Client A: I want the product action to be explained better. Consumers don’t understand how the product works. Devote 60% of the storyboard to product freight.

It felt like a bad dream. We wanted to reason out, but this was a briefing for a campaign pitch. Debating with someone we barely knew was hardly an option. We sat, pondering. Brooding. Groping for a way around this.

Client B frowned, obviously surprised as well by this direction.

Client B: I think we can still discuss the emotional benefit and just have harder-working freight in the middle.

Client A: No. Consumers already know what it’s for, but they don’t know WHY it works. So let’s tell them.

Just a few days ago, we’d heard how an agency had been fired for being too argumentative. So we continued to sit in silence, biting our collective tongue, and exchanged surreptitious glances. “Stay strong,” we said to each other through our poker faces. “We can weather this quiet storm.”

But it was too much for the concept writer who knew he could die trying to make a powerful TVC made

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of 60% freight.

Cush: Teka lang. (He cleared his throat.) I think magagawa naman nating harder working nga yung freight in the middle. Pwede namang maayos yun.

Client A: What I’m asking for is a

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major departure from what we normally see on TV. All these ads always showing the benefit. But I think, in our case, consumers don’t need to be told. They know what we’re for. So just give me a board that shows people how our product works, all right?

Cush swallowed hard and let his gaze drift to Client B who was still frowning.

Client B: Let’s have two studies then. One that focuses on product story, and the other still discussing the benefit. Is that okay?

Dyll: Sure! No problem! Great!

So we went to work and made two boards we could be proud of, whichever one got approved. But in the back of our heads, we knew from research, observation and gut conviction that consumers need to be told what’s in it for them. In many cases, knowing the benefit without knowing the product action worked even better. Does anyone know how high nicotine content transports you to Malboro country? Or how thick cushioning at the heel helps Michael Jordan walk on air with Nike? Or how the iPhone makes those apps work seamlessly so you can look cool doing things conveniently on that touchscreen? And let’s not forget how very few people really correlate how the caffeine and sugar in Coca-Cola lets people open happiness across the globe.

We went back to client a week later and presented a hard-sell storyboard and a soft-sell storyboard. Guess which one got approved.