What makes a Creative Director effective?

Al Pirozzoli

It’s more than just making something look good, word good or sound good. It’s about getting the message right for the intended audience; to assure it conveys the intellectual and emotional appeals that connect. As a creative director, I think of ways to improve on existing material as well as creating new material. I come up with new ideas to make marketing messages more appealing.

Being the creative director differs from other creative roles in the sense that you have much more of an impetus on making sure things are right. Some ideas probably do look great and maybe seem on point, but they may not be the best client solution. I love creating work that’s fresh and visually stimulating, but I still need to make sure that you’re your company’s value differences (based on my MAPP©) are coming across.

There’s no such thing as a typical day as a creative director. This morning I could be working with a writer or art director to flesh out a final “Pow!” Early afternoon I might be working with the client on the overall approach, and tonight I might be out with a camera capturing unique images for stimulation. But all the time is intended to support amazing advertising and effective marketing for clients. That means taking the lead on a project for its duration and checking everything against what the MAPP determined the target audience wants. Creative directors should spend a lot of time asking questions and listening. It’s the only way of truly understanding what a client’s issues are.

Maintaining good peripheral vision is also a must. I need to know what’s going on in the world, with competitors, trends and so on. You have to be curious and have at least some familiarity with things outside your immediate scope. In short, you need to be a human sponge.

Perhaps at the top of the list is all about “belief.” Sold-out belief in what you are presenting to a client. There’s nothing worse than seeing a project being presented by someone who doesn’t really get it or understand it or is only going through the motions. If the person presenting doesn’t believe in the work being presented, there is no reason for the audience to care. This is why when I worked as a creative director in agencies I determined to present my work (and my team’s work) to the client. That, of course, didn’t always sit well with the account executives, but hey, who better to present the work than those who did it!

Having said that, if I ever work with you, I will present creative solutions that I am convinced will work because they are based on the results of the MAPP. If I show you 5 conceptual ways to handle a theme, I don’t include “throw-away” ideas to play it safe by giving you something to reject. Believe me; many presentations do just that as a form of psychology. Supposedly it gives the client some sense of power to reject something thereby not making the process seem like they are automatically in agreement. That is a waste of everyone’s time. If there’s no trust and respect then both parties will fail to reach the superb results that are required. As a creative director I pick my fights very carefully, but make a stand for the work.

Finally, I have to consistently nourish and develop my creative intuition. It means saturating in what makes prospects love the way things attract them, and connect with them.

About the Author Al Pirozzoli

Al Pirozzoli is the owner and creative director of Pirozzoli Marketing based in Connecticut.