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Friday, September 03, 2010

The Brief Ad Story

While most briefs portray lofty, and often manifold ambitions from an ad, most ads in the newspaper merely do a good job of informing. No paradigm shift in consumer behavior, no ‘creating a buzz’ by an old offering because ‘we tweaked it a certain way’. Just information. And how some of them are better suited to fit your requirements.

A new laptop from Lenovo promises to have an 8hr battery backup for SME users. A news story (read, PR) talks about Apple’s new line of iPod Touch, Nano, and TV. A full-page ad of IDBI talks about savings account that doesn't charge banking fees.

Now the IDBI ad might create, to some extent, a paradigm shift. Which is to say more shifts to the said bank. It’s the offering that is great, and the ad carries it in a fluid manner. There is a little mess in the boiler-plate area, but that can happen anywhere given the last minute tug-of-war between the client and the agency, so I will give the said agency a pass on the blame.

Were there lofty expectations from the brief? Only a small team in a certain commercial building can tell. But the way most briefs come to agencies, it probably did. And it is probably this reason that explained the next move.

O&M made the ad, and they chose to put the same full-page ad in two pages back to back. Wasn’t the front full page impactful enough, that you had to repeat it in the very next page? Why waste client’s money? For your 15% media-buying commission? Or to make up for a good creative when you promised a great one? So you said, repeating the ad will take them closer to the lofty expectations from the brief?

Advertising isn't what it used to be. It’s not a good hearted information exchange. Instead, it fights for your attention in any nasty way it can find.

But then what is good advertising? Ads that are lost in obscurity? Ads that are plain vanilla and good looking, and are done at that? Any business effectiveness reviewer will tell you, they are failed ads.

Good ads are good if they can be objective about the expectation and capabilities of an ad, and drive it solely by measured reason from the beginning to the end. This is especially difficult to do if you’re trying to justify to the client what you’re trying to do all the time. As for clients, time is money, but money is not emotions, guys. And adding pressure will only, and surely, translate in creative compromises.

But as any successful agency will tell you, reason will often be a hindrance to growth. The client-agency relationship growth. The agency’s financial growth. It’s the art of persuasion that works. And if, in the process, business goals go against reason, so be it.

So be it.

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