By Alex Smith, Planning Director
The number one obstacle to cracking a brief is knowing what the brief is in the first place.
The majority of people in marketing have far too much experience in their various fields to actually be original or insightful, and as soon as that experience comes into contact with a problem (which probably looks pretty similar to something they’ve seen a thousand times before), the upshot’s pretty likely to be gridlock, or worse – cliché.
Naivety, not experience, is the mother of insight, and insight is the father of solution.
However, to find that juicy well of naivety, you don’t need to look to people outside the world of marketing (though this can help) – you just need to make the marketers around you forget what their job is for five minutes. You don’t want them to market, or problem solve. You want them to just talk.
[Credit: Cartoon Bank (http://www.cartoonbank.com)]
The easiest way to do this is to remove the brief from the equation.
A bog-standard-pub-level-rate-and-slate-chat about a brand or category, with no obvious agenda for the participants, will unearth all sorts of truths that will tickle consumers, and which later on can be applied to answer a brief in the solitude of your open plan stretch of pine veneer.
Unguarded insights like these were famously recalled by Jon Steel in reference to his work for Porsche in the 90s. In short, it was discovered that a healthy slice of non-Porsche drivers on the road had one pithy word to describe their Porsche owning peers; “assholes”. This acted as the trigger to move the brand’s advertising in a more visceral direction. One that centred around the driving experience, and moved away from ownership or status-led creative. There are few marketers laterally minded enough to start with “the asshole factor” when asked “how can we sell Porsches”, however there are few human beings who would avoid it when the latter question is removed from the equation.
Out of the mouths of both babes and off-guard colleagues, come gems.