More email based advice. Just a reminder, this is what I think, not everyone.
Sorry to bombard you with questions. I feel that 'strategy's is not embraced within the client organization at all. Strategy is about retrofitting the execution as opposed to guiding the creative. While I know real life doesn't happen in textbook fashion, I believe this should not be happening all the time. What do you think?
You’re too right that real life doesn’t follow the textbooks,
And most of the textbooks are wrong.
I think the trick is to insert best practise into real life and not the other way around.
Loads of clients only care about you making the best ads, and have got someone else to do the ‘grand strategy’.
And yes, lots if planning tends to be a ‘ad tweaker’ as Stephen King put it.
Now I’m not here to get bad/indulgent/plain wrong work through the client or research.
I sure, neither are you.
This about patient and playing the long game – and not bruising egos.
I don’t like testing work, it’s mostly pointless and can kill great work, especially in the hands of a bad researcher. However, if you’re client is a fan of testing, use it to your advantage. It’s immoral, but as you say, we live in the real world.
So use research defensively.
If everyone is in love with an idea, but isn’t objective about how it works, and either won’t listen, or will hate you forever for killing their baby, be the voice of the consumer and test it.
Which means moderate groups yourself (you can’t escape this and getting good at moderation gets you great at client meetings and managing workshops) or making friends with the researcher. Researchers are lonely folk who no one takes the time to befriend. Have influence on the discussion guide, tell the researcher what you’re looking for.
In other words, fix work by getting people to say what you know is wrong with it, kill bad work if it’s begging to be put out its misery – but get people to say what you know is the right alternate approach.
In other words, people other than yourself to alter or crucify the work, but make sure you also have a clear, insightful and interesting way forward.
And because it’s endorsed by real buyers, the client will buy into it too.
Of course, you might not have the budget to do formal research and the client might not want to pay to test work (in most cases hallelujah!) so put the work in front of people of the doers in the agency who are not ‘comms professionals’ –accounts, PA’s etc. Get their feedback instead. Or do cheap and cheerful street interviews. Works internally, while clients bloody love vox-pops. Just make sure the respondents match the clients ‘minds-eye’ picture of their audience, not always the real audience, then they’ll accept it far more. Play to their prejudice. I once worked on a brand who’s CEO believed all their buyers where beautiful fashionista women (preferably with great breasts). So went out to do vox pops with precisely these kind of women (it’s a hard life). And no, my natural charm and film star looks didn’t make it easy to attract this kind of respondent, I took an account exec to man the camera who, in the looks department, did.
Now, as far as ‘grand strategy’ is concerned, this is really part of the same job. Folks, of course, don’t like work for surface reasons but mostly, when they talk about why the like or don’t like stuff, you can quickly root out the fact that the work is based in the wrong objective or direction. So, feeding back on work enables you to feedback on strategy and present a better approach with evidence as to why that’s the case.
Failing time to do this, make sure you do work to brief, but then present and alternative, just make sure you have strong, evidence argument for why it’s better, and let the account folk help with some of those dark arts of charm and persuasion.
If you don’t have time or resources for that, this is where dirty planning really comes in. Don’t post rationalise why the wrong work is right, invent the argument for why the right work is right – convince them it’s on brief. Most ads and stuff have a specific strategy and a specific ‘way in’ – executional idea. Just make sure the execution does the job you want it to, but convince the client it does what THEY want it to.
For example, a client thinks this about proving superiority by talking about quality ingredients,
but it’s really about relevance and role, creating a specific feeling and context for the usage experience, and getting across a unique brand point of view without saying it (we’re for folks who like being outdoors and experiencing more low-fi, authentic stuff, bourgeois bohemians) - a brand for ‘people like me’ that shares my values and aspirations. . It’s no good providing evidence without presenting the argument first.
Hope this helps