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Going Beyond the Hot Take: Why a Good Strategic Foundation Is Vital for Powerful Creative Concepting

Grace Farag

November 07, 2023

Ah, the “hot take.” It’s the go-to response in the era of social media. And the spicier, the better — or so it would seem.

The problem with hot takes is that they’re little more than knee-jerk reactions based on limited information, preconceived ideas, and far-fetched assumptions. This is exactly why, though they may lead to high engagement, they make for risky marketing maneuvers that can backfire spectacularly.

Cue the controversial hot takes reel — led by the still-infamous 2017 Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner. Pepsi rushed the ad into the marketplace without consideration for the cultural moment.

The result was an explosion of negative press that drove Marketing Week to point out what should have gone without saying: “The backlash over the Kendall Jenner ad shows marketers need an outside perspective, whether from an ad agency or by conducting thorough market research and reaching out to consumers.”

Pepsi pulled the ad within two days.

Obviously, producing a national ad is not the same as an off-the-cuff Twitter post or TikTok video. However, in their evident thirst to be relevant and hip, Pepsi and its agency partners created what felt less like an ad for their product and much more like a “hot take” on solving racism — a memorable marketing moment indeed, but for all the wrong reasons. 

How to Get People Talking for the Right Reasons

Creative output must be intentional, thoughtful, and based on helpful information and data. When it is, the ad will reach the right audience, say the right thing, and land with positive energy.

The best way to achieve that is with deep strategic thinking and direction, which are the foundations of marketing. You need the guardrails and parameters of strategy to help keep creative on the right track.

Some people think that strategy limits imagination and freedom of thought. But for the creative professional, it’s just the opposite. It might sound paradoxical to think that boundaries can fuel boundless imagination, but they can. And effective strategy supplies those necessary boundaries that help activate that creative spark.

3 Keys to Crafting the Creative Strategy Framework

  • Clearly articulate the problem. What help is the client asking for? Are they struggling to break through in a saturated market? Do they need to figure out how to acquire new customers or cultivate the relationships they already have more effectively? Understanding the opportunity and the desired outcome is critical for developing the creative approach.
  • Define the key insight. This is usually based on a deep understanding of the needs of the client’s target demographic. What does the target demographic really want? What are their core values? What drives and motivates them? 
  • Strike the creative spark. Leveraging the knowledge supplied by the key insight, the creative spark illuminates the intersection between the client’s product or service and the needs and values of the target audience. In turn, this helps shine a light on possible territories for creative exploration and concepting.

The End of the Hot Take

Are hot takes interesting? Yes. Do they get people talking? Sure. But they’re risky and unpredictable.

A practical, effective strategic framework is the antidote to the hot take. It helps creatives hit the ground running, deliver quality work promptly, and make sure clients look good in front of their customers.

This process isn’t all theory. It’s something that we practice every day. At RAPP, we focus hard on developing and sharing a framework-rich brand creative strategy for all our deliverables.

RAPPers are defined by our “fiercely individual” ethos, but we’re also just as committed to working as a team that brings out the best in each other. Although enthusiasm and spontaneity imbue our creative process, a method behind the madness keeps us sheltered from the destructive siren song of the hot take.

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