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The Cat Herder: The Role and Function of the Agency Creative Director
Unformatted Document Text:  THE  CAT  HERDER     15   less experienced creatives. Those without supervisory function were not included as creative directors in this analysis but as writers or art directors. Positional authority is not always indicated by title. At a very large agency that can be a good thing, one example being that at agency L1, despite eight levels of creative titles, most creatives did not have more than two reporting levels above them. Also at L1, while most Group Creative Directors reported to the CCO on most accounts and on most major assignments, one team of GCDs operated autonomously. One member of that team said, (with supreme arrogance) “The client is my boss.” The role of the creative director varies somewhat between large and small agencies; two small agencies described all positions as being more fluid and less defined. In particular creative director role is less autonomous and more cooperative when the founder or principals of the agency have a creative background. However, throughout the study, we found the creative director position had far more commonalities than differences from place to place. The creative director in an advertising agency is an atypical supervisory position in that CDs often function as “bosses” in evaluating work, but not as true supervisors in the conventional managerial sense of having “direct reports” and having control over personnel functions such as salary decisions. There is great fluidity in reporting structure, even different from how reporting is handled in account management with the same agency. Creative teams, especially in the larger agencies, commonly report to different CDs on different accounts. In L3, this was noted as a deliberate action that helps to balance workload.

Authors: Mallia, Karen., Windels, Kasey. and Broyles, Sheri.
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THE  CAT  HERDER  
 
15  
less experienced creatives. Those without supervisory function were not included as creative 
directors in this analysis but as writers or art directors.  
Positional authority is not always indicated by title. At a very large agency that can be 
a good thing, one example being that at agency L1, despite eight levels of creative titles, 
most creatives did not have more than two reporting levels above them. Also at L1, while 
most Group Creative Directors reported to the CCO on most accounts and on most major 
assignments, one team of GCDs operated autonomously. One member of that team said, 
(with supreme arrogance) “The client is my boss.”  
The role of the creative director varies somewhat between large and small agencies; 
two small agencies described all positions as being more fluid and less defined. In particular 
creative director role is less autonomous and more cooperative when the founder or 
principals of the agency have a creative background. However, throughout the study, we 
found the creative director position had far more commonalities than differences from place 
to place.  
The creative director in an advertising agency is an atypical supervisory position in 
that CDs often function as “bosses” in evaluating work, but not as true supervisors in the 
conventional managerial sense of having “direct reports” and having control over personnel 
functions such as salary decisions. There is great fluidity in reporting structure, even different 
from how reporting is handled in account management with the same agency. Creative 
teams, especially in the larger agencies, commonly report to different CDs on different 
accounts. In L3, this was noted as a deliberate action that helps to balance workload. 


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