I always used to think it was odd that one-man shows had directors, especially when the performers wrote the show themselves. Then one night during a stand-up routine, I bombed, bad. It was an audience mutiny. Luckily, I had a strong mentor at the show, and after removing my head from his waterlogged bosom, he was able to explain why my bits, that always worked before, fell so short.
The same can be said for a Creative Director in advertising and his or her ability to stay objective in a subjective industry. Below are five reasons on why a Creative Director can make or break the execution of a marketing message.
1. Consistency – Often times several hands will touch even the smallest of projects. Just recently we posted a tiny ad in a local yellow pages. The ad, which was less than a quarter page, needed to be touched by roughly six different people before it could be approved and sent to print. The job of the Creative Director was to make sure the message delivered met the needs of the campaign, the wants of the client and the vision of the designer whilst maintaining all the elements that had been established nine months ago during the brand renovation.
2. Quality Control – While some agencies have Art Directors or Production Specialists, the final nod needs to come from the Creative Director before any materials go to the client. Consistency plays a huge part in this, but so does the tangible qualities of the work. Is the paper stock correct? How does the audio sync up with video? Can the media vendor use these files easily to ensure a good final product? These are a few of the daily questions that Creative Directors ask so the intended audience only sees the finest work from the company the agency represents.
3. Concept Defense – Often, clients come to an agency seeking something that stands out and is different, but even the most brave and bold customer can get cold feet. It’s a completely natural reaction when you factor in the financial investment and risk to try something unconventional and daring. A key ingredient for any Creative Director is the ability to prove work is worth its salt. This means making the client understand why the action was chosen and why the ad will be successful. An Account Executive will make sure the strategy and placement are on track, but the creative execution comes from the Creative Director and he or she needs to make the client comfortable and confident about the chosen path.
4. Ego Management – Everyone on the creative side of this business has some ego. After all, the purpose of an ad is to be memorable. Designers and writers invest a lot of time and a lot of themselves into every piece to do this. It requires instinct and intuition rather than a proven formula or a how-to manual. At the same time, everything that is produced is subjective and produced for someone else who may completely reject the work. It happens, but keeping his or her staff motivated and passionate even after the umpteenth revision is a delicate job. Here a Creative Director must excel.
5. Creativity – It may be surprising this isn’t the first on the list, but its obvious. The Creative Director is a veteran on a team of writers and designers. The position is earned from years of experience writing, designing or both. At the end of the day, projects need to be done fast and at a high level. Deadlines don’t wait because of writer’s block or a drought of creative juices. When the chips are down, a Creative Director needs to have the answer or provide the spark. That leadership and ability to rally means deadlines will be met and expectations will be exceeded regardless of the conditions behind the scenes.
So how would have a director helped my flop?
Consistency – I knowingly went against my routine because I grew tired of the same bits. A director would’ve reeled me back in.
Quality Control – A run through backstage would’ve exposed the train wreck beforehand.
Concept Defense – Here, I needed convincing to stay the course and not panic into something else and be reassured why the current material worked they way it did.
Ego Management – Any angry mob of disappointed onlookers bruises the pride.
Creativity – A good director would see where my revamped joke was trying to go and find a way to improve it, or even better, lead me to the right solution.
A stunning portfolio with several industries, media and executions means the Creative Director is doing his or her job. Continued accolades from award shows don’t hurt either. If you’re serious about making every ad and every impression count, find a team that can help you and a creative leader you can trust.