Appraising Agency 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 marketers get the kind of creative work they are capable of allowing.

The better a marketer can evaluate true creativity and its relevance and application to their marketing communications, the better the communications become and so, in turn, the better the results.

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 a company.

If, for example, an organization has clear directions and processes to communicate these directions between itself and its agencies, then we would recommend only Phase 3.

On the other hand, when there is a breakdown of communications between a company and its agencies 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 marketer and its agency partners to discuss these options with Louws and arrive at an outcome conducive to both parties.

Louws is available to facilitate these discussions between agency and marketer as it’s uniquely skilled in its knowledge of both how to sell creative and how to evaluate it.


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 communicate the essence of the Brand Position to the agency and how to 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:     A marketer who knows that their brand and what it represents has been clearly identified, documented and is now an integral part of all future creative development by its 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 agency, 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:     A marketer who knows that their brand’s 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 its agency partners 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 direction and 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 see through a creative person’s enthusiasm for a concept and concentrate on the “workability” of the idea being presented.

♦ How to see through one’s own bias of a concept and concentrate one’s evaluative efforts on the “workability” of the idea being presented.

♦ 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)

♦ How to give a creative the direction they need to address your issues as a marketer without dismantling the “creative juices” of your agency?

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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