Sunday, July 6, 2008

Back to the dark ages

I spoke to a Head of Marketing the other day to try and get a better steer on a brief.

We've been working our arses off since the beginning on this one.

With only a few days to play with, we got around 20 people from about five different departments to buy into our campaign idea.

Only to see our exact words appear on one of our client's major competitor's website and billboards. Our global campaign idea was their global campaign idea.

The fact that we'd done it much better and involved the reader far more didn't matter. The idea was out there and we had to be original.

So we developed some more work. Only for new global brand guidelines to appear half way through.

Then suddenly we needed three press ads. We got two out and the third needed this phone call with the head of marketing because she'd had some feedback from a focus group.

Basically, they hadn't liked what we'd done - always hard when you've been given no brief in the first place. Anyway I thought I'd share this verbal re-brief with you.

We need a clever headline. We need a really colourful, clever image. Some of the messages were really thought-provoking but we need more clever visuals. And the strap lines (headlines) were really basic and straightforward.

Basically, we need to say who we are, what we do and why we do it so much better than anyone else.

The trouble is we're talking to so many people, we just want a really, really generic ad.

'How about the ad I wanted to recommend?' I ask. The one that focussed on what we know from research is one of the number one problems/concerns of our target audience.

Oh that things been tackled by so many other people.

We need something bold. Something provocative.

I hit her with an idea I'd been keeping back that was bold and provocative.

She starts to stutter.

Part of the problem is lack of communication. Another part of the problem is that I'm not CD and probably appear a bit too 'hard line'. But some of the problem is that here is a head of marketing who is willing to leave us with no USP, no proposition, no point of differentiation for her brand, and is also willing to say she'd like a clever headline and (one of my own least favorite brief instructions)a really general message.

So what should you told when you're asked for a 'generic ad' by a very senior client?

I said 'no' but I'm having to do it anyway (what choice do I have?)

What would you do?

Do we need Planners?

Should accounts people have to write the brief?

Are you allowed to say 'no' to a client?

Share your experiences.


Wal said...

can't wait to be in a position to say no ;)

Hayes Thompson said...

Er thanks Wal.

And say 'no' whenever you like.

The sooner, the better.

Age said...

This is when you call in the reinforcements (people who can say no) and also the gun planner (who just by title alone has the right to pick up the white board marker in any room anywhere and command attention.) You get this crack team on side and you attack, ATTACK DAMMIT!