Veteran agency planners Matt Davies and Pieter-Paul von Weiler released a study this week on the state of the marketing brief as part of their Better Briefs Project. It was the first global and largest study on the topic.
They found that one-third of marketing budgets is wasted on poor briefs and misdirected work.
But more fascinating is the perceptual disconnect between marketers and creative agencies. 80% of marketers consider themselves good at writing briefs. Only 10% of creative agencies agree.
80% of creative agencies feel marketers have a poor or limited understanding of what they need from briefs.
One telling qualitative quote in the Better Briefs study came from a marketer on the internal challenges that lead to poor briefs:
“My briefs get re-written by committee – and those people are very senior but with no clue about marketing. My briefs get filled with jargon, nonsense and irrelevance, plus audiences, targets and topics are added in order to keep everyone feeling like their area of work is valid. I’m ashamed to send them over.”
Having been on both sides of the table, I think the quality of the marketing brief is one of the most significant factors in the quality of the resulting creative. Because most marketers give insufficient attention to the creative brief, this gives an advantage to the few that do.
Inspired briefs attract inspired teams and lead to inspired work. If a marketing brief reads as just going through the motions, the resulting creative work will come across the same way.
Creative agencies can be reluctant to push back on lackluster creative briefs and challenge marketers to give them what they need. But I think that’s part of the job too.
With one-third of the marketing budget at risk, it’s not worth settling.
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years: