Ingredients for a Great Client Brief

This post is part of Ketchum’s Cannes*ectivity – insights shared from the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Click here to read additional posts.

All truly great work from any agency begins with the same thing: an inspirational brief from the client.

The best are works of creative excellence in their own right; more than facts, figures and objectives, they illuminate the possible and coax from the imagination ideas that bring forth a sense of fulfillment and purpose.  They are not instructions or specifications; a great brief is a challenge, a dare, an incitement.

So, for the second year running, Ketchum is celebrating the very best of those with whom the creative process begins by sponsoring the Young Marketers competition at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.  This contest pits in-house marketers –  clients – from more than 20 countries and wide range of companies and brands in an all-out effort to develop the most inspirational and compelling brief.

Their challenge: develop a product, service or proposition from their company that can be marketed to benefit a global charity to be announced at the onset of the competition. our hope is that these bright young marketers can match their ingenuity and product line in a way that benefits the charity while enhancing their company brand and reputation.

They will be asked to this in short written brief and presentation, to be assessed by a jury of agency judges, one of which is yours truly.  We’ll each be looking for different things (and yes, relishing the opportunity to sit in judgment of ‘client’ presentations) and while the winner is likely to have a certain je ne se qua, there a few classic ingredients we’ll all be scoring:

  • Clarity.  Is the product or service well-described?  Has the brief captured its full potential?
  • Specificity.  Is it clear what the agency is being asked to create or do?  Are timelines clear? Deliverables precise?
  • Fitness.  Is there a clear link between the product / service and the corporate brand (and in this case, with Room To Read)?
  • Outcomes.  How will success be measured?
  • Spend.  Is the budget realistic?

If the 2011 competition is a guide, we’ll see some outstanding briefs to communicate ideas with enormous potential.  Who knows? One of them might just become real.  Stay tuned – we’ll announce the winner on Saturday, June 23.

As a Senior Partner, CEO of Ketchum’s European operations and Chairman of the London office, David Gallagher brings more than 20 years of public relations experience, both as a client and as a senior agency adviser, to some of the world’s leading brands and companies. Interested in PR, politics, Texas Longhorns and life with two labradoodles. Follow him on Twitter @TBoneGallagher.