Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tuesday Tip No.40 - Challenge The Brief

Creative team during a briefing
(Incorrect attitude)


We Creatives like to think of ourselves as maverick uncontrollable rebels.

But we're not.

The truth is, we're all too compliant.

How many briefs have you rejected - ever? How many have you even challenged?

I've seen briefs where under "single-minded proposition" there were three adjectives. Linked by two uses of the word 'and'.

How can you possibly write a good ad to that?

Now, it's true that before the brief gets to you it will have been signed off by your creative director. Perhaps by a few planners and clients also.

Nevertheless, a brief is not a legal contract. It's a series of suggestions, a step in a process - and you're a part of that process.

So don't be like rabbits just sitting there in your hutch, happy to nibble on whatever you're given.

Be like the tiger cubs. Cute and adorable, of course. But alert and challenging also. Indulge in a bit of 'rough play' with your planner. Bat his brief around like a balled-up pair of socks. If anything doesn't smell right, scratch at it.

Above all, if you don't feel the brief is right, say something. You may be surprised how much say you can have.

Tip No.39 - Tell The Truth
Tip No.38 - Playing To Lose
Tip No.37 - How To Write Headlines
Tip No.36 - How To Do Direct
Tip No.35 - How To Do Radio
Tip No.34 - How To Do Press
Tip No.33 - How To Do TV
Tip No.32 - How To Do Digital
Tip No.31 - How To Do Posters
Tip No.30 - Look At Weird Shit
Tip No.29 - Presenting To The Client
Tip No.28 - Presenting To The Team
Tip No.27 - Presenting To The Creative Director
Tip No.26 - How To Deal With Rejection
Tip No.25 - Look Creative
Tip No.24 - Don't Be Afraid To Ask
Tip No.23 - Your Idea Has To Be 120%
Tip No.22 - Read Iain's Tips
Tip No.21 - Don't Behave
Tip No.20 - How To Discuss Ideas
Tip No.19 - Read Hugh's Tips
Tip No.18 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part IV - How To Turn A Placement Into A Job
Tip No.17 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part III - How To Approach Agencies (re-print of Tip No. 7)
Tip No.16 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part II - How To Put A Book Together
Tip No. 15 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part I - FAQ
Tip No. 14 - Make Friends With Traffic
Tip No. 13 - Get Reference
Tip No. 12 - Don't Stop Too Soon
Tip No.11 - Be Very
Tip No.10 - Breaking Up
Tip No.9 - Working Well With Your Partner
Tip No.8 - Finding The Right Partner
Tip No.7 - How To Approach Agencies
Tip No.6 - Never-Seen-Before Footage
Tip No.5 - Dicketts' Finger
Tip No.4 - Two Blokes In The Pub
Tip No.3 - Play Family Fortunes
Tip No.2 - Should You Take A Bad Job?
Tip No.1 - Don't Overpolish


Anonymous said...

last time I scratched at something that didn't smell right I was in the front-bottom clinic for a week.

Rob Mortimer (aka Famous Rob) said...

Quite frankly if people don't speak when things seem slightly wrong then it's remarkable any good work ever gets done at all.

No one is perfect, we all have to learn from our mistakes; and speaking up (whether creative to planner, planner to creative, etc etc) when you have genuine issues is vital in that.

Anonymous said...

I'd question Rob's use of the semi-colon in that last comment. I'd have thought a comma would have been better.

Anonymous said...

Hitler invades Poland.

Alan Wolk said...

I'm a big believer in pushing back on the planners/account teams to make sure the brief is on target and that the key thing you want to say is boiled down to a single thought.
It's particularly important because when the client's bought off on one of those multi-phrase things Scamp mentions, the ad- be it TV, press, radio or digital- is not going to meet their expectations.

Too many of my creative colleagues seem to disagree and figure that the work will trump the brief and that the clients will buy in once they see the ads.

That always seemed risky. But I've had the opportunity to work with great planners and I've seen the difference a good brief can make, something most US creatives have not.

(Yeah, okay, so you pushed one of my buttons with this)

Anonymous said...

bite their heads off! then read the brief.

Unknown said...

Here's my challenge:

Why is 'Challenge the brief' only Tip No. 40?

Anonymous said...

Toad - is there some sort of subliminal context to your post?
'push back on the planners', 'when the clients bought off on one', 'trump the brief', 'you pushed one of my buttons'?
For God's sake man.
Get a hold of yourself.

Rob Mortimer (aka Famous Rob) said...

Thanks Hector, I shall review my semi-colon use!

Toad - exactly.

Anonymous said...

amen, scamp

and, yes, as we all know hitler invaded poland, we all know this.

but until the advice is heeded fully it needs said again and again and again.

Anonymous said...

Christ if we sent back all the crap briefs we'd never do anything. Creatives can be real arseholes and I are won.
Do ads then if needs be rewrite the brief to fit the ad. I know planners who've reached the heights of their profession and won accolades by doing this. Planner happy, crative happy, client happy. The only people who aren't happy are the people who's jobs depend on advertising being complicated.

Anonymous said...

I would encourage all creative teams to demand more form their planners and briefs and to reject briefs whenever they aren't interesting.

I would encourage all agencies to adopt a proces where creative teams are complicit in creating the brief so that this never, ever happens.