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Creative Director – What Animal Is This?

by on Sep.11, 2015, under Advertising, Workforce and Work Ethics

Key person in advertising agency in charge of its creativity is the Creative Director. We hear about this title all the time and we think various things, luckily the industry had evolved quite a bit so we NOW have a better understanding of what the job entails. Years ago, it was usually the guy who knew some design software and was able to produce some ads for a few clients, and every corner duka agency had someone stitching the title to their name on the business card (that is, if they had one).

In professional reality, Creative Director is a very complex animal. He once started as anything between a DTP, Graphic Designer, junior Copywriter, or arrived from film, animation, web design background. He’s someone who was able to grasp the most knowledge and translate it into most successful designs or copy, that collected most praise by clients and generated most $$$ on clients’ bottom-lines, working under his Creative Director at first, probably assisting Art Director in prepping copy, photos, illustrations for layouts then taking over layout completely, in the role of a junior then senior Art Director and so on.

Creative Director is someone who had spent several years doing the hard work of learning and delivering, then another several years in implementing knowledge into formulations of art, creativity and what has to be said and contained in an artwork. Coaching his juniors now, creating a healthy base for his own progress inside the agency, collaborating, contributing, sharing ideas as an Art Director, taking charge of one or few accounts, delivering on deadlines, not losing his head over silly details that client wants changed, bringing out the beautiful and visually pleasing, balanced side of communication.

Or, if he is a copywriter, coming up with copy that sells or tells, as the case may be; writing scripts for amazing TVCs that you read and already see the visuals, feel the shivers.

Now, this guy finally gets promoted to a position of Creative Director and this is when all of you who watched too much of Ad Men should realise that the CD job is a difficult one and it’s not just work and booze after hours. We had enough of those misleading examples in our industry and the outcome is visible, our creative is mostly average implementation of what has been done elsewhere and before.

This is what Creative Director does in real life. He keeps his eyes open. That is the first and most important thing. His eyes are on everything that surrounds him because any small thing is a source of inspiration. He comes to his creative department every morning and gathers his team around shared responsibilities for the day. He tells the commercial guys to go see that potential client whose billboard on such and such street is looking like a badly combined omelette. He tells them about the pathetic radio ad that they have to hear and then find the way to pitch for that business so the agency can expand and deliver to more clients, increasing its client base and bottom line.

He also looks at his team on a daily basis and tests them with various assignments, works with them hand in hand to impart knowledge but also to understand their abilities and speed of delivery because – when deadline looms, he has to know who can be counted on to deliver artworks in the shortest period of time.

He dreams a lot, he imagines things, people, situations. He constantly runs consumer conversations inside his head because this is his passion, love, energy – to put together the right words that create the right human reaction every time. He is a psychologist – he studied art in some form or shape and psychology was on the curriculum in some form or shape. Or he is a natural connector with intense instinctive ability to read human nature, reactions and behaviours.

He is a special animal. He is often extremely responsible and will be the last to leave the agency because there is always a dream to be written down, a script to be finished, a plan to be reviewed and detailed. Plan. Yes, he will plan for his department in such a rigorous and passionate way that his plans will include drinks after work but that work will be delivered to the total happiness and bliss of Traffic and Client Service who can proceed to impress clients with timely delivery of great work.

He will be so passionate about the success of his department that he will initiate internal art awards, push for training for his team, hold weekly ad review sessions, bring different people from all walks of life to share their experiences with the agency, take his team out for road trips, to cinema, theatre, he will lead everyone into expeditions exploring the vast world around them.

He will also passionately report about his department’s success and shortcomings. He will drive for solutions, quick action, positive energy, results, reasons for praise. And he will be quick to weed out assholes who poison his team with laziness and gloom, where he will take no prisoners.

Creative Director will take long walks in crowded areas and will talk to ordinary people about their opinions and perceptions. He will not require research to tell him his insights are right – he will consistently and continuously perform research on his own – in a cafe, in a duke, at the market, at the bus stop, talking to bodas, street sweepers, mandazi mamas, school teachers, prostitutes – everyone and anyone is a conversation source with an aim to understand the consumer, his concerns, habits, desires, aspirations, dreams. He will explore people like a police investigator, looking for body language, reactions, gimmicks, expressions – everything he can use to put together pieces of communication that will make our advertising world more beautiful and emotionally connected.

Finally, Creative Director who fits the above description will indeed be on the Agency’s Board of Directors because his passion for the Agency and growing its business is evident and irreplaceable. He is a talent that also commercially drives direction of the whole Agency, together with other Board members.

And there exactly lies our challenge.


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