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The Cat Herder: The Role and Function of the Agency Creative Director
Unformatted Document Text:  THE  CAT  HERDER     20   only by working in conjunction with other departments on strategy to ensure consistency of brand message, but also through their role as creative judge. Brand Preservationist Nearly all the creative directors interviewed mentioned (and held in esteem) their role in developing and preserving the brand’s communication identity, vision and voice. The CD at S3 said he views his main role to make sure the brand personality remains consistent. This was also mentioned by some senior creative staffers, though less likely to appear in the comments of juniors. This role is underscored by the fact that all the creative directors interviewed reported that they play a role in development of the creative strategy or creative brief—and felt that creative input was essential to the brief. Creative directors are the thinkers and guiders of the creative direction for a campaign. Therefore they have to have the strategy in place and making sense for creatives before they brief their teams (L2). This requires numerous conversations with planners and account managers, in meetings and impromptu. Creative Judge/Critic Another vital role of the creative director is as the judge of the creative work of agency. While the criteria used are consistent in the industry and in the literature (Keil 1975), researchers have noted that individual preferences and agency styles can and do intervene on creative judgments (Nixon 2003; Stuhlfaut 2011). Asked to articulate their judging criteria, creative directors say they are looking for work that is “endearing,” “clever enough to stand out,” “on strategy,” “will move the needle for a client,” “memorable.” Another creative director lists his judgment criteria as “Will it have the least bit of a chance of being noticed

Authors: Mallia, Karen., Windels, Kasey. and Broyles, Sheri.
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only by working in conjunction with other departments on strategy to ensure consistency of 
brand message, but also through their role as creative judge.  
Brand Preservationist 
Nearly all the creative directors interviewed mentioned (and held in esteem) their role 
in developing and preserving the brand’s communication identity, vision and voice.  The CD 
at S3 said he views his main role to make sure the brand personality remains consistent.  This 
was also mentioned by some senior creative staffers, though less likely to appear in the 
comments of juniors. 
This role is underscored by the fact that all the creative directors interviewed reported 
that they play a role in development of the creative strategy or creative brief—and felt that 
creative input was essential to the brief. Creative directors are the thinkers and guiders of the 
creative direction for a campaign. Therefore they have to have the strategy in place and 
making sense for creatives before they brief their teams (L2). This requires numerous 
conversations with planners and account managers, in meetings and impromptu.  
Creative Judge/Critic 
Another vital role of the creative director is as the judge of the creative work of 
agency. While the criteria used are consistent in the industry and in the literature (Keil 1975), 
researchers have noted that individual preferences and agency styles can and do intervene on 
creative judgments (Nixon 2003; Stuhlfaut 2011). Asked to articulate their judging criteria, 
creative directors say they are looking for work that is “endearing,” “clever enough to stand 
out,” “on strategy,” “will move the needle for a client,” “memorable.” Another creative 
director lists his judgment criteria as “Will it have the least bit of a chance of being noticed 

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