Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What hides behind the brief?

Normally our private parts, which in US slang, when used to describe people, are not very complimentary.

This piece is not a litany of the servicing people's woes, but is a clarion call to the creative people in agencies to stop hiding behind briefs.

KKDY Briefs

Not for a moment am I defending the lazy servicing types, who wouldn't think through a problem before briefing their creative team. I am no subscriber to the KKDY (Kuchh Kar De Yaar, or Please do something Buddy) school of briefing. But at the same time, I am not for the creative people who use briefs or lack of it as an excuse for not being creative.

"This brief is not very inspiring;" "I don't understand the brief;" "Can you be specific in your brief?" Oft-used, seemingly harmless comments, which more often than not reflect a lazy mind not willing to stretch.

Our industry is today plagued by such people who would much rather while away their time, than think laterally about what imaginative solution would lick the problem that keeps the client awake.

If you've got it, flaunt it

There are enough examples where creative people have accepted the challenge of a sodden brief and have come out tops! Let's recall one such creative piece. This piece may not have won creative awards, but has stuck in my mind as a brilliant example of work where the brief would have been innocuous. This was an ad released a few years ago for Virgin Atlantic.

The ad shows a caricature of veteran Bollywood actresses Jaya Bachchan and Rekha sitting in an aircarft next to each other, angrily looking away from each other (it is alleged that Jaya is not very kindly disposed towards Rekha, because there was a rumour of her husband having an affair with Rekha). And the tongue-in-cheek headline mentions how the travellers can now choose who sits next to them, as they will now get a free ticket for every ticket they bought.

The most likely brief for this would have been - "Hey guys, Virgin is giving a free ticket for every ticket you buy. Can you do an ad for this promo offer?"

Now this is what I call creativity. Putting two dissimilar, apparently unlinked facts together, and creating a memorable communication out of it. And I am sure, before this communication got created, the normal creative-servicing dialogue would have happened - what are the insights, who is the target audience, what is the response we seek (what do we want the audience to think, feel, do?), etc. But, here, the creative team decided to rise above this dialogue, and delivered a completely lateral piece of work.

By definition, creative people are expected to look at the challenge posed to them, well... creatively. They are expected to look beyond the obvious. They are expected to find ways in to the cosnumers' minds. Not delivering that, is tantamount to failure.

It is regrettable that today, in our industry, we are faced with a lot of such failures. They blatantly hide behind briefs given to them. If they were genuinely non-creative, I would understand this. But, they are extremely aware, extremely articulate and extremely intelligent. And still they creative excuses to avoid being creative. The only possible answer seems to be laziness. They would much rather dissipate their creativity in finding reasons for not delivering, than actually deliver.

Superman wears his brief on the outside

It is anecdotal that once upon a time a brief was given by servicing which actually was used as is, in a piece of communication. This brief was for Allen Solly (remember the 'Friday Dressing'?). The brief goes - 'a week according to Allen Solly - Friday, Friday, Friday, Friday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday'. Now, while this is an inspiring brief, such briefs are one in a thousand.

The creative people have a choice - they can either keep waiting for such 'once in a blue moon' briefs, or pull up their socks and start to deliver creativity, which by the way, is the very reason for their existance in the industry.

It's time they shed their laziness, and start to be creative. It is time they stopped to look at the glass as half-empty, and call it half-full instead. It's time they stopped cribbing, and start to crow. Or else, they will be the ones who will be squarely responsible for the value erosion that is plaguing our industry today.


murli said...

Hey Ajay the blogs great. Since I am too lazy to write on advertising issues, it serves me fine to have you mouthing what I feel. Thanks for venting ire on my behalf.

FiNK said...

hey... i like ur blog! and as someone who slaves over briefs - who do u think the responsibility for churning out good creative ideas lies with? sure, sometimes great insights = great creative work. and sometimes not. so how do we know when planning has done its job and when it hasnt?