Mark Twain said "To a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail”… Likewise, to the agency that just wants to make ads, every brief looks like an ad campaign.
However, this approach belies the fact that the real juicy challenge often lies beyond the brief. It’s easy to forget that every brief starts with a business problem. The brief is the client’s articulation of that business problem. As agencies it’s our job to get beyond the brief and understand the business issues at hand, not just knee jerk into campaign mode.
Channelzero were recently challenged to provide a national ad campaign for a juice brand. Upon interrogating the brief we discovered that they had limited distribution across supermarkets. We could have created award winning work, but without the stock on shelves we wouldn’t significantly move the sales needle. In became clear that this wasn’t a sales brief, it was a distribution brief. So we got upstream beyond the brief… We discovered where the buyers lived, worked and hung out. We dominated every café, gym and piece of outdoor close to them. To the few people affecting the decision to extend our distribution, we were everywhere! And when the range review rolled around we got our extended distribution.
AMV London were challenged to grow Sainsbury’s revenue by 3bn over 2 years. Not an easy challenge when the average basket spend across the UK is so low. It would be easy for AMV to default to ‘campaign mode’ and create a acquisition strategy to gain customers from Sainsbury’s competitors. However, getting beyond the brief they realised that Sainsbury’s had 14 million customers per week. If they could get each customer to spend 1.50 more, they would hit the revenue goal. And behold, they created the ‘Try something new’ in store activation and subsequent campaign - with much aplomb!
For us that’s the difference between good agencies and great agencies. Great agencies don’t just take orders. Great agencies get beyond the brief.