July 11, 2008

I Can’t Stop You From Becoming A Creative Director...

...but maybe I can stop you from becoming a lousy one.

I was an ad agency creative director for over 20 years. It’s a stinky job.

I’ve been a copywriter, a creative director, president of an international ad agency, and ceo of my own agency. By far, creative director was the most difficult, frustrating and horrifying.

One of the reasons the job is so difficult is because you have four different constituencies, each with its own unique self-interest.

First is the client. The client wants to sell stuff. She probably has lousy taste in ads and most likely thinks and speaks in marketing clichés. But she knows how to make graphs. And she gets very upset when this month’s graph is less happy than last month’s.

The next constituency is your agency’s management. They want to make money. They, too, probably have terrible taste in ads and probably speak in marketing cliches. But they know how to make money. The way they do it is by getting new business. And the way they do that is by you making ads that get noticed and talked about.

Third is your account services department. They want to avoid conflict. They’re really tired of getting yelled at all day, and all they want are ads that keep them out of hot water

Fourth is your creative department. They want to win awards and get better jobs somewhere else. They see this as your responsibility. They expect you to be the defender, promoter, and champion of their brilliance.

As a creative director, you have to convince each of these constituencies that you are putting their interest first. Of course, this is impossible. What you really have to do is ignore all this nonsense and make sure you’re turning out really good ads. If you make really good ads, all constituencies will be served.

So, how do you make really good ads? Tune in Monday for 6 tips.

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