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The Cat Herder: The Role and Function of the Agency Creative Director
Unformatted Document Text:  THE  CAT  HERDER     11   One of the most successful creative companies on earth, a poster child for management gurus, is SAS. Their unique framework for managing creativity rests on three guiding principles: 1. Help employees do their best work by keeping them intellectually engaged and by removing distractions. 2. Make managers responsible for sparking creativity and eliminate arbitrary distinctions between “suits” and “creatives.” 3. And engage customers as creative partners so you can deliver superior products. (Florida & Goodnight 2005, 126) How do these translate to the role and function of an advertising creative director? “A creative director first and foremost generate[s] great creative work” and “share[s] a passion for great work” (Wnek 2009). Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R's Ben Priest contends that despite industry changes, at its core the job of the creative director “is still about the same things it has always been: people and ideas. You need to love ideas and be able to spot them when they're buried deep beneath a pile of rubble; you have to be able to inspire, encourage and inform your department and others in the agency, propelling them on to greater things” (Campaign UK 2007). Renowned TBWA\Chiat\Day creative director Lee Clow says creative management must “try and harness the creative talent and enthusiasm and point it at a marketing problem. It’s like coaching a basketball team. The players are young, multimillionaire kids that can do amazing shit. And the coach has to make them play together and win championships. If they were left to their own druthers, they’d be out there trying to out-slam-dunk each other and not sharing the ball. So you’re basically harnessing” (Garfield 2007). The creative director position encompasses more than that. An Advertising Age article by Lowe Chairman and Chief Creative Officer Mark Wnek engendered great debate over the importance of the role of the creative director in presenting and selling agency work. The

Authors: Mallia, Karen., Windels, Kasey. and Broyles, Sheri.
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THE  CAT  HERDER  
 
11  
One of the most successful creative companies on earth, a poster child for management 
gurus, is SAS. Their unique framework for managing creativity rests on three guiding 
principles: 
 
1.  Help employees do their best work by keeping them intellectually engaged and by 
removing distractions. 
2.  Make managers responsible for sparking creativity and eliminate arbitrary 
distinctions between “suits” and “creatives.” 
3.  And engage customers as creative partners so you can deliver superior products. 
(Florida & Goodnight 2005, 126) 
 
How do these translate to the role and function of an advertising creative director? “A 
creative director first and foremost generate[s] great creative work” and “share[s] a passion 
for great work” (Wnek 2009). Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R's Ben Priest contends 
that despite industry changes, at its core the job of the creative director “is still about the 
same things it has always been: people and ideas. You need to love ideas and be able to spot 
them when they're buried deep beneath a pile of rubble; you have to be able to inspire, 
encourage and inform your department and others in the agency, propelling them on to 
greater things” (Campaign UK 2007). Renowned TBWA\Chiat\Day creative director Lee 
Clow says creative management must “try and harness the creative talent and enthusiasm and 
point it at a marketing problem. It’s like coaching a basketball team. The players are young, 
multimillionaire kids that can do amazing shit. And the coach has to make them play together 
and win championships. If they were left to their own druthers, they’d be out there trying to 
out-slam-dunk each other and not sharing the ball. So you’re basically harnessing” (Garfield 
2007). 
The creative director position encompasses more than that. An Advertising Age article 
by Lowe Chairman and Chief Creative Officer Mark Wnek engendered great debate over the 
importance of the role of the creative director in presenting and selling agency work. The 


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