Blog: Writing a brief for Santa Claus

James Rix, founder of StreetPR explains why all he wants for Christmas is for brands to take a more proactive approach.

James Rix: examining the working relationship between brands and agencies
James Rix: examining the working relationship between brands and agencies

Marks & Spencer has stolen John Lewis’s crown this Christmas, with the M&S ‘Mrs Santa’ TV commercial being named the UK’s favourite Christmas ad, beating John Lewis’ ‘Buster the Boxer’ into second place. 

Spoiler alert – if you haven’t seen the M&S ad (where have you been for the last few weeks? The North Pole?) Look away now! 

The M&S ad features Mrs Santa taking care of a last-minute crisis when an urgent letter to Santa arrives after he’s flown off in his sleigh. Mrs Santa turns out to be a combination of James Bond, the Men in Black and the Milk Tray Man – except better looking and in a killer red outfit – and saves Christmas Day for a small boy and his big sister. 

The small boy got what he needed because he made it clear what it was and why he wanted it. It allowed him to reconnect with his big sister. What I’d like for Christmas is for clients to do the same with their marketing campaigns because some of the big household brands we’ve been speaking to recently seem to have no idea what they want.

They expect us to turn up and tell them what to do. That’s a bit like telling your loved ones in the run up to Christmas that you don’t want them to make a fuss over getting you presents at Christmas. If you don’t give them at least a basic idea of what would ring your sleigh bells, then you’re probably going to get socks.

Again. Let’s face it, if it doesn’t excite you, it’s not going to excite your customers. Brand managers, if you want your agencies to be able to show you they love you and understand you by stuffing your stocking with some fresh, exciting, innovative and impactful ideas, then you need to give them the information they need to create something spectacular, effective and memorable. 

Please take the time to generate a proper brief before you meet with experiential agencies, whether it’s for the first time or for the hundredth time. Give them the full background on the brand and let them know everything you can about plans for 2017.

Challenge them to create something original that lives and breathes your brand values and your strategic vision – the reasons why your customers love you in the first place. Sure, it will involve a bit more effort at the start, and it might mean an extra meeting or two in the planning stages; but the result should be something that makes you proud.  Otherwise, you’re likely to get socks. Even worse, you could end up with the same socks you got last year, in the same box with the same wrapping.  Just think of it as writing a brief for Santa Claus…

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