Andy Baker, the Senior Vice President and Group Creative Director for National Geographic Channel explores how to keep clients happy in the high stakes video and photography industry.

Brain Games


Once you’ve been hired by a client, there is a little bit of a dance that goes on. Everyone feels great – the agency is excited no doubt, after all they have a new client, and new possibilities abound. It is important, in those first few days after the job has been awarded, for the agency/creative to do one thing – prove that they are ON IT to that client, so that the client feels as if they made the right decision, and can begin to trust that new creative partner. And the first place/stage to do that is with The Brief. Now, briefs can sometimes not be brief at all. Charts, graphs, audience studies, positioning statements, what to do, what not to do…it can be information overload. But information overload always trumps those briefs that are so brief that they don’t actually exist. If a client doesn’t give a brief at all (or it’s just verbal) it is incumbent on the creative agency/partner/production team to ensure that they are all on the same page. I recommend writing your own brief if you don’t get one from the client – listen, ask questions, then come back with a written mini-brief that encapsulates what you heard. What is great about that is that in many cases, even if you come back with a brief that isn’t at ALL what they wanted, you’ll get more information, and more details and specifics about what that client DOES want. The more communication between both ‘sides’ the better, especially in those early stages where the briefing occurs. In the case of ‘Brain Games’ season 2, we had a great deal of information to share with the agencies involved. We actually conducted a pitch process on this project – something rather rare for us, as we generally don’t do a great deal of pitching due to budget issues, or because we have a pretty good idea of who we want to work with, and what sort of partner will fit the idea we may already have. But in this case, we were fortunately in the position to offer a real creative brief with our goals and objectives for the campaign.

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