"A redundant breed", "ministers without portfolio" and "put out to
pasture" are some of the more negative phrases offered by members of the
creative community when asked to describe global creative directors.
However, for every detractor there is also an advocate of the role,
among whose number are D'Arcy's top management, who this week appointed
Lee Garfinkel as the network's worldwide creative leader.
The heavily moustachioed Garfinkel has a colourful background. He
started out in stand-up comedy and worked at the New York agency Levine
Huntley Schmidt & Beaver, later at BBDO and then moved to Lowe Lintas &
Partners in 1992.
He rose to the position of chairman and chief creative officer of Lowe
in the US but following the promotion of Gary Goldsmith to the top
creative post at Lowe in New York, Garfinkel decided to leave the
His work for Pepsi while at BBDO, including the "Shady Acres" spots with
Cindy Crawford and MC Hammer, shunted him into the creative
Subsequent work for Coca-Cola, Heineken and Mercedes kept him there.
Garfinkel will work as part of a triumvirate made up of John Farrell,
D'Arcy's worldwide president and chief executive, and Susan Gianinno,
its president and chief branding officer. Gianinno insists that
Garfinkel's role bears no resemblance to the minister-without-portfolio
model. Like most of his peers, his role involves inspiring the network
to greater work, which will be facilitated with regional meetings - what
D'Arcy calls "creative uprisings".
However, Garfinkel's appointment is important on a different level.
Putting him alongside Gianinno and Farrell signals a refreshed
commitment to creativity from D'Arcy. Gianinno says: "We have to be
recognised as a top-tier, quality, creatively driven brand
communications business." It all sounds a bit like rhetoric.
Indeed, Andrew Cracknell, the executive creative director at Bates and a
former global creative chief for the network, says most global creative
directors simply don't have any power.
If the global creative doesn't like a piece of work in, say, Spain he
might complain and the Spanish creative director might even agree with
him. But they won't be able to steamroll the local marketing director
and agency chief executive into ignoring the local conditions that led
to the work in the name of creative integrity. However, they might with
the backing of the global president of marketing.
But the advertising market is changing and it's changing in a way that
is empowering global creative heads. Adrian Holmes is the chief creative
officer of Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide and the global creative
director on Unilever. He sees that the rise of global clients is leading
to a rise in the impact of global creatives. "An increasing number of
projects are briefed on a multinational or global basis. The role of the
global creative director is more and more hands-on," he explains.
Holmes believes that the role no longer means being paid a lot to do
very little. He says: "I find myself pretty close to real work, not
drifting off. That old style of working is rapidly disappearing."
He agrees with Cracknell that the client's authority is the ultimate
rubber stamp to passing good work. "Clients take you seriously because
you're in that role, they tend to look up and listen when you talk. I
have to exploit that to try and raise the game and inspire them to try
and buy into less risk-averse advertising."
Each of the global creative directors interviewed for this piece saw his
particular brand of regular meetings to assess the quality of global
work as central to his role. And all admit that much of the global
creative's time is spent parachuting in on an important pitch or shakey
piece of business to demonstrate the network's commitment to a
So will Garfinkel's appointment improve D'Arcy's creative output? As one
of the three managers in charge of the network, he has the power, on
paper at least, to make change. His appointment also signals a positive
intention from the network. Holmes says: "He's an immensely talented
creative guy. If he can replicate the kind of events that occurred in
New York (with Lowe) on a bigger stage, then I'll say D'Arcy made a good
GLOBAL CREATIVE DIRECTORS: WHAT DO THEY DO ALL DAY?
Geoff Thompson, worldwide creative director, FCB
"The role of global creative director depends on the agency one works
for and where it is in the cycle of global evolution. FCB has only been
global in the past ten years and our network was built through
acquisition - by buying strong local agencies with their own cultures
and their own ways of doing business. So part of my job is to help teach
this network how to be a network in the service of our global clients.
The other part is to take advantage of these different cultures by
exporting our best practices."
Bob Isherwood, worldwide creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi
"No-one seems to have difficulty imagining the role of a worldwide chief
executive officer. Our worldwide CEO is Kevin Roberts. He drives the
network and I drive its creative product. Our offices in New York are
side by side. We are a team. CEO and CD in partnership. We are ranked by
Cannes results as the world's number one creative network (along with
DDB). This is not by accident. It's the result of continual improvement
through leadership, coaching and a global vision for the company that I
Michael Conrad, chief creative officer, Leo Burnett
"My job is to raise the bar throughout our network. I am focused on the
quality of the agency globally and then have my own way of dealing with
improving the global product: a committee that meets every three months
and in which we look at and grade more than 1,000 pieces of work from
agencies around the network. We then give feedback to the local creative
Adrian Holmes, chief creative officer, Lowe Lintas & Partners, global
creative director, Unilever
"Power is replaced with influence when you become a global creative
director. That's influence with creative directors in the network and
with clients. I'm closer to the work than I used to be. "I also run the
Lowe Lintas creative seminar, where we teach a group of young art
directors and writers the basics."