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The Cat Herder: The Role and Function of the Agency Creative Director
Unformatted Document Text:  THE  CAT  HERDER     19   Unfortunately, unlike creativity researchers, agency practitioners believe that creative talent is innate. As far as talent goes, you either have it or don’t. Advertising is only open to a select few. You either have it or don’t (S3). It can’t be taught. You have to think a certain way, have a certain skill set—you’re special because you’re talented (CD at S1). That brings into question the nature and the extent of mentoring that is actually occurring, despite that being an articulated part of the creative director’s job. Creative Genius The demonstrated talent of the creative director plays a crucial role in legitimizing his/her authority. Subordinates state this explicitly; they want a supervisor whose work they respect and envy. However, continuing to practice writing and art direction by doing one’s own work creates a conundrum. At one small agency, the creative director was explicitly opposed to “competing” with subordinates, knowing that counter-productive resentment would result (S1). At another agency, it is expected that creative directors will still spend as much as 90% of their time doing work and just 10% managing. There, creative directors do compete directly with their staff and strongly believe that the competition to win is motivating for all (L3). At some of the other agencies, the role division is less explicit, and more subject to the desire of the individual creative director. A key way that creative genius is demonstrated is through an ability to recognize great ideas in raw form, and to build upon them. Brand Steward Another aspect of the creative director role was the role of brand steward; a role creative directors took seriously. Creative directors were able to serve as brand stewards not

Authors: Mallia, Karen., Windels, Kasey. and Broyles, Sheri.
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THE  CAT  HERDER  
 
19  
Unfortunately, unlike creativity researchers, agency practitioners believe that creative 
talent is innate. As far as talent goes, you either have it or don’t. Advertising is only open to a 
select few. You either have it or don’t (S3).  It can’t be taught. You have to think a certain 
way, have a certain skill set—you’re special because you’re talented (CD at S1)That brings 
into question the nature and the extent of mentoring that is actually occurring, despite that 
being an articulated part of the creative director’s job. 
Creative Genius 
The demonstrated talent of the creative director plays a crucial role in legitimizing 
his/her authority. Subordinates state this explicitly; they want a supervisor whose work they 
respect and envy. However, continuing to practice writing and art direction by doing one’s 
own work creates a conundrum. At one small agency, the creative director was explicitly 
opposed to “competing” with subordinates, knowing that counter-productive resentment 
would result (S1). At another agency, it is expected that creative directors will still spend as 
much as 90% of their time doing work and just 10% managing. There, creative directors do 
compete directly with their staff and strongly believe that the competition to win is 
motivating for all (L3). At some of the other agencies, the role division is less explicit, and 
more subject to the desire of the individual creative director.   
 
A key way that creative genius is demonstrated is through an ability to recognize 
great ideas in raw form, and to build upon them.     
Brand Steward 
 
Another aspect of the creative director role was the role of brand steward; a role 
creative directors took seriously. Creative directors were able to serve as brand stewards not 


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