Opinion

Remember creative directors?

dave-trott-image-3I recently read an article in one of the trade mags.

A planner was congratulating advertising on the way things are, but saying there was room for improvement.

He said it was progress that the entire team was now involved at all creative reviews.

(By ‘the entire team’ he meant the account executives, the planners, the media dept, everyone.

By ‘creative reviews’ he meant seeing all the work: every single rough, every scrap of paper.)

He was cautioning, however, that ‘the entire team’ should wait until the creative director had spoken before voicing their own opinions.

That’s very nice of him.

To allow the creative director to have an opinion, and to allow them to speak first.

But to me it represents a change in the role of creative director.

It sounds to me as if this person sees the role of creative director as little more than the head of traffic.

The job being to round up all the work and present it to every other department for them all to make a joint decision.

I don’t remember David Abbott running his agency like that.

Or John Hegarty.

Or Jeremy Sinclair.

Or Paul Arden.

Or Tim Delaney.

Or Frank Lowe.

And I can’t remember John Webster collecting up everyone’s roughs and presenting them to a committee from every department for everyone to take the decision on what should run.

I doubt that Dave Droga runs his agency that way.

The argument is probably that it’s the way a government runs.

With the whole cabinet having an input.

But is that true?

Are all the various possibilities of the brief looked at and discussed with all departments, before the final one is written?

Does the head of planning ask ‘the entire team’ if it should be a market growth brief or brand share?

Should it be current consumers or triallists?

Should it be a brand campaign or product based?

Does everyone get a say on which brief is written?

How about media?

Does the head of media submit a variety of plans for everyone in ‘the entire team’ to comment on.

Should we be doing pre-rolls on YouTube?

Or going for likes on Facebook?

Or maybe digital OOH in major conurbations?

Or small space ads in the free-sheets on the tube?

Strangely they don’t.

Why is that?

If ‘the entire team’ is capable of judging everyone’s creative work, why aren’t they capable of judging everyone’s strategic briefs and media plans?

And what about the quality of work?

Has this cabinet approach (“gang bang advertising” as David Abbott called it) resulted in more exciting work?

Or has it resulted in mass blandness and media pollution?

I think the rise of ad-blocking is your answer.

The job of this committee approach isn’t to produce better work.

It’s to make everyone feel involved.

Which is why it’s been very successful at the latter and a massive failure at the former.

Dave Trott is a consultant, author and former ad agency creative director. This article was first published on his blog

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