If you don’t make a choice it will get made for you.

By someone else.

Either the customer or a competitor.

Avoiding the choice won’t make it go away.

The point about the Binary Brief is you have to make uncomfortable choices.

You have to choose what not to go for, as well as what to go for.

Of course everybody wants everything.

But you can’t have everything.

And no one wants to tell the client that, because that’s how you lose a pitch.

If you try to have everything you’ll end up with nothing.

So given you can’t have everything, what is the one thing that’s absolutely crucial.

The thing you can’t live without.

If don’t prioritise it will lead to confusion.

Your message will be dispersed.

It will lose power and become confusing and invisible.

Take Sainsburys for example.

Years ago, Sainsburys had become complacent.

For decades, they had been the country’s biggest food supermarket.

Their message was simple, “Good food costs less at Sainsburys”.

But Tesco overtook them in sales.

Because Tesco sold everything: electronics, toys, clothes.

So Sainsbury panicked, and started to copy Tesco.

They took the account out of AMV and moved it to M&C.

The brief was now to convey that Sainsburys sold everything, but do it without losing their food heritage.

Complicated or what?

So with that as a brief, the creatives wrote the campaign, “Making life taste better”.

Now that answers the Marketing brief, because it’s ticked all the boxes.

But because no one translated it into a Communication brief, it means nothing to the ordinary shopper.

The person who buys the stuff they sell.

Does it mean, for instance, “We not only make better tasting food, we make all aspects of life better”?

And if so, what does that man?

Does it mean, “We make more aspects of life better because we now sell more things”?

If so, that’s Market Growth for comprehensive retailers.

In which case more shoppers would go to Tesco.

Because they are market leaders in comprehensive retailing.

Which is the sole reason Sainsburys was running the campaign.

Because they wanted to upset that status quo.

Not reinforce it.

So Sainsburys lost its focus, its way, and consequently lots of sales.

Until AMV won the account back.

They did it by spotting that, although their overall sales weren’t as big as Tesco, Sainsburys still sold more food.

In fact, Sainsbury were market leaders in food retail.

Now spotting that fact was crucial.

It meant they could reframe the communication brief away from fighting for  Brand Share in supermarkets, a market where Tesco were the biggest.

To Market Growth for quality food, a market where Sainsburys were the biggest.

There wasn’t enough difference to make enough people switch supermarkets.

Which is what Brand advertising would try to do.

But (with 14 million store visits a week) they didn’t need to.

They could do it by getting more money from their Existing Customers.

(If everyone spends an average £1.50 extra, that’s £1 BILLION a year.)

So they did “Try something different.”

They didn’t sell Sainsburys the brand.

They sold (say) nutmeg, or coriander, or parmesan, or ginger.

They didn’t do the expected route: Brand Share/ Triallists/ Brand.

They thought upstream, and did Market Growth/ Current Users/ Product.

The way they got a bigger share of the food market was to sell people food they hadn’t tried before (Market Growth for nutmeg, etc).

Followed through from TV commercials into POS all over the store.

Not Triallists but Current Users.

And communicate the merits of trying something new, like nutmeg (Product, not Brand).

Because you’re talking to Current Users, you didn’t have to do Brand.

They’re already in your shop, they’re already using your brand.

So Sainsburys had a simpler, clearer communication brief.

Which is how they achieved nearly £3 BILLION extra revenue over 2 years.


Clarity, simplicity, consisitency.