How do you Know your Campaign is Done?

In doing the research for this piece, the search results that appeared for the sentence “how do I know I’m done…” included: “boiling an egg,” “filing my taxes” and “watering my begonias.” Incidentally, these questions all have measurable answers. I know creatives would love a metric as rigid as the answers to those questions to tell them their work is as done as a warm pie in the oven. If only it worked that way. There has been some attention given to closure in the fine arts, with thoughtful checklists to test the formal completeness of your painting (do the colors match? Is there enough contrast, etc) and shed some light on the six million dollar question.

And what of advertising? Are the same criteria valid when one evaluates a campaign? In order to understand these criteria we must distinguish between fine art and commercial art. Advertising, as opposed to fine art, cannot only draw attention to itself, it is intended to move the audience to action through a purchase, following a link to a website, participating in a competition that generates awareness, etc. If an advertiser has done a good job, he or she has communicated the essence of the creative brief, which lays out the underlying business objective behind the ad. That should be the ultimate goal, even in the grey area of branded entertainment , and the adherence to that objective is certainly an indicator of whether our work is done.

Another important question that can be asked of a campaign is whether the advertisers have sufficiently and creatively interpreted the terms of the brief. For example, when my school group worked on Unlock Entertainment , the challenge was to brand a movie theatre chain called National Movie Theatres that is supposed to compete with the existing American companies. The second part of the challenge was to design a campaign that will promote a loyalty program for that company. An important part of that challenge was for each group to define what the movies means. For example, one group had defined the movies as the sum of all arts. So we sized up the territories the other groups “owned” and determined that entertainment was the defining characteristic of the movies that could set us apart. This crucial development allowed me to determine the sweet spot between our newfound headspace of entertainment and engagement (the creative brief emphasized engagement is an important goal for this project): gaming. Gaming was the keyword that initiated the app idea we eventually designed.  

I think there is also a level of “doneness” that is achieved when creatives bury themselves in research on their client’s industry and learn absolutely everything there is to know about them and their competition. I remember the very beginning of the LEGO project when I dedicated an entire binder to research on the entire LEGO universe, including the toy lines, theme parks, media, use of technology, etc.

I also find that a sense of doneness is achieved when a singular voice echoes through the campaign. Of course, this voice originates from a core idea or question that the insights and opportunities point to. The look and feel and the writing that go into the campaign should spring directly from the creative strategy and lend a sense that no decision behind the campaign is an accident. I always find that a fine way to test the deliberateness of the executions is to track the creative process behind the campaign and be able to narrate the process of how the big idea came about. This always gives me a thread that leads me to the kinks whenever I need to work them out.  

In my experience as a young creative, one of the greatest lessons I have learned is that creativity is a process of discovering and expounding the joy of the decisions you made on the way to the finished campaign. For me, the greatest measure of doneness is my willingness to share my discoveries. When I am, I’m often done.