Leave them in awe of the obvious.

Not bored by the obtuse.

I’ve always thought the ultimate goal of a brief should be to have the creatives’ eyes light up the second they look at that single line at the bottom of the page. (‘The’ page being singular, as well.) So much so, they struggle to even concentrate in the briefing, brain spinning like a Gravitron, already coming up with angles and ways in.

New opportunities are exciting. We should be aiming to have everyone leave a briefing more energised than when they entered it, but too often we find ourselves walking into a room or a zoom just to have a truckload of paperwork and powerpoints dumped on us. 60-page decks. 5-page briefs. 3 seperate research documents. Sorry guys, but I just don’t think a new chicken burger is that deep.

Somewhere along the line, we started making what we do far too complicated.

On both sides of the fence.

Advertising strategy has jumped the shark. And this isn’t a dig at strategists/planners, it’s an industry-wide observation in which we’re all complicit. I’ve seen 20-page client briefs. I’ve seen suits happily accept those 20-page client briefs. I’ve seen planners spend MONTHS on a brief and then only give creatives DAYS to work on it. Creative departments have their own sets of problems, but none of it is helped by any of the aforementioned. In short, we’re just not all on the same page anymore.

No one stands in front of a fridge wondering which iced coffee connects them with their personal values.

I’ve never heard someone talk about how their laundry detergent allows them to create more moments and memories with their friends and family.

I highly doubt anyone selects a toothpaste brand so they can be the most confident version of themselves in the face of adversity. (They’ve likely just run out of toothpaste and need some toothpaste.)

Why are we putting this stuff in a brief? Why are we talking like this? We’re supposed to be great observers of behaviour and culture, so why am I looking at page 87 of a PDF asking how a YouTube pre-roll can help our fish fingers form deeper and longer lasting consumer connections?


Great advertising is truth well told, so why are we so hell bent on manufacturing falsehoods?

Think of some of your favourite ads. An ad that caught your attention or got stuck in your memory. Old or new. I’ll wager they don’t involve great obscure shoulder dislocating reaches for relevance. My money is they left you in awe of the obvious.

A great insight is one that’s been staring you in the face this whole time. A familiar feeling. A dose of de ja vu. Something so bleedingly obvious you can’t argue with it. The job then is to find a lateral, unexpected, and entertaining way to bring that insight to life. But the truth itself should be an obvious one.

Here’s some recent ads I’ve seen people share organically. I’m picking them for that reason. A vast majority of ads get skipped, blocked and ignored. Having people voluntarily share your ad is a win, because you’ve clearly formed a natural connection rather than force an issue.

Tubi Rabbit Holes / Mischief

One of the better Superbowl ads from an average bunch. We all get distracted from what we’re supposed to be doing an end up down a rabbit hole. This is an obvious truth. It could even be considered a perceived negative by an overzealous client or strategist. But it’s the truth, so lean into it. The execution is completely bonkers. The ad leaves you in awe of the obvious.

Aldi Shop First at Aldi / BMF 

Aldi has some great deals, and at great prices. But they don’t have everything. You can’t do a complete shop at Aldi. A weak client would never want to admit this fact, but that’s not what Aldi is. Instead, they’ve owned this truth, and said ‘shop at Aldi first’, then get the other stuff somewhere else. Because that’s what people do. They go to Aldi, then top up at Woolies or Coles. The execution is dramatic and self-deprecating. The ad leaves you in awe of the obvious.

Difflam Usual Sorespects / VMLY&R

All this is doing is saying ‘sore throats suck’. You don’t have to say anything else when selling a spray for sore throats. It feels like a cat has scratched your throat. You don’t need a 4-page brief and 2 months of research to unearth this. It’s just why the product exists and why someone would buy it. The execution is beautifully crafted. The ads leave in you awe of the obvious. (And the next time I get a sore throat, Difflam will be front of mind. That’s the job.)

Our job is to distill. To crystallise. To simplify. Not overwhelm, complicate and convolute.

These are clients and agencies who are on the same page, and doing it right. You can feel the genuine connection between the strategy and the creative humming behind the work. When the two come together like this, it’s powerful stuff. Of course, we’re in the business of opinions, and this is just mine. Happy to be proven wrong.

So, instead of twisting yourself in circles, take a look at the product or service you’re trying to sell and find a way to leave people in awe of the obvious.

Because, chances are, that obvious thing is why it exists in the first place and why I would buy it.


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