Agencies like to say that they are in the “Ideas” business. The product is Ideas. But the sad truth is that they often live in the “execution” business. And if you ask ten people in any Agency to define an Advertising Idea, you’ll likely get seven different answers. This is like asking ten people at Toyota to define a car and getting seven different answers.

It shouldn’t happen and for an Agency to operate at peak efficiency we need to clear up any misunderstandings

First of all, here are a couple of things that are not the Idea. The execution or spot or script is not the Idea. The art direction is not the Idea. The gimmick in the spot is rarely the Idea.

Here is a definition:

The Advertising Idea is the creative bridge that goes from the brand benefit to the execution.

To spot the Idea, the best starting point is to ask what type of Idea it is. Perhaps it’s a demonstration, exaggeration, an analogy, or some other type of Idea. Figuring out the type is half way to discovering the actual Idea.

Then ask: Demonstrating what? Exaggerating what? An analogy of what? This will take you even closer to the Idea.

When you think you have it, ask yourself if the Idea could be executed differently. If so, you’ve probably nailed it. If not, keep trying.

Finally, express it in one simple sentence and do so precisely.  A vague Idea provides little direction and, over time, will mutate in different, unwanted directions. Before long, it will become something altogether different from the original.

So, agree on the wording and stick with it.  Resist the temptation to change for the sake of change of it or as new people come on the Account.

Properly defining the Idea is crucial to evaluating it. And vital for the Agency to operate better, faster and cheaper.

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