D&AD Dissected: Day One

April 29, 2016

April 29, 2016


Estimated Reading Time 7 Minutes

John Taylor

Kit Altin – Briefing your creative team

After an initial bit of confusion and tension, courtesy of the D&AD Festival app, we kicked off our festival visit with a whirlwind workshop from Planning Director Kit Altin. Giving us a brief taste of a much longer workshop, Kit introduced the three core elements of a brief: 

Brevity, Clarity and Creativity. 

Brevity simply means that first and foremost, briefs should be exactly that, the shorter the better. All of the essential information distilled into one A4 page of concentrated idea fuel.

Clarity really comes down to focus, in both objective and message. Clients may have a product or service that does five things, but to communicate effectively, they need to talk about them one at a time, to the relevant audience, in the relevant space. Not all at once, to everyone, in one ad.

Better at D&AD Kit Altin workshop

Creativity is equally important, although planners aren’t creatives they should definitely be sowing the seeds of creativity. Great work starts with a great brief and creative work starts with a creatively written brief. The wording in a brief should act as a springboard for ideas so be creative, provocative, emotive but never flat and functional.

To explore the first of these three concepts, Kit challenged us to distill a 600 word brief into just 16 words, no more, no less, in just 10 minutes.

Invent a way to promote bravery among creatives and pitch it in a two minute film.

Almost immediately we were asked to slash that in half again to just eight words!

Promote fearless bravery among creatives in two minutes.

And again.

Inspire creativity without fear.

And again.

Fail fearlessly.

The more words we hacked away, the closer we got to the ‘soul’ of the brief. 

Somewhere between eight and four words we hit the sweet spot, finding the right blend of a single-minded proposition and a creative catalyst. 

Beyond that and the ‘brief’ becomes less of a ‘creative challenge’ and more of an ‘imperative’ style strap line. It still has the right vibe but it is no longer useful as a question or a thought-starter, it goes beyond focus and simplification and becomes too reductive and general. 

Fail fearlessly is a fine t-shirt slogan or strap line but it could be for an energy drink or an extreme sports channel, at this length it has become a message with neither context nor target. 

Of course no-one is really suggesting that we brief creatives in four words, but as a way to explore potential angles this is a fast effective technique that can lead to clearer and more inspiration briefs. 

The rest of the workshop saw attendees rephrase their eight word brief as a question, a tweet, a Pixar storyline, an email subject line, a rhyme and even a single word. To finish we were asked to ‘get out of our heads’ by getting into someone else’s. In this part we were asked to rephrase our last exercise as if it were written by Kanye West. 

“I made brave famous, whut y’all done?”

What indeed. 

Nick Eagleton – Ideas, Ideas, Ideas

Hot on the heels of the briefing workshop came the massively oversubscribed ideas workshop, led by Nick Eagleton of The Partners. Despite being filled to capacity and beyond, Nick did a fantastic job of giving everyone a chance to voice their ideas and feel included. Essentially it was a breakneck pitch process condensed into 2 hrs. 

The product? Some fictional wearable tech: A pair of shoes that turn the wearer into a pro dancer.

John Taylor of Better presenting idea at D&AD

Building on the last workshop we were challenged to quickly uncover a “why?” In other word, what real world need does this product solve? Then using our “why” we had to rapidly generate brand name, a tagline and a campaign or stunt.

Our group decided that this product solves the tension of “dancing on a deadline”. In other words, when you have a dancing emergency, a wedding for example, but no time to practice – this is the answer.

Need to: 

Dance on a deadline.




Swayze for the lazy.


Turn your fiancee into Beyonce. A social video campaign to find the worst dancers with upcoming weddings. Winners will receive enough Quickstep shoes for the whole wedding party, all pre-programmed with a full Beyonce dance routine. 

Gaston Legoburu – Storytelling in an Attention Deficit World

Wednesday was rounded off by Gaston Legorburu’s talk on Storytelling in an Attention Deficit World. This theory boiled down to an experiential spin on “show, don’t tell” or in other words “Tell me, I’ll forget. Show me, I’ll remember. Involve me, I’ll understand.” Gaston says that most traditional advertising and brand storytelling is “Story-yelling not storytelling”. In other words, it requires little engagement and leaves no room for participation.

The only way to create true brand engagement, says Gaston, is to make the audience part of the brand story, by fusing storytelling with experience.

Brand storytelling is the reason parents did high value grey market deals for Cabbage Patch Dolls rather than any standard doll. And experiential brand storytelling is why parents pay a 500% premium on a teddy bear at Build-a-Bear compared to a generic off-the-shelf bear.

Quite how you go about implementing this theory and how transferable this theory is from children’s toys to B2B, wasn’t touched on, but perhaps that is explained further in his book, which he also happened to plug during the presentation. 

Key takeouts from Wednesday

1 . Good work depends on good briefs and good briefs depend on Brevity, Clarity and Creativity. 

There is always another way in and a shorter, clearer way to pose the question. Get to the soul of the brief and then step outside yourself for a moment and try rephrasing it.

2. When it comes to ideas, quantity is quality. 

The faster you can generate them the better, it only increases the odds of success. Ask “why?” and come at it from as many angles as possible, as quickly as possible, before settling in to develop your main routes.

3. You will never be as important as your audience.

People’s time is extremely precious and, to be frank, they will always care more about their life story than they do about your brand story. The truth is most brands drastically overestimate their own importance. But if you can find a way to make your brand part of their story, and give them an experience worth telling a story about, then the sky is the limit.

4. Nobody made the D&AD Festival app. 

That much was clear. So much so that staff on the door of workshops would regularly hold up their hands and shout “We didn’t do the app!” before anyone got close enough to complain.

Coming next week, we will share with you our adventures on day two and three. Keep your eyes peeled on our blog and join the conversation on Twitter with us by tweeting @better_studio with your thoughts.