There’s a very old saying used often in the world of advertising – “Why keep a dog and bark yourself “and it basically means, don’t do your agency’s job!
Ask any person whose job it is to develop creative marketing plans or executive creative campaigns and they will tell you that the most frustrating element of their jobs is when clients go to the trouble of briefing you, yet still insist on injecting their own creative vision that can often be in conflict or to the detriment of the final product.
Is this a matter of being a prickly creative, or simply of clients thinking they can do a better job than the agency they employ? Whilst it’s a wonderful thing for a client to be so invested in their brand or product that they can’t separate themselves from the creative execution, from a communications perspective, the agency will always see the task with a greater degree of objectivity. When you are slightly removed from the process (that is, the day to day running of a business or brand), you possess a degree of clarity that no client ever can.
So, apart from trusting your agency to execute a flawless campaign, the most important contributing factor towards a successful creative idea is to start with the perfect creative brief. In my many years of working in advertising agencies, the creative brief was referred to in almost reverent terms. It was like a holy document that had to be handed over to the creative department like it was made of fine glass….. on a cushion of Tibetan spun silk made from the elusive and mythological purple yak (OK, a tad over the top, but you gets my drift). And the reason it was considered so important was because a good creative brief provided a highly accurate objective – focused challenge. Completed correctly, it provided the agency with a very clear mission. To give the customer exactly what it wanted.
What a brief should NOT contain is fluffy waffle. Too much information is almost as bad as not enough. Sometimes clients can give you EVERYTHING in a brief including stuff that is highly irrelevant. It makes the creative job even harder when they have to sift through information that is not helpful. Probably the most important inclusion in the creative brief is the objective (what do you want this campaign to achieve) and the key take-out (what do you want the target to do, think or feel – what is the benefit to them?). Delivering a message is fine and dandy but how do you want it to affect behavior? The clearer you can be with this information the more effective the creative can be. This may sound profoundly simple, but it isn’t so much about what you have to say – it’s about what your customer wants to hear.
And as a last point, I would say give your agency the scope to create great creative. Expect great creative. If it isn’t great, it should be. Because, dare I say it, why keep a dog and bark yourself.