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What is an Advertising Creative Brief ?

The advertising campaign can be split into two main stages:

1. The brand-positioning stage (carried out, normally, by the account planning department)
2. The creative-concept stage (carried out, normally by the creative team – copywriter and art director).

There are other parts to the campaign (the background marketing work of the client, the initial meeting with client, production, perhaps research carried out by a specialist research company, and so on) but it is really the work of the account planner and the copywriter and art director that will determine the overall success of the campaign (from a purely advertising perspective) with the campaign’s audience.

The importance of the creative brief

The creative brief is essential because it is the main method of interweiving the brand-positioning stage, with the creative-concept stage, of the campaign. It is about ensuring that the final creative concept is rooted in branding-positioning thinking.
The account planner is in charge at this point. The creative brief outlines to the creative team the parameters in which they must work (from a brand-positioning perspective). But what the creative team do within these parameters is more-a-less up to them (the only real obstruction to total freedom being any possible concerns of the client). Although the account planner must be strict about laying down the parameters within the creative brief, at the same time the creative brief is, also, designed to get the best out of the creative team. Firstly, the account planner must provide useful and interesting background information to help the creative team along the way. And, secondly, and much harder to do (and more difficult to pin down – depending very much on the personality and the creative/intuitive skills of the account planner) the account planner must be able to add some really creative-inspiring ingredient that sparks off ideas within the creative team – right from the beginning (ensuring first, though, that the creative time understand, perfectly clearly, the brand-positioning goal of the ad).

So the creative brief should be:

First and foremost: very clear and succinct in the brand-positioning goal
Secondly, and importantly: provide useful and interesting background information
Thirdly (and the thing that can help to make the difference, at times, between a good and a great campaign): contain some really creative-inspiring ingredient.

The Creative Brief will be set out (more-a-less the same from one advertising agency to another) like this:

  • Background (to campaign)
    Here the account planner will give an overview of what is going on in the market; who the competition are; any useful information about the client; and so on.
    Two important words here are Who and What. ‘Who is the audience?’. ‘What is our main message?’
  • Goal of Ad
    How should the audience respond? What do you want them to do / think / feel?
  • Who is the audience?
    Expand upon this
  • What is our main message ?
    Expand upon this
  • Rational and Emotional Reasons why the audience should act or believe in a certain way in their response to the campaign
  • Useful Information and Insights
    In order to flesh things out
  • Schedule
    What is needed from the creative team and when they need to do it by?
  • Client Service Checklist
    Has everything being covered?


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  1. An impressive resource, thanks.

  2. This is a really great article. Wish you could expand on it more, with some samples of creative briefs. Also, “who is the audience” and “what is your message” has nothing on it. (well, it says, “expand on this”)

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