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The Cat Herder: The Role and Function of the Agency Creative Director
Unformatted Document Text:  THE  CAT  HERDER     21   and will it make a difference? Does it have legs? One-offs are easy, but idea needs to last through three CEOs, five CMOs” One creative director describes the first creative review process thus: I’ll ask, what’s our strategy? What is the brand? Are we talking to the right people? At this point, we’re not looking for the design esthetic. I’ll point out the ones I like, ask them which they like. Theirs usually becomes my favorite. Then we move to the next step. I tell them some things to think about. Usually at this stage, we just talk through it—ideas are written on a pad, or they describe them. Then they’ll go sketch or comp it up. I prefer sketches for some visual representation that we can show (principal) or the client. Then, the design element is added. (CD, S1) Depending on the scale of an assignment, the creative director will review and provide feedback to creatives at one or two more intervals prior to presentation to the others in the agency. Thus, this role as creative judge is another way creative directors preserve and influence brand identity. Champion of Creative Teams A vital part of the job of creative directors, one often mentioned by lower-level creatives, was to serve as a champion of creative teams and their work to others in the agency and to clients. Three aspects of this role came to light through the research. Creative directors served as a liaison between the creative department and other departments, they protected creatives from outside threats, and they served as salesmen for creative ideas. Liaison to “the others” The creative director frequently served as the intermediary between creative teams and other agency personnel, including account planners, account managers and upper management. This role was particularly important for the CD with younger, less experienced teams who relied on the creative director’s power within the agency to help get their work through the system.

Authors: Mallia, Karen., Windels, Kasey. and Broyles, Sheri.
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THE  CAT  HERDER  
 
21  
and will it make a difference? Does it have legs? One-offs are easy, but idea needs to last 
through three CEOs, five CMOs” 
One creative director describes the first creative review process thus: 
I’ll ask, what’s our strategy? What is the brand? Are we talking to the right people?  
At this point, we’re not looking for the design esthetic.  I’ll point out the ones I like, 
ask them which they like. Theirs usually becomes my favorite. Then we move to the 
next step. I tell them some things to think about. Usually at this stage, we just talk 
through it—ideas are written on a pad, or they describe them. Then they’ll go sketch 
or comp it up. I prefer sketches for some visual representation that we can show 
(principal) or the client. Then, the design element is added. 
(CD, S1) 
 
Depending on the scale of an assignment, the creative director will review and 
provide feedback to creatives at one or two more intervals prior to presentation to the others 
in the agency. Thus, this role as creative judge is another way creative directors preserve and 
influence brand identity. 
Champion of Creative Teams 
 
A vital part of the job of creative directors, one often mentioned by lower-level 
creatives, was to serve as a champion of creative teams and their work to others in the agency 
and to clients. Three aspects of this role came to light through the research. Creative directors 
served as a liaison between the creative department and other departments, they protected 
creatives from outside threats, and they served as salesmen for creative ideas.  
Liaison to “the others” 
 
The creative director frequently served as the intermediary between creative teams 
and other agency personnel, including account planners, account managers and upper 
management. This role was particularly important for the CD with younger, less experienced 
teams who relied on the creative director’s power within the agency to help get their work 
through the system.   


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