What is a Creative?

So you want to be a creative? Not "be creative" but actually "be a creative." There's a difference.

For the most part, I meet a lot of people who know they want to make ads. Many of them, however, don't know exactly what that means, much less where to start.

Here is a little breakdown via The One Club - it's a helpful starting point for anyone, whether you're a high school student curious about getting into advertising or a media person wanting to switch.

Feel free to print out, rewrite, underline and circle as you see fit. Or just commit the entire thing to memory.

This is also helpful for anyone who is already a creative and would like to explain to their family what the hell they do. (Most of my family thinks I'm in marketing or I sell ad space. Sigh.) 

What is a Creative?

Advertising as a whole is made up of very creative and innovative people, but our focus now is on the individuals who have it written into their job title. 

When people think of advertising, they usually think of the actual ads they’ve seen. And while a lot goes into making this finished product, it’s usually the creatives who get the glory. 

So, here’s to the people who steer culture and build empires by thinking up and executing advertising and branding ideas on a daily basis.

Here’s to the people who go boldly where others do not, taking risks and asking, “What if?”

Here’s to the creatives!

History of the Advertising Creative 

Back in the day, Copywriters wrote and Art Directors designed and visualized, with no mingling between the two departments. They worked separately and didn’t talk much even when working on the same client’s account. Until a young creative named Bill Bernbach reinvented how creatives work by unifying the art director and copywriter to form a creative team. Learning from his own experiences, he knew that the best ideas were produced when creatives worked together to solve problems. He is considered an advertising hero for changing the way the industry approached the idea of creating ads. 

Positions in the Creative Department

Junior Copywriters and Art Directors
This is the entry-level position in the creative department. Juniors work very closely with the Copywriters and Art Directors, but have less responsibility. This is the opportunity to prove yourself and through hard work and good ideas, over time, a Junior will get promoted.

Generally speaking, a designer (or graphic designer) works closely with the Art Director to execute the Art Director’s visual ideas. Often the designer will help with layouts, create logos and other small pieces of the overall design that the Art Director will then pull together into a finished product. Like the Art Director, a Designer should have an excellent eye for design and superior drafting and computer skills. Most designers aren’t “people persons” and they prefer being left alone to create beautiful and precise art. 

A Copywriter is responsible for coming up with ideas and writing any words used in those ads. This includes: ads in magazines and newspapers, on websites, radio ads, TV commercials, posters, packaging and even slogans and jingles. If you’re the kind of person who knows how to use words to express an idea, Copywriting could be for you. It doesn’t really matter what you write—blogs, poetry, songs, stories, film ideas, jokes, endless lists of names for the awesome band that will rocket you to stardom—as long as you love writing you may be able to turn that love into a career as a Copywriter. 

Art Director
Like a Copywriter, the Artistic Director is responsible for coming up with ideas. Once an idea is in place, the Art Director takes responsibility for the entire visual look of the ad. This includes the layout – the way the ad is going to look. Future Art Directors spend a lot of their time drawing, painting, sculpting, designing, looking at art, and thinking about how things like color and light and shapes can influence how people feel and think and act. Sometimes they wonder why
something as unnecessary as dialogue was ever added to movies. 

Creative Director
A Creative Director oversees the work of the Copywriter/Art Director teams, making sure their work is strong, delivered on time, and to the client’s specifications. This person has usually risen to their position after five or more years in the creative department as either a Copywriter or Art Director. A Creative Director must have excellent management skills and a keen, critical eye for both copywriting and art direction. After years of success as a Creative Director one may move up to the position of Executive Creative Director, and finally Chief Creative Officer, to oversee an agency’s entire creative department.

What Happens in A Creative Department? 

The Creative Department is the core of the agency. This is where the ads you see everyday are created. A creative department is made up of teams of Copywriters and Art Directors. The way these relationships work varies widely from agency to agency and team to team, but traditionally, the team works together to come up with as many ideas as possible. Sometimes, there are several teams working on one project and they separate to come up with ideas then get together to present to their creative director. 

In advertising, everything begins with the “BIG IDEA” and grows from there. The creative director gives feedback and critiques and then picks one or two directions to develop. The teams then goes back to turn these ideas into campaigns view an example of an award-winning campaign). The Art Director goes off and takes care of the visuals while the Copywriter writes the copy. Together they will come up with examples of the look and feel of what the real ads will be. 

Then they take these ideas and present to the client, explaining why this campaign will deliver the response they want. The client gives their feedback – they may love it, or hate it or just want minor changes. The creatives then come back together and edit and polishing the ideas until they are ready to be produced and seen by the public. 

Basics of a creative brief
A typical creative project timeline generally goes like this: 

Brief by Account Team ---> Concepting  ---> Present to Creative Director  --->  Edit   --->  Present to Account Team   --->  Edit   ---> Present to Client  --->  Edit   --->  Client Approval  --->  Produce