Opinion: Perspective - Why adland needs a new type of creative director

When we decided to ask a number of creative directors about the changing nature of their role, it seemed rather inappropriate to pursue the traditional journalistic practice of employing a telephone, pen and paper.

Also, we wanted to generate a genuine debate and as anyone who has tried to organise a bunch of creatives to be in the same place at the same time knows, fulfilling diary commitments is not a particularly strong suit.

So an online chat, conducted over a few days and allowing considered responses, seemed like a very appropriate, 2.0 way, to do it. You can read it on page 24. As it turned out, it also threw an interesting spotlight on to the working patterns of the modern creative chief, with Ogilvy's Rory Sutherland scoring top marks for blogging beyond the 9-5.

What's quite obvious from the start is that creatives are being pulled in new and multiple directions that the existing agency structure (let alone the creative department structure) is ill equipped to deal with

Andrew Cracknell sums it up by borrowing from Einstein: "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

We all know that the traditional creative agency model is busted and that the industry is at a point of dramatic change; balls are up in the air, and predicting where they are going to fall is a full-time job. And the creative's role in the agency of the future will undoubtedly span all media channels, as well as the increasingly onorous departmental, budgetary and group responsibilities. Oh, and nurturing creative talent and maintaining high creative standards.

A natural response to all this confusing change might be to take control, to try to shape the future. Unfortunately that's the one thing that, in creative terms at least, is becoming less possible. Because what we also know, as glue London's Mark Cridge points out, is that consumers are taking control of brands in the digital space, not necessarily creating content, but manipulating creative content and passing it around.

And when Sutherland jokes "maybe we could all be working in PR in a few years", well, like all good jokes, it's funny because it might just be true. Creating stories that are so interesting others will retell them is not far from the way advertising is already playing out on the web. But, again, it's something you can't control.

None of the creatives who joined our debate are in any doubt about the scale of this change, or the need for their role to adapt. Even so, at a time when several agencies in London are known or said to be looking for a new creative director, finding someone who can cope with this span is a serious challenge. Which is why it's rather disappointing that the candidates whose names keep coming up are the same old people with lacklustre reputations in the old world.

The truth is that the creative demands of the future will demand a new type of creative director, no question. The industry should be nurturing this new breed now. But so far, there's very little real evidence that's acutally happening. Go to brandrepublic.com/campaign to join the debate.

If enough people find an ad offensive, it seems pretty clear that the ad is exactly that: offensive. So, 500 or so complaints later, it's not surprising the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled against JWT's Trident chewing gum ads.

I'm absolutely sure the offence was unintentional. In fact, it's unthinkable that it wasn't. But even Cadbury's own pre-testing had found that one in five of the British African Caribbean sample had found the campaign offensive.

Twenty per cent is surely significant enough when it comes to issues of racism to call a halt and rethink; isn't that what pre-testing is for? Unintentional or not, it shows a real error of judgment on the part of Cadbury and its agency that these views were not taken more seriously.

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