May 26, 2009


I'm back at work--and backed into a corner. This brief on my desk is a rarity: it's too detailed. Not only does it give me a road to travel on, it's decorated the scenery, fixed me a lunch and booked a hotel along the way. It's like working with handcuffs on.

Creatives work best with good, detailed briefs. Show me the path you need mown and I'll get out the rider and start cutting. Give me a clear communication objective and we'll find the right concepts to bring it to life.

But please, oh please, leave me breathing room. When I start to explore, I've got to look under a carpet here, peek behind a door there. I write some true gibberish which leads to something that sparks an idea which, eventually, surprises even me as it emerges as an concept. Take away that maneuvering space and you cut off any surprises.

And, let's face it, it's the surprises that touch the heart of the matter in ways no over-constructed idea can.

So give me a good brief. A short brief. A brief that explains the problems, states the objective and inspires us to work. And please don't start crossing my t's from the get-go. Else you'll force me to leave a whole lot of gems in the dirt.


  1. At least they don't make you write the brief! And I'm almost finished writing the campaign! I hate writing the creative brief. And I hate hearing "the ads don't *match* the brief" argument.

    heavy sigh

  2. Isn't that funny, the only thing worse than the halfbaked-plan-on-a-napkin is the Overbearing Brief. (By the way, when you peel back the bread, the sandwich they made you is something you really don't like, like pimento loaf with extra mayo.)

  3. And how was your vacation? Do we get to hear details of any crazy antics?

  4. @ Anon: Gack! Where I used to work, the "creative" brief had such inspiring details as average household income, return envelope size (always #9!!!), and test breakdowns by postal code. I do not envy you one bit.

    @ Jake: At least the napkin can lead to something bigger. I think over-briefed briefs end up making the project smaller and smaller. And pimento.. ick.

    The vacation was very nice. Spent lots of time with the in-laws and enjoyed 11 days of rain! But I always love to head out across the pond. Everyone's so nice and the milk (which I now drink buckets of) is incredible. Plus I get to see outdoor ads in English! I should have brought my red corrector pen...