The other day we were working on a new campaign – boiling down what it is that needs to be done and working out the strategic role of the communications. In this particular instance we needed to educate shoppers about a new product that would solve a problem they were not fully aware of.

Yep – a bit of a challenge, but once defined it made all our efforts that much more meaningful.

By figuring out why we needed to build the campaign in a certain way, it made it much clearer what we needed to create.

Sounds straightforward right? Well you’d hope so – but often the answer is not as easily seen. The game we play is a rich and exciting combination of art and science. Not strictly a science of course, as there are no set formulas to learn and apply. The context is never constant, therefore marketing needs to be ‘agile’ it must be ‘nimble’ but most importantly, it must be ‘considered’. It is the ‘consideration’ phase which errs on the subjective, the experience, the previous knowledge, the reading of the market and the feel of the consumer. Possibly five hundred and fifty shades of grey. Zero certainty.

For some – this is a massive ball-ache. For others like me, this is the epicentre of excitement. The space in the process that needs imagination, vision and the ability to articulate what others cannot immediately see by joining somewhat disparate data points to form a sharp, believable and effervescent way forward.

Going back to the start of the process, all roads begin and end with a clear understanding of what the campaign needs to deliver. Understanding “oh, I get it now”. Awareness “I never knew that”. Behavioural change “OK, so I’ll do this now then”. This starts with a client brief. Much of the background and a direction towards a potential market opportunity are laid out. Most likely some ideas on how to bridge the gap between where the brand is now and where it wants to be are included to kick things off and get things moving. This is a great start. But only that.

Time now for the marketing team to engage broader expertise. This is where we come in. Through a process of discussion. Product trial. Competitor analysis. Consumer understanding. A mug or two of coffee and some fast butchers-paper management, the next critical step is taken.

The collective understanding begins to form and coalesce.


What is fascinating about this is that suddenly the team has a tool for which to use to build effective communications.

Let me give an example. When developing fresh creative concepts, a divergent process is followed. Ideas explore a broad spectrum of potential solutions. The task being to explore as many ways to build a compelling and competitive campaign.

Without having first defined ‘what the campaign is supposed to do’ it is impossible to evaluate ANY creative solution. Yes animation is distinctive, but can it communicate what we need? Yes a celebrity endorsement will give kudos to the brand, but is kudos required? Yes a spectacular drone shot of the blistering outback is dramatic and ancient, but are they essential ingredients for THIS campaign? Maybe. Possibly. But without a brief that captures the strategic intent you simply cannot make the correct call.

To really make campaigns work hard is easy. Start by agreeing what you want it to do. This is to be articulated in a way that everyone can recognise and that can be evaluated. Objectives which are ‘simply stated’, able to be ‘measured’, contain a degree of stretch or ‘ambition’, but are at the same time ‘realistic’ and set to be accomplished within a specific ‘timeframe’ are smart.

With this firmly in hand, you have a far greater chance of picking the most suitable creative solution, and better still, have the power to build and improve upon the fledgling idea – transforming it into a fully robust campaign execution that does everything your brief demands. Powerfully empowering stuff.


David Flanagan, Director of Content & Strategy, P2.

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