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How creative is your brief?

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I bet there are many things your agency can claim to be good at. But is one of them writing a creative brief?

I was reading the adliterate blog the other day and there was a post about how clients should go about writing creative briefs. That got me thinking about a story I heard years back when I first started out in advertising. My creative director was a guy named Terry Lovelock, he was the writer responsible for the Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach campaign.

One time Terry was explaining how the idea came about. He said that the Heineken brief he was given had just one word on it. REFRESHMENT

My instant reaction was surprise. I remember thinking that just one word made it a very difficult brief to crack, but Terry disagreed. Perfect brief, he said. Succinct, focused, unforgettable. From that one single word I knew exactly what the message had to be, it simplified the process, the job was then all about finding a great way to deliver it.

Deliver it he did. He went and created a blockbuster of an ad campaign, all from a brief that had just one word.

So what does that tell us? Well it says that a brief reduced right down to its core will most likely produce better results than a brief packed full of inane detail.

It also says that a great creative brief should always be single-minded but never a straight jacket. The best creatives don't work to a brief. They work from it.

Most of all, it says that the creative brief needs to be like the work itself bold, ambitious and creative. When it is, the brief becomes a springboard that drives creative people further. It should inspire as well as direct.

So take a look at that brief on your desk today. How does it stack up?

Do you feel inspired by it, or is it more of a work order coming from the account and planning team? Is the format right? Are all those boxes really necessary? Does this brief help you solve the problem or does it just give you the problem? Does it matter if it's a shit brief anyway?

What says you?

John Fountain is senior writer at Avvio

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