Please Don't Put These Two Adjectives In Your Brief

"Viral" and "Award-winning"

We get it, you want your brand to be popular and you want to get recognized for your work. We all do. And there's a time and place for that. But that time and place isn't in a brief.  

Why shouldn't you put "viral" in your brief?

Because 1. Briefs are supposed to be guides that target mandatories and 2. We are advertisers, not psychics.

A South Korean pop sensation with an addictively horrible song, an Irish family chasing a bat out of their kitchen, people with unknowingly polar opposite views performing tasks that require cooperation - what do these three things have in common? I'll give you a hint, it rhymes with...nothingggggg. What the internet reacts to and how is complex. If we knew how to get your brands latest video the most viewed across it, we would. Every...single... time...we would.

When you introduce "viral" in a brief is leads to us trying to emulate content that has gone viral. We instantly flock to the Google search bar looking for the internets most popular content. "Did you see that latest video of [insert any recent popular video here]? Maybe we could do something like that." Then the individual pitches their idea, which is mostly the same exact thing, just with a brand end card on it. And before you say, "but it will awareness for the brand," spare me. That's not being creative, that's being un-original and lazy.

And it's just about as useful as playing the same number in roulette over and over and over again.  

Yes, we want you to be popular and we want people to share your content. But for the right reasons and for reasons that benefit your brand and the message(s) you want to convey. 

Why shouldn't you put "award-winning" in your brief?

Because it sets a precedent that if you don't win one with whatever the creative output is, then it's a failure.

Yes, we want to win awards, but we also want to make an impact for your brand that focuses on what will make you successful. Will some bronze statue be more important to you or will making a positive impact on an audience and increasing consumer affinity? The award should be just that, an award. For great work that moves your brand forward. Not a formatted bullet in a word doc disguised as a must have.

It also skews thinking, because it shifts our focus to grab the next industry pub headline and not focus on what your goals and objectives are. We end up with a bunch of grandiose ideas that never fit into the budget or end with "and we'll do this in the middle of Times Square."

By avoiding those two things in your brief I ensure you that people won't immediately stop reading it.

Instead, inspire people to lead with great creative work that is rooted in insights that ladder back to things that are own-able to your brand and let the chips fall where they may. If you don't win an award, so what? Maybe by focusing on what will resonate with your audience, you may just connect with and influence them.

Help us focus on the meaningful stuff and you will get stronger work. And really, it's just a lot cooler to be authentic.

Honorable mention of other words/terms to avoid;

  • "Earned media potential."

  • "Pr worthy."

  • "Ideas that will create buzz."

  • "We want a big idea, but within budget."

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Steven Castro-Savich