Creativity vs Process. Please don’t squeeze the Chairman.
September 25, 2008
A situation came up at work today, which pitted Creative against Process…As Chief Creative Officer I am first and foremost an advocate for Creativity. Duh, right? But here’s where it gets tricky. I also happen to be Chairman of Euro RSCG Chicago. And while process is not necessarily in that job description, intuitively I feel managing process (not managing against it) is.
And so here I was, with a pair of embattled creatives looking for support. And on the other side of the table, two worried account executives beseeching me for a version of the same. What’s a Chairman and Chief Creative Officer to do?
I am reminded of that famous parable, where the philosopher (Socrates?) settles a dispute over the lineage of a child by suggesting they cut the little one in two. According to the legend, he knew the real parent would never accept this bargain. And thus the rogue was revealed.
The stakes today were clearly not that high (and I’m no philosopher) but for the young creative team, their idea was not unlike a child, and that creation was in mortal jeopardy. For the suits, it was all about managing a metaphorical parent AKA the client.
I’m not comfortable relaying the specifics. It’s company business. And we (I) have not arrived at an equitable solution. But the dilemma is worth discussing in the abstract because it is a classic one. I mean, really. How long have we seen these battle lines drawn?
What I think is interesting in this case is not so much the squabble between suit and creative but, frankly, my role in the matter. Unlike a pure creative director, I take the “other” side almost as often as I do my own. And certainly just as seriously.
Maybe that makes me a little less creative but I doubt it. At Euro, we talk about Responsible Passion in our creative department. And this is precisely where the “R” word comes in. As Chairman, I am responsible for the well being of our agency and that means every facet of it, not just creative. It also means I deserve a fair shake from the managing directors and the CEO. Which I get. And will get tomorrow when we resolve this thing.
In the end, we are not an account driven agency any more than we are a creative boutique. Agencies always talk about doing “both” when it comes to building brands and driving sales. The same principle applies here. I like that and I think most of our employees and clients do too.
Curious what my peers think. Do I have this about right…or am I a traitor?