Thoughts on writing the creative brief: Target audience

Isn't this just basic information here? The place where you describe who we're talking to?

Unfortunately, too often, that's as inspiring as some brief writers care to get.

This is where you can allow your writing to really soar. Where you don't have to be a brilliant writer to make a brilliantly inspiring impact on your creative team.

Rather than foist a series of bullet points about age, sex, household income, education and whatever, tell a story.

Yes, tell a story! Draw a picture with words. Your brand has unique loyalists. Give them their due when you fill in that spot on the creative brief dedicated to them.

Here's a shining example from a creative brief written by an especially inspired brief writer from Leo Burnett for a Proctor & Gamble brand you probably know: Vicks.

Who are we talking to?

Cold sufferers. You know how you feel when you've got a cold—that pathetic little inner-child of yours suddenly wakes up and, before you know it, you're moaning & whining, you've gone all whiney & wimpy, all snivel, snot & slovenly; red raw puffy eyes, pale skin, lank hair—everything seems to be sagging! You feel like something from a Salvador Dali painting; you want to snuggle up in bed and dammit—you want your Mummy! But it's not fair, is it, because no one else takes your suffering seriously—"Good God, pull yourself together, man, we're not talking leprosy here! Don't be such a baby, get on with it, stop moaning!"


Yes, your instincts tell you to be a child, but you're not allowed to because you've "only" (only!) got a cold. And worse still—oh, the cruel irony!—even your attempts to retain your adulthood in the midst of your suffering betrays that sniveling little inner–child of yours: "oh don't worry about me, I'll be all right…", "…no, no, please, I don't want to sound like a martyr…", "…well, I'm feeling a little better now, thank you…"

I'm sorry, but when you've got a cold you're doomed to be a Child–Adult.

Okay, I admit, this is more, a lot more, than a mere "target audience" box filled in with stats. You get insights into the psyche of someone with a cold (probably you; me, too, because we all act like this when we get a cold, if we can get away with it).

Still, you get my point here, don't you? Isn't this a far more elegant description of someone who might use Vicks than a bunch of stats?

Of course it is. 

It's also damn funny! Which makes it equally inspiring. Which means the brief writer pulled out all the stops because he or she knew who was reading it.

Keep this in mind next time you think the box labeled "target audience" is just a box.

It's an invitation. You're invited. No RSVP required.

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