Appraising Creative

How to Appraise and Evaluate the Creative Work of your Agency

For decades agencies have said that marketers only get the kind of creative they deserve. Louws does not agree with this philosophy.

Instead through observation, we have seen that a) marketers get the kind of creative work they are capable of allowing but as importantly, b) agencies get the kind of clients they are able to successfully sell to.

All agencies have a creative process. According to a study commissioned by Louws on creative and strategic excellence, of 711 agency surveyed, 90% agreed they have a creative brief however 37% admitted to not using it.

Following the training of dozens of clients on “how to evaluate your agencies creative”, we were requested by agencies to assist them in better codifying how to ensure outstanding creative development that could then be effectively sold to clients.

This is what this training offer is all about.

As in any creative endeavor, be it creating a memorable brand campaign, a new skyscraper or a simple toy for toddlers to enjoy, the success of each is initially governed by three things:

1.       An expected outcome,

2.       A Creative idea, and

3.       A clear Documentation and Communication of this idea to those who will execute the idea.

Following are the three phases to the training, the actions taken and the expected outcomes for each.

Each phase of this training can be done independent of the others, or collectively, depending upon the specific requirements of your agency.

If, for example, the agency has clear directions and processes to communicate these directions between itself and its clients, then we would recommend only Phase 3.

On the other hand, when there is a breakdown of communications between an agency and its client in terms of brand or product direction, Phases 1 and 2 become imperative to the training process.

In all instances Louws will ensure the training addresses that which will achieve the most effective outcome for those in attendance.

It may also be in the interests of both the agency and its client to discuss these options with Louws and arrive at an outcome conducive to both parties.

Louws will facilitate these discussions between agency and marketer as it is uniquely skilled in not only how to evaluate creative but also in how to sell it. (please see Louws How to sell creative training)

Phase 1:          The Brand Brief

Colloquially coined “The Vault Doc” in that it becomes the quintessential document containing the essential ingredient of what the brand stands for and represents.

Actions:         Review of how to develop an effective Brand Position ensure its perpetuation within all communications. Louws provides a document entitled “Brand Brief” for considered future use by both the marketer and their agency partners.

Outcome:     An agency who knows what their clients brand stands for and represents, and as documented, is now an integral part of all future creative development by all agency partners independent of the communications discipline.

Schedule:     2 hour Workshop with up to 10 participants.


Phase 2:         The Creative Brief

Louws has renamed this the Advertising Brief as its purpose is precisely that. To ensure that the advertising agency [in the fullest sense of advertising, to include promotions, direct marketing, event, and e-marketing] has sufficient and agreed-upon direction to create communications that achieve an advertiser’s business and communications goals.

Actions:         Review of how to arrive at a creative brief with the client to ensure the goals for the creative can and will be met by the creative staff of the agency. Louws provides a document entitled “Advertising Brief” for considered future use by both the marketer and their agency partners.

Outcome:     An agency who knows that their clients unique brand positioning, value to its constituency and expected deliverables have been clearly identified and documented in such a manner as to allow for the best creative communications from the agency independent of the communications discipline.

Schedule:     4 hour Workshop with up to 10 participants.


Phase 3:          Evaluating the creative ideas and work

This is the cornerstone to the training – what both Phases 1 & 2 above are leading to. Here is a laundry list of subjects that are taught, trained and coached.

♦ What is good creative?

♦ What is bad creative?

♦ What is a creative communication?

♦ What are the observable differences between what an agency believes is creative and that of a marketer – and how do you avoid the trappings of these differences?

♦ How can you evaluate and differentiate between form and function in creative communications?

♦ When does style vs. substance work and not work?

♦ When does substance play a larger role than style in the creative product?

♦ How do one’s own perceptions help and hinder the evaluation process?

♦ How does one’s familiarity with the intended targeted audience (or lack thereof) assist and/or impede one’s evaluation of creative work?

♦ What can you do with the proverbial “I just don’t like it” gut reaction to turn this into productive agency/client dialogue?

♦ How do you ensure the work is on strategy – and if not – how do you correct this?

♦ How to evaluate the “selling power” of work presented

♦ How to identify the difference between a creative person’s enthusiasm for a concept vs. the “workability” of the idea behind the creative execution.

♦ How to successfully evaluate television commercials when being presented with a storyboard.

♦ How to evaluate the effectiveness of print, radio, outdoor, sales collateral, in-store promotions and direct.

♦ How to evaluate the effectiveness of creative in the interactive and digital mediums.

♦ What does borrowed creative get and not get you? (Essentially duplicating the success of other marketers’ campaigns)

Next Steps:

If what you have read so far is consistent with what you are looking for from training to assist in the evaluation of creative, please consider giving Louws an opportunity to make good on what we promise to deliver.

Telephone: (520) 664 -1881


Mail: Evaluating Creative Practice Director ~ P.O. Box 130 ~ Vail ~ Arizona ~ USA ~ 85641

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