How does your job fit into the advertising process? Brands come to us with a problem or a need. I work with creative directors, copywriters and artistic directors to understand the brand’s problem and work to create a brief. Back at the agency I plan the work we have to do to solve the client’s problem. When creating a brief, it’s crucial to precisely identify the brands needs because they won’t always tell you directly during the initial meeting. You have to be able to read between the lines.
Most brands approach the advertising process by contacting a handful of agencies and launching a competition, inviting several agencies to pitch their idea. This process allows the brand and the advertising agency to decide whether or not they want to work with each other.
From the agency’s perspective, during this time account managers from the different agencies meet with the brand to determine:
– How many days it would most likely take for the agency to complete the brand’s objective(s)
– Whether or not working with this particular brand will be ‘beneficial’ for the agency: Profitable in the short-term or in the long-term through long-term contracts, Win awards or advance the agency’s image, or strategic (having this client gives the agency access to other clients)
I prepare the brief with the creative director, that’s because Account Managers handle the business aspect and the creative director knows which art directors and copywriters would be the best fit for the particular brief. Each project is different and requires a specific skill-set. Competent and experienced account managers can create a good brief in as little as an hour.
After the brand has heard all of the pitches, they choose which agency they prefer to work with. If the agency agrees to work on the project, the price and timeline for the campaign are negotiated and the agency gets to work.
Part of the account manager’s responsibility is also to think in terms of 360°. Or, as a salesman, to go for the up-sale. Perhaps a brand wants a television campaign, but the idea we came up with would have an even greater impact if accompanied with a website that had the television commercial and online game attached, or an application, or an event around the idea. This is where the agency’s consulting service comes in. We propose other opportunities to further enrich the advertising idea and help the brand reach even further and create an even deeper relationship with its target audience.
What is an advertising campaign you’ve worked on?
Results from this campaign: (Source)
- 3,840,000 views on YouTube
- 82% male Web browsers aged 15-24 exposed
- +20% performance on media investment
- WebAward 2012 in the Outstanding Website category.
What are a few of the biggest problems brands face? Brands lacking a clear vision, brand identity, corporate structure, and/or are unorganized internally as to exactly who makes the final decision waste a lot of time and money simply because of the number of revisions it takes for the advertising agency to create a campaign that satisfies the brand.
The better organized and prepared your brand is, the less money and time you waste, and the more powerful your campaigns will be because advertising agencies can focus all of their creative craft solving your precise problem.
What makes a good brief? Brands familiar with the advertising process tend to know exactly what information the agency needs. This also saves the brand money spent researching.
An important element of a good brief is the brand’s story. Every brand has its own story. By telling your brand’s story you create advertising that separates your brand from your competition.
A second important element of a good brief is having a clear vision. That being said, a brand that doesn’t have a clear vision, in the hands of competent and professional advertisers, might actually turn out to be an advantage because the brand will be more open to creative ideas and solutions. This may actually result in a better, more original advertising campaign, whereas brands who ‘know exactly what they want’ and refuse to consider other options outside of what they want may pay less, but they may also be missing out on some incredible solutions which could have a greater reach and return on investment.
What are a few misconceptions brand have about advertising? Brands always want to be known as the best in everything. But this is simply not possible. Brands cannot be everything to everyone, nor can they be everywhere all the time; so this is among the first questions I ask the brand ‘What exactly are you, and who are you?’
[EDITOR’S NOTE: The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding adds two interesting arguments to this:
“The easiest way to destroy a brand is to put it’s name on everything.”
“While extending your product line might bring added sales in the short term, it runs counter to the notion of branding. If you want to build a powerful brand in the minds of consumers, you need to contract your brand, not expand it.”]
Some brands, and some representatives of the brand, either have no idea how the branding process works or have preconceived notions as to how the process is supposed to work. With those clients, I must write all of our recommendations so that the person representing the client understands us very well. I also need to make sure that that person’s boss understands it. If the brand representative doesn’t understand the process, then most likely that person’s boss will. By making sure that both of those levels of people understand what we stand for and how we plan on solving their brand’s problem, there’s a greater chance of not being misunderstood.
There are two models when it comes to agencies pitching to clients: Some agencies pitch for free, while others refuse to pitch for free, and bill the client for the amount of hours spent on the project ‘thus far.’
Also, to sell to a consumer you shouldn’t lie to or deceive the consumer. I was once approached by a brand that wanted a campaign that wanted an advertising campaign that portrayed them as an ‘all natural organic’ products company. The problem was that their products weren’t ‘organic.’ The campaign would have been blatant green washing. The person in charge was most likely under pressure from head management to boost sales, and perhaps they decided that the quickest way to do this was to appear to be good for the environment.
Accepting to do this campaign would have had definite consequences for the brand once consumers realized they were being lied to, and it would have also put our agency’s reputation in danger. We refused and the company went elsewhere.
Another misconception brands can have is to believe that agencies can only specialize in one particular thing.
‘Yes, we’ve heard of your agency, we know you do this.’
But we don’t ONLY do this one specific thing; we do so much more than just that! 360° campaigns are hard to sell nowadays because brands want to work with specialists. So what happens is an agency will do an excellent print campaign for one brand, an excellent TV campaign for another brand, and an excellent viral campaign for a third brand and each brand won’t realize that the agency can also do the other campaigns types. And it’s not until you actually provide case studies of what you have done for other brands that they understand the agency’s full capabilities and accept to do larger projects for them.
For agencies as well as for brands, this means that your portfolio and case studies must portray you on all of your strengths, and not just one small part of them.
Why would a client do a 360° campaign with one agency when they can hire the specialists from each category? If you’re looking for a 360° campaign, then you have to think in terms of the campaign as a whole, not just the individual components of it. Working with one agency on every platform ensures a more coherent campaign because everything is done and thought of under the same roof and by the same group of people. Also the final campaign will cost significantly less because agencies offer lower prices for package deals, whereas trying to patchwork a 360° campaign with several agencies will cost more in the long run.
A 360° campaign generally refers to:
– Event (design, creation, and organization)
– Supermarketing (free samples or demonstrations)
– Phone apps
What trends have you noticed in what brands ask for? More and more brands want to sell an experience, not just simply products. You can find products anywhere; now they want to sell experience and emotion. That is their main goal.
What’s one of your favorite advertising campaigns? This awareness campaign warning people of the dangers of texting while you drive.
How do you as an advertiser look at advertisements in everyday life? I see the advertising idea first, then maybe the product. I like advertising, but clients tend to make their advertising less and less interesting because it’s less risky, and in this economy they want to be safe. Brands don’t want to offend anyone and they want to save money. They want to sell more products without taking risks.
But this means great opportunity for those brands willing to take risks because they stand out in the industry and stay in the consumer’s mind longer, which ultimately leads to a larger return on investment for their risk!
I have a small advertising budget, any advice?
– Focus all of your attention on creating the best brief you can!
– Gorilla marketing isn’t expensive and young people like it because it’s ‘illegal, but not really…’ A win-win formula if your target demographic is a younger audience. But be careful! For example, it’s illegal to spray paint and tag the streets with your brand name, but it’s not illegal to use a high-pressure water cleaner gun and ‘clean the street’ so that your brand name and Website are visible. If you have a small budget, make sure that whatever it is that you do is temporary and can be removed if need be. Also make sure you abide by your local laws, otherwise you could risk legal consequences.
– When you’re small, branding and storytelling are more important than advertising because that is the most powerful way to differentiate yourself from your competition.
– Depending on your product, public relations or an event around your brand or product might be more cost effective than advertising. But if it’s an event people might remember the night but not remember your brand the next day.