Grand Prix winners in Cannes, from the endearing “Dumb Ways To Die” animated train safety video from Australia to Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” all had one thing in common– a deep understanding of what motivates their target audience.


The most important job of the account planner is to put together the creative brief. This document gives the creative team all the information they need to develop a campaign. But data is not enough. The brief needs to ignite the creative process. It often doesn’t. Some planners simply transcribe the client’s marketing jargon, convert it to ad talk, and end up with something resembled a grocery shopping list.


A brief that describes the target as “Women 18-34, married, college educated, living in A & B counties” might be good to buy media, but it doesn’t help the creatives single out that one living woman and write the ad for her. A good planner needs to conjure up the woman, what her life is like, what she loves and hates, what her hopes and dreams are, how she sees herself, how she wants to be seen. The planner needs to tell the creative team what she currently thinks and what we want her to think. In that, a good planner becomes a muse to the creative team.

A great creative brief inspires intrigues and provides the fertile soil from which powerful ideas can sprout. It does so with clarity, conciseness, and with a definite point-of-view. The brief should tell the creative team what it wants them to do, what is expected of them. As the creative brief has the power to spark amazing ideas, and ideas are what advertising is all about, it is essential that the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and its team immerse themselves in its creation.


It’s hard to imagine today a strong creative team that is not supported by a strong account planner, or a strong “creative” agency that doesn’t have a strong account planning department. In fact, when I evaluate agencies the quality of the planners is as important to me as copywriters and art directors.

Bill Bernbach, the original Mad Man who launched The Creative Revolution in the 1960s with a breed of advertising that had energy, style, wit, and youth, summed up the essence of brand advertising this way:

“At the heart of an effective creative philosophy is the belief that nothing is so powerful as an insight into human nature, what compulsions drive a man, what instincts dominate his action, even though his language so often can camouflage what really motivates him.”


Fifty years later, this still holds true.


Courtesy- Avi Dan.

Images: The brandgym, MBA Skool, Institute of Practitioners of Advertising

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