Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Never the Bride

I looked at my profile recently and came to a realization. It was by no means revelatory, I have known what I am about to discuss for quite some time. I just never committed it to paper. Or to digital ink, before.

At my last staff job, my title was Group Creative Director. Not a bad title. I would say 90% of copywriters or art directors never reach such lofty corporate heights.

On the other hand, it's quite a meaningless title.

Allow me to explain.

On my delusional trip up the company ladder, I had always thought it would be great to be the Executive Creative Director or even the more distinctive Chief Creative Officer. But as I got closer and closer to that brass ring I noticed it wasn't as shiny as I had once supposed.

I assumed that once ascending to the throne I would be in complete control of all creative decisions. I'd be able to make an imprint. And steer the ship in the course that I saw fit.

Then, as a reward for navigating the ups and downs of business and delivering creative excellence on all fronts, I would be showered with praise and large sums of money, stocks and options. Enough to keep a small team of financial planners busy, 24 hours a day.

But that is hardly the case.

I remember a time when Larry Postaer or Lee Clow said, "This is what the ad is going to look like." And then damnit, it did.

Today's ECD's or CCO's are no longer the auteurs they once were.

There are so many people to answer to. People who once let creatives do the creative.

There's planning. Management. Clients. And then there are the omnipotent holding companies. All of whom have the power and the effortless ability to make what was once pure and good, not so pure and not so good anymore.

I have many friends and colleagues who hold the title that I once sought for myself. I see the way they live on planes. I see the way they juggle meetings from the minute they wake up, to the minute they lay their heads on the pillow. And I see the way they are forced to compromise and yield to the lowest common desires of committees.  They have raised tongue biting to an art.

And for that they have my respect and admiration.

Now that I've downsized myself and accepted my fate as a freelance writer it is clear that I will never enjoy the financial renumeration these friends and colleagues  might command. But I have something I value a little more -- my sanity.


Carrie Talick said...

I was in Larry Postaer's office when he looked at our ad and said, "Fix this and change that last line. That's the ad. Now go. I've got golf in an hour."

That was the last staff job I ever had and while I cruise Linked In and see juniors then who are VP CD's now, I do get a pang of "what if?"

It lasts a total of three seconds. Then, I get more coffee at the agency at which I'm currently freelancing and walk by a conference room with 21 people in it who are "contributing" to the creative.

Great post.

stevendolbinski said...

your blog, and bob hoffman's blog - the ad contrarian, are the best things out there.

glasgowdick said...

Thank you so much Steve. You should also check out adaged by my buddy George Tannenbaum.