Point of view: It all begins with the brief

Faris Yakob
Genius Steals

In August I delivered a Warc webinar entitled 'Beyond boring briefs: How to inspire great work' and it garnered the most attention and follow-up requests of any that we've done together. Lots of people seem to agree that briefs have become boring. Planners feel as if they are endlessly writing the same briefs, filling out the same forms, regardless of which agency, client or project they are working on.

Looking back in time and across agencies and geographies, we found a great deal of similarity. At the emergence of planning in the USA at Chiat/Day in the late 1980s, we can see the modern form of the brief emerge and solidify: a problem to be solved by advertising, consumers to target with messaging, a single thought, reasons to believe it, and some sense of the brand. My partner, Rosie, uncovered an internal memo written by Jane Newman at Chiat/Day that explains the problem with this sea of sameness: we are in the differentiation business, yet we fail to differentiate. The agency adopted account planning for a reason: "To achieve our creative philosophy of relevant distinctiveness, we've also applied that same creativity to how we structure ourselves both internally and dealing with clients." But what was heresy became orthodoxy and in many advertising agencies around the world, the structures and briefs are identical.