Creative brief: Be just like that one brand
"I want to do something like (insert brand) did with their launch."
"We need to find where (insert brand) spends its money."
Let me start by saying, I believe there's real money to be had in creating an advertising agency with the well-honed capability of copying the marketing of other brands. Call it, Mimeograph, Inc. or Xerox+Kyocera+Mimeograph. I don't know, but seems like a lot of clients would jump on the chance to pay folks to execute Part 2 marketing plans. These are the same clients who are impressed by case studies. Invigorated by that one-sheet "proof" that an idea worked and will work again and again and again.
Case studies are fine when used correctly (as examples of the way a shop thinks), but too often they turn into service menus, generic enough to be teased to prospects and relied upon as ideas when originality is just too hard. "You can get the Super-Hip-Viral Campaign that was so uber successful for client A, or you can upgrade to this case study: the Fake-Ambassador-Word-of-Mouth-That-No one-Will-Catch-Onto-Until-We've-Already-Launched-The-Product Plan. Client B LOVED this."
I understand that doing something that's proven successful is safe. It's easy to sell up the ladder. Easy to visualize consumer reaction. Easy to predict the ending. Easy.
But easy is not good. Almost NEVER good. Easy's not a brand builder. Easy doesn't incite chatter. So when the above quotes come up in client conversations, view the conversation as an opportunity to educate, challenge and provide big, new ideas. And if you must draft some case studies - use them bolster your position:
Brand X found a way to do the exact opposite of its competitor Brand Y.
Brand X found the least-saturated market for its product and dialogued with a community that previously had been left out.
And if this doesn't work, get out the Yellow Pages and point the client to CopyCatCreative. I hear they're pretty easy to work with.
Listening to - Joe Purdy, You Can Tell Georgia