Archive for the ‘toronto creative director’ Category



I’ve been in the advertising business for a long time. Heck, long enough to remember the Mad Men era. I was just a kid in the creative department but the suits were the focus of the agency. They wore the expensive clothes, had the three hour martini lunches and provided extra special services to their clients on demand. The creative department was squeezed into tiny closets. Each had suffered from the constant turnover of people. It seemed when someone brought something into their office they never had any interest in taking it with them when they left.

Flash forward. Today the creative department is the engine of the agency. Creatives can be treated like gods. The paradigm has shifted. The other thing that has shifted is the fun side of the business. Suits now spend time on their computers reviewing stats instead of drinking manhattans. Creatives seem to have more interest in facebook and twitter than drawing and thinking.

It all makes me wonder how Ted Bates would feel about this transition.

As a freelance Creative Director, I get to see my share of creative solutions. Over the past few years I have noticed that the single most important component to great creative is Courage. At many agencies I have encountered the “it’s only a good ad if the client buys it” attitude. Although that may feed the bottom line, it will never take your agency to the next level.

Recently, at one agency I took the client brief and re-wrote it. I actually wrote 2 creative briefs. In the first, I treated it like the agency normally did. It wasn’t really a creative brief as much as it was a production brief. With the other creative brief I treated it like is was a new client. My briefs were then distributed to the 2 creative teams at the agency.

The results: group one working as they always did, produced a campaign on target with the client brief.

The other group pushed themselves (thinking it was a new business pitch for a client with very high creative standards). They created a new campaign that provided a completely new creative stance and executions. The result: the client was suffering from shock and awe after the presentation.

The lesson learned : agencies need to develop a more courageous response to client demands. Don’t just give the same solutions over and over. Be brave, try something “out of left field”. It will say something special about your agency and it will give your creatives the chance to demonstrate their Courage.