Friday, March 13, 2009

What Makes A Good Creative Director?


"Hi guys, do you have some ads to show me?"

There's an in-depth post on The Denver Egotist on this subject at the moment, Part 1 here, Part 2 here.

It's worth reading, though as I say, it is long. And I have a short attention span. So I thought I'd throw the question over to you guys with a challenge to put it more concisely.

What would you say makes a good CD - or a bad one - using as few words as you can.

Here's my entry. A good CD "says no nearly all the time" (6 words).

Oh, I've got one for 'bad CD' as well. A bad CD "is woolly" (2 words).

73 comments:

Anonymous said...

A good CD is one who thinks he still has something to prove rather than banging on about ads they made ten years ago.

Also one who doesn't shamelessly self-promote.

Anonymous said...

Someone who guides with tact, without undermining confidence and leaving you feeling talentless and shit. Someone who has put aside their own ego and is concerned solely with getting the best idea out.

Anonymous said...

A great CD doesn't think he's a great CD

Anonymous said...

Good= Scarey.

Bad= Bullshitter.

Anonymous said...

A good CD 'fires creatives who insist they wrote an idea that another team has written (but no one can find the script) and insist they should collect the award with a director who has never met them because they claimed it was their idea after seeing the edit and realising it was a winner.'

Anonymous said...

judging by the above comments, a great CD also appears to be a man.

Bodecker said...

A good creative department always makes a good CD. It can also work the other way around. The great think about being a CD is that you always get the credit.

Anonymous said...

A great CD remembers what it was like to be a creative.

Anonymous said...

A good CD helps you spot the best bit of your idea and helps you nurture, sell and then protect it

that french saying said...

Fights.

Anonymous said...

A good CD takes none of the credit and all of the blame.

A bad CD does exactly the opposite.

that french saying said...

(sorry last comment should have been)

A good creative director fights

(And your comment that he should say no most of the time is bang on - not enough people say no in our ad agency, that's what we need. Yours truly, junior copywriter)

Scamp said...

11.32 (first one) I think I know which ad you're referring to.

But when you say the team had 'never met' the director... well, they've previously shot another ad with him. Two ads in fact!

Now that you know just how far off the mark you are there, you may begin to wonder how far off you are with the rest of what you said. I happen to know you're completely off the mark with the rest too.

This isn't the place to discuss, feel free to send me an e-mail if you want.

Anonymous said...

Good CD kills your work but sends you away inspired to do more.

Bad CD kills your work, your self confidence and your pet labrador.

Copybot said...

A good CD cares about the career development of their creatives. They make sure each team gets a variety of briefs, including some that will be good for their book, and that everyone gets a chance to work on all the clients.

A bad CD hogs all the good briefs (or always gives them to their "pet" team), bullshits to cover up the truth, and cares more about awards than effective work.

Anonymous said...

What about those cd's who say 'No' most of the time in a wooly fashion?

Anonymous said...

Someone who doesn't try and take the glory when it's the junior teams who have done the leg work.

Anonymous said...

A bad CD is so thick-skinned that, even if he was all of the above, he wouldn't attribute any of them to himself.

M32 said...

good creative directors use lube.

AP of CRAP said...

A good CD gets to know their creatives, will push an idea and should know when they see a gem.

Anonymous said...

A good CD harnesses the power of his chi to absorb the nightmare clients panic, then calmly gets on with creating a brilliant campaign. (Hi Damon).

Anonymous said...

A good cd is political genius
A bad cd is an evil spin doctor

Anonymous said...

How do people make to to CD level with no creative talent or people skills? It amazes me. Our cd's are absolute numpties.

Anonymous said...

A good CD is a bad CD with better creatives

john w. said...

Good cd - Killers
Bad cd - Steps

Anonymous said...

A good CD wants to make his creatives "future-proof". Hi Damon!

Anonymous said...

A great CD gets just as excited as you do about an idea. His enthusiasm makes you want to work more thus making our job so fun much fun (Peter Riley).

Anonymous said...

a great CD :

most awarded agency in the world for 10 years.

Anonymous said...

Good CDs push you and your ideas till its the best it can be, then will fight for that idea as they beleive in it as much as you do.

Shit CD's say stuff like 'yeah, it's great, but they'll never buy it, maybe next time' or quite simply a shit CD will say 'Keep going' and nothing more.

Shit CD's get loads of team to work on routes, then nick the best bits and sell an ad as their own.

Anonymous said...

A Good CD will blow out your idea an tell you why, if he's right, you'll pretty much agree with everything they say.

A bad CD will blow it out for a silly reason, like you've used the colour blue instead of cherry red.

Your word verification is oinker, gotta be the best yet?

Anonymous said...

not sticking your name on other's work. (every time you see a creative team credited with a CD's name alongside, you know the back-story)

Ratt said...

A good CD elevates an agency (rep. & output.)

A bad one diminishes it.

Or

(from past experience) A bad one is just a self-preserving, bullshitting cunt.

Sorry about the language scamp. Bad times.

martyn@preview said...

i guess it largely depends on the type of agency, but in my experience good cd's are made up of the following parts

20% party starter

10% defender of the people (in the creative team)

5% political climber

5% dictator

10% media sponge

50% ideas fountain

What do you reckon makes a good Creative Director great?

Anonymous said...

A good CD is the new Doves album. Quality!

Chalky said...

A good CD improves a piece of work.

A bad CD is a nasty piece of work.

Anonymous said...

A Good CD is Trevor Beattie.

A bad CD is [sorry guys, no personal attacks. Scamp]

Anonymous said...

A bad CD says no.
A good CD might not always say 'yes' but always says why.

Good CD: Flintham
Bad CD: [sorry fella, rules is rules]

Anonymous said...

1:47 What's the point in ass kissing if you're not going to identify yourself.

Anonymous said...

i think 1:47 means J Craigen.

Anonymous said...

3:33

what's the point on commenting if you're not going to identify yourself?

signed Anon

Anonymous said...

a good CD is a good judge of creative work.

a great CD is also a great presenter of work.

Anonymous said...

A good CD is Donald Draper

A bad CD is Donald Duck

Anonymous said...

Best CD I ever worked for was Dave Trott.

You could work on any brief you wanted to.

He would improve your idea by 100% but never take any of the credit.

Would insist that only great work gets presented.

Would take the time to tell you why things were wrong.

The only person I learnt more from was Alan Waldie but he wasn't a CD.

Matt said...

Decisiveness

Anonymous said...

4:17 cos I work with you and I don't want you to hate me.

Anonymous said...

a good cd has the decency to tell you why your ideas are shit. so at least you've got a chance to get somewhere afterwards.

golublog said...

A good creative director never recycles an idea every client is something new rather then been there done that.

Rupert James said...

A good CD says "No", but a great CD says why.

An actual CD reading this to learn how to be a good one. said...

On the other hand, a good creative understands that sometimes, he or she doesn't know more than the CD.

And maybe has the wrong idea what a good CD should be.

The article itself was well written, but some creatives are more concerned about how the CD treats their (Creatives) work, careers and egos than the business and work of the department. When in fact, the CD must balance all of those as well.

A good CD fights, but does not blindly go into battle like some Creative Braveheart wannabe.

A good CD will know when he has to be a jerk and when to be kind. A good CD knows when to babysit and when to leave you to the sharks so you will learn. (I know of one CD who was nurturing but when he was away, the creatives did not know how to fend for themselves, nor push themselves.)

A good CD is prouder of his people than he is of his own work.

A good CD brings out the best in you and doesn't do your work for you. I still have a bad habit of stepping in and helping with the writing rather than getting the writer to work through it. Mostly because of time constraints.

A good CD would defend the best idea, not necessarily his own.

A good CD knows that sometimes the Creatives think they have a gem, but they don't and will have to tell them so even when they think the CD just doesn't see it. BUT the CD must be constructive in doing so.

A good CD will know when to tell the creatives when "the suits are right on this one." But will also know how to tell the suits to toe the line.

A good CD is one whose name you'll WANT to put on the credits list even if he himself chooses not to.
In my old department, before I was a CD, the ECD often took out his name from the credits. But his troops (us) wanted to share the wins with him so we kept sneaking in and putting his name back.

That's the kind of CD I want to be.

Anonymous said...

A good CD encourages and inspires.

A bad CD bullies and runs the department through fear.

Sadly, I write as someone currently working for the latter. The cunt.

Anonymous said...

When reviewing work:

Good CD bigs up the good bits of an idea/batch of ideas, and ignores the bad bits so they just wither away and die.

Bad CD takes the good bits for granted and tears into anything substandard with passionate abandon.

George said...

Oh Shit.

I'm watching tv and Honda 'Impossible Dream' has just come on. That ad is from about 4 years ago.....

Then again, car manufacturers are fucked - perhaps Bailiff company's will start booking some airtime and produce 90 second, million pound films for primetime television..... Bet you hope you get that brief.

Anonymous said...

what i like about my CD is that he is always on the creatives' side. he will bark at account service if they stuff up, but just give us a quick look if we do.

makes you want to repay his loyalty with better work.

Anonymous said...

A good CD takes his responsibilities – to his department, agency and clients – seriously.

A bad CD takes himself too seriously.

Anonymous said...

a good cd doesn't live his life by the aphorisms or platitudes of others.

George said...

Reading these comments, a good cd appears to have a lot of the same character traits as a good teacher. Is that about right?

Inklid said...

Who's had the worst CD experience?

In our first real agency job, my partner and I had a tyrannical, crazed, tiny little CD who would actually be more angry if we produced good ideas than if we produced poor ones.

The better we did, the more irate he'd get - to the point that, in a review, he wouldn't say anything about the work at all, but WOULD shout at us for coming in too early, smiling too much, and wearing clothes that were too 'young' (we were 23 and 25 at the time).

The final straw came when an idea we'd had (that had made him so angry that he asked us to go home for the day) turned up in the Guardian with a huge pr story and interview with its creator... our CD.

Just after we left he disappeared off the face of the earth. Apparently he had a nervous breakdown. Being our first job, we thought this was normal behavior from a CD.

Anonymous said...

We had one who published a 15 point set of rules. One of them was how to correctly interpret the position of his door.
1. Open - OK to come in.
2. Slightly ajar - knock first and wait for permission to be granted.
3. Closed - on no account even think about entering/knocking.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of stating the completely f*cking obvious:

A great CD is one who gives great direction on the creative work.

A crap CD is one who doesn't (ie says "yes" to everything; says "no" to everything but doesn't give reasons)

Anonymous said...

There are no good CDs anymore. The giants have all moved on. To pastures new or the big creative department in the sky, where research isn't allowed and planners are dumb (ie without speech, we already know they're daft as hats).

Anonymous said...

A good CD spends more time in his dept than on set shooting his own TV spots. He should also know the names of the Creatives in his dept.

Anonymous said...

www.stevepaskin.com

Coke is it! said...

A good compromises with the client and creates this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BR0utofGLF8&feature=channel_page.

El Mariachi said...

The confident, chilled-out CD

And the insecure Drama queen

Anonymous said...

A great CD respects their creative teams ideas, helps build on them, and guides them without reinventing them. He/she 'pluses' the ideas and makes good ones great, and well-rounded.

He/she also plays the politics wells - keeps the annoyances at bay, simplifies things, keeps their eye on the big picture.

They know how to make a client feel comfortable but can also do the hard sell. They know how to make everyone involved feel good about the work, and they identify and shepherd great work through the system.

Anonymous said...

If your CD is armed with an MG42 (one of the finest guns of the 2nd world war, the best being the 88 of course - both German) he's a bad one.
If they are armed with a table at The Ivy he's a good one.

Anonymous said...

one that doesn't piss around writing blogs all day

Scamp said...

You're probably right...

Anonymous said...

A good CD makes the department feel like a fun place to work and create.

A bad CD scares the living shit out of everyone.

Fabio Couto said...

A good CD is just like a stomach. He receives everything, takes what's good and then send the shit away.

Anonymous said...

i was going to be really negative and say a good cd wouldn't do xyz all day long and sit on their xyz looking at xyz weshite all day, but i'm trying to be positive this year.
So ideally a good CD for me would be one that a said 'no' to things and then explained why they said no in a constructive and clear way.
And from time to time i'd like one that did some inspiringly individual and creative work.

Is that too much to ask for?



Someone oop north.

Dharma... said...

A bad CD gets insecure about your skill and attempts to overrule your work by first rejecting it without giving proper reasons, then writing his own and forcing you to send his to the account servicing executive. You know your CD is truly truly terrible when even his own work (which was presumably good in his eyes) is rejected by the clients over and over.

A bad CD goes on and on about having various angles in mind, but when you give him your own angle, he ignores you and proceeds to cookie-cut his angle into your work.

A bad CD makes you guess the specific words that he wants to use in a headline that he's thinking of. When you correctly guess the words, he says "congrats, you just made your own headline." Riiiiight...

A bad CD says that it's wrong and inappropriate to complain and moan about rejected work. But does so himself.

A bad CD spreads false rumours to newbies at work about the current colleagues, so he can 'buddy up' with the newbies.

Lastly, if you think a bad creative is one who steals original ideas and claims it his own, IMAGINE A CD DOING THAT!

JRey/L.A. said...

Wow, I'm surprised (and a little shocked) at how many people have commented on this post. Well, I just happened to ask myself this same question and I am working on a new entry for my blog, L.A. Link, called, "What Makes A GOOD Art Director, GREAT?: Part Two where I ask, and attempt to answer, the question, "What makes a good creative director, great?" I think it has to do with many things--a lot of them have been mentioned in these posts--but I have added personally experience in the entertainment industry to the mix in my post.

I hope you post this and I hope you will visit my post after Dec. 30th, 2009, to view Part Two.

The link to Part One is here:
http://losangeleslink.blogspot.com/2009/11/what-makes-good-art-director-great-part.html