AME's Grand Jury is comprised of Strategists, Managing Directors, CCO's, CEO's, Founders, and Creative Leaders, they are known for their global reputaton as award-winning creative and strategic innovators.They are consistently honored for their ability to deliver distinctive and effective results for global brands and their high standard of excellence ensures that AME’s 27-year legacy is upheld and respected globally both by winners and industry reports measuring creative distinction.
2021 AME Grand Jury member Maximilian Weigl is a Strategy Director at 72andSunny Amsterdam where he’s responsible for the development of new strategic products that help companies transform their businesses and build more exciting and effective brands.He has helped iconic brands such as adidas, Audi, eBay, Google, McDonald’s and Carlsberg to thrive in culture with work that has won numerous awards, from AME awards to Cannes Lions to a golden Global Effie.
In the interview below Maximilian shares his perspective on creative trends that have emerged, how media consumption has changed, his all time favorite ads, advice to entrants, and much more.
AME Awards: As a strategic creative, what stand-out attributes do you recognize in award-winning creative effective advertising?
Maximilian Weigl: The stand-out attributes of truly effective work are sitting along the straight line from clear insight to outstanding execution to competitive advantage. The best work you just need to look at and immediately know that it made sense for an organisation to have invested in this: because it makes you want to talk about it. How the execution elevates the strategy, rooted in an undeniable human insight. And how it all creates an unfair competitive advantage for a brand that it otherwise wouldn’t have achieved.
AME Awards: Why are effectiveness competitions like the AME Awards important?
Maximilian Weigl: The industry has come a long way but still needs to get much more into a habit of celebrating creativity that works for businesses at scale. Effectiveness competitions are a good way to show organisations that truly creative work creates an unfair competitive advantage with measurable business effects.
AME Awards: How has the brand’s voice changed since the pandemic confinement measures? Speak to the evolution of brand positioning, values, and tone of voice during COVID.
Maximilian Weigl: A lot of brands have been struggling to find the right tone and many companies suddenly realised that their lofty brand values and purposes mean nothing when it comes to the basics of daily life. In those cases where positionings, purposes and platforms weren’t rooted in core values or clear action, brands scrambled to offer meaningful, distinct responses to the crisis. All of a sudden people were exposed to interchangeable emotional manifesto films about some sort of sympathy that added little value and could easily be mistaken as corporations trying to take advantage. The global crisis was a good reminder of the gap between the role of brands in people’s lives and in marketers’ heads.
AME Awards: What will advertising look like next year? What brands have evolved and succeeded during this year and why?
Maximilian Weigl: If I had to guess I’d say that most of it will, just like this year and the year before, look too similar. The brands that did succeed this year are the ones that did something different, that dared to reinvent themselves around their core offering, leaning into cultural tensions that give them an edge in the conversation. Beats by Dre on racism. Nike on the elections. Restaurant owners that changed their entire business. Brands that were able to tap into communities and fandoms in meaningful ways, like Stormzy did with Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs.
AME Awards: What innovations are changing the way agencies create on behalf of brands or launch new products? Does big data and AI play an even bigger role today?
Maximilian Weigl: Technology that connects people in meaningful ways has and always will impact how agencies create on behalf of brands or how brands will launch new products. An example is the increasing relevance and accessibility of virtual communities which allow people to rally around passions and/or people – which is a great playground for creative communication if it’s done respectfully.
I also hope that we stop talking about big data now because most of the time the only thing that “big data” does in the creative process is confuse things. Rather than using data to pinpoint the objective, it is used to chisel away at the creative idea for optimisations sake. If you want truly outstanding ideas, don’t dress them up like every other idea. In absence of a big idea, people turn to big data.
AME Awards: What new creative trends have come into play this year to deliver creative and effective results?
Maximilian Weigl: With people spending more time in virtual communities, those environments have become exciting playgrounds for creativity. What started in communities with people recreating ‘real life’ moments (e.g. graduations) expanded to more mainstream figures and brands pushing into the space. Politicians campaigning in “Animal Crossing” or answering questions in “Among Us”. Brands showing up in “Fortnite”. Billie Eilish’s insane digital live show. Stormzy’s appearance in Ubisoft’s “Watch Dogs” which, in turn, featured in his music video. Or, of course, Travis Scott’s McDonald’s partnership. Tapping into (virtual) communities is becoming a more and more interesting way for brands to create real value – either through partnerships or meaningful creative work.
AME Awards: Media consumption has changed dramatically how has this affected the marketing mix?
Maximilian Weigl: The devices we’re using to engage with each other might have changed, but the stuff we’re drawn to is remarkably consistent: entertaining stories that move us, touch us, make us laugh, and help curate our identity. The consequences for the media mix, though, were quite dire because too many marketers try to do everything at the same time spreading their spend too thinly and ultimately get nothing across. Do fewer things better so that these things create waves across media boundaries by the power of their inherent impact.
AME Awards: What mediums will take the lead in 2021 and what will take a backseat?
Maximilian Weigl: Brands need to pay much more attention to the virtual communities surrounding entertainment properties. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more and more briefs about activations in gaming, eSports, or other properties that create identity and identification.
AME Awards: Why did you agree to participate on this year’s AME Grand Jury and What do you hope to learn by viewing entries into this competition?
Maximilian Weigl: It’s probably a sign of our weird profession but there are only few things that excite me as much as watching and talking about (good) campaigns and ideas. Even better when you get a chance to be inspired by new ways of looking at old problems. It’s a great learning opportunity and I can’t wait to be surprised and inspired by smart, no-nonsense thinking.
AME Awards: What is your all time, favorite most creative and effective ad and/or ads (share the link or a visual) and why in your opinion did they triumph?
Maximilian Weigl: This list is clearly a result of availability bias: it’s mostly work that has been fairly recent and I therefore still remember. That said, here it goes:
While I’m personally not the biggest fan of the execution, Nike’s “Dream Crazy” with the Kaepernick launch piece has made waves in culture and on the stock market. I admire the rigorous continuation of a strong brand idea brought to life in a well-timed powerful statement. The campaign positioned Nike firmly in the cultural conversation with an undeniable impact on the brand’s value (i.e. share price.)
Another contender has to be the Tampon Book. A great example of creativity solving a problem that the brand and/or people haven’t even thought would be worth solving through creativity. By literally breaking category conventions it ultimately led to (or at least accelerated) a change in tax legislation.
And lastly, I think this list isn’t complete without Always’ #LikeAGirl that lay the finger into a painful truth and started a global conversation about gender roles.
AME Awards: What advice or guidelines would you give to potential entrants on earning an AME Award?
Maximilian Weigl: Keep it simple, honest, and clearly show how the stuff you did resulted in the effects you claim. And follow best practices when it comes to data visualisation: show how creativity created real impact, not how you applied creativity to manipulating axes in your diagrams. Plus: we’ve all written case studies before, so treat your audience with at least a hint of respect.