DRAFT AT 20: CREATING RESULTS FOR THE CLIENTS: PRESIDENT LEE HILL OUTLINES THE BASIC PROCESS FOR DRAFT TEAMS

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There aren't many folks in the advertising business who have observed the three very special letters in the middle of the word "creative."

They are "eat."

We translate this word to mean "results." Stated simply, our creative philosophy is to "create results" for our clients. When we do, everyone gets to "eat" better: the stockholders, our client and, yes, us too. The more we create, the more we eat, and the more we can share.

Question is, how do we go about creating at Draft? This applies to general advertising, direct or promotional marketing. And the answer is "process." Our whole culture is organized around the process of creating. Some of it is formalized, but a lot of it is instinctive. Here's how we do it.

First, we start broad. We meet as a group, sometimes three or four and sometimes as many as 20, for an idea session. Here we are given the assignment and its objectives. And right away, we initiate ideas. We trust our intuition, our "guts," in this session.

We have been through it often enough to know that there are no dumb ideas. The good ones continue to stay alive, the not-so-good ones just fade away. Toward the end of this meeting the process tightens up. We get the facts-the more the better. Then we end the meeting.

Several days later, depending on how long we have to complete the assignment, we return. Now we cultivate informed ideas. Sometimes the ideas from the first meeting hold up or require fine tuning. Sometimes not. There may be follow-up meetings. With our process it really never stops.

When we have the ideas locked in, a team of a few art and copy folks key in and flesh out the ideas. It's in this final phase that great ideas are made or lost. It takes focus, focus, focus. And process, process, process.

What guidelines do we follow when generating ideas? I say guidelines because there aren't any rules.

1. We look for what is authentic about the brand. And we work to capture it. There is nothing original. But there is authentic. Jack Daniel's is one of our clients. Now there's authentic. And every time we do a project (since 1981), that authenticity must come through. Results? What brand can match Jack Daniel's? We think we know how to find the authentic heart of a great brand. And we think every brand has the potential to be a great brand.

When I first started in the business, I worked for a man who loved discovering the heart of a brand- Leo Burnett. Leo believed in something called "inherent drama." I believe in it, too. Because it's based on what's authentic.

2. Think the obvious. Then think the opposite. This often creates a huge challenge. Sometimes the ideas are so extreme they just aren't feasible. But more often, we are shocked into unique thinking. We have learned that the idea that generates the most "noise" in a meeting, the one that causes the greatest commotion, the one that is probably the most extreme, that's the one. It's also the most fun to work on. Here's one we developed for the U.S. Postal Service. To help consumers remember a special 800 number (in limited markets), we created these animated dancing mail boxes. Everybody loves them. Results? Recall of the number exceeded expectations.

3. The world may think it's sophisticated, but people just aren't. Even if a man is a CEO, when he's watching a football game, he's like every other fan in the stands. Even if a woman's a Ph.D., when she's involved with a baby, she's operating on feelings that have been with us for centuries. Our NFL promos for Anheuser-Busch may have some sophisticated implementation, but on the surface, it's as basic as rooting for the home team.

The Welcome Addition Club, created for Ross Labs Infant Similac formula, uses sensitive, loving messages and offers, including baby's first teddy bear. This program is very successful for the client and extremely appreciated by moms. In the back room, some of our own Ph.D.s may be doing some pretty sophisticated data base work, but on the surface, it's as simple as love for your children.

4. Give the client more than they ask for. This is a giant key to Draft's success. When clients give you the respect of hiring you to work on their business, it's your moral obligation to do everything you can to improve their business any way you know how. We do our assignments. Then we do more.

When the Postal Service asked us to develop a line of merchandise using stamp images, we went beyond. As a result of extensive research, we recommended clothing and gift lines reflecting their 200 years of wonderful history. The lines are called Pony Express, Air Mail, Postal Blue and Just Delivered. Results far beyond the assignment.

We create results. We pitch this to our clients. They hire us because this is what they want. And we keep them because we do what we say we will.

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