I have been meaning to write this for a while now but then life took over & then this took a backseat. I needed a break from my craft as I have fondly started calling marketing. Well, this is the closest I will be able to call myself creative. So, I decided to take refuge in my second favourite passion - travel!!! This post comes to you from Japan. I am currently at this moment on my way from Osaka to Hiroshima - from modernity to history is what I am choosing to call this journey. It is also the sort of contrast I enjoy in storytelling & advertising.
Till now on our journey of making ads we have covered the science behind making ads & how to nail a brief. From the release of the brief till you actually decide on the script & then shoot it there is a long period. I call it the dramatic pause. How all performing arts have this moment when you wait with your breath held for something big & dramatic to happen. This is the time the creative team is taking to come up with the brilliant script that will overwhelm you.
This post is about how to marry whatever we have done in part 1 & part 2 with the actual creative work for bringing out at ad/campaign that works. Now first thing to be convinced about individually and sadly no one will be able to change your mind if you believe otherwise is that advertising’s sole purpose is to sell. It will sell better if its memorable & can break clutter but its purpose is still to sell. Its purpose is not to entertain or win awards. Well if awards is the purpose then the brief should be different and yes maybe once in a lifetime you will hit the jackpot and make advertising that will do both. I have not seen many & hence I will focus on what is the usual order - ads need to increase sales. Of course the route to more sales is better brand recall, better brand association, better brand love & eventually building propensity for trail.
So where do we start with this part of ad making - After Development (AD). Ensure that the script/campaign is presented by the creative themselves in a meeting. Please do not get scripts or creatives emailed to you. So much is lost in translation when you read something on your own. The tone & the visualisatio is completely lost when seen on a computer screen. Its like reading a book & making your own assumptions about what is the character like till someone else actually tells them your POV. This part of the process is also where your right brain needs to take over your left brain. You need to become a consumer. As Dumbledore tells Harry in the 6th book - from now on we will leave the known & venture into guesswork. Appreciating a script is pretty much like that. For every brief written millions of scripts can be written and you will never be able to tell which is better even on hindsight because you will choose only one and move forward.
I will however try & outline some of the things that can help you make a better choice - its not fool proof but then most things in marketing are not. Unlike potion making that is exact; marketing is a field of magic that needs individuality & judgement (apologies to the non Harry Potter fans - I can’t help but draw analogies from there - I promise the post still makes complete sense. It may lack the fun for you :p)
1. Put yourself in the TGs shoes: evaluate the script/campaign as your TG will. You should know your TG inside out and when you hear he script/campaign think about what she/he will think about it. This is often easier said than done. This is where pop culture & mass entertainment comes to our rescue. Look around yourself for trends that the consumer is responding positively to & then see if your script/campaign comfirms to it. Here, be a little cautious. While it needs to confirm to the mass trends - it cannot sit in the center of it. It needs to sit just a tiny bit outside of it to be perceived as interesting & new. Eventually leading to breaking clutter. Example if you are showing a conventional husband wife relationship; it cannot depict a submissive - you are my lord wife. There needs to be a new age bend to it.
2. Remember the brief: even if the script blows your mind; if it does not deliver to the brief - do not proceed. Ask the creative team the question - how does it deliver to the brief? We are all guilty of choosing the story over the logic & in a few & rare cases the punt also pays off. But more often than not, one winds up with a piece of creative that is great; overwhelmingly good but does little to do what it was supposed to - increase sales.
3. Confirmity to brand codes: the script needs to sit within the brand world you have curated & carefully nurtured over years of existence. For a new brand this would be the world you need to weave & be clear about before you look at the creative. The brand world determines the creative language & not vice versa. Example if you are a brand based on the vibrancy of youth & everything it brings with itself - college life, need for new experiences, need for edginess all leading to a bit of flippancy or volatility
(E.g. Fast Track); talking about changing the world & youth is the power of tomorrow (E.g. Tata Tea) is not being true to your brand world and even if its the trend & is being adopted across categories & pop culture - do not accept it.
4. Brand is a part of the story: This is where you & your creative team will differ the most. But this is where you come in as the custodian of the brand. Your brand needs to be a part of the story. The ad should not be complete without the role your brand has to play in it. For example in the Asian Paints (har ghar kuch kehta hai) ad; the story is not complete without Asian Paints at all. Your brand needs to be the phoenix feather wand in Harry Potter - the story is not complete without it. A large part of this is aided by your brief & the brand world you create but the rest is the job of the creative. And yes sometimes your brand uniquely may not fit into the story but at least the category needs to. In large, highly penetrated categories with multiple brands straddling the same benefit segment to have the brand uniquely play a role in the story is unrealistic. But yes the category & most importantly the benefit segment definitely needs to. For example fresh breath needs to be integral to a toothpaste ad even if its not Close up.
5. Let your heart respond: once you have done the first four its time to let the right brain take over. If the script/campaign does not speak to your heart then its not the right script. It needs to appeal to you as a creative piece of work much like a book or a movie or a song or a video or a TV show. And it doesn’t need to be just emotional - it needs to just be something that instinctively appeals to your right brain - could be emotional, funny, nostalgic, dramatic, shocking et al
With this I finish my discourse on ad making. There is a whole lot to be done as you move from here to actual production & releasing it. That part mostly is the operational bit of ad making. I personally love it - Pre-bids, treatment notes, PPMs, offlines et al. But I am not sure if anyone is interested enough to want to go through
that process in detail. If there are people who want to know, leave a comment and if there is a quorum; we shall take you through that process as well.
P.s. Apologies for typos if any - its been written on the phone in small print on a train. So please excuse.