Assessing an idea

April 08, 2019

Excerpt from 'How to Wrestle an Octopus: an agency account manager's guide to pretty much everything'. Available now!

There is a lot of pressure flying around an agency. Pressure to meet deadlines; pressure to produce amazing work; pressure to keep clients happy; pressure to not make mistakes. It is the creative’s responsibility to come up with great ideas, and it is the account manager’s responsibility to get it out the door on time and on budget. Creatives want more time than what they are given, and account managers want the work done yesterday.

You may experience a similar dynamic if you are working with in-house creatives. Substitute your name for ‘account manager’ and you can probably appreciate the same pain that exists within any typical agency team. At the heart of every agency project usually sits the 'idea', and it's a team effort to birth the idea, nurture it, and then send it out into the world.

No matter what type of agency or company you work in, if your job is to assess the merit of an idea, or lead your team in assessing an idea, then it helps to have guidelines to work with. Below are two 'scales'. One is designed for use within an agency (the 'HumanKind Scale') and the other is designed for use within a marketing team. There is a difference between the way agencies and marketers assess creative work, which you can see by comparing the two scales.

Next time you are presented with an idea, try using one (or both) of the following scales as a guide, and see if it helps. You may be pleasantly surprised!

For agencies

Leo Burnett Worldwide (American global advertising agency and part of the Publicis Groupe) created a ‘HumanKind Scale’ to measure the degree to which their creative work transforms human behaviour. Their teams aim to produce creative ideas of at least 7 or greater on the scale - which could prove a valuable benchmark to assess your own agency’s work!

10  Changes the world
9    Changes the way people live
8    Changes the way people think and feel
7+  An inspiring idea, beautifully crafted (HumanKind Act)
6    An intelligent idea
5    I understand the brand’s purpose
4    I don’t know what this brand stands for
3    Invisible
2    No idea
1    Destructive    (HumanKind Scale © Leo Burnett Worldwide)

For marketers

Heineken is a master of creative feedback. The team designed a similar ‘creative ladder’ (in conjunction with the agency Contagious) to help their 1,500 global marketers buy great creative work and get more effective, growth-driving results from their agencies. All campaigns are reviewed by various agency creatives and internal marketers with the ladder acting as a barometer - anything below 5 doesn’t get approved.

10  Legendary
9    Cultural Phenomenon
8    Contagious
7    Groundbreaking
6    Fresh
5    Ownable
4    Cliché
3    Confusing
2    Hijacked
1    Destructive    (© Heineken)




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