The year I discovered Sagmeister


Richard Huntington

There is always something to learn.

In the last 6 months or so I have come across the ‘Real Famous’ podcast – which is an amazing insight into the world of planning and strategy.

One of the most surprising things having been listening to this podcast, and subsequently talking to people is how we frame ‘new’ thinking. So much of my reading in the last few years has been around UX, Lean, etc. – which I think has tried to create its position in the start-up world with repackaged insight and strategy. What has become apparent (I think) is that the UX/Lean world use existing methodologies to describe this ‘brave new world’.

Same can be said for the digital marketing and brand purpose thinking – one look at the jargon filled thought-leadership pieces is just more self-indulgent wank to add into the public domain. What has been great is finding an alternative view of this narrative by listening and reading to the output from Paul Feldwick, Bob Hoffman, Russell Davies, Chris Riley, Dave Trott…(there are more…)

In short ad agencies and planning teams have been doing customer insight, qual research and brand strategies for a huge amount of years (although approach varies)  I think from what I can gather it all started with Chiat/Day (or perhaps that they were a key part of the planning history).

Anyhow back to Richard… He is Chief Strategy Officer at Saachi’s (ex HHCL and AMV BBDO). On the role of planning and strategy…

…the ability to reimagine a brand and therefore doing so imagine new roles, new sources of revenue…in a world of uncertainty where most businesses now face one challenge or another opens up a huge opportunity for strategists because we are being asked really big existential questions about brands and businesses…

… [his] best example is the re-imagining Direct Line insurance from an ‘insurance company’ to ‘an organisation that fixes problems for people’…

Here is a talk that he delivered in 2017 to planners…

In 20 minutes you get so much – anyone in the creative, marketing industry should be listening to this… dealing with the nonsense is something that most teams come across, deal with or have to navigate however we should be in a position to know more, have a greater understanding of the problem and look to solve the real problem in a way that makes sense for us to communicate with integrity.

From the first few minutes…

Its those half baked truths, nonsense that circulates around and around until we literally think its gospel, you know whether its fucking ‘Start With Why’, little concentric circles, or its ‘Always On’, or engagement, or loyalty… we just spout it out. And I am fed up with planners quoting planners…

We have got to start quoting real people, building our approaches, build your own approach the way you go about strategy – not from stuff that Mark Earls has said or I have said or anyone else – but from your own evidence and experience and your own observations about the real world, as close to real human beings as is humanly possible…


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