Get outstanding creative work from your agency

Do you want your ads to be talked about, remembered, awarded?

Of course you do. So how do you get the great creative work that makes you laugh or cry and is still talked about years later?

Start with a great brief
The work the agency does is only as good as the raw material you give them. Be clear about what you want this advertising to do. Then write that in one single sentence. Yes… that clear.

Back it up with why your product or service can do this. This isn’t the time to tell the agency everything else it can do, focus on supporting that one thing you want them to communicate.

Mix in a great relationship
People work harder when they enjoy working with you. If you make it fun and inclusive, if the agency feel part of your team  then they will take more risks, think broader, self sensor less and bring you truly unique ideas.

Evaluate work with a criteria that is clear to everyone
You get great work when everyone understands how you will critique it. Here’s some ways to do that;

Evaluate the overall campaign idea
Clear – how clear is the idea across all executions, does it support your main message?
Single minded – is it focused, does it come across in each execution in a similar way, are there any distractions?

Evaluate the individual executions or different media executions
Original – do they feel fresh and new. Does it feel totally different from the competitors
Well branded – is the brand integrated into the execution, could you describe the ad without mentioning the brand?
Involving – does it involve you emotionally or mentally?
Credible – does it feel right that your brand can say this?

Whatever you choose for your criteria, share it with your agency, before you get started, and they will deliver to it.

Check above and below you
Great work stands out because it isn’t diluted. Check what your boss and their boss are expecting. Ask what your staff think the criteria is. Get everyone on the same page, so when you spot that brilliant, funny piece of work from the agency, it doesn’t die a death by a thousand cuts.

Work with people you trust
The production budget is a big investment, and generally there’s an even bigger investment in the media. There is always a moment, between what’s in your imagination and what is produced, when thing get a bit woolly. The first time you see it may be really rough.

Work with a creative and production team you trust to deliver. Then leave them to it. Let them know where it doesn’t match your vision and put it back in their court to make it shine.

It should be fun
There’s no need to believe that there has to be angst and struggle to get great ads. If you are not enjoying the process of making ads with your agency, figure out where it goes wrong and why it’s stressful. Don’t ignore it; it won’t correct itself. Look at where the process comes unstuck and causes you stress. Then talk to the people involved.

This should be the fun part of your job. Let your imagination loose, work with creative people and stake your claim on your customer’s conscious. If you’re having fun and your agency is enjoying it – your customer gets ads that are memorable.

Tell us what you think?  Drop a note in the  box below and tell us how you got the best ad of your career from your agency.


  1. Boy I wish I could say I got the best ad of my career because I came up with the creative, but of course that’s not how it works. The best ad of my career happened when I let the agency do it’s thing, then took a risk with the idea they were most excited about…that I didn’t quite see. But they were right!

  2. I suspect you’re a well loved client, Kathy. Everyone wants ownership over their projects, sometimes that means adding value to the creative work by taking a leap of faith, keeping everyone else’s big red pens capped and championing the idea to the end. Thanks for writing.

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