Add Creative Director To The Endangered Species List

Three decades ago, every agency had a creative director role, often filled by someone best described as “eclectic.” What other personality type could possibly generate the big ideas that fulfilled clients’ needs? As a copywriter, I was paired with an art director. Together, we generated and executed concepts based on the creative director’s visions. How times have changed. Back then, advertising was the lion’s share of our work. Now, unless an agency focuses mainly on consumer packaged goods, traditional advertising creative makes up only a small portion of the mix -- or doesn’t occur at all. Clients care about measurements and the monitoring of their return on investment, leads and sales. Huge campaigns have fallen by the wayside. Beyond a doubt, creative is no longer king. It’s been dethroned in favor of strategy and content. In fact, by this time next year, content marketing will be a $300 billion industry, a figure I suspect has creative directors shaking in their boots. It seems the creative director position is headed for rapid extinction. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does require that all agencies accept today’s agency realities to align staff with expected outcomes. In other words, it necessitates change -- something that can be terrifying initially but ultimately freeing and profitable. Re-examining The Mix In Modern Agencies Visit any older-style agency that hasn’t changed its staffing ratios -- likely because of senior staff members who have been on board for 10 or more years -- and you’ll see one writer for every art director, an unacceptable proportion in an era that calls for two to three writers per art director. At the same time, you’ll find a traditional creative director orchestrating everything by coming [...]