Note: A better Ogilvy & Mather creative brief

Note

David Ogilvy was always a man of his word.

And the creative brief he templated for his eponymous New York a la Madison Avenue advertising agency has long reigned as the brief to end all briefs in adland.

Especially for clients who like its upfront business focus. Ogilvy was nothing if not the businessman.

His original creative brief still serves the agency and its clients to this day. It’s indeed the stock standard that (by definition) has more than a few shortcomings for our modern age where we no longer worship commercial television. It’s got good bones, but it’s time for an update.

Not a graphic pretty-it-up-with-a-nice-font-and-some-on-trend-embellishments update. Not in a let’s-add-more-plaforms-and-channels-and-virtual-reality update. But a sharper focus on more relevant questions that will produce better creative and better outcomes.

Before - Standard creative brief

  1. What is the product?
  2. What is the business objective?
  3. Why are we advertising in this instance?
  4. Who are we talking to and what relevant things are going on in their lives?
  5. How do they think/feel about… the category? the competitors? our brand?
  6. What response do we want? What do we want them to think/feel as a result of seeing/hearing the advertising?
  7. What is our key proposition?
  8. Why should they believe it?
  9. What are the brand/product essentials?

After - New and improved creative brief

  1. What is the product? Or service? 
  2. What is the business or communications problem to solve? What is the objective? What is the cost of not solving this problem? Over three years? Over seven years?
  3. Why are we communicating in this instance? What happens if we wait?
  4. Who are we talking with and what relevant things are going on in their lives? What conversations are they having? 
  5. How do they think and how do they feel about the category? The competitors? Our brand?
  6. What response do we want? What do we want them to think and what do we want them to feel as a result of the communications?
  7. What is our key proposition? What is our theme? In one word?
  8. Why should they believe it? What is stopping them from believing it?
  9. What are the brand essentials? Product or service essentials?
  10. What is the value being created? How is it measured? How much is each metric worth?
  11. What is the budget?

This new improved creative brief doesn’t limit itself to advertising per se. It realises that advertising is just one of multiple mediums of communications. It can serve and compound communications across all mediums.

It puts a dollar amount on the challenges to better calculate a suitable budget and returns. Solving a $30 million problem with a $1 million solution is still a great way to make money. Solving a $300 million dollar problem with a $10 million solution? Even better.

It aims to cover an ever broadening media landscape. It doesn’t limit itself to the typical advertising playbook of creative forced to fit a preordained (and usually prepaid) media buy.

Rather than a proclamation from on high, it includes the audience as part of a hopefully ongoing shared conversation across multiple mediums, platforms, and channels.


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