Why do bagels have a hole in the middle, and other powerful lessons ChatGPT taught me about writing good advertising briefs
I’ve used the AI platform for tasks as varied as generating speech ideas for my daughter’s upcoming wedding, writing lyrics for song and some silly challenges like “give me 5 reasons why bagels have a hole in the middle”.
Back in the day, when evaluating briefs, we were fond of using the term GIGA i.e. garbage in – garbage out. In other words, a lousy brief will usually result in ordinary work. My experience suggests that the same applies to ChatGPT. Perhaps even moreso, because AI doesn’t have the human ‘nonsense filter’, it takes things literally.
Why is this so important?
At Aprais, from analysis of more than 26,000 client-agency relationships evaluations we’ve conducted, we’ve seen in the vast majority of cases, poor client briefing is a major irritant to a client-agency relationship from the perspective of the agency.
Furthermore, when we compare the top 10% scores given by agencies of their client (i.e the best) with the bottom 10% (the worst), there is a 24.1 opportunity gap for the lowest scoring marketers to improve their briefing. Improve this functional skill and it will positively impact the overall relationship.
Expediency vs strategy
Writing briefs has been a problem since the days of Mad Men, so you would think that after all these decades we could have cracked this code. But we have to remember that technology has enabled us to operate at speeds unthinkable in decades past.
It is not uncommon for clients to issue instructions for the development of important strategic work (that may affect the investment of huge sums) by means of a simple text message.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no luddite. It’s not the medium that matters, it’s the thinking. But the ability to spit messages on impulse sometimes puts expediency ahead of strategy. It seems everyone is time-poor and it’s certainly seems more expedient to send a flurry of thoughts via text than to sit, think, strategize and compose a comprehensive brief. I get it.
Briefing according to AI
As you might expect, I posed this very question to ChatGPT; ‘What are the similarities between writing a creative brief for an advertising campaign and instructing ChatGPT?’. The response was (of course) impressive but far more forgiving than I would have been.
Here are the similarities ChatGPT identified;
- Clear communication objectives: In both cases, it’s essential to define clear communication objectives. When writing a creative brief, you outline the goals and desired outcomes of the advertising campaign. Similarly, when instructing ChatGPT, you need to specify the purpose and desired response from the model.
- Audience understanding: Understanding the target audience is crucial for both writing a creative brief and instructing ChatGPT effectively. In advertising, you define the target audience’s demographics, preferences, and behaviors to create tailored messages. With ChatGPT, you should provide information about the intended audience so that the model can generate more relevant and appropriate responses.
- Tone and style guidelines: When writing a creative brief, you often include guidelines for the desired tone and style of the advertising materials. Similarly, when instructing ChatGPT, you can specify the tone and style of the generated responses, such as formal, casual, informative, or humorous. This helps align the output with the desired brand voice or context.
- Background information: Providing context and background information is important in both cases. In a creative brief, you include relevant information about the product or service, market positioning, competitive landscape, and any other factors that may influence the campaign. Similarly, when instructing ChatGPT, you can give background information about the topic, relevant details, and any specific guidelines to help the model generate more accurate and informed responses.
- Clarity and brevity: Both a creative brief and instructing ChatGPT require clear and concise communication. In a creative brief, you strive to convey information succinctly to avoid misinterpretation. Similarly, when instructing ChatGPT, providing clear and precise instructions helps the model understand what is expected and reduces the likelihood of generating irrelevant or off-topic responses.
- Iterative feedback: Both processes benefit from iterative feedback. In advertising, the creative team often provides feedback on initial concepts and drafts to refine the campaign. Similarly, when instructing ChatGPT, you can give feedback on the model’s responses to help it improve over time. This feedback loop allows for adjustments and enhancements to achieve better outcomes.
The AI model even issued its own caveat stating that while these similarities exist, ChatGPT requires a more specific and structured approach, whereas a creative brief tends to be more open-ended and allows for creative interpretation by human professionals.
The last point is crucial and often forgotten when we resort to shorthand messages as briefs. Briefing is a communication between humans!
Make briefs exciting
I believe good briefs are 100% in the content. But great briefs are 60% in the content and 40% in the telling. Categories that enjoy high consumer engagement are in some ways easier because they have some in-built excitement. Think about drinks, cars and confectionery. But how about batteries or household cleaning products? Not so easy.
Marketers need to know that agency folks are probably working on multiple clients and categories. The challenge is to excite the team about their marketing challenge. Make it sound like a creative opportunity for the agency.
Here’s a personal example. I once worked on a tampon brand at a time when tampons were still taboo in certain cultures. When my female colleagues and I arrived for the briefing in the client meeting room, a pack of the brand, and a glass of water was neatly arranged on the desk in front of each attendee. As the client talked us through the product benefits and consumer issues, we were asked to remove the tampon from the pack (something a man rarely gets to do) and dunk it in the glass to observe the absorbency (something few people ever get to do). Wow! And here I am decades later, writing about that briefing experience. That’s the power of storytelling and deep involvement that AI cannot match.
To summarize, while there are notable differences between writing a creative brief and instructing ChatGPT, there are some similarities in terms of the purpose, structure, and clarity of communication.
But humans have the power to impart that information in inspiring and exciting ways, to motivate the very best from the team.
Oh, and anyone interested in the ‘5 funny reasons why bagels have a hole in the middle’, read on and enjoy.
Kim Walker. Chairman of Aprais.
Why do bagels have a hole in the middle? – courtesy of ChatGPT
- Secret Bagel Society: Bagels have a hole to ensure they are not mistaken for any other pastry. It’s a way for the secret bagel society to identify its members covertly. If you see someone with a bagel hole, they’re part of the club!
- Donut Rivalry: Bagels and donuts have been engaged in a centuries-long rivalry. The hole in the bagel is a clever strategy to show the donuts who’s boss. Bagels are like, “Look, we don’t even need all that extra dough to be delicious!”
- Bagel Self-Defense: Bagels have a natural instinct for self-defense. The hole in the middle allows them to escape from potential threats by quickly rolling away. It’s their built-in escape hatch!
- Alien Influence: Bagels were actually invented by aliens who thought it would be hilarious to create a bread product with a mysterious hole in the middle. They’re still laughing about it in their UFOs!
- Bagel Aerodynamics: The hole in the bagel is a clever engineering trick. It reduces air resistance when you’re eating a bagel on the run, allowing you to achieve maximum speed and efficiency while enjoying your breakfast.