Agency Briefings Often ‘Flawed’, UK Clients and Shops Agree

06 March 2003

Newly published research shows that 99% of agencies and 98% of clients believe a comprehensive verbal and written brief is fundamental to the development of good creative work.

This near total accord was revealed in a study jointly undertaken by Britain's two main client and agency bodies – ISBA (the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers) and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising. Furthermore, both sides agree that payment by results (PBR) is impossible if business objectives are not properly defined and agreed.

But such amity does not match the reality, the research found. Less than half the briefs currently received by agencies are both written and verbal, despite the fact that both sides see this as the ideal combination. New business pitches, however, usually engender greater rigour and use of written and verbal briefing.

The research also uncovers other divergences between clients and agencies on the type of briefs given and received.

Clientside …

• 35% of clients confirm that they use the briefing and creative process to clarify their strategy

• 22% give a verbal brief or depend on the agency to write it

• 72% rely on advice and guidance from colleagues

• 40% have had no formal training in the briefing process, with 70% indicating that they learn how to brief through ‘trial and error’

• 77% would be interested in jointly agreed guidelines.

Agencies …

• 79% of agencies say clients use the creative process to clarify their strategy

• 70% of agency respondents quote time pressures for inadequate client briefs

• 45% of client briefs are verbal or written by the agency

• 85% of agencies would be interested in jointly agreed guidelines.

The full report can be downloaded from briefing guidelines.

Data sourced from: IPA Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff