Points of View: Is The Creative Brief Dead?

By Ashwini Gangal and Satrajit Sen , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | August 13, 2014
...or has it merely evolved to a point beyond recognition?

Sandeep Komaravelly, vice-president, marketing,

What's really changing is the way in which the brief is shared and the way in which the objective of the campaign is approached.

Sandeep Komaravelly

Priti Nair

Sandipan Ghosh

Emmanuel Upputuru

Yes, today most of the discussion revolves around the brand problem, and solution. This is different from a 'pure play' communication brief, which tackles only the last leg of the process - how to communicate effectively.

As regards the evolution of the brief, I'd say it has moved predominantly from 'communicating effectively', to 'delivering results for the business problem at hand'. The brief no longer restricts itself to the line that needs to be delivered as part of the ad. Rather, it's about how the line will be manifested for different audiences and channels. And about what changes need to be made internally for a brand.

Priti Nair, co-founder, Curry-Nation

The creative brief has become redundant. Today the creative head no longer sits protected in his little cubicle. They are equally exposed to the business. Today it is more about occupying interesting ideation spaces. The marketing brief is sufficient to kickstart the communication process.

In fact, getting rid of the 'in-between' stage of developing a brief would give the creative team more time to think. A lot of time gets wasted because servicing or planning heads try to come up with a clever line to titillate the creative team. It is far more productive when everyone discusses ideas together. Today, all the disciplines are working towards solving clients' business problems.

I still feel that the client's brief is important to underline business objectives. But conventionally, we used to operate with two kinds of briefs: The 'client's brief', which was about what we want to achieve in the market with the communication, and the 'agency brief' or 'creative brief', which got articulated by either the planners or servicing people, for the creative people.

I think the second type has no place anymore.

Sandipan Ghosh, associate vice president, marketing, consumer brands division, Ruchi Soya

As long as the brief writing process is joyful, it will have relevance and stand a chance of being inspirational and motivational. The intention is not to question the existence of the document but the process of creating it.

The document should have a certain amount of solution-centricity. Mere documentation, following a stereotypical process, or 'format filling', will lead to people questioning the document and its writers.

The term 'brief' comes through many functions and each has its own perspectives. The marketer generates it with a business problem-solution perspective. The planner generates a tighter interpretation, with an inspiration for the creative team to operate within a galaxy of defined structures. And each of these functionaries adds a preface to the term: 'Agency Brief' - from the client, 'Client Brief' - as read by agency and 'Creative Brief - as created by the planner.

The term probably needs to evolve. That way, it will be given more importance and won't be seen as part of a bureaucratic process. How about an 'Idea Paper', which can activate brands and solve their marketing problems? That way, it will be duly respected.

Emmanuel Upputuru, founder and chief integration officer, ITSA

I have never waited for the brief. The only reason I used to ask for the brief from the servicing team was to know the list of deliverables and the deadline. The rest was rubbish. The brief was a piece of paper that collected all the information you needed to know about the product, features, and competition. Now Google does that job for you.

The brief is a tool used by people in big agencies to procrastinate. It is held against servicing and clients, to say, "This wasn't in the brief. So you have changed the brief? I need more time now."

The main thing I need to know is a 'problem statement', or an 'opportunity statement'. If you want to call that the brief, you could. Then we can talk and co-create.

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