OPINION: SOUTER ON ... CREATIVE DIRECTORS

I’ve just discovered what it’s like to be a beautiful and fantastically well-endowed young woman at an advertising awards do - because I’ve become the subject of a series of unwelcome advances. Mind you, I’m a boil-encrusted crone compared with the comely Adam Kean. You see, there are a lot of agencies in town looking for creative directors.

I’ve just discovered what it’s like to be a beautiful and

fantastically well-endowed young woman at an advertising awards do -

because I’ve become the subject of a series of unwelcome advances. Mind

you, I’m a boil-encrusted crone compared with the comely Adam Kean. You

see, there are a lot of agencies in town looking for creative

directors.



So anyone who isn’t a universally derided, cast-iron failure is getting

their head hunted at the moment. Demand is high because supply is

low.



The grim truth is that fewer and fewer talented young creative people

want to be a creative director. The job doesn’t look that

attractive.



Their suspicions are confirmed by the growing number of creative

directors who quit to return to writing or directing ads. If the job is

so good, then why do brilliant creative directors like Chris Palmer,

John O’Donnell and Graham Fink give it up in favour of saying ’action’

and ’cut’ a lot?



Is a 30 per cent pay increase really worth a 1,000 per cent grief

increase?



I think it is.



The things that make the job seem bad from the outside turn out to be

the things that make it good on the inside.



Take the burden of responsibility. If you are any good at all, you ought

to feel that when a commercial is great, it’s down to the talent of the

team. And when it’s terrible, it’s down to the creative director. A

no-win situation? Not once you realise what immense pleasure there is to

be had in seeing someone you hired doing well.



Dealing with bereavement, divorce, physical and mental illness is

another daunting part of my job. As a copywriter, I could only offer

sympathy. But as a boss, I have the power to offer practical help.

Helping people feel better feels good.



On a less altruistic note, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy

collecting the best agency award at the British Television Advertising

Awards this year. And you’d be lying if you tried to make out that you

didn’t yearn to be Charles Inge at the International Advertising

Festival in Cannes last month.



Finally, you haven’t lived until you’ve told four unemployed youngsters

with huge student loans that they’ve got their first job.



Being the creative director is the best, not the worst, job - provided

you know what you’re doing. I didn’t know what I was doing when I

started three years ago, but I had a very good teacher and I went on a

superb management course organised by the Institute of Practitioners in

Advertising.



You need help to succeed as a creative director. In the autumn, the IPA

Creative Directors Forum will be arranging a pair of trial courses. One

course is for copywriters and art directors who think they might try for

a management role one day. The other is for people like me - newish in

the job and looking for ways to be better at it.



Let’s hope that some of the agencies who are throwing money at the likes

of Mr Kean will also invest in the future - and train the talent they

already have.



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