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
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
The grim truth is that fewer and fewer talented young creative people
want to be a creative director. The job doesn’t look that
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
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
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