What’s the Big Idea?

I was freelancing for an agency a while ago on a big presentation they were having for one of their existing clients. The account handling team, along with the planners, were very keen to stress that what they were looking for was a ‘Big Idea’.

Nothing wrong with that. I hear it a lot.

So I had a peruse of the brief and there was a problem.

The client already had a Big Idea.

This presentation was on a B2B segment of the client’s business and had to sit alongside all their other comms that were being done by a variety of other roster agencies.

Again, nothing unusual about that.

I pointed out that what they needed was not a Big Idea but some very, very good iterations of the existing client strategy.

They disagreed.

They were a bit nervous that the client was getting itchy feet.

I then pointed out that if we created a new Big Idea that this would either a) replace the existing Big Idea, (which I doubt the client would like), or b) add another layer on top of their existing Big Idea.

So they would, in fact, have a Big, Big Idea.

So they pondered a little on what I’d said.

And what they meant by a ‘Big Idea’ was some really, really big ideas that sit within the client’s existing strategy.

You mean ads?


Okay, I’d best get cracking.

Sometimes, it is only when you put something down on paper that it focuses the mind. Particularly the minds of those who are briefing you.

So, in summary…

Often, when people say they want a Big Idea, what they really mean is: Can I have a really good/great/excellent/fantastic/genius execution of the strategy.

Not a new creative strategy.

Because that’s what a Big Idea is – a new creative strategy:

Probably the best lager in the world.
If only everything in life…
Just do it.
Colour like no other.

I could go on.

P.S. Can you name the brands that the above straplines go with.



Filed under Advertising, Brand, Design, Digital, Ideas, Inspiration, Writing

3 responses to “What’s the Big Idea?

  1. Barbara

    When I’ve received a brief like this, I too, have asked questions and tried to cut through the bullshit in an aim to define exactly what a client needs/wants. But the agency owners (not the client) always accused me of ‘ruffling feathers’ and ‘making the job difficult’ and ‘wasting time’ and that I should just ‘shut up’ and get on with what the client wants.

    I could have done. But I’m a professional. I’m passionate. And don’t want to ‘waste time’ doing the exact opposite of what is really needed.

    So it seems when a CD tries to do his job correctly, he/she is in fact just pissing the those above him off. After a while, the CD leaves. Gets his own clients. And that’s the cycle of the creative business. All due to the fact that the brief has been written by a note taker.


  2. It’s the elephant in the room. People are afraid to challenge what is obviously incorrect because someone higher up the food chain thinks it’s right.

    Quite often people ask you to solve the wrong problem. All you can do is try to solve the ‘real’ problem as professionally as you can.

  3. Barbara

    Now you mention it, that bullshit could have been Elephant Dung. 🙂
    Good post David 🙂

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