A brief can sometimes be a mind dump from the account group.
The things the client wants to highlight.
The things the client doesn’t want highlighted, but wants mentioned.
The new direction the advertising must take.
The nod in the direction of the old advertising.
Pretty soon, you’ve got so much information your head is swimming.
The job looks insurmountable, your energy is sapping away.
There’s just too much to get into an ad.
Especially an ad that has to compete in a very crowded environment.
An ad that has to be powerful and simple to even stand out.
In my experience, you can often get a simplified brief by replicating
these conditions with the account man.
Get him angry.
When people get angry they get frustrated.
And when they get frustrated with trying to convey complex thoughts,
everything suddenly gets very simple.
For instance:

Me: What’s the brief?

A M: It’s a value proposition.

Me: What does that mean?

A M: (Rolls eyes upward) It’s a quality-to-price ratio enhanced by
package delivery.

Me: Does that mean it’s cheaper?

AM: (Exasperated sigh) Not per se. Not in terms of individual unit cost.

Me: So how is it value if it’s not cheaper?

A M: (Through gritted teeth) The quality has remained unchanged, as
has the cost, the innovation is the new volume packaging.

Me: But if it costs the same, how is it better value?

A M: (Finally cracking) Look, it’s just fucking BIGGER, alright.

Me: Got it.

You see creatives have to deal in a world of single, simple thoughts.
So we have to reduce everything to that.
It seems crass, because it is.
That’s the world we live in.
If we’re to be effective.
Remember a brief is supposed to be just that.