Marketers insights are trapped in the strategy department

Anne Miles

With a mission to close the gap between strategy and the creative execution, Anne Miles MD of International Creative Services hosted a research project to determine how the creative industries can produce more effective work, more consistently. This is the fourth in a series outlining the outcomes of this project. This week Miles discusses how we can meet the marketing department’s need for insights to travel beyond the strategy department in order for the most effective work to be produced.

During this project it was evident that creatives and production suppliers overall wanted more direct and detailed information regarding the client’s business strategy, research insights and in some cases actual research reports to enable them to solve the creative problems more effectively and to produce work that is more strategically sound. It was discovered that many creative and production talent who are charged with the job of actually bringing the job alive were kept in the dark about the strategy that was meant to be driving the campaign. Many creatives felt frustrated that the insights stopped at the strategy department, perhaps the account management team and at best to the senior creative directors but stopped there.

Some production suppliers felt that the advertising agency was a hindrance to the best work being produced because of the interpretation of research or the lack of consideration to research insights in the briefing process. At times that felt that more direct communication between the marketing departments and the marketing team would produce more effective work.

When discussing the research study with observing clients, the general consensus was one of deep surprise that agencies tended NOT to share the research & strategic findings beyond the account directors or strategy planners. In some cases even the creative brief was not shared through key creative and production personnel and suppliers either and it was evident the cause of many costly revisions and changes.

Some creative team members and suppliers also don’t realise that they have an impact on the strategic outcome, as they simply don’t see it as their role or they are not charged with the responsibility to play a part in the strategic outcomes. Many creatives, producers and suppliers see themselves required to do what is literally, and specifically, asked of them without any strategic understanding and no need for any input. Many don’t see that they have an opportunity to impact the communication in a strategic sense, and in other instances they are simply not allowed to. Agencies with siloed departments and large teams may well be the most impacted here.

Whilst chaotic process can also hinder the creative process and make for unpleasant working relationships, some loosening up of the formalities can be purposeful, providing decision making is strong and within a well defined structure to enable wider input and strategic responsibility. Like all good creative processes, it works if we know who has the ultimate decision making authority, but the deeper commitment to strategy will improve effectiveness of the final execution.

Regardless of the business infrastructure and defined roles, empowering all team members with the right information will at the very least enable them to make informed decisions and to raise a concern if they feel decisions are taking the work off- brief - and it should be encouraged.

Key actions.

• Involve creatives and creative producers in the research and strategic process - including collaboration on methodology

• Consider new workflows that allow key team members to be involved earlier

• Share research insights with all team members including key suppliers (particularly film directors, film producers and photographers)

• Encourage and allow project managers and suppliers to have a voice if their recommendations are backed by strategic validation

By International Creative Services MD Anne Miles.

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