Advice on how to focus on what matters in an ad campaign.
Essayist, educator, and public speaker Ibach (How to Write an Inspired Creative Brief, 2nd Ed., 2015, etc.) has decades of experience as an advertising copywriter/creative director, and in this book, he can’t help but admire the strong simplicity of a well-wrought, single-minded proposition, or “SMP.” From an advertising agency’s perspective, the SMP is the “one, most important thing we need to say about [a] product.” It’s also the linchpin of a stellar creative brief—the document that drives an agency’s advertising campaign. With laserlike focus, this book effectively analyzes the SMP by first discussing its current usage and then revealing “new perspectives” on its application. Advertising newcomers and readers outside the industry will find that this first section does a fine job of defining the central concept, and it’s written with aplomb. It highlights several excellent examples of SMPs, such as those for the European Tango carbonated drink and the drug Viagra; shows the SMP’s relationship and importance to the creative brief; and distinguishes between an SMP’s features and benefits, among other things. One key point that Ibach makes is that an SMP must be aimed at a specific target audience. He closes the section by reviewing a weak brief and walking readers through how to fix it, which ties in with a workshop that he promotes at the book’s end. Ibach also includes creative exercises that help to hone the reader’s SMP-writing abilities, such as naming two features of a mundane object. The second, very brief section of this well-designed guide relies on input from two other advertising professionals (consultant Paul Feldwick and DDB Canada president Lance Saunders), proposing a way of approaching the SMP, which, Ibach admits, has already been adopted by some executives. It basically revolves around an understanding that the decision to buy is “based solely on emotion, not rationality,” to quote Saunders. What’s missing in this part of the book, though, are the meaty examples of the first section. Still, it makes for a good send-off, and it encourages deeper creative consideration of the SMP.
A concise guide to effective advertising strategy.