From the ‘a-ha’ moment to the ‘wow’ factor - what it means to nail a brief

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From the ‘a-ha’ moment to the ‘wow’ factor - what it means to nail a brief

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Lily TidyBy Lily Tidy, strategic planner, CHE Proximity.

It all starts with a well-defined business challenge. This is shortly followed with an insight, more than observations - nuggets of information about your target audience that can transform the way you connect with them. This used to be about one big insight, however today, this can be multiple insights across the customer journey - ‘mega, macro and micro’ insights that encompasses how your audience think, feel and behave. All of these will transform the way you think about the brief and how you deliver the creative execution.

Getting to actionable insights isn’t’ easy - you need to tap into many different sources of information and pull them all together until it starts to makes sense. Never fear the ‘why?’ and the ‘so what?’. Intuition and instinct has a role to play - but you must be prepared to be wrong, and/or amazed by what you discover. It is key to explore a range of sources, such as first party transactional and attitudinal data, third party demographic data and qualitative research to delve further into the customer’s pressure points; as well as considering the micro and macro trends surrounding the industry. It is the connection of all these sources that will enable you to land on something truly amazing.

The role of insights within the planning cycle

I see the insight as one of the driving forces behind the creative proposition. It is the collaboration of the insight, the brand equity and the business objective that creates a credible, motivational and distinctive positioning for the brand.

This insight can (and should) come from a variety of departments in the agency. For example, brand planners will explore behavioural and emotional insights, from customer purchasing behaviour to how they think and feel about the brand. Our media planners will track and monitor the journey a customer takes online, what sites they visit, when and where they go. Our UX and CX planners will discover the whole customer journey and how a customer interacts with a brand from paid, own and earned channels. Each insight from all over the agency will feed into both the communication strategy and creative brief. This ensures we can see the whole picture, and tie everything back to the overall business objective for our client.

Finding the one

Finding ‘the one’ depends on the brief. The only way to deliver a great strategy and feel confident that you have nailed it is by getting the objective and challenge correct up front - sitting down, questioning the brief and working out exactly what the client wants, needs, and how it can be delivered.

This is about not being afraid to ask the tricky questions, throughout the process of the project, when you get the brief from the client through to reviewing and evaluating the creative work. Questions such as: will this idea resonate with the target audience, based on what we know about how they behave? Have our competitors said anything similar or contradictory? What does the journey look like - what happens when they click on the link? Are we leveraging all the correct channels and making use of them? Does the call to action work with the overall business objective? What happens when the user visits the landing page?

Ultimately, you know you’ve found the big idea when everyone gets excited, it inspires creativity, new communication possibilities and drives behaviour change. It is the most exciting part of the job - that electric feeling when you know it is right and everyone wants to get involved.

How insights paved the way to effectiveness for Cochlear

The work we did for Cochlear was a great example of using insight to tackle a brief in a creative, effective way. Cochlear’s biggest competitor is not a rival brand, it is the inaction of their potential customers, because in Australia, there is an issue with hearing loss. Many people don’t realise they have a hearing problem, they simply blame it on age or the environment.

By conducting vigorous research, we were able to identify the emotional journey these people are going through and the different phases within that. The first and most important one is denial. People won’t even associate themselves with hearing loss. They’ll do things like turn up the TV or exclude themselves from social situations. Our challenge then became; how do we talk to those people in a subtle way so they recognise they have a problem that needs addressing?

We ended up coming up with a hearing test under the disguise of a short film.  ‘Does Love Last Forever?’ has two different endings, depending on the viewer’s hearing ability. Developed with a team of audiologists and sound engineers, the film follows a couple over four decades. For those who can hear well, their relationship remains loving. But for those hard of hearing, the couple’s relationship appears to deteriorate. Patient data from audiograms informed the script that used certain words with consonants such as T, S and F, which are harder to hear. The ability to lip read was gradually taken away, body language was choreographed to be interpreted negatively, and background noises were introduced to create confusion for those with hearing loss.


This insight was the driver for our campaign and with that in mind, we knew what we needed to do - disrupt the denial. To challenge an entrenched way of thinking, our approach called for a subtle touch, one that naturally appeared when our audience’s guard was low. Our intention was to make this campaign social, spark conversation and get Australia talking.

And that’s what we did, successfully converting our ‘a-ha’ moment into a pure wow factor, by drilling down into that key insight and making sure it rang true,  all the way through to execution.

Lily Tidy is presenting AdSchool Strategic Planning Core Skills in Melbourne from May 16 to July 4. Places are filling fast - book here. The course is also running in Sydney from July 6 to August 24.

AdSchool Strategic Planning Core Skills