July 23, 2009

I'll be brief

I'm an avid note taker. I have a drawer-full of copybooks here, each one interspersed with meeting notes, doodles, word associations, concepts, scribbles, ideas, and unintelligible babble.

And briefs.

As in notes I took while being briefed. Out loud. By paperless people.

When did briefs become an oral tradition?

Agencies have always been busy places. People have always been swamped. Yet the brief remained the guiding light on every project--the common thread that tied client services, creative, production, and studio together. The rule book getting us from strategy to execution. The brief was brief yet full--inspiring, concise and, most importantly, a reference to return to when you needed to ensure you were still on the right track.

These days, every second brief is a chat. I pull out my pen, scribble some notes, ask for clarification, write down what I understand. Only to discover, nine times out of ten, that the Art Director understood something else. Or there's a chunk of meat missing. Or there's nowhere to turn for key words and insights. It's frustrating. And it's an illusion that it saves time--because the time saved not writing the dang thing is time wasted trying to get everyone on the same page again.

Case in point: I just spent half the afternoon coming up with new themes for a project, only to learn I was supposed to develop theme names for existing ideas. Subtle difference--two-hour waste of time. Not a single slip of paper exists to outline the requirements. All I have are scribbles in a copybook--my misunderstanding of what needed to get done.

And I've doubled my time on the project because no one invested their time up front.

I'm not asking for a novel. I don't need a 10-page dossier (lord knows long-winded briefs are just as bad). Just a single piece of paper that states the case, outlines the objectives, notes the next steps, and tells me when it's all due.

It's advertising. It's not the telephone game.


  1. Oh, it's not so bad--just inefficient a lot of the time. It's becoming a running gag, but it does tend to waste a lot of energy, resources and time.

  2. Well, I can love that job. But for me inefficient and confuse atmpsphere is routine. :) With your posts I have a new panorama about America. Computers, blackberry, sms, mms, mails, twitter, facebook and... so wast of energy?? Interesting.

  3. Ah, but this is Canada. TOTALLY different (pfft!!!!!). ;)