A creative network of the idea, by the idea, for the idea

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The great Creative Director.

“What are the qualities of a great creative director?” That’s the question that Felix at the Denver egoist asks (himself and us)

I thought that this was a very relevant topic
. I agree with Felix on the crucial role that Creative directors play. So here it's the list:

The creative director is the last line of defense.
When no one else in the creative department knows where to take a job, or how to crack a brief, the CD can do it. They have the experience, the savvy and the ability to produce the work when no one else can.
The creative director doesn’t play politics with creatives.
Creative directors should shield the creative department from all of the unnecessary crap and make sure that the teams focus on the work.
The creative director gives specific feedback.
A good creative director gives specific feedback, not vague platitudes. Their direction will be considered, constructive, smart and intelligible.
The creative director is well-versed in all crafts.
although they are experts in one discipline, they understand all the crafts. Great CDs are chameleons who understand the balance between concepts & strategy, and copy & design.
The creative director is a selfless creative.
a good CD will let you flex your creative muscles and allow your own work to shine.
The creative director is not your best buddy.
The creative director knows the latest trends.
if your CD has no idea what Facebook is, or looks puzzled when you talk about Twitter or social networking, they aren’t doing their duty, as an advertiser, to understand the modern consumer.
The creative director will hire great creatives.
“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.”
The creative director is well-read.
The creative director produces work.
a good CD will still want to do some of the work, usually about 25% of it. Good creative directors never lose that passion, that drive and that hunger for doing great work. It’s in the blood.
The creative director knows every creative brief intimately.
When the creative director guides the account team to get the brief ready, expect good things.
The creative director is an idea catalyst.
The creative director, with one or two pearls of wisdom, can make sure the creative team strikes gold every time.
The creative director has a broad range of experience.
With a well-rounded CD on your side, you’re in much better hands than a CD whose only experience of direct mail is tearing it up over the garbage can.
The creative director steers the whole ship in the right direction.
Everyone in the agency, including in-house agencies, is looking to the CD as the captain of the creative ship.
The creative director understands strategy and planning.
The creative director is a shepherd.
the CD should set the standard for how the creatives are treated within the agency. If he or she lets account directors walk all over creative teams, changing copy and art direction at will, then the morale in the department will hit rock bottom. The CD who is a good shepherd will keep the creatives in line, but also keep the wolves from bringing them and their work down.
The creative director can sell or present anything, and do it well.
The creative director has balls.
A creative director should have the authority and confidence to make some big decisions, and should also take some firm stands against feedback that will either ruin the creative or demoralize the department.
The creative director knows how to motivate.
The creative director wants honest opinions, not nodding dogs.
The creative director doesn’t play the second-guessing game.
The creative director doesn’t care about being popular.
You just cannot be a great CD and be friends with everyone in the agency, and every client, and every production house, and, well, you get the point.
The creative director doesn’t micromanage.
A confident CD will realize that they only need to see the bigger picture.
Finally, the creative director improves the work.
A good CD will improve the work. Period.

Its a good list of qualifications. Hopefully you'll work with someone who matches most of the attributes on this list.

It's what makes the difference between loving being a creative and being a creative.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The right question.

At the beginning of the movie I, Robot, there is scene with the following dialogue:
Dr. Alfred Lanning: Good to see you again, son.
Detective Del Spooner: Hello, doctor.
Dr. Alfred Lanning: Everything that follows is a result of what you see here.
Detective Del Spooner: Is there something you want tell me?
Dr. Alfred Lanning: I'm sorry. My responses are limited. You must ask the right questions.
Detective Del Spooner: Why did you call me?
Dr. Alfred Lanning: I trust your judgement.
Detective Del Spooner: Normally, these circumstances wouldn't require a homicide detective.
Dr. Alfred Lanning: But then our interactions have never been entirely normal. Wouldn't you agree?
Detective Del Spooner: You got that right... Is there something you want say to me?
Dr. Alfred Lanning: [the camera rotates around Lanning, revealing him to be a hologram] I'm sorry. My responses are limited. You must ask the right questions.
Detective Del Spooner: Why would you kill yourself?
Dr. Alfred Lanning: That, detective, is the right question. Program terminated.
The idea of asking the right question and getting the right answer has always fascinated me. So, as a creative set to find the right agency to work for, what’s the right question to ask?

It's not about the accounts, that much I know. You could have the most creative account but if leadership or talent are missing inside the agency, you won’t do much.

A more difficult one is whether to go for the name of the agency. While I believe that the classic agencies like Ogilvy, Leo Burnett or Sattchi & Sattchi are good schools of advertising thought, big agencies are handicapped by mindless bureaucracy and good ideas gets lost amongst too much politics.

So what makes an agency ideal to grow and nurture our creativity?
I believe that it’s the agency ecosystem.
That ecosystem is a balanced environment where all the units are integrated and interact so a flow of energy leads to rewarding expressions of creativity.
A habitat where leadership creates an environment where everybody is able to reach creative potential.
  • Where leadership feels responsible for the growth of the entire community.
  • Where people feel safe to be wrong and supported to try again.
  • Where leaders embrace diversity in thinking that fosters independent growth.
  • This will create an environment that promotes creativity by the community, who shares and discusses ideas and projects to create the results they truly desire.
  • Where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, collective aspiration is set free, and people are continually learning how to learn. (see here)
This ecosystem of creativity will sustain its own growth, because is managed by the community with smart supervision.

This creative driven culture is not new and you can find it at play in some agencies today; Razorfish, Big Spaceship, Zemoga, Poke, TBWA, The Barbarian Group or Goodby and in some corporations like Google, Pixar, Apple, GE or Amazon and Nokia.

Since we are talking about nature, I'll ask you to think of atoms. An atom in a specific environment will become just a rock, but the same atom interacting in the right environment turns into a diamond.

It's all about what surrounds us. It's the difference between being a rock and a diamond.

I think the right question for every creative to ask today is; what sustains the ecosystem in the agency?

That, detective, is the right question. Program terminated.