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Published by: Mark Irving on Nov 14, 2011
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The Creative Brief

How to Start New Projects on the Right Foot

from Second Wind Refreshing Insights on the Advertising Business
© 2004 Second Wind Ltd.

1 - The Creative Brief

In essence. turn this into what he called a “unique selling proposition” or “USP. 2 .It All Begins with a Great Beginning For years. What they usually meant by this were slogans which. Reeves told advertisers to find a point of difference in the product. What. idea in your advertising. and spend their time helping creatives create advertising from the viewpoint of the buyer. the “buying idea. both advertisers and agencies talked about selling ideas. • • • Who — Who do you want your advertising to reach? What — What does he/she think and feel about your product? What — What do you want your audience to think and feel about your product after seeing your advertising? Most of this is put forward in a creative brief written by the account executive and/or the planner for each project. 2. Following is an example of a creative brief. In my life. not the seller. Compare the selling proposition with a new concept. PAIN. PAIN. more buyer-relevant advertising. rather than the selling. Rooser Reeves of Ted Bates was probably the most articulate proponent of this philosophy of advertising. Certs is TWO. TWO. more often than not. Planners are the buyers’ advocates in the agency. agencies have placed more and more emphasis on a process called account planning. To accomplish the transition from unique selling idea to unique buying idea.” and repeat it ad nauseam. TWO MINTS in one. What” process to create better. Today that seems old-fashioned.The Creative Brief . Great examples of this style of creative are: 1. Please review it and change yours accordingly to reflect the buying. I was taught by some very smart advertising people to use the “Who. Anacin kills PAIN.” The concept of buying ideas shifts the emphasis from the point of view of the advertiser to that of the consumer—from what you are selling to what they are buying. were based upon distinct product attributes. The creative brief is probably the most important tool your agency can use to bring forward great creative.

2. Who is the primary competitor and how does their product/service compare with ours? 8. Will additional incentives to purchase be offered? 10.. i. Ask for the following information when taking input from the client. Will selected media dictate execution? 7. Benefits of the product/service to the consumer. Review the following. 4. Product’s/service’s current standing in the market. Corporate statement or safety disclaimers that must appear on all communications vehicles. 3 . Corporate identity standards that must be adhered to. cross-media.e.The Creative Brief . to develop a complete background. What does the client most hope to achieve through this communications project? Mandatory Elements: Any mandatory budget. are they the recognized leader? Second? Third? 5. 2. A complete explanation of the product/service and its unique feature(s).). 3. corporate policy or restriction that must be considered. 1. relevant market facts. What is the timing for the communications project? Will timing potentially impact (be an additional incentive to consumer) the sale of the product/service. etc. seasonal features? 9. ad series. etc..Guidelines for Obtaining Creative Input Background: It is important to gather as much information as possible about the client’s product/service. competition. Type of communication project (print/direct mail campaign. 1. Will geographic consideration dictate execution? 6.

If the client offers a copy point that does not directly support the communications objective. Creative Elements: If the client has no specific instructions regarding sizes. • Geographic area Communications Objective: What single message are we delivering and what desired reaction are we aiming to inspire in the target audience? Main Copy Points: Each point should directly support the communications objective. 4 . 3. 2.. etc. Look at: 1. i. 4. the creative team will recommend such parameters as they deem appropriate to the project. 5. color restrictions. query the reasoning behind its inclusion. 4. demo/psychographic data) Unique characteristics. Age group Gender Household income Available research (buying habits.e. Product/service features and related benefits. Budget limitations. List the following.3. The incentive to purchase and the duration of its availability.. types of direct mail pieces. Required allowances for coupon/retail space in all print materials. 2. 5. • Personality traits.The Creative Brief . TV/radio spot lengths. Specific inclusions or restrictions by client. 1. Target Audience: A clear understanding of the target consumer allows us to create a product/service message designed to specifically appeal to the desired audience.

.g.P. e.).g.Sample Creative Brief Positioning: For ___________________ (the target audience defined in terms of benefits sought) ___________________________________________ (brand) is the ________________________________________ (competitive set/category) which ________________________________________________________ (differentiating benefit or U. heavy users. beliefs.The Creative Brief . the principal benefit? ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ Support: Why they should believe us. psychographics. etc. perceptions.S. e. attributes ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ Brand Personality: (Tone/Manner/Style): Defining the product or service in terms of adjectives associated with the brand ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ 5 . ______________________________________________________________ Secondary ______________________________________________________________ Task: What action is desired? What do we want them to do? ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ Promise: What is the single most important thing we can say that will persuade them to act as we wish. etc.?) ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ Primary. Target Audience: (Who are we talking to and what do they know or believe now? What are their demographics. X is the brand of decaffeinated coffee that offers all the coffee flavor with none of the extra caffeine. … For health-conscious coffee lovers. lifestyles.

Key Benefit(s): Support: Desired Customer Action: Mandatories: Due Dates: 6 . Positioning Statement: To (our customer). (our product/service) is the brand of (product/service category) that (benefits/unique features provided) because of (support/attributes).Creative Strategy Brief Client: Job No. slogans. product names. current beliefs. Competitive Environment: A brief. etc. psychographics.The Creative Brief . ad samples.: Date: Product: Account Executive: (Sample #1) Communication Objective: Target Customer: Demographics. Include competitors’ tag lines. concise statement regarding the arena in which the product competes. etc.

made the consumer take the desired action? How will effectiveness be measured? ESSENTIALS List the mandatories. Client signature: Date: 7 .The Creative Brief . what are their characteristics? (If possible. what are their strengths and weaknesses? Client has approved this information as accurate and authorizes agency to proceed to concept stage.e. what do we want them to know. provide demographics/psychographics/geographics/level of decision-making.: Date: ADVERTISING OBJECTIVES What should our message be? (Sample #2) Client: Account Executive: Who is our target audience. et.al.) Features: Benefits: KEY SELLING POINT In one sentence. identify the most important benefit/point we need to communicate to the prospective consumer about our product/service. what would it be?) ACTION What action do we want the prospective consumer to take. why should they choose our product/service over the competition’s? (Prioritize in order of importance. with concepts to be presented per attached schedule. (If we could only name one benefit. believe or think? EVALUATION How will we determine if our communication was successful. COMPETITION Who are the principal competitors. policy or corporate requirements or limitations we must meet. i..) What are the benefits to the consumer.Creative Brief Job No.

3.The Creative Brief .Creative Brief Client: Project or Campaign: What does the client want to achieve? (Sample #3) Job No. Date: Developed by Account Service Agreed upon by Client Based upon Research Open to Suggestions/discussions Concept Yes Yes Yes Yes Account Executive: Status: No No No No 8 . 2. 4.: Materials needed: What are we selling? To whom are we selling? (Include demos) Why should they buy it? (Key product distinctions or features. unique selling proposition) Who else is selling it? (The competition) Any ideas from the client or account service? What are the budget limitations? What are the mandatories and limitations? 1.

describe behavior with one action verb. __________________________________________________________________________________________ 4. __________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________ 3.. I want the prospect to (action)… __________________________________________________________________________________________ instead of (action). Helps Develop Creative Here’s a neat little add-on to your creative input system.I. is a planning system designed to lead to advertising that possesses all three of these qualities and that focuses all available information upon the specifics of the advertising problem at hand. R. __________________________ and ____________________________.. Use two adjectives to describe the product/service personality you wish to emerge from the advertising.O. attitudes and beliefs held by the prospect that relate to the product and encourage or inhibit the action you hope to create. Using a logical approach to advertising problems.” R. 9 . Try this approach to problem solving.” R.I. 1.I.O. Demographic and psychographic characteristics are important. Describe the action you want the advertising to cause as well as the action you wish to replace. It’s called “Instant R.I.I. Originality. plus maximum return on time and talent invested in developing a campaign. but even more important are any feelings.The Creative Brief .O. When I (action)… __________________________________________________________________________________________ I will (experience)… __________________________________________________________________________________________ because (support). and Impact.O. also means “Return On Investment”—maximum return on the client’s money. stands for “Relevancy. Write a paragraph describing the target audience as one person.O. an agency can begin to improve their creative product.R. If possible. Complete the following sentence to reflect the conclusion you wish the prospect to draw from the advertising. __________________________________________________________________________________________ 2.

Mikes and Second Wind Ltd. 1120 Hobart Avenue. Suite C. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any information storage or retrieval system.O. topic-focused information packets to our customers seeking help in specific areas of their business. Box 6284 Wyomissing. Printed in the United States of America Layout design and illustrations by Stacey Nosek 10 . All rights reserved. The Creative Brief: How to Start New Projects on the Right Foot A Second Wind Publication Published by Second Wind Ltd.com Website: www. P. PA 19610-0284 Phone: 610-374-9093 Fax: 610-374-9238 Email: info@secondwindonline.Second Wind White Papers were conceived to provide condensed.com Copyright © 2005 by Anthony P. except where permitted by law.The Creative Brief . without the written permission of the publisher.secondwindonline.

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