Imagine if you walked into a McDonald’s restaurant and asked 10 employees “What is the correct recipe for a Big Mac?” Suppose that you received 7 different answers and that each of the crew was passionately convinced that his answer was the right one and would refuse to be convinced otherwise.
This restaurant would probably not be doing well.
Every time a customer ordered a Big Mac would be an adventure. He could never be sure if it would actually taste like a Big Mac, or even like a hamburger. There would be a lot of complaints. Many customers would return the hamburger and demand that it be redone, properly this time. Many would refuse to pay for it. Social media would light up with scathing reviews and suggestions to go elsewhere.
After a while, customers would look for their hamburger fix at Burger King and would hope that this chain could at least properly cook the Whopper. Unfortunately, they would run into the same problem. Eventually, they would be so frustrated that they would abandon the fast food hamburger industry completely and try to satisfy their craving in other types of restaurants, or maybe even at home
This is the scenario we are facing in the Advertising Industry. And our equivalent of the Big Mac is the Advertising Idea. I am not saying that no one in the Industry can define it correctly but as a group there is a lot of confusion. If you ask ten people in the Industry, you are likely to get 5 different definitions.
This is at the root of a lot of our problems and here is why.
If you cannot properly define an Advertising Idea how will you ever know if you have a good one, or more importantly, the right one for your Client’s Brand? And if you don’t have the right one, it is very likely that the Brand will not react positively in the market and this will only increase the pressure on you to get it right.
If you cannot properly define an Advertising Idea how can you provide feedback to make it better? Very few Ideas are born fully formed. Most have a germ of potential in them but need to be adjusted and crafted to reach their full potential. If the team that is doing the crafting does understand where to take it, how can they ever get there?
If you cannot properly verbalize an Advertising Idea how can you make sure that it is written in a way that will last when you are no longer working on the Brand? There is a lot of turnover in the Industry, both on the Agency and Client side. If the Idea is not properly captured, it is very likely that the next group of people working on it will take in an unintended direction and, over time, this will hurt the Brand and eventually, the Agency.
If you cannot properly define an Advertising Idea you will not be able to define the Engagement Platform that goes with it. Not only will your work in “traditional” media be ineffective, your presence in the interactive space will be fuzzy and muddled. Getting consumers to engage with your Brand will be that much harder.
Finally, if you cannot properly define an Advertising Idea, how can you sell it through to the Client? It is not a coincidence that Agencies have such a difficult time getting approval on their work. And it happens so often that the standard excuse that the “Client does not get it” is obviously a cop-out.
If Agencies want to improve their performance and, as a consequence their credibility, they need to move beyond denial and address this issue quickly and correctly.
PS- It is possible, even probable that you think I am full of crap. If so, let me challenge you to do the 10 colleague test. My bet is that you will get 5 different definitions and a lot of Marketing and Advertising jargon that sounds great but means nothing.