The account director’s guide to getting rid of arrogant creatives

The account director’s guide to getting rid of arrogant creatives

Fed up with feral creatives who treat you like you’re their personal dogsbody? Had enough of been told “it’s your job to sell”? Peed off with ideas that don’t make any sense?

This Christmas, Inga Van Kyck’s gift to the industry is her hectic ten tips on how to put copywriters and art directors firmly in their place. Follow Inga’s sure-fire suggestions and even your most arrogant creatives will be so demoralised they’ll go back to washing cars or driving cabs or whatever it is they did before they did AWARD School, and leave writing the ads to those who do it best – the suits!

 Factory visits

The quickest way to put your creatives in their place is by sending them to sample the product in a factory. Creatives live in a fantasy world where what the product actually does is unrelated to the ideas they have, which are derived primarily from copying all the cool stuff they saw on the Cannes reel.

The multiple-minded brief

The key to a good brief is having as many propositions in it as you can. The creative brain can only handle one thought at a time, so the trick is to cram as many different and mutually incompatible requirements into the brief as you can think of. This is easily done, particularly if you have sub-heads that say things like “consumer benefit”, “consumer insight”, “product attributes” or even better “brand platform”. Hours of fun watching creatives having a nervous breakdown as they try and fit them all together!

Send in the planners

Unfortunately, many creatives can’t actually read, so even though the brief is sitting right there in front of them they completely ignore it and start thinking up their own ideas. This is disastrous, because they get all excited and start saying things to each other like “hey, why don’t we get Merrick Watts?” or “how about we go to Paris and shoot Miranda Kerr?”. The best way to put the kybosh on this sort of nonsense is to send in the planners. The best planners manage to speak for hours without ever actually saying anything, thereby reducing the most hardened creative to a gibbering mess. Make sure you’ve got a planner that can never be pinned down on any single thought or benefit. A good planner begins every sentence with: “On the other hand…”

Out-of-focus groups

Nothing breaks the spirit of a creative person quicker and more effectively than staring through a two-way mirror in Yagoona listening to a group of plumber’s wives ripping their idea to shreds. Make sure the animatic or the boards are as crappy as possible (blame the budget!) and that the narrative tape is as confusing as possible (keep mentioning the product!). Throw in lots of cheap, warm wine and stale sandwiches and the results are guaranteed. Before long, your arrogant creative will be frothing at the mouth, slamming his or her fist against the window, swearing loudly (make sure the client is there for maximum impact!) and abusing the target demographic for being simple-minded halfwits who wouldn’t know a Cannes Lion if it landed on their head. Your arrogant creative will be off the account before you can say “link testing”.

Revisions and amendments

On rare occasions, star-struck clients who’ve watched too many episodes of Groin Planet will actually buy the work that the creative team shows them. This is obviously disastrous, not only from a billing point of view (where are you going to make up all the hours?) but more importantly, this gives the creatives a disproportionate sense of their own worth. Inga’s tip? Don’t say a word until the creatives have left the boardroom, then slowly start suggesting minor revisions that will “bring the idea more in line with the brief” and amendments to “broaden the appeal”.


If all else fails, rely on the TV department to come up with a “ballpark” figure that blows the idea right out of the water so you have to start the process all over again.

Choosing the right director

OMG! The unthinkable has happened! Not only has the work been bought by the client, it got through research. At this point, your creatives will be strutting around cockier than ever. Danger zone! A ‘successful’ creative team will start to pour scorn on their suits, and behave as if their opinion matters. Some will even demand a pay rise. You have to act quickly! The best way is to work closely with the TV department (offer to buy the girls another boozy lunch) and explain how important it is to choose a director that “the client will like”. This pretty much guarantees the ad will turn out to be a totes disaster and the creatives will disown the whole project – leaving you in charge again!


Giving creative teams their own office only allows them to plot and scheme against you. Better to herd the lot of them into one large open-plan area where they daren’t even whisper an idea to each other in case somebody else overhears it. Utter demoralisation swiftly follows.

Team building

Set aside a day for team-building, beginning with a lengthy powerpoint presso about how the agency must all work together to get the best creative results, followed by games where everybody pretends to be creative. Ritual humiliation doesn’t get any better.

Cost controller

A cost controller will point out that the creative idea could be made much cheaper by outsourcing it to a freelance director mate of his working out of Uzbekistan who will do the entire project for half the price. On green screen. In Sydney. Astonishingly, creatives quickly lose all interest in the project.

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