Virtues for a connected age


I have a long way to go, but here is what I have learnt so far…


Living in a digital world, does not have to mean building digital ideas

Be rigorous about the role of all communications in the mix

Be suspicious of general theories – clients have specific, bespoke issues

Don’t believe in panaceas – there is no silver bullet

Stop saying: “Always on” / “It’s the end of campaigns” / “The richer the narrative the better” / “Utility is the future” / “It’s all about engagement” etc.

Start with the business issue, not the latest piece of fashionable rhetoric



Know the consumer’s path to purchase before creating

What are the key moments?

Where are the points of influence, consideration, and decision?

Where and when do they happen?

Who and what else is involved?

Identify the tasks and likely touchpoints



Create for a connected age

What’s the journey we want to take people on?

What does this idea begin with?

What happens next?

What’s the ultimate destination?



Digital interactions don’t have the monopoly on innovation

Find new ways to use the old-media

Find new ways to use the paid-for platforms

Look for where the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ channels  join and interact

Talk to the platform owners early about what’s new / possible (but be aware they’re trying to you sell something)



It isn’t dead and it still works

TV doesn’t always have to act as the primary launch platform

TV can ‘re-broadcast’ consumer involvement online

TV as can act as a recruitment vehicle for other activities

Digital channels can act as teasers/prequels to TV



There’s too much content and most people just aren’t that interested

Don’t rely on serendipity

Signpost and publicize what you make



Most people don’t care as much as you do

Build as if you’re not the only one out there

Assume your audience is over-supplied and lazy

Don’t ask too much of people

Could your mum do it?

Reward people appropriately

And ask – “would I (really, truly, honestly) do it?”



Not everything has to be epic

Where and how can you nudge the consumer?

At what points in the consumer’s buying/decision-making process can your idea offer value or wield influence?



Create for PR

Most online conversation is about stuff that happens in the real (non-digital) world

Embrace non-replicable experiences

Explore what you could  do that guarantees  an avalanche of  media coverage

How could it manifest itself in the real, tangible, visceral world?



Create for the 10% who are highly involved

What influential audiences could act as ambassadors for this idea and what could you give them?

How can they participate?

How do you amplify that participation to the masses?



Create for the 90% who are broadly indifferent

Effective marketing is a game of scale

What you build doesn’t always have to be big

Small things can be amplified

But if it doesn’t somehow scale, it’s not marketing

And scale depends on people who don’t care that much

Create easy and lightweight interaction for the indifferent majority



Innovate in order to learn

Without purpose, ‘innovation’ will always struggle to get funding

Build controlled experiments

Test hypotheses

Build to generate data

And learn from it



At heart, the art of being a good storyteller has not changed

Be generous

Be human

Start with what people are interested in

Remember that while plays, gigs, shows, and movies have audiences, advertising does not

Assume that attention and interest is earned, not a given

Create by the words of Dan Wieden: “Just move me, dude”

Oh, and don’t work with assholes.


All additions welcome.


  1. Phil Adams

    Heartily endorse the point about starting with the business issue.

    Always have a answer for the question “Why are we doing this?”

    Always have a answer to the question “How is this meant to work?”

  2. Kelly Sherstobitoff

    And ask – “would I (really, truly, honestly) do it?”

    So true. Remove that barrier of “them” VS “us” and it might implore you to cancel a few promotions/competitions you were planning!

    Great post, tons of gems in here Martin (if I may call you that!).

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  4. tommiskin2013


    Both hit the nail on the head.

    Interested to know if you see some sort of middle way between the two below ideas?

    “Living in a digital world, does not have to mean building digital ideas”
    “Create for a connected age”

  5. Bentos

    Love this, especially the points about creating for the 10% who are highly involved but also crete for the 90% who are broadly indifferent. I think advertisers need to be more *realistic* about the number of people who are going to participate in anything deeply engaging but then more *ambitious* about the number of people that the work can eventually touch. Dove sketches being a great example:

  6. northern

    Hi Martin, I really like this, hard to see what to add, but one thought is more around the challenges of clients, which comes back to keep it simple- they need to be able to explain what they’re doing to someone else, usually their boss. Oh, and embrace collaboration – simplicity of ideas still matter, but it takes lots of specialists working together to get them stuff made, put them in the right places and build traction. Arrogance and ego are never good, these days they just get in the way.

    • Martin Weigel

      Ah… the challenge of clients!

      But yes, agree… Ideas well-defined with clear purpose are easier to sell up through organizations than those which are not.

      Your point about collaboration is a good one. The days of the advertising auteur are probably at an end.

  7. Nathan

    Great post Martin. I especially like your comment on creating unreplicable experiences. While people enjoy the discovery of a new book or movie, advertising is slow to embrace this and as an industry we seem to create more and more of the same.

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