One of the first things advertising students learn is the value of identifying a target audience. That makes sense. Before we can do much else, we need to know who we’re communicating with. So, each time you work on a brand, your first step is almost always researching the target audience.
You might have learned to concentrate on demographics. Some are encouraged to pay attention to psychographic habits. More often than not, you’ve been taught to create personas.
But there’s also someone else.
Whatever strategy you use, having the ability to pinpoint a target audience is a valuable skill. But there’s another target audience students need to keep in mind. Regardless of the project, this ever-present target doesn’t change: the agency.
Student work for Headspace by McKenzie Woodall (CW) and Claire Sweeney (AD).
The ideal scenario is that your concept and executions resonate with both the creative brief’s defined target audience and the ad agency’s recruiter, creative director, et al.
An uncommon occurrence.
Note that this rule isn’t actually a rule and isn’t always active. It’s a once-in-a-while kind of thing. The ideal scenario is that your concept and executions resonate with both the creative brief’s defined target audience and the ad agency’s recruiter and creative director. But you’re also a student, and sometimes that means there’s a blue moon. On these rare occasions, the work almost always ends up being tonally off-brand. It’s a risk.
It has to be good enough
If your gamble doesn’t work, the agency is underwhelmed and just thinks you don’t understand how to stay on target and/or brand. That’s why gambling like this should be rare. They have to hate you because they love it so much. Like everything in your book, you want it to make them jealous. But this one? Even more so.
Finally, be transparent.
One last bit of advice on this: be ready for the question. They will ask you about it. Or, more likely, they’ll tell you that it would never work. That’s fine. If you made it to the point of having a conversation, the work has done its job. Just have your rationale on why you did it the way you did it ready to go.