Category Archives: Career

143. DEATH OF A CREATIVE BRIEF

As I continue to work in the media here in Singapore, providing moving images solutions to various clientele in the Asian region, I’ve begun to notice an alarming trend in the business and that is – the death of the creative brief.

No longer are media professionals given clear creative briefs about what a client is looking to achieve in their annual marketing/branding campaigns or even references. Anything one can hope for is that agencies and clients are concerned whether their company logo occupies at least 60% – 100% of screen time/print pages/web page. How old fashioned is that?!

To me, and probably a lot of creatives out there, this sounds not only like a disastrous way to dive into a project or campaign but also reeks of brazen laziness on the part of the advertising agencies and the client which normally results in end products that not only misses the mark in what it needs to convey but also affects its quality.

Creative briefs these days are skeletons of their predecessors with only the barest bones of information on them. Most briefs would state the format in which the work is to be done, dates of the campaign and if you’re lucky, the message clients are wanting to disseminate. Do not, however, expect a brief bio/history of the company, its motto and certainly not the company’s vision/goals for the campaign. That would involve a bit of mind-work and from what I’ve been observing, this is something a lot of agencies and marketing teams aren’t really into or are clear about.

They assume that since the client would be splashing the cash, that the creatives would have to do the leg-work on that too. Again, a very thoughtless, unprofessional way of doing things especially if one is hired for a marketing job and doesn’t even know where to begin.

From what I gather, most marketing/branding teams in these agencies/companies don’t even know what they want because they are not asking the right questions. Hence, for the creatives, this is where the nightmare of conceptualizing begins.

Most of the time, in the initial stages,we, the creatives fail because we are not mind-readers. The creative brief is our Bible. It is an integral part in keeping us in the right direction – a GPS you could say to help steer us safely to our destinations. What then generally happens are the creatives coming up with concepts that are outdated or considered too ‘out there’.

And from experience, companies in Asia are not willing to try out something new. Most prefer to follow the herd. Unfortunately, following the herd doesn’t create visual impact or help a company stand out from the crowd.

This is something that I admire about European-based brands and their agencies there. Both marketing teams and agencies are willing to stick their necks out to do something that will help boost the campaign’s impact – to allow themselves to be the tallest tree in the forest of mediocrity. Their teams have already thought about which direction the company should take before embarking on a media campaign that helps entrench and relate this new direction with their target audiences.

However, the game-play in Southeast Asia is different, whether the company or brand is Western based or local. They all like to play sheep. No one delights in taking the bar up a few notches or challenging the norm. Everyone is content to just follow formulas that’s 3 or 4 years behind their industry peers in other continents. The idea being that if it ‘worked’, then why rock the boat without realising that true economic gains can only be made when customers remember your ad or media campaign and eventually buy into it.

If rocking the boat was so bad, then we’d still be living in the caveman days. There would be no more inventions, smartphones, travel by air or even to the Moon, Twitter, Occupy Wall Street or the Internet.

Those milestones in our human advancement all began as a creative idea and in the world of marketing/branding, never has this been more essential. The creative brief IS that spark we need to hot-wire a whole slew of ideas that could help kick start the businesses of so many in a flailing economic climate….

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