4As Malaysia offers a best-practice guide for Marketers to brief an Agency

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4As Malaysia offers a best-practice guide for Marketers to brief an Agency

The Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia (4As) has released a best-practice guide “The Best Way for a Client to Brief an Agency” published by its long-standing partner, the Chartered Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) UK.


Co-authored by industry experts and the IPA, the publication of this guide was prompted by a specialist global survey conducted in 2021 by BetterBriefs.

The survey revealed that 80% of marketers think they are good at writing briefs, whereas only 10% of agencies agree, while 95% of marketers fail to provide strategic direction to their agencies. The survey also found that up to one-third of all marketing budgets are potentially wasted due to poor briefs and misdirected work.

In the words of Sir John Hegarty, “Writing bad briefs is the most expensive way to write advertising.”

Khairudin Rahim (pictured), 4As CEO, said: “If there isn’t a well-defined marketing strategy in place, there can be no brief. Unfortunately, some Marketers lean on the creative development process to clarify, and decide their strategies later rather than being clear about these from the outset. Poor briefs don’t allow agencies to solve problems or seize opportunities identified by Marketers. If briefs are unclear, then Agencies can’t be sure what’s expected of them. At which point the second guessing begins.”

“Often, the root cause is Marketers’ and Agencies’ inability to see eye-to-eye on what a good brief looks like. Unchallenged, poor briefs trigger a raft of negative consequences. They lead to confusion, shallow creative thinking and often mediocre ideas. Which in turn lead to unhappy clients, rounds and rounds of creative work, rebriefs, de-motivation and ultimately less effective work in-market. Agencies are encouraged to say “NO” to briefs they don’t understand to avoid future misalignment.”

“Conversely, good briefs guide creative thinking and act as a neutral reference point for assessing the work. Brief writers must be clear in their choices. Deciding whether a brief is acquiring new customers, upselling to existing ones, or increasing frequency of purchase requires a choice. When it comes to briefs they are mutually exclusive. The need to address more than one of these choices will require multiple briefs.”

Following on to its earlier course ‘Inspiring Great Work and Better Value from Your Agency’, the 4As is once again intent on providing marketers with best practice information and key skills, to allow them to work in a more efficient and productive way with their Agency partners, leveraging its enduring alliance of over six-years with IPA UK.

“The 4As has obtained permission to share the guide not only with the 4As member Agencies but also with the Malaysian Advertisers Association (MAA) and the Media Specialists Association (MSA), for the benefit of all their members,” said Khairudin. “Ultimately, we all want the same thing: more impactful and effective work that delivers better business results. The guide is about helping Marketers to lead, by putting the thinking back into the brief.”