How To Make An Ad

It’s not uncommon these days for Joe Blow Web 2.0 to need to create an ad for something, in digital or physical media. Most of what they produce is a waste of money and time, and though that’s all too often true of The Professionals as well, pros like my friend at right have a distinct advantage in the form of something called a Creative Brief.

A Creative Brief is a kind of intellectual scaffolding for the magic of great ad creation. It frames the communication challenge in a way that helps talented people come up with a solution. While different agencies have their own take on the particulars, most of the big boys use a minor variant of the below.

Get In The Zone

Start by thinking about your target… not as a “Target Audience,” but as a person. Put them in your head… A real live individual, think about what they look like, and what they’re doing at the time they get your message. Ready?

OK… 5 Steps, to be done in order:

  1. Define the Desired State: What is it, exactly, that you want this person to think, feel, or do as a result of receiving this communication?
  2. Define the Current State: Relative to the Desired State, what does he/she think, feel, or do today, in advance of receiving this communication?
  3. Define the Key Thought: What is the singular, essential idea you believe will move this person from the Current State to the Desired State?
  4. Define the Support Points: What evidence, if any, to you have to prove or evidence the validity of this Key Thought? If more than 3, what are the 3 most impactful?
  5. Begin Creative Process. Once you have all that straight, we can start noodling ideas that will capture your target’s attention enough to deliver the Key Thought.

While there are no guarantees this approach will yield an ad that does what you want it to do, it will at least give you a fighting chance to come with what the late, great David Ogilvy called a “Big Idea.”


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