Evaluating Ad Creative

2 Jun

It’s tempting to be over-cautious, too literal, nit-picky and hypercritical when evaluating creative. After all, you are being asked for your opinion. And you’re a creative person. Here are some tips for giving useful feedback when the creative team puts a concept in front of you.

Clear your mind
Before you even see the concept, you might already have an idea how you expect the creative will look, based on the campaign strategy and your own creative ideas. Try to let go of these pre-conceived notions. There’s more than one right creative concept for every campaign.

What is the impact?
When you first look at the ad, how do you feel? Would it stop you in your tracks as a consumer? Does it make you laugh? Shock you? Will it stand out in the time-starved, cluttered world out there?

Say something positive
The creative team worked hard on the concepts, so recognize that effort with a positive comment. Starting with a positive tends to make people more receptive to more critical feedback later.

Start big, then go small
Your first comment when seeing a creative concept shouldn’t be, “Isn’t this word on line 8 of the body copy spelled wrong?” In the old days, concepts were just pencil sketches and there wouldn’t be any copy there to natter about. Think about the big idea of the ad. For example, say to yourself: “In the ad, someone is looking in a mirror and their reflection is crying.” Then ask yourself: Is that on strategy? Is that on brand? Are all the manditories included? Will consumers understand who you are, your core message, and what you want them to do? Is the message being communicated as simply as possible? Once you tackle these big-picture questions, you can focus on smaller details.

The headline is a hook
Try not to consider the literal, factual truth of the headline. The headline is often meant to intrigue and hook the consumer into reading the rest of the ad. Literal facts are usually not very intriguing, are they?

Don’t art direct
If you’re inclined to make a comment about the colour of the model’s sweater or the breed of dog panting in the background of an ad, hold your tongue – unless these are things that are against the campaign strategy or the brand.

Don’t expect the strategy to be screaming at you
If the strategy is to communicate a company’s reliability, better to show reliability in an interesting way than have a headline screaming “We’re reliable!!”

Don’t overanalyze
Avoid spending 10 minutes looking at a poster creative (unless you’re proofing it). No one will ever do that in the real world.

Get the idea?
If it takes you a moment to ‘get’ the ad, that’s probably a good thing. If you get the ad, chances are the consumer will too. If you aren’t offended, chances are 99.9% of consumers won’t be either.

Don’t be shy
If you think the concept could be made stronger, say so. If you know of a way it could be made stronger, say so.

Sometimes, the best way to show your creative thinking ability is by recognizing great creative when you see it.


2 Responses to “Evaluating Ad Creative”

  1. Derek Ford June 8, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    Great post. A lot of useful information. Thank you for sharing!

  2. hlwatters June 13, 2010 at 7:52 am #

    Fantastic reminder…looking forward to sharing this with my team. Also on my list, go back to the brief. Ensure you don’t get carried away by the creative process and end up doing a fantastic job promoting a achieving different goals 🙂

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