Judging creative idea guide

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Judging creative idea guide, this material will help the marketer especially those who work on advertising or brand to be able to formulate rational and structured thinking of judging creative idea
  • 1. Judging creative ideas A best practice guide to assessing agency creativity Joint industry guidelines for marketing professionals in working effectively with agencies
  • 2. Fore word JUDGING IDEAS IS BOTH AN INNATE TALENT AND A SKILL. IT’S BOTH RATIONAL AND EMOTIONAL. IT’S WHERE PERSONAL TASTES AND PREFERENCES CAN COLLIDE WITH PROCESS AND CONSENSUS. IT REQUIRES IMAGINATION, LEADERSHIP AND TRUST. INEVITABLY IT LEADS TO CONFLICT. RICHARD HOUGHTON PRCA - Chairman Carrot Communications - Managing Director So much of the relationship between the client and the agency depends on their shared understanding of what constitutes a ‘good’ idea. After all, this is what agencies all exist to do: to have ideas. And their remuneration depends on having those ideas valued by the people for whom they are created. Similarly, most advertisers know that engaging and memorable communications ideas will be more effective and more profitable to them than messages that are muddled or irrelevant. But, for people who spend most of their working days dealing with numbers, dealing effectively with ideas – with abstracts – can be daunting. All too often an idea cannot be measured or weighed until after it has had large sums of money invested in it. All too easily it can be destroyed as the nervous marketer sets out to eradicate all uncertainties. • But how do you know when you have a good idea on your hands? • How can you help turn a good idea into a great one? • At what point in the process do you need to be most involved? Or to back off? This booklet has been put together to help provide some answers to these and related questions. So important do we think this issue is, we jointly commissioned and funded a research programme into the attitudes of marketers towards reviewing creative ideas, which has informed much of this booklet. We hope it will help both agencies and clients understand each other better. We hope it will provide some sort of framework for shared criteria. Most of all, we hope it will result in the creation of more outstanding business-building ideas. DAVID PATTISON IPA - President PHD Media - Chief Executive GRAHAM KEMP MCCA - Chairman The Marketing Store - CEO
  • 3. INTRODUCTION DEBBIE MORRISON ISBA - Director of Membership Services Whether it be a PR campaign or a TV commercial, a poster or a viral, a brand name or identity, a mail-pack or a half-page ad for the regional press, or a brave media idea - judging whether it is likely to achieve all its objectives takes both imagination and skill. As with so many aspects of marketing communications today, this skill is a combin- ation of art and science, subjectivity and objectivity. Those who become good at it often rise rapidly through the ranks. It provides a practice ground for motivating the team and for decision making. A handful of companies, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Masterfoods and Diageo to the fore, provide training. Others merely hope that on-the-job experience will provide the necessary tutorials. This guide is intended to help fill the gap between those extremes. Of course, it cannot be comprehensive in its analysis of how ideas emerge and develop. The best it can do is offer some simple procedures and techniques, backed up by the experience of some of the industry’s more seasoned practitioners, which can be used to spot both ‘crackers’ and ‘turkeys’. ASSESSING AND RESPONDING TO THE IDEAS THEIR AGENCIES PUT FORWARD IS ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT THINGS CLIENTS HAVE TO DO. We started out titling this guide ‘Judging Creative Work’, but as it’s developed, the word ‘work’ seemed too focused on execution. Hence it is now ‘Judging Creative Ideas’. ‘Judging’ can also be a tough word. Yes, decisions have to be made in the end, but as an idea develops let’s think more in terms of ‘assessment’, or even ‘appraisal’, both more encouraging, nurturing processes. When you contribute to a colleague’s appraisal, your criticisms are intended to improve performance, to help and guide. Today we no longer talk about spend, but about investment. For every penny to provide a substantial return, client and agency need to share the business problems as well as collaborate on finding the solutions. This is where a client’s creative judgement can make such a difference. We hope this guide helps to create closer working relationships, encourage smarter collaboration with agencies and inspire more noticeable, more successful media and marketing communications. 1
  • 4. WHY DO WE NEED IDEAS ANYWAY? 2 Creativity is an innate human characteristic. It comes out of the compulsion to compete. And in a world of oversupply, marketers need to be creative in order for their brands to survive, let alone thrive. A typical supermarket now carries as many as 40,000 different products. You have a choice of half-a-dozen brands of sweet corn, 10 different pickles, 20 different kinds of frozen fish and 30 different toothpastes. Only those who innovate with constant improvements to their products – better designed, promisingly packaged and effectively advertised – will prosper. Even then, that may not be enough. The Economist suggests we are bombarded with 1,600 selling messages a day. About 1,595 of these are filtered out almost immediately. Analysis of PIMS (Profit Impact of Marketing Strategy) data shows that brands that spend above their ‘par’ share of voice tend to succeed, whereas those that under-invest in relation to their market share lose business, all other things being equal. One of the key variables that can make ‘all other things’ unequal is a great idea. That is why advertising is often referred to as the last remaining unfair competitive advantage. Simon Thompson, former Marketing Director of Honda UK, observed proudly that his brand gained share even though he was spending £20million a year less than his major competitors. He attributes this unequivocally to the power of advertising made manifest in Honda’s ‘Power of Dreams’ campaign, a recent winner at the IPA Effectiveness Awards. So, while it may seem a tall order to persuade a consumer to notice your communication, consider it and then act upon it, great ideas can, and do, reach those three important parts of the modern human being: the heart, the head and the wallet. Creativity though, needs careful nurturing and the client’s role is vital in (a) recognising a great idea and (b) encouraging its development. Says Bruce Haines, Group Chief Executive of Leo Burnett: “Every time you assess a new idea, what you’re really doing is trying to manage change. You can either cope with change or force the pace of it.” J UDGING CREATIVE IDEAS
  • 5. 3 Things a client can do to inspire trust and create a shared agenda: • Have lunch or a drink with the key people on your agency brand team. Talk about communications in general. Get alignment on models of how communications work. • Take a half-day with the agency to review ideas. Take 10 ideas you think are great, ask them to bring 10 ideas they think are great. Discuss. • Organise team-building events. Sean Gogarty of Unilever, took the Comfort brand group off for two days sailing in the Solent – five from Lever, five from the agency. “You feel an odd sort of loyalty towards people you’ve seen being sick,” he says. The result of his inspired initiative was the ‘Cloth People’ campaign now running around the world. • Inspire the team. Before briefing their new agency, Berghaus sent a box of their outdoor clothing and a map reference. The briefing took place up a mountain. • Give information when asked for it. “You don’t need to know that” is demoralising. • Ensure that the originators of the ideas, whether you get to meet them or not, are fully briefed on your business situation rather than just your communication needs. This way you may get a creative business idea rather than just a new campaign. • Negotiate the brief with your agency, don’t just deliver it as a fait accompli. Use their market knowledge and insight to add value to your own ideas and work with them to build a platform for creative thinking and originality. • Apply the normal rules of courtesy. Regularly keeping your agency waiting in reception for an hour will not make them want to go the hard yards for you. CLIENTSGET THE ADVERTISING THEY DESERVE It is an ancient saying that ‘clients get the advertising they deserve’. If this is true, then what must clients do to get the most effective work possible? The secret of success lies in sharing the agenda. In the perfect relationship, clients will trust the key people at their agencies and will be honest when involving them in the business problems they face. They will expect difficulties but will also expect them to be sorted out jointly. However: • While 97% of clients think the most important criterion against which to evaluate an idea is “Will it achieve its objectives?” they believe only 55% of agencies share the same view. • While 72% of agencies believe creative work should be ‘true to the brand’, only 36% of clients believe their agencies really mean it. • While 13% of agencies want the work to be radical, 0% of clients say ‘breaking the mould’ is an objective. Clearly, these are major gaps that need bridging if a trusting relationship is to be created. But trust cuts both ways. While clients are unlikely to value any agency that puts its interests before theirs (its awards cabinet, its bottom line), agencies won’t do their best for clients who are unconstructive, unhelpful or paralysed by indecision.
  • 6. Sometimes clients have different expectations of the creative process to their agencies’. Failing to recognise what these are can be a source of some friction. The three biggest bones of contention are: 1. The number of ideas presented. 2. Who presents them. 3. What the purpose of the meeting is. There is no right or wrong way for an agency to present its work. What is important is that both sides understand each other’s approach and are comfortable with it. For example, some agencies believe in interim or ‘tissue’ meetings. These are less formal get-togethers midway through the development process, when the agency shows a range of rough concepts on layout paper (‘tissues’) of its thinking. Many clients enjoy this approach because they are encouraged to contribute to the creative process. Perhaps there is also a sense of getting good value. Rather than being shown just one concept – this is it, the answer – they get to see how busy the agency has been producing lots of ideas on their brand. Many agencies also like this approach because it can help pre-sell a challenging campaign. The client is invited to debate the possibilities and collude in the selection, and in the process is given time to reflect on the idea and support it. Other agencies, however, believe in developing and discarding ideas themselves, until they arrive at what they believe to be the one definitive solution and recommendation. This approach puts the full onus on them as ‘brand guardians’, who understand the brand MANAGING EXPECTATIONS and its communication needs. From the client perspective, this can simplify their responsibilities and free them up to concentrate on other parts of the marketing mix. Just as different agencies have different views about the number of ideas they should share with their clients, so they have different views about who should present them. Some believe this is the role of the main account person or client service manager, who has been involved in every step of the creative process, though is rarely responsible for the creative leap itself. The creatives, they say, are paid to create – not to sit in meetings where, often being poor presenters, they can be either too argumentative or too eager to please. The downside to this is that clients sometimes feel frustrated that their questions have to be filtered through an intermediary, who is rarely empowered to agree to suggestions or changes there and then. The fact is, great ideas can emerge from either end of this agency spectrum – and, indeed, from all points in between. The important thing is that you should understand what sort of agency you are working with and that you feel comfortable with their approach. Finally, nothing causes more grief to their agencies than when a client uses ideas presented in a creative meeting as a stalking horse to decide or redefine strategy. Creative people exist to make ads, websites, campaigns. Not to make meetings. When they set to work on a brief, they trust you to know what it is you are asking them to do and why. J UDGING CREATIVE IDEAS 4
  • 7. READY, STEADY, LEAP Appraising an idea asks that you be both a manager and a leader. You have to manage what can be a lengthy process yet be unafraid of making decisions, which can have far- reaching consequences. It requires a deep knowledge of what communications does and how it does it. And it presumes a profound understanding of the brand itself, its myriad strengths and weaknesses. It is a creative act in itself, demanding considerable powers of imagination to envisage the finished work and how it will be received by its target audience. Those who are skilled at it make their budgets go further than those who fudge it. This is not because they are natural risk takers but because they are able to make informed decisions in which their agency’s advice and their own gut-feelings are combined. In effect, they become co-editors or even co-authors of the idea. Bill Bernbach wrote: “However much we would like advertising to be a science – because life would be simpler that way – the fact is it is not. It is a subtle, ever-changing art, defying formularisation, flowering on freshness and withering on imitation; what was effective one day, for that very reason, will not be effective the next, because it has lost the maximum impact of its originality.” Some clients can follow the train of thought that leads from communications plan to 5 strategy and from strategy to brief, but where they can get left behind is in the leap that occurs between proposition and the execution of an idea. How does a brief to promote a cleaner diesel engine become a song about “Hate is Good”? How does a simple proposition for Sony TV’s “Delivers colour like no other”, lead to half-a- million rubber balls being let loose on the hills of San Francisco? Many creative people don’t know how they have their ideas, but if they want their clients to buy them, it behoves agencies to try to explain them. Being more left-brained than right-brained, many clients feel they will better understand an idea by breaking it down into all its constituent parts. Because they cannot understand the process by which creative people have ideas, they often find it hard to follow an idea to see where it goes, they can only react to it. As Alan Bishop, CEO of COI claims: “There is plenty of great work which is engaging and entertaining, but not risky. I don’t believe in risk. Behind the idea there should be a brilliantly logical exposition as to why it is the best thing to do.” Perhaps agencies make life more difficult for themselves by appearing to be obsessed with originality. Clients, by contrast, are obsessed with what works, ie the familiar. “Leaders tend to look for big, new ideas, whereas managers tend to want to replicate what’s considered best practice”, says Bruce Haines. READY, STEADY, LEAP
  • 8. The great luminary of JWT, James Webb Young, wrote A Technique for Producing Ideas in 1939. It is still probably the best book you can buy on the subject. (Also the most concise.) He identified the five stages by which an idea happens as being: 1. Gather information. Find out as much as you can about the product. 2. Begin to look for connections. 3. Walk away from it. Your brain will keep working at the problem even if you don’t. How many times have you woken in the morning and had that ‘Eureka!’ moment? 4. Start putting your thoughts down on paper. As Gore Vidal said, “Write something, anything, even if it’s a suicide note.” 5. Test the idea. Subject it to the scrutiny of others. Try to see if it works. Good clients know that ideas can pop into the creative mind at any time of day or night. ‘Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach’ was penned at 3am. Advertising traditionally looked to a point of difference and then articulated it in a memorable, lasting way. Repetition was at the heart of the process. The media department’s task was to ensure as many ‘opportunities to see’ as possible. This was a formula devised for a landscape dominated by media brands that delivered mass audiences. Today, however, as brands and media fragment, reaching your audience has to rely less on ‘push’ and more on ‘pull’. The consumer is in control and the advertiser has to seek permission to engage. But as brands proliferate, their reason to appeal can be based on not just functional performance, but how they look and feel. More and more brands are in the ‘fashion’ business. Understanding how to operate in this market involves judgements of taste. And the problem is, taste can’t be taught. in real lifeWITH JOHN HEGARTY JOHN HEGARTY Bartle Bogle Hegarty – Chairman and Worldwide Creative Director An inspiring brief will buy a client the ‘shower time’ of his creative teams. They will be thinking about the problem almost continuously until they feel they have cracked it. The creative mind works in two different, even contradictory ways. It starts out open and questing. It makes random connections. It relies on intuition and luck to find answers, but the moment it thinks it has something, it swings into reverse. It becomes rational and seeks validation. It closes down new possibilities. Your mind may work in much the same way when it is shown a new idea. Your first reaction is emotional: I like it/I don’t like it. The second is rational as you set out to be objective about your subjective response. Warning! Sometimes clients can become so focused on their own reactions to an idea they forget to ask how the intended target audience might view it. HOW DO IDEAS HAPPEN? J UDGING CREATIVE IDEAS
  • 9. TEN piece s to the jigs aw When you put together a jigsaw, you have an idea of what the whole picture is going to look like, though it may take you time to assemble it. It’s the same with creative ideas – be they from your advertising, DM, PR, media, interactive or integrated marcoms agency. So, here are 10 parts to the whole to help you look at ideas, think about them, discuss them and come to decisions about them with a minimum of conflict and a maximum of expectation. 1 BE KNOWLEDGEABLE IN ADVANCE Before you read any further, pause for a moment. Try writing a list of your Top 10 ideas. Can you write as many as 10? The point is, to assess ideas you need to be able to place them in a broader context and compare them against ideas you have seen elsewhere and considered ‘good’ or ‘bad’. The more creative ideas you look at, the more informed you become. What’s more, you will also begin to understand what motivates your agency team. (Freud said creative people are driven by the desire for fame, fortune and beautiful lovers.) Do you know who the IPA Effectiveness Awards winners were last year? Do you know what won the creative, DM, digital and media gongs at Cannes and D&AD? Do you know which campaigns were garlanded at the Campaign Awards, PRCA FrontLine Awards and MCCA Best Awards? It would pay you to find out. It might inspire your agency to know that you know who has been winning what. Do you know what your competitors are doing in media and creative terms? Do you know how brands similar to yours are being marketed and advertised in other countries? Do you know your own brand’s advertising and promotional history inside out? Get your agency to put together tear-sheets and reels. Review as many ideas that are relevant to your sector as possible so you ca
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