. Stand up when presenting. Look like you actually want to be there. Be friendly, but never too friendly.
      • It makes no sense to spend hours creating fantastic work, but only preparing minutes to present it.
  • Language
    • Semantics are important. Sometimes it’s the only thing we got.
      • Language can be used to provide depth in ideas.
        • There’s a huge difference between ‘Our travellers are important to us’ and ‘We see the changes in people’s behaviour and the way they travel, and we adept to those new needs’.
      • Bob Hoffman: Be specific. “We answer on the first ring” is a more powerful promise than “world class service.”
  • Insight
    • Tom Morton: It’s only an insight if it sheds new light on the problem
    • Rob Campbell: Insights matter because people matter
    • Tom Roach: Something you’ve never heard before but know instinctively to be true
    • Mark Pollard: You find facts. You find perspectives. You find behaviours. But you make insights.
    • Tom Goodwin: The thing about a proper insight is that you don’t find them in data and you don’t really need data to support them, because they should just smack you over the head as brilliant
    • Group Think: How to get to good insights:
      • Talk with actual people. Google rarely has the answer. Trends reports are false gurus. Your office is not representative of your target audience.
    • Will Humphrey: An insight is something you can’t google easily
    • Tom Morton: Questions for an insight:
      • What are the greatest hits of the brand?
      • What was the magic of the brand when it was at its peak?
      • What are the truth of the brand that are staring us in the face?
    • Tom Morton: Not every idea needs a good insight, for instance the ads:
    • Tom Morton: Great insights are:
      • UK Road Safety: the 30 mph speed limit is the highest speed at which most pedestrians will survive a collision
      • Got Milk? Most people don’t even notice milk when it’s there, but they really miss it when it’s not
      • Nicorette: most attempts to quit smoking are unplanned and chaotic, so quitting sucks
      • BGH air conditioners: heat makes us undignified
    • Other insights:
      • Gender stereotypes are so ingrained in culture that they are even part of our language (Always, hit like a girl)
      • Given the chance, most women would like to make their man a bit sexier – through whatever method (Old Spice)
      • Kids don’t think their words online hurt as much as words in the playground (Reword)
  • Brand
  • Media
  • Propositions in an ad
    • Fran Perillo: I always use the ‘Bed of Nails’ analogy. The more points you have: the less deeply they sink in.
    • Luke Sullivan: If you want to say two things, you’ve to make two ads.
    • Tom Roach: The marketing world worships Steve Jobs’ & Apple’s vision and creative genius, but much of their skill was and is in showing the product, making it look great, explaining features simply. (Maybe that doesn’t make such a great TED Talk or keynote, though).
  • Research
    • Bill Bernbach: We are so busy measuring public opinion that we forget that we can mold it. We are so busy listening to statistics that we forget that we can create them.
    • David Ogilvy: I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination.
    • Cathy O’Neil: Algorithms are not objective – the people who build them impose their own agenda on the algorithms. Algorithms are simply opinions embedded in code
    • Russell Davies: Research is often used really badly. Any decent planner can just get a focus group to say what they want to say, and your job became to make your work get through the focus group. For the most part in most client and agency relationships, research is used to decide whether something is good or not, and it’s little used for valid ideas.
    • Russel Davies: “What would you think of that commercial if we make it? That’s the wrong question, people don’t know the answer.
    • Stephen King: Research is not for making decisions, but about helping decisions
      • Researchers need to say ‘What it is’, and not ‘What should be done with the research’
      • (Creativity is innovation, not analysing. We want to design a car, not a better horse)
    • Stephen King: In the end, research is about how you think advertising works.
    • Stephen King: Discussions about research, sadly, are too often about measurability, but less about usability
      • Look at which research is useful in which step of the process
      • Research is both for finding information and inspiration, and for validation
      • For the long term, emotional metrics are good predictors, while rational metrics are short-term predictors
        • Short term: works directly, directs on sales, sells something
        • Long term: counts together, builds a brand and changes perception, makes something sellable
    • Stephen King: Beware of ‘gap analysis’, such as: ‘Because many consumers love iced tea, and a lot of hot tea, lukewarm tea is a good product’
    • Stephen King: Beware of trade-offs such as: ‘Would you prefer a house with a roof, heating and front door, or would you prefer a house with walls, windows and a kitchen?’
    • Stephen King: Phases and roles of researce
      • Phase 1: Strategy
        • Role: Fresh data to help strategy department
        • Main user: Strategists
        • End result: Approved creative strategy
        • Method: Sales and audience figures, product tests, reputation research
      • Phase 2: Creative development
        • Role: Encourage ideas, and provide context around cold statistics
        • Main user: Creative
        • End result: Improved creative concepts
        • Method: Informal and small scale, personal conversations, product tests
      • Phase 3:Decision
        • Role: The decision to choose between campaign proposals
        • Main user: Client
        • End result: Campaign to produce and implement
        • Method: Quantitative research method
      • Phase 4: Ongoing campaign
        • Role: Measuring changes in attitude and linking up marketing activities
        • User: Strategist and customer
        • End result: Assessment of campaign, tightening and refine strategy
        • Method: Continuous purchase and consumption statistics, linked with reputation figures
  • Trends and generalisations
  • Agency
    • Rob Estreitinho: A good agency should master three things:
      • Know how brands work
      • Know how people work
      • How tech works
        • Very few do all three. Most do two well at best. Too many obsess about just one.
    • Tom Goodwin: Specialisms in Advertising are so silly. We need joined up thinking around people. Not segment work into ‘experts’. It’s based on what’s most easy for clients to buy, not what makes the best work for people. There are remarkably few exceptions.
    • Seniors strategists should:
      • Makes decisions based on requirements and research rather than preference or popularity.
      • Teach and mentor juniors.
      • Identity and promote best practise.
    • Hiring
      • Farzad Ban: 90% of people that I’ve hired so far had side projects in their portfolios. It shows real passion, discipline and potential. It’s also hell of a test. That’s how you separate those that enjoy producing pretty stuff or actually solve a real problem with a business model in mind.
      • Russell Davies: If you hire a junior planner, for the first two years they’re useless, because they can’t stand up in a room and get people to do stuff.
  • Clients
    • Eric Cruz: It’s about trust. Every different brand has different challenges, and it’s not as much as difficult clients as difficult challenges. You want the same thing, the brand to succeed. It’s for you to figure out how to get the best out of that.
    • A client agency is only as good as the lowest amount of input from either side.
  • Purpose
    • Richard Shotton: Brand purpose is wishful seeing from marketers who want it to be true
    • Philippa Dunjay: Purpose should be rooted in your culture, not your product
    • Examples
      • Nike: We believe if you have a body, you’re an athlete
      • Patagonia: We believe a love of wild & beautiful spaces demands participation in the fight to save them.
      • Samsung: We believe meaningful progress comes from daring to defy barriers.
      • Tesla: We believe the world needs to transition to sustainable energy.
      • Airbnb: We believe that travel is better when you experience it as an insider.
    • Daniel Pankraz: 10 key questions which may help when looking at getting to an authentic, insightful and inspiring Brand Conviction:
      • Why was the brand created in the first place?
      • What does the brand fight for?
      • Who/what is the enemy?
      • What do the true believers say about their love of the brand?
      • Why do people love to work for the brand?
      • What should never ever change about the brand?
      • What is the epicenter of the brands passion?
      • Why would people give a damn if the brand ceased to exist tomorrow?
      • How does the brand behave during rocky times?
      • What keeps the brand up at night?
    • Henry Innis: Too many brands today confuse meaningful, consumer-driven positioning with social purpose positioning. Latter only works if relevant to the former.
  • Workshops
    • Tom Miskin:
      • Split the group into teams and select a captain per team. Pre-brief the captain and make them responsible for outcomes.
      • Take someone on your team that has no moderation/facilitation responsibilities. They must know the agenda and materials inside out and just setup/breakdown every exercise. They set the time timers and generally problem solve. This is a key team member, not a runner.
      • Time box within exercises and have large time-timers displayed throughout the room. This adds momentum “10 minutes to complete part one!” and gives everyone a visual reference of where they’re at and how long they have left. “50 minutes to do X” in a massive group is death.
      • Capture everything. One advantage of a big group is the volume of output that can be quickly generated. Take every poster/worksheet/blind drawing and have your non-moderator stick on the wall. When they return from lunch they’ll be astounded at the amount of material created.