Agency Feedback That Is Truly A GIFT

Following last week’s blog on 5 Ways To Make Creative Great one of the key factors identified is the ability to give Agencies effective feedback. Closely linked to the concepts of unification and partnership, nurturing involves a commitment to continual improvement through a long terms focus and ongoing feedback.

This long-term focus acknowledges that all relationships worth having are going to have their ups and downs. Importantly, it signals a willingness to work through the rough spots because we believe in the inherent value of the partnership that’s been built up over time.

Linked to this, on going feedback is not only important for our personal and collective development, it also helps clear the air and stop tension and frustration building up over time.

To successfully deliver against this principle we need to champion a “feedback culture”. In this culture, feedback feels natural and becomes part of our daily jobs. Our colleagues, both internally and at the agency, are open to feedback and willing to give it – they see feedback as a GIFT.

GIFT, Good Intention Feedback Technique, is a tool we can use to help deliver feedback in a constructive way that increases the chances of a positive reception.

There are five steps in the GIFT process.


1. Check In

Firstly, it’s important to check in with ourselves to make sure we’re in the right frame of mind to deliver the feedback – ie. do we have good intentions or are emotions clouding our judgment?

We should also check in with the person we’re giving the feedback to. Are they in the right emotional state for the feedback to be received constructively?

2. Share Data

We then need to share what we’ve observed that’s triggered the feedback session. We should try to stick to the facts and avoid generalisations.

3. Communicate Interpretation

The next step is to communicate our interpretation of this data. What impact did their behaviour have? How did it make us feel? Try to own your interpretation of the data and avoid hiding behind statements such as “we feel like” or “other people think that”. If other people do feel a similar way, encourage them to give the feedback directly to the person in question.

4. Listen

Having shared our interpretation, it’s now time for us to listen to the intention and perspective of the person receiving the feedback.

5. Land It

Having laid the foundations, we’re now in a position to work towards alignment and agree an appropriate action plan to help address any underlining issues or development opportunities.

There are a couple of important points to remember about the GIFTing process.

Firstly, it should only be used between people that have been trained in the process – ie. people that understand your “good intent”. It is however something we should start practising amongst ourselves and with our agency partners.

Finally, it’s critical that we remember that there are two, equally valuable types of feedback – one is aimed at reinforcing behaviour and the other realigning behaviour. To create a truly nurturing relationship, giving and receiving both types of feedback must become second nature.

CMO Perspective: Michael Edmonds – Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA)

The Meat & Livestock Australia ‘We love our lamb’ campaign is an example of how advertising can work. Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) is a producer owned company that works in partnership with farmers and the government to make sure that the red meat industry is sustainable and profitable. This means conducting marketing on behalf of over 47,000 producers and promoting beef, lamb and other red meat products nationally.

The ‘We love our lamb’ campaign is part of an ongoing marketing effort by MLA to revamp the image of lamb. This effort began during the 1980’s and early 1990’s when lamb meat was widely considered an old fashioned fatty meat and more and more shoppers were opting for chicken and pork. The aimwas to get more lamb on Australian dinner tables and to counteract declining sales by improving consumers perceptions of lamb.

One of the key planks in this campaign was to link lamb consumption with key calendar events, with the most profile being Australia Day – ‘Don’t Be un-Australian, serve lamb on Australia Day.

With this in mind Michael and his team briefed the Monkeys and the resultant ad was the hugely successful 2016 ‘You never lamb alone’. The cast featured a who’s who of Australian icons including the doyen Richie Benaud. One of the icons that was briefed was none other than Cathy Freeman. The script was aspirational outside of the central character being Captain Cook and the amplification of his discovery. With the controversy of ‘invasion day’ looming it was deemed unwise to include Australia’s golden girl.

Without effective feedback, Cathy’s future participation would remain untenable. However MLA and the Monkeys turned a negative into a positive for the 2017 campaign. Under the stewardship of Grant Rutherford, Cathy became a central figure and embodied the ‘inclusion’ aspect of what is widely seen as one of the best ads of the decade. A powerful response that accentuated the diversity of Australian culture.

This great client – agency partnership underpinned by amazing feedback has contributed to cementing a new image for lamb and building passionate mental availability.

Back to Blog

Get Mark's thought-provoking exploration straight into your inbox