Helping Your Agency Hit Creative Home Runs

Posted on April 13th, 2015

Each day creative teams within ad agencies around the world develop inventive, imaginative and inspiring works, whether they are social/digital applications web sites, online advertising, television commercials, radio spots, print ads or innovative outdoor treatments. There is no dearth of good work out there, but how do you know if yours is good? How do you to assess the creativity presented to you by the brilliant people you’ve hired to create it without being totally subjective? How do you make sure it “hits a home run”?

It’s simple. Follow this mantra and then take a run around the bases in four simple steps:
Think like a consumer. Assess like a Marketer. Give feedback like a partner.

The first thing you need to do is trust your gut. You’ll have a visceral reaction to the work being presented, but that’s ok, so will your consumer – so, think like a consumer and go with your gut. If your gut tells you “this is not right” or “this is confusing” or “this is fantastic”, it probably is. The key is to know how to understand why your gut is telling you what it’s telling you.

And that is where the four steps come into play – as in the four bases in a baseball diamond – the bases that lead to a home run. Asking the questions posed at each base will help you understand why you feel the way you do – and if answered in the positive will assure that you hit it out of the park!
This will help you assess like a marketer.

See the diagram below:



Now this is important: The going in assumption is that the work is on strategy, i.e., the advertising delivers the consumer promise and product benefit outlined in the brief. You can determine that right away. If the work is off strategy, it’s back to the bench for another try. Meeting the strategy is the battery in this game – the ability to pitch and catch.

baseball1Ok, so we’re on strategy and we’re pitching and catching. And now we go to first base. Here is where we determine if there is a big idea – a strategic idea that transforms the brand’s benefit into a mind and heart-opening proposition – an idea that causes the consumer to say: “Now, you’re talking to me!”, or “Hey, I never thought of it that way before!”. It must be distinctive and meaningful: relevant (this is consistent with my life, desires and frustrations) and, important (this is something I care enough about to engage in your advertising). Got that and you’ve hit a line-drive single.






Step two or getting to second base involves the drama that is at the center of the execution. Is it about the brand benefit, is it attention getting and does it evoke positive emotions? But remember, the emotion (or the “drama” that evokes it) still has to be connected to the brand and its promise. It’s easy to be humorous or to touch people emotionally, but more difficult to connect the emotion to the brand. Do that and you’ve have a stand-up double.





baseball3Now onto third. Are you visualizing your benefit? Chances are, your medium contains pictures. Use them to visualize what you do. Remember, consumers buy benefits, not products. Show them the money (shot)! Even in radio you can visualize by creating “theater of the mind” and place mental pictures in the mind of the listener. Oh, and make it provocative, meaningful and clear. Do this and it’s a triple in the gap!






baseball4Rounding third and heading for home. You’ve got an idea, the drama holds attention, evokes positive emotion and it centers on the brand promise. You’ve given the consumer a clear picture of the brand benefit that blows them away, now it’s time to hit a four bagger.

Give them a selling line – a few words so skillfully targeted, so clear in their positioning, so vivid in their articulation, and so memorable in their identification with your brand, that they, all by themselves, become not only what people remember about your brand, but also become one of the most important part of the brand’s identity and reiterates your customer’s principal reason for buying your brand.




Do what is asked at all four bases – and you’ll understand your gut. Answer in the positive and you’ve hit the home run! Not every home run leads to a win, but it sure gives you a better chance, and the more you hit, the better your chances!

Now, the last part of the mantra. Give feedback like a partner. Remember that the agency-client relationship is a business partnership forged in trust, candor and mutual reliance. It’s a close association of two distinct entities which mutually benefits both parties. Use the four steps to identify the weaknesses and strengths of a given execution and you’ll be working from a solid base to provide helpful, actionable feedback to your agency partners.

Why is this important?

The steps allows you to be objective and helps you organize your thinking to deliver better comments and achieve better advertising results by strengthening your own evaluation skills and providing structure to the group discussion when evaluating the advertising. Don’t underestimate the value of providing structure to the discussion. It will make the process more efficient, (faster) and more effective (with better quality feedback).

TPG helps clients learn how to activate the four-step process through time-tested interactive, role playing workshops that provide managers with practical tools they can apply immediately in their businesses. We help brands hit home runs!
Click here for more information about TPG Partner Bob Sukys, and you can reach Bob directly at (513) 315-1866.

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