Those of you that went to Watford will know the Binary Brief.

(Tony likes to teach it.)

In 3 simple steps it walks you through the process of changing marketing brief into a communication brief.

Just 3 simple questions.

The first, most basic, and most important of those questions is: Market Growth or Brand Share?

Basically, do you own the market?

If you do, you should grow the size of it, because you’ll benefit most.

If you don’t, you should take share from whoever does.

This is common sense.

Consequently it’s too simple for clever people.

They pass right over it while they’re looking for a more complicated answer.

Let me give you an example of it in action.

When mobile phones were launched there were only two brands: Celnet and Vodafone.

We had the Celnet account.

Our MD came along to give me the brief.

He said, “Celnet are being outsold 4 to 1 by Vodafone. So the brief is obviously Brand Share.”

I said, “Okay, what’s the proposition?”

He said, “Celnet. For those important phone calls.”

I said, “Wait a minute, how is that Brand Share?”

He said, “Well, when you’re on a train, or in a car, and you need to make an important call, now you can.”

I said, “Why can’t I use Vodafone?”

He didn’t look happy.

I said, “You’ve told me it’s a Brand Share brief, but you’ve given me a Market Growth proposition. That’s stupid”

He said, “Well there is no difference, so that’s the brief.”

And he went away in a huff.

I went to look for the young planner.

(Young planners are usually better for some reason. I think they’re keener.)

I said, “We have to do Brand Share, so we need to find or invent a difference. There is no difference in the product, so explain the market to me.”

She said, “Well, there are two mobile phone companies and they each have a million lines…….”

I said, “Stop right there. Vodafone have the same number of lines as us, but four times as many users?”

She said, “Right.”

I said, “So we’ve got four times as many vacant lines as them?”

She said, “Yes I suppose so.”

I said, “So users have got four times as much chance of getting through on Celnet as they have on Vodafone.”

She said, “I suppose you could say that.”

I said, “Thanks, I will.”

And that was the campaign.

A guy stuck in a traffic jam, unable to make a call because his mobile phone network is always busy.

At the same time there’s a great old song from the 1950s playing, called ‘BUSY LINE’.

And the VO says, “If you’re a mobile phone user, you should know that you’ve got 4 times more chance of getting through with Celnet, than with any other network.”

Then the strapline, “Celnet. You should be busy. Not the phone.”

Did it work?

Well within a couple of years, Celnet had to stop making the claim.

Because they had so many users, they no longer had more vacant lines than Vodafone.

And eventually the owners sold Celnet, for a fortune to 02.


Without the Binary Brief we’d have just sold a lot of Vodafones.