Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Has The Creative Brief Lost Its Purpose?

This week has been a busy one. Being my last week in Burnett, I have been busy preparing my handover. Being the procrastinator that I am, rather than getting my ducks in row, I have spent more time reading through the briefs and looking through the work  I have been a part of, over the last three and a half years at Burnett. That's when the question struck me... has the creative brief lost its purpose?  

The creative brief is written by the strategy team to inform the creative team about the bang on target audience, their attitude and behaviour towards the product / category/ cultural fuel and similar relevant pieces of data. The document also provides a direction that leads to work which gets the desired response. Typically, the strategy team takes about two weeks to log in a half way decent brief and the creative team is given a week to arrive at a world changing idea!

It is so wrong in so many ways. 

The brave world spins faster, is more collaborative and above all, is more human. 

An idea session in progress at Leo Burnett, Mumbai

Some of the best work I have been a part of at Burnett has been a result of pure and simple collaboration. We met over coffee in our friendly neighbourhood Starbucks or Cafe Coffee Day, sometimes in our office lawn or even a car ride back from a meeting. No one wrote a brief. No one asked for one. Everyone was very clear what their role was in the discussion. No one challenged the brief (as there was none to challenge). No one discounted what the other had to say as the people around the table were not warring factions from different departments but one cohesive team that owned the problem. Everyone came together with one purpose, to leave the discussion with a viable solution. And boy, did we arrive at some terrific solutions! 

Please note, not for a minute am I saying that creative briefs are not written in Burnett. Of course they are. We are just as bureaucratic as every other agency in the country. I am only talking about the times when we did not write a brief and let magic happen. 

Here are a few pieces of work which have been a result of discussions and brainstormings with no fuss over a written brief. Judge for yourself, if this works better or not. 

Tata Capital - Salaam Loan #LoanKaHaq 

Gagan Diwali Campaign

Believe you me, there are many advantages of losing the creative brief. 

Firstly, the world today needs more creative business solutions than kickass ads. I don't think the creative brief as we know it has the power to fuel ideas which lend itself to kickass business solutions. 

Secondly, magic happens when everyone in the team owns the problem as well as the solution. Collaboration begins when the client is briefing the agency. Everyone attends the meeting. Everyone gets a go at stupid questions and intelligent suggestions.

Lastly, faster turnaround time. In a world where seconds are the new minutes, we managed to turn around work in days, not weeks. No one 'wasted' time. It is war from the word go.

To my mind, creative brief is logic and logic can never produce magic. To create work relevant to the world today, just lose the creative brief once and see what your team comes up with. 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Ingenious India

Today, I happen to notice what keeps my cigarettewala busy all day. The bloke is an ingenious dude. He has acquired a cheap smartphone with a large screen which he has hooked up to a cheap car stereo. Surprisingly, the car stereo which has in built speakers have a great output, both in terms of sound quality and volume. For 10 bucks a pop, our dude gets a movie loaded on to his phone which he watches in between serving his customers. On days there is a cricket match being telecasted live, he streams it online thanks to the dropping data prices. There is no dearth of ingenious men and women in India. 

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Just read an article on how e-commerce / logistics companies are changing the destinies of many girls by hiring them to deliver products at consumers' door steps. Previously a male bastion, today, girls in their 20's see this as an opportunity to break away from the societal shackles and set themselves on a road to freedom and economic independence. 

Reminds me of early 2000's, when the skies opened up to provide opportunities to people from small towns to kiss the sky. The budget airlines spread their wings - offering everyone an opportunity to fly - not only to their temporal destinations but also to the destinations of their dreams. Thousands of air hostess academies sprung up around the country giving girls from small towns and lower middle class families an opportunity to strike out in a bold new direction. Though a slight detour on the preordained road to marriage, families looked upon these institutes as finishing schools which would eventually help get their daughters a better groom while the girls saw this as their only chance to a little bit of freedom before they 'settled down'. But unfortunately, it was not an equal opportunity programme. The conventionally prettier girls (read: fair) got a chance to flirt with this new found freedom easily while their darker cousins got left behind. A fairness cream leveraged this opportunity to sell their wares to the less fortunate, 'the dark skinned girls', by telling them that even they could get a shot at freedom by using the their product. Watch the ad here.

Times have changed. The future belongs to the bold and not to the beautiful. Hopefully the day has arrived when the shallowness of fair skin is giving way to a confident gait. Girls today are no longer looking at career opportunities to land a better groom. They are marching into male dominated professions by their sheer grit and determination to make a better life not only for themselves but for their families. These are jobs that will ensure no little girl is married away to an unsuitable boy at a tender age. Jobs that will help send her children to better schools. Jobs that will ensure her children get a shot at their unlimited dreams. 

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

What Am I Going To Give Up Today

As I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline this morning, I came across this cliched post that read 'If you want something NEW, You have to stop doing something OLD.


Made me sit up and think. So true. We keep cribbing about life not moving forward but what is that one thing I am going to change about my life today? 

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Online Free Tarot

Have you ever tried online free tarot reading? I have. Multiple times.

Over the last two years I have been faced with a lot of situations where I felt I was standing in the cusp of a two roads which were going in opposite directions and I needed to know which road to follow. I was never sure. I looked for help everywhere including a popular free tarot reading site. I made a lot of decisions based on the readings.

After two years and multiple bad decisions, I realise that these are written for people who are clasping at straws, just as a I was, looking for a sign of positivity. And these sites offer them plenty. It just stops you from tipping over. One feels good on learning that all was going to be well soon with whatever decision you make. Professionally. Personally. Romantically. And at times, that's all that you need to hear.

Well, after two years of playing around with the cards I have learnt that these free tarot sites are like a virtual hug that lets you go on with life till the next upheaval. It is not a go / no go decision channel. We cannot base our decisions on what the cards foretell. For heaven's sake, don't make the mistake I made. Consult them for the reassurance, the free virtual hug but don't treat it like a secret blue print to your life.

No one knows better than your gut and your intuition which road to follow. And oh yeah, don't forget to use your head.  


Sunday, 7 August 2016

Friendship Day

Apparently today is friendship day. I wonder what does the word 'friends' mean. My cousins were my first friends and they continue to my best friends today. We shared secrets about people we fell in love with, our dreams, our ambitions even small little insecurities which comes along with puberty. We partied together. Made fun of each other just as much as we stood up for each other. Fortunately and touchwood, that's the relationship we share even today.

On the other hand, for migrants like me, my friends have become my family. We celebrate birthdays, Diwali, Christmas, Durga Puja together. Our Sundays are spent together. We discuss our family dramas with each other. We are there for each other through thick and thin.

The lines have blurred between friends and family. What was meant to be a social connection has today become more filial while relationships with family have somewhat become more social. So which relationship do we celebrate today?