13 Things I learned from Amsterdam’s Planners


These are the gist from informational interviews with some planners in Amsterdam. The lessons written below is not directly quoted from those planners. Each points is written according to the author’s interpretations and understanding of the conversation.

The Planners:

Ben Armistead, Head of Planning, 180 Amsterdam

Emma Wiseman, Global Planning Director, Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam

Maximilian Weigl, Strategist, 72andSunny Amsterdam


13 + 1 things I’ve learned from Amsterdam’s Planners:

On personal qualities

1. Empathy is important. Watch, documentaries, read fictions.

2. Be helpful. Be nice.

3. Get the fundamentals right. Read books on planning and marketing (MBA-ish content). Please. Anyone can “learn” from Mashable or wired. Read books

On work and brief:

4. “Who’s the audience of your brief? It’s the creative. So if the brief does not interest the creative; they don’t get excited about it, or worse they don’t get it. You’re a bad planner. That’s the end of it.”

5. “Briefing is a conversation between humans. Not a monolog, or just reading a document out loud. The hell with big words.”


6. “It’s always about the work. Always about the work.”

7. Your deck is not the star. People come for the work. Help to present it.

On research:

8. Numbers mean nothing without hunches.

9. Can’t sell guts without numbers.

10.Be elegant when working with data, you try to understand, talk and work with humans.

On being a planner:

11. The discipline is still very young. Trust me, we all walk blindly here.

12. All planners got frustrated for various reasons. Drink! And get back to work.

13. If you are a young planner. Explore. There are plenty of other possibilities for career development.

And lastly, here is the most interesting idea I’ve learned. It’s a plus one because I haven’t met the originator, it is taken from Martin Wiegel’s post “Ich bin ein Creative.


Stop this…

A: Work in advertising?
B: Yes
A: Are you a creative
B: No, I’m a planner

Start this…

A: Work in advertising?
B: Yes
A: Are you a creative
B: Yes, I’m a planner


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