New compendium launches to help improve poor briefing

'The issues with briefs and how to make them better'

To help improve the global issue of poor briefing, BetterBriefs has partnered with the IPA and The Marketoonist Tom Fishburne to release a new compendium featuring stats-backed satirical cartoons accompanied by punchy industry opinion from Mark Ritson, Peter Field, Daryl Fielding and more.

The compendium entitled The issues with briefs and how to make them better, features humorous cartoons by Tom Fishburne that bring to life some of the key issues around marketing briefs. These draw on the core findings from BetterBriefs’ global 2021 study into marketing briefs, such as revealing while 78% of marketers believe their briefs provided clear strategic direction, only 5% of agencies agreed; 60% of marketers used the creative process to clarify their strategy; 65% of agencies and 32% of marketers are unclear on who the target audience is in briefs, and 68% of marketers and 88% of agencies weren’t clear on how the idea and creative work would be evaluated coming out of the brief.

The cartoons are accompanied by fresh commentary from industry thought leaders who share their unique perspectives and insights on the issues that plague briefs. These include:

  • Peter Field and Wiemer Snijders reflect on defining objectives in briefs. Says Field: "There is always a tension between the desire to focus on a few objectives versus the fear of omitting any of the desired outcomes we seek. As is usually the case, the truth lies somewhere between the extremes."
  • Mark Ritson brings to life targeting, saying; "If you don’t know who you are going after, it will be impossible to develop positioning, objectives and proper budgets. It’s also going to hamstring your agency who, no matter how gloriously talented, are going to struggle creating anything effective for an anonymous, unclear market."
  • Daryl Fielding and Merry Baskin speak about the misalignment between marketers and agencies regarding strategy in briefs. Says Baskin: "[There are] perennial marketing truths dating from the mid 1900’s: many people working in communications can’t communicate; many marketers don’t ‘do’ strategy; they struggle to define the word, let alone cite or write a good one; and effective, enduring, communication ideas are precious."
  • Rosie & Faris Yakob and Emma Perkins cover the need for strategic clarity before briefing creatives. Says Lego’s Perkins: "As marketing and agency partners, we are on a shared quest to harness creativity. It’s not about hijacking the creative work; it’s about leveraging the power of a creative process to help shape the path together."
  • James Hurman and Orlando Wood discuss creative evaluation. Says Hurman: "Sharing the same ‘evaluation criteria’, or as I put it, ‘what defines great work’ makes everything a million times easier. Before you start work on your next campaign, get together, get inspired by the best work in the world, and make your list."

Commenting on the publication

Say BetterBriefs co-founders Matt Davies and Pieter-Paul von Weiler: 

"Humour is often the first step towards acceptance. Visualising the issues around marketing briefs through these cartoons helps put the topic on the table and into conversations."

We are on a mission to reduce the large number of poor briefs in the world, and with the support and insights from industry leaders, this compendium is one way to assist with this.

Matt Davies and Pieter-Paul von Weiler, co-founders, BetterBriefs

Says Joyce Kelso, Associate Director of Marketing, IPA:

"This compendium provides sound practical advice, through poignant cartoons and expert perspectives, to combat the common pitfalls around briefing. Getting the brief right, right at the very beginning is not only an efficient use of a client’s time but also makes best use of the agency’s talent and energies that ultimately crack it. We hope this will be both an amusing and valuable resource for all marketers and agencies."

Says Tom Fishburne, The Marketoonist:

The brief is one of the most powerful but woefully overlooked tools in marketing. I love that this compendium calls out this elephant in the room.

Tom Fishburne, The Marketoonist

"These are my favourite types of cartoons to draw — holding up a mirror to what we’ve all experienced and poking fun at what gets in the way of doing better work. Better briefs will ultimately make us better marketers."

Download 'The issues with briefs and how to make them better' for free
Last updated 07 December 2023