Writing good creative briefs

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In its simplest term Creative Brief is the bridge between smart strategic thinking and great advertising (advertising that involves consumers on both – rational and emotional level, and which is capable of affecting a change in both their thoughts and behavior) and is the key tool with which planners and their account management partners can unlock the talents and imagination of their agency’s creative people.

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Writing good creative briefs

  1. 1. Creative Briefs and Briefing Black Pencil Academy, Toronto
  2. 2. Agenda1. What is a Brief?2. Filling in the Boxes3. The Briefing4. A Case Study5. Conclusion 2
  3. 3. 1. What is a Brief?
  4. 4. What is a Brief?• A creative brief is the most important piece of paper an account team produces• It is a demonstration of how good you are• Therefore, it is how a creative team judges/curses you 4
  5. 5. What is a brief?• A distillation of everything you have learned• All the information that must be conveyed by the advertising• A contract for you, the Creatives and the Client• A team effort 5
  6. 6. What it isn’t ...• Set in stone• Sole property of the planner• A place to copy out the client brief• A place to show off every fact you know or marketing term you have learned• Primarily for placating the client• The same as the strategy or the advertising 6
  7. 7. The Advertising Process Develop the Strategy Write the Brief Write the Ads 7
  8. 8. The Advertising Process• Advertising tries to get the consumer to do something that will benefit the client• The Strategy is the plan for achieving this goal • Who do we want to talk to? • What do we want them to do? • What can we tell them about the brand so they will do it? We develop the Strategy and the Creatives carry it out 8
  9. 9. The Advertising Process The Brief is their road mapIf the directions aren’t good, they’ll get lost 9
  10. 10. What Makes a Good Brief? Direction + Inspiration 10
  11. 11. Direction• What is the one thing you want the advertising to say?• If you can’t explain it to your friends in one sentence, start again 11
  12. 12. Inspiration• The most powerful advertising contains insights that truly resonate with the consumer• One important insight should be at the heart of your brief 12
  13. 13. What makes a good brief? Direction + Inspiration One clear and compelling thought about the brand 13
  14. 14. Why Briefs Go Astray• “I didn’t have time”• “The Client made me write it this way”• “There was nothing to say”• “There were too many things to say”• “We didn’t have enough information”• “The Account Team couldn’t agree” Make No Excuses! 14
  15. 15. Believe in the possibility of every assignment 15
  16. 16. Every new campaign is anopportunity to reinvent advertising 16
  17. 17. The Goal“The best briefs are so good you can’t wait for the account team to leave your office so you can get started” Unidentified Creative 17
  18. 18. Some General Advice• Get your story straight beforehand• Take your time• Keep it focused• Be concrete, not abstract• Speak English Remember the goal is always great advertising! 18
  19. 19. 2. Filling in the Boxes
  20. 20. Filling in The Boxes• These can be confusing • What goes where? • What are they for?• Just remember, they all have to lead to one main thought - the proposition• Include only what is both necessary and illuminating 20
  21. 21. 1. What’s the reason for this brief?What you need to explain: • What is the background/context for what we are doing? • Why the heck are we advertising this brand anyway? • What do we need the advertising to do for it? 21
  22. 22. 1. What’s the reason for this brief?• Objectives must be realistic• Advertising objectives, not business objectives• Keep it to the point 22
  23. 23. 1. What’s the reason for this brief?“The product has a severe saliency deficiency so it does not get into the target’s consideration set. The leading brand sets the category values and our brand is seen as a “me-too” because of these dominant associations. Alternatively, a proportion of the target segment have a dissociated perceptual set with respect to the brand.The campaign objective is to increase saliency and tocommunicate a brand identity which is motivating andmore appropriate to the product’s experientialmanifestation” 23
  24. 24. 1. What’s the reason for this brief? “Cheer’s main benefit is to keep colours bright, but most people don’t know this. We need to make them understand so that they choose it for its own merits and not as a second best to Tide.” 24
  25. 25. 2. Who are we talking to?• Be as specific and vivid as you can• “Women 18-45” not very helpful• Neither is laundry list of meaningless adjectives and media cliches• Try to describe a real person• But, don’t tell whole life story• Include only what will help Creatives to talk to them 25
  26. 26. 2. Who are we talking to?“Young adults 18-25. Someone self-assured, activeand energetic, self-reliant, positive, optimistic,individualistic, self-centred, not superficial, irreverent,somewhat cynical, skeptical, savvy, fashion-conscious,honest, straight-forward, computer-literate,entrepreneurial, self-indulgent, hedonistic, likes havingnew things, doesn’t change opinions to please others,doesn’t change behaviour in order to be liked, thinks ofhim/herself as an individual but has a powerful need tofit into a group, preoccupied with sex/gender-relatedissues, has short attention span, wants instantgratification AND likes chocolate bars” 26
  27. 27. 2. Who are we talking to?“A 19 year-old guy who likes to think he’s the life of theparty. He’s into South Park, Mike Meyers, etc. and isconstantly repeating comic catch-phases like he wrotethem himself. He’s a little too mainstream to be trulyhip, but he’s still very concerned with his image.” 27
  28. 28. 3. What do they currently think?• This is not about their life in general• Rather, their relationship with the brand, the category, the advertising 28
  29. 29. 3. What do they currently think?• How interested are they in the product?• How often do they use it?• When do they use it?• How do they feel about it?• How do they feel about our brand vs. the competition?• What do they ultimately want the product or brand to do for them? Don’t go overboard: only include what is truly relevant to the problem the advertising must solve 29
  30. 30. 3. What do they currently think?PMB 99“If I work hard enough I will get to where I want”, “I don’tlike taking orders”, “What brands I buy says a lot aboutme”, “I hate anything that is hype and smacks ofphoniness”, “If it’s too perfect, it can’t be trusted” 30
  31. 31. 3. What do they currently think?They chew gum all the time but it’s notsomething they think about much. As far asthey’re concerned, all gum is pretty much thesame. What’s more, they’re completely turnedoff by gum advertising which they see ascheesy and trying too hard. Still, they might bepersuaded that one gum was superior if it madeits point convincingly and actually managed tobe entertaining. 31
  32. 32. 4. What’s single message should thiscommunication convey? Many Creatives don’t look at anything else! 32
  33. 33. 4. What’s single message should thiscommunication convey?• The most crucial to get right and the easiest to go astray• Remember, the box says single-minded• Be concrete, not abstract• Err on the side of simplicity• Distinguish between what you tell them and what you want them to thinkOne clear and compelling thought about the brand! 33
  34. 34. Single Minded vs. Double-headedMr. Big is the Mr. Big is the big barbiggest bar, that won’t slow youbar none down, now available in new Peanut Ripple flavour 34
  35. 35. Concrete vs. abstract• Abstract ideas are much harder to demonstrate• Abstract language can make you sound like you’re saying something important, even when you aren’t• Concrete language makes your point for you, and doesn’t let you hide behind it 35
  36. 36. Abstract vs. ConcreteBrand X is a totally Brand X is speciallydifferent kind of car designed for women driversThe Second Cup is Second Cup coffee isthe Ultimate Coffee the strongest coffee youexperience can buy 36
  37. 37. Deep Thoughts vs. Simple Thoughts• These days, it’s fashionable for advertising to make Profound Statements About Life• It makes us feel better about selling things to people• It can also lead to cliched and generic advertising More important to be pertinent than to be profound 37
  38. 38. Deep Thoughts vs. Simple Thoughts• Don’t be afraid that a simple idea is too dull, just because it is simple• A simple idea is easier for the Creatives to work with It’s their job to make it interesting 38
  39. 39. Deep Thoughts vs. Simple ThoughtsExtra is the gum that Extra’s flavour lastswill stick by you in a long, long timetoday’s hectic lifestyle 39
  40. 40. Proposition vs. Desired Response• Often confused• Distinction between what you tell them and what you want them to think• Desired response ultimately more important to brand• But proposition more relevant to creative team as a starting point 40
  41. 41. Proposition vs. Desired ResponseHeinz is the thickest, Heinz is the bestrichest ketchup tasting ketchupPizza Pops have Pizza Pops willa lot of stuff in them really fill me up 41
  42. 42. The Final TestWrite it out on a blank sheet of paper and askyourself: “Can I write an ad from this and thisalone?”If you can’t, probably no one else can either. 42
  43. 43. 5. Kick start!• For proposition to be credible, it must be backed by evidence• Should be one of most inspirational elements of brief• Give Creatives ideas they can dramatize• Try to unearth interesting nuggets that might inspire 43
  44. 44. Proposition: Cadbury Milk Chocolate is thecreamiest milk chocolateSupport: Only Cadbury Milk Chocolate containsa glass and a half of fresh milk in every 225gHoly Shit Factor: All the milk in Cadbury MilkChocolate comes from Cadbury’s very ownherd of Irish dairy cows 44
  45. 45. Brand Voice• How you say it, not what you say• Most well known brands have an established tone - an essential part of their equity• Don’t list contradictions: “energetic, peaceful”• Try and do it in one perfect word 45
  46. 46. Creative Considerations• Executional mandatories• Media ideas and opportunities 46
  47. 47. When you think you’re done:• Re-read it• Sleep on it• Show it to someone older and wiser (not your Dad)• Get agreement from the Creatives• Sell it to the client• And finally, be sure you haven’t used any of the following words... 47
  48. 48. Jerk-Off Words to Avoid• Ultimate • Savvy• Experience • Modern life• Virtual • Empower• Aspirational • Proactive• Contemporary • Self-actualizing• Edgy • Hectic• Synergy • Extreme• Breakthrough • Clever 48
  49. 49. The more we use language rooted in the real, ordinary world, the better equipped the creative team will be to communicate with it in the advertising 49
  50. 50. Briefing
  51. 51. Paper plus Personality• Both parts of the briefing should inspire and excite and motivate• One part is notoriously neglected 51
  52. 52. What is not a briefing?• Slipping a brief under a Creative’s door, or the old leave-on-the seat trick• A rushed, last minute meeting• Something attended by client• A formal, boring presentation• A spoon feeding• A one-time meeting with your Creatives 52
  53. 53. How to Brief• Set aside enough time• Show the packaging• Show historic / competitive ads• Touch, smell, eat product• Get out of the office• Visit the factory• Use images, music, animals• Get drunk together and brainstorm 53
  54. 54. In Conclusion• Remember: it’s your road-map for the creative team!• Know exactly what you want them to do and make sure they can understand: • Speak English • Include only what is both necessary and illuminating • Focus on one clear and compelling thought about the brand• Put time and effort into writing and briefing 54
  55. 55. Remember:Crap in = crap out 55

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