Interpreting The Creative Brief (Or Not)

Manolo Almagro, Weekly Columnist

I hope the first session of the Digital Signage Expo 2009 Content Day isn’t indicative of the rest of this show. The room was packed  but the panelists left a lot to be desired when it came to keeping our interests in the session topics – the best part about this session was the fact I got to sit next to Phil Lenger, Bill Gerba and Adrian Cotterill

This first session happened to be the most ‘uncompelling’ part of the creating compelling content day. The session title Interpreting the Creative Brief was a misnomer. I say this for a few reasons: –

  1. None of the presenters talked about the creative brief as a construct for gathering data and how agencies actually use it. 
  2. The creative brief that Samsung provided as part of this exercise was very well written and detailed – This of course is NOT typical of how most client briefs are submitted. – In most cases the brief consists of a 10 minute phone call or a message thread in an email from the client. – This fact was omitted from all of the presentations.
  3. The overall session turned into a showcase for motion graphics content from each of the agencies that participated – not about the creative brief. – granted the content is an expression of how each brief was interpreted. It would have been much more of a relevant session if each of the presenters spent more time discussing the value of the creative brief and its role in each of their overall content development strategies- rather than playing a show reel.

Surprisingly, the content created by each agency looked very similar in style and pace. In general most of the content strategies went against several best practices of digital signage content designed for retail. My observations:

All of the spots presented were way too long. The median spot durations exceeded 10 seconds, in fact some were 2 minutes at length. Who’s really going to give up that much of their attention – even if you’re waiting on the subway. Also- is seemed the majority of the spots relied too heavily on a “hip” audio track to help drive the cadence of the message (the ads would not translate well as silent spots)  The use of audio is a tricky business in DOOH – I was surprised to hear one of the panelists say “we crank the audio way up to get people’s attention” – in my experience, the louder the audio track, the shorter the amount of time it takes the employees that have to listen to the track all day long – to unplug the speakers. 

If I had to pick the highlights of this session, it would be Laura Davis-Taylor’s moderation and prompting. Without her, I don’t think anyone would have understood what the session was about. Lets hope the rest of the day goes better.

3 Responses to “Interpreting The Creative Brief (Or Not)”

  1. Jean Says:

    Great commentary; very interesting take on it. Would love to see your thoughts on the strongest presentations and what insights you gleaned.


  2. Adrian J Cotterill Says:

    Jean, thanks for your kind words. Comments such as yours make the twittering worth while. There wasn’t that much too shout about during the content day – our post on the best bits was quite brief, see

    The two presentations that are worth reading (over and over) will be up on wirespring and show+tell web sites shortly and as soon as they are you can be sure that we will be pointing our readers at them

  3. Adrian J Cotterill Says:

    Phil’s presentation is up on

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