How many times has an account manager packed up his portfolio with the new creative, presented it to the client, and returned to the shop to let everyone know that the whole thing got trashed?

The first thing the creatives say is “What did we do wrong?”  They second thing they say is “You screwed up the presentation.”  Assuming you wrote a proper creative brief and you’re taking in good work done by capable creatives, the truth may lie closer to the fact that the client doesn’t know what the hell he’s looking at.  Most clients just don’t know how to evaluate an ad.  Truth be known, a lot of account people don’t know how to evaluate an ad.

In his book, The New Account Manager, Don Dickinson looked at evaluation criteria used separately by William D’Arcy, Bill Bernbach and David Ogilvy; and then came up with what he called the combined, D’Arcy/Ogilvy/Bernbach Model.  It might be helpful to paraphrase here.

  1. Does the advertising position the product simply, with clarity and relevance?
    The target audience should see and sense what the product or service is, what it does, and grasp some idea of how it fits into their lives.
  2. Is the advertising an extension of the brand?
    Products do something. Brands are something.  Brands should have a personality that goes beyond features and benefits.
  3. Is the ad single minded?
    People’s ability to remember a message is enhanced by simplicity, clarity, relevance and uniqueness.
  4. Does the advertising make a “Big Promise”?
  5. Does the advertising contain a “Big Creative Idea”?
    The Big Idea transforms the benefit promise into a creative communications concept.  It’s the core creative idea that makes the ad unique and potent.
  6. Does the Big Idea have “legs”?
    Long-term campaigns need big creative ideas with staying power.
  7. Is the advertising unexpected, different or unusual?
    Clients don’t like paying money for ads that look and sound like the other guys.
  8. Is the objective of the ad clear?
    Are they supposed to call now, go to the store, be more aware?
  9. Does the ad have a high degree of visual or verbal magnetism?
    Is it good enough to get noticed?
  10. Does the advertising have inherent drama?
    Does it tell a story, create suspense, demonstrate something, tug an emotion, etc.?
  11. Does the advertising have an emotional connection?
    Effective advertising provokes an emotional response by speaking one-to-one with a message that makes use of the “fear of” or “need for” appeals.
  12. Does the ad reward the prospect independent of the product?
    Give them something that makes them glad they took the time to read or watch or listen.
  13. Is the approach right for the target audience and the medium?
  14. Is the ad readable and the branding strong enough?
  15. Does it speak to current customers as well as prospects?
  16. Is there a compelling offer, a call to action and a clear response path?
  17. Does the ad reflect the company’s character and values?
    Is the ad just about the product, or does the company reveal itself in a constructive way?
  18. Does the ad exhibit painstaking craftsmanship?
    Our work is art.  The writing should resonate, the visuals should demonstrate top design, the music should embellish the emotional message.  In other words, the work should look like it came from a good ad agency.
  19. Does the ad have “Talk Value”?
  20. Is the advertising strategically driven and creatively consistent with the integrated plan?

Clearly no single ad or communication is likely to address all these criteria, but it’s a good checklist those guys came up with.