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One of my most hated responses is “it’s off brief”.
Far too often, it’s muttered by people who wouldn’t even know what being “on brief” is.
Too many mediocrity merchants use it as a shield to protect themselves from either  saying what they really mean or  doing something that they think their boss will hate.
However it’s not always the wrong term to use and it’s not always something adland can claim is someone else’s fault.
One of the things that bugs-the-shit out of me is when planners suggest a strategic direction that completely ignores the objective that has been set.
It’s all easy to blame those sorts of situations on clients who haven’t set their core objective clearly enough, but one of the roles of a planner is to uncover or identify the real issue/challenge/goal that has to be addressed and so if that has not been done, then there is an issue with the planner in the first place.
Just recently I saw something where the planners involved had completely shifted the objective that had been set.
Sure it was interesting … sure it had a lot of additional benefits … sure it would be fun … but the fact is, it no longer captured the core objective that had been clearly and concisely articulated and while their new focus would have added a broader perspective to the challenge, they had diluted the heart of the objective to such a point that it was now genuinely ‘off brief’ and as such, wrong.
Maybe if they’d explained their reason for changing the objective in accordance with how it played into the original goal, they’d of got a better response from me … maybe I was in a bad mood and wasn’t prepared to listen … but as much as strategy needs to expressed [at least in adland] in a way that encourages imagination and creativity, if it doesn’t address the fundamental goal, it’s not strategy, it’s indulgence.
I am absolutely all for turning challenges on their head … adding things to it … moving things around … approaching things in incredibly weird and wonderful ways … giving the client stuff better than they ever dared hope or expect … but if you ignore what the client wants addressing, you’re wasting their time, our reputation and everyone’s cash … so either remember the real meaning of the term, or go start your own company.
PS: The planners involved were not from my team. They know who they are and they’re being watched very fucking carefully at the moment.
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