Home > advertising theory, creative thinking, writing briefs > Coming to a brief near you

Coming to a brief near you

I know, I know, it’s been a while.  I have been busy settling in, helping the London office win the global Nokia Nseries pitch and crack a big project for Coca-Cola. Phew. And learning Spanish.

Anyway, I came accross something important recently in my quest to better be able to define audiences. When you do global business, one piece of the puzzle that gets overlooked is the audience. It becomes a commodity where most planners copy and paste audience section from older briefs (I have done that too).

It has become the less interesting part of briefs when it should be the most important.

So let’s take a look at how we can spice things up a little, shall we?

First things first, credit where its due, the following comes from this book: Mesmerization – the spells that control us: Why are we losing our minds to global culture. Which I higlhy recommend.

This book goes through cultural spells that control our life. Basically mega trends, like sex spells (blondes and bimbos, lads culture, etc.), Style spells (rebel rebel, hippy chic, etc), health spells, political spells…

What is really interesting is the way the authors have gone at analysing them.

Here goes the way it is structured:

1. Values of your audience

=> Obedience to

Ex for hip hop

Authenticity: keep it real

Visibility,  street and credibility


Narcissim,  luxury, excess

Concealment of emtions

Banging bitches and ‘hoes’

=> Rejection of

Education (uncool)

White conservative values


Freeloaders, faggots, phoneys and bitch feminists

(This is already a very interesting way to look at their audience, what values do they take home or reject?)

2. Target audience

Can you better define them in a sentence? Stressed young generation of professionals, urban youth, sexual extremists, creative rebels, etc. This dramatically helps creatives to think about your audience.

3. Triggering desire in the context of fear

– What can you exploit?

What drives them in life? What do they aspire to become? What are their desires, hungers for? Do you know it? If you don’t, you better find it. For exemple, for hiphop its ‘don’t fuck with me’ , for the lad culture, it is ‘ live it up while you can’, etc.

– What do they fear?

What is the worst thing that can happen to them? For the hip hop generation, it’s being a nobody, for the lad cutlure, their fears are showing weakness or excessive emotion, they feel threatned by the success of women and ethnic minorities, not getting laid…

But coming back to a brief near you, there are some things your audience must be afraid of that they are desperatly trying to avoid. If you can fit your product within this fear, you’ve got a winner in your hands.

4. Promise

How can you seduce your audience with your product / service / brand?

“spells that are effective and contagious, do so by delivering a promise or proposition fused with a highly emotinal visual metaphor, wrapped in an aesthetic style.

The ‘cool cutlture’ spell promise acceptance, authenticitity, individuality.

The ‘Hip Hop’ spell promise that everything is for the (your) taking.

The sneaker freaks promise superiority and credibility in the street.

Don’t think about what your product does, but think about what it can promise your audience taking into consideration all the above.

5. Visual spell

Again, another interesting way to bring your audience to life is creating the visual world that you associate it with. I have added music to it. If you can find the songs they listen to, create a visual wall of what your audience likes, pictures that define how they feel,  etc., you won’t need much of a brief.

6. Reward.

After they got the product, what’s the big pay off?

hip hop: have what you want

cool culture: Stand out from the crowd

Blondes and bimbos:  a world of pleasure

Girlpower: in your face empowerment.

So that should help you think about the audience differently. I particularly like to identify their fears and create the visual territory around them.

I have put an example for May 68 in France, in a PowerPoint presentation (better seen in A3) but I’m now starting to use this structure as my brief template. It’s worth looking at the link below. If you read it until there and don’t see the powerpoint, you’ve missed the essential of the presentation.


Just uploaded it on Slideshare. Best viewed in full screen.

may 68

Here’s the May 68 background on Wiki.

  1. December 10, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Great way to tackle a common problem. After all, in reality, audiences aren’t defined by demographic data like age, gender or -my “favourite”- social class.

    I sometimes struggle with the problem of avoiding these cliché descriptions in my own work, too. This is the most inspiring alternative approach I’ve come across until now.

  2. December 10, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    great post. one of the things. i remember some time ago, after i finished a thesis about audience observation for communication purposes, i entered an agency with another creative and one of the first things we tried to do was give the audience part in the brief more importance, that it should be the first thing adn that we should work on that before thinking about anything else. anyways, it´s not a thorough as what you describe but i think i posted about it before, i think our work isn´t just being an idea monkey but trying to build great comms through observation and going out to the streets to get to know who you´re going to rock with. ¿cómo va el español? abrazo!

    • Digicynic
      December 11, 2008 at 8:18 pm

      thanks facu and Camiel!
      Glad to hear back from you and good points as usual.
      el espanol va muy bien gracias! soon I will start a spanish blog 😉

  3. Dave Roberts
    December 11, 2008 at 10:35 am

    welcome back monsieur

    • Digicynic
      December 11, 2008 at 3:57 pm

      merci red cardigan.
      How’s life treating you?

  4. sol
    July 5, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Great post! thanks for that!

  1. January 12, 2009 at 12:36 am

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