A Day in the Life of a Creative Director
4 MIN READ
A day in the life of a Creative Director, for me, has to start with a cup of coffee, and a quick look at what’s going on in the world.
The footy. Who made it to the final of Strictly? What are Harry and Meghan up to? You need your radar switched on to every story.
So when someone asks me, “What does a Creative Director do?”, I say it’s ultimately down to understanding what makes the buyer tick.
Don’t let a pre-conceived idea of who the target audience is, get in the way of reality. After all, these are the people you’re persuading to buy a product or service through your creative communications. It can’t be wrong.
BH&P’s Venture Marketing approach makes this even more critical. If we don’t understand the audience, it doesn’t matter how good the creative is, the communication will fail. I can tell you when you get paid on results it does focus the mind, it’s the difference between the Bahamas or Blackpool for the family holiday.
Good creative communications make such a big difference to the performance of a campaign. Especially, in the overcrowded swimming pool of media choices where most campaigns sink without trace.
You just can’t afford to be bland or irrelevant, that’s why I’m such a strong believer in our test, fail, learn approach. It’s like cooking. You must try different combinations before you hit the perfect recipe. You’re unlikely to get it 100% right the first time.
What Does a Creative Director Do?
For me, as a CD, the simplest way of describing what we do, is trying to solve somebody else’s problem.
The ‘we’ is the creative department that I head up. In effect a Creative Director directs the creativity.
I might have ideas that I feed into to the department, but ultimately it's the department I lead that has to come up with the ideas.
Think of my relationship with the department as teacher to pupil, coach to athlete.
At the end of the day the buck stops with me, but I have to get the best out of them. To lead.
So the best bit of the job is coaxing the best ideas out of others that solve that problem.
Then, once I have an idea I like, I call on the talent of our design department to bring it to life across a concoction of channels relevant to today’s media landscape.
A lot of time is also spent working with film directors, illustrators, animators, and photographers. It’s a key part of any creative project to work with - and get input from - people who are passionate about what they do, so that together, we deliver the best work possible.
Additionally, selling, sharing, and presenting ideas is a big part of the job and encouraging people to take a leap into the unknown and trust the process is both a challenge, but also very rewarding.
How Did You Become a Creative Director?
I actually didn’t set out with the ambition to become a Creative Director. I started life as an Art Director, but having spent over 25 years working in advertising and different agencies, you accumulate lots of useful knowledge and a hell of a lot of random, pointless but inspiring nonsense too!
I was fortunate to win a few awards and was put in charge of a couple of accounts and other creative teams. After a while - and to my surprise - I was running the whole creative department.
Tell us About a Typical Working Day
As mentioned, a strong black coffee is the crucial first step. Then, I’ll have a catch up with my team, discuss live client work and try to find ways to make it a little bit better.
Right now, we’re in post-production of a new commercial. My time’s recently involved reviewing the first cut and discussing the direction of this latest campaign.
As well as live work, we’re always looking for new challenges and pitching new ideas to prospects, chatting them through our work and approach.
After some lunch – this used to be longer but nowadays, somehow much quicker – I’ll discuss new briefs with the account handling teams, making sure our creative resources are at capacity and allocated effectively.
At this point, I’ll always make sure there’s time for some green tea, mid-afternoon.
Then, I’ll make time to look at ideas for a new campaign, as well as any other tasks (like writing this article!).
On the drive home from the office, I tend to switch on a podcast to switch off from advertising. Although it all feeds back in.
The Best Creative Practices in the Travel Industry
I spent many years sending people on holiday through the realm of advertising. I’ll give my few pennies-worth here on what I picked up along the way:
Be original. Most destinations offer brilliant experiences and unique cultures. Make sure this comes through in your advertising and don’t try to be everything to everyone.
It’s all about personality. The travel industry, and travel marketing campaigns, are full of cliched end lines. I’ve written a few myself (not telling you which ones) but many are neither own-able or memorable. Instead, they just get lost somewhere in the desert of irrelevance.
Make it look good. Though it sounds obvious in the creative landscape, nobody wants to go on holiday to somewhere that looks like a dump. Travel destinations are infamous at providing low-quality images for travel marketing campaigns. This is where travel micro-influencers and photographers will be invaluable to your creative strategy.
What Advice do You Have for Aspiring Creative Directors?
Whether it’s for travel marketing campaigns, data quality software branding, or selling a wheel of Edam: learn from others. Work for, and learn from, the most creative people in your industry. Your eyes will be opened to different ways of thinking and doing things. Everyone has a contribution to make, but not every contribution adds value. So, keep an open mind.
Want to know how good creative communications ideas help transform your business? Or do you just fancy a chat about art, life and the universe? If yes, or maybe, book a time for a chat with Claus here.