Friday, November 27, 2009

"What does a Creative Director do?"

A few months ago, I was getting ready for a meeting while an A/V guy was setting up our new system. We got to chatting, and immediately recognized each other as fellow smartasses. He was asking me about my job, and it came down to "so you just sit around and tell everyone else what to do, eh?"

Turned out he had to keep working through our meeting, which was a large creative brainstorm on a new brand for a government program. I ran the meeting, solicited ideas, gave direction, pushed people for more thought, and bent, spindled and mutilated the results until we had three strong conceptual approaches.

The meeting ended and I asked the guy, "now do you get what I do?" He did.

I know there are a lot of advertising students reading this blog now, so this post is for them. I get a lot of people calling me and telling me they're interested in Creative Direction. I often get the impression that they think it's just like this:

Besides the fact that there's a lot less smoking, infidelity and on-the-job drinking in the real world than on TV (well, less smoking and infidelity anyway...) Creative Direction in a 45-person Ottawa agency bears little resemblance to the glamour of the golden age.

So, for all those keeners who have asked me what being a CD is like, here are my "to do" lists from this week:

- Studio Managers' meeting: planning for the week's expected workload. By noon, everything will have been changed, delayed or have had its deadlines greatly accelerated.
- TV concept presentation to federal clients.
- Brief on client Xmas e-card.
- Blog about our foster parenting campaign


- Internal meeting on new transit campaign.
- Prepare pitch materials on another campaign.
- Review updated banner ads.
- Meet again on Xmas card.
- Write partnership prospecting letter for client.
- Secure freelance francophone Creative partner for another project.
- Review brochure copy.
- Review super treatment for TV ad.
- Review more banner revisions.
- Review voices for TV voiceover re-record.
- Blog about Facebook ads.

- Get interviewed by Ryerson Student Radio on Social Marketing
- Brief on new social media opportunity
- Re-present TV concepts to federal clients' boss. Major changes required.
- Direct voiceover re-record for another TV ad, over-the-phone, to Montreal studio
- Provide last-minute creative direction for Xmas card
- Check in with French creative partner
- Drive to Kingston for campaign wrap-up-lunch with St. Lawrence College (note: if you're ever in Kingston, I highly recommend Chez Piggy.)
- Drive back to Ottawa.
- Deal with several major crises that developed while I was away.
- Review and approve new voiceover for one TV offline, and new music for that one and another.
- Overnight: review and rewrite presentation for Friday pitch.

- Review, direct French creative.
- Direct English adaptation of same.
- Develop social media plan for new prospect.
- Finalize pitch deck.
- Blog about this. (How meta!)
- Rehearse pitch.
- Do pitch.
- Present new French creative (and English adaptation) to client.
- Present Xmas card to client.
- Go home for pizza & wine with the fam.

I've barely touched on evening and weekend work, or the fact that last week included four 12-hour TV shoot and post-production days in Montreal.

So, my keen young CD wannabes, I present to you the awesome reality of the job:

By the way, the moustache will be gone by next Tuesday. So if you want to help me kick cancer's ass, please donate to my Movember page at


  1. Ug, I'd hate to be a Creative Director. Oh shit, I AM one. Where's the booze?


  2. nice post ! I enjoyed to read it. I would like to ask you one question : " What would a creative director most wishes ? "

    I'm a french young art director, and I would like to make a poll on this question for a personal project.

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  4. Enjoyed read this, had a little chuckle. Thanks for helping me with my school project. It was gonna be really embarrassing having to ask one of my colleagues (Creative Director) "So, what do you do around here?"