Crispin Porter + Bogusky Briefing Format

I’ve always had  massive respect and admiration for the guys over at CPB – I love 90% of their work, they continually create culture with the work they do for brands like Burger King, Domino’s, VW and even most recently on Microsoft and Nike +. I  came across the key elements of their creative brief which i think are fantastic, as they really lay the foundations for culture creating ideas that generate mass buzz and engagement.

The key difference with other agency briefing formats is  that they focus on ‘tensions in culture’ and a key ‘Question’ to be answered, rather than a focus on messaging. From listening to Suzanne Powers speak (Crispins Global strategy head) Crispin may go into a creative briefing with numerous ‘questions’ to be answered.

.Here are the key elements to their brief:


– What is the most relevant and differentiating idea that will surprise consumers or challenge their current thinking of the brand?


– What is the psychological, social or cultural tension associated with this idea? What makes our target tense about the idea?

Cultural truths are always moving, so tensions are everywhere. The most interesting tension needs to make you squirm a bit. That’s where energy lies.


– What is the question we need to answer to complete this assignment?

The question should release the tension by shifting culture, making it controversial and related to the product truth. If it wouldn’t generate conversation over dinner, it’s not big or provocative enough.


– What about the brand could help us start a dialogue between the brand and our consumers, among our target and/or within pop culture?

The reason I like this briefing format so much is that is is so different to that of 90% of the other agencies in the world which typically talk through Problem, Target, Insight, Proposition/Comms Challenge, RTB, Creative Though Starters, Brand Personality. It’s also maybe why there work polarises as their starting point is all about picking tensions in culture that the brand can contribute/start a conversation in culture around.

The other interesting point of note, is the fact that creative ideas at CPB are always presented back as news headlines or press releases. Getting talked about in culture is an unfair business advantage and what brands are constantly searching for in the social age.