Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I was told there'd be leadership

I remember a simpler time.

"Oh no, not another old man war story."

A simpler time when my partner and I were handed an assignment. We were told we'd have two weeks to work on it. And, that in two weeks time, we'd be showing our work to Lee, as in Lee Clow.

More often than not, we'd get it wrong. Lee would straighten us out, point us in a more focused direction and we'd come back to him in another two weeks. The process would repeat itself over and over again, but in the end we usually had something we could be proud of. The work would be presented, by Lee. Sold. And then produced.

I told you it was simpler.

In 2016, that's not the way it goes. Not by a long shot. Today I'm a freelancer and despite the fact that I have more experience than everyone on the org chart, any work I do must first get the blessing of the ACD, Associate Creative Director.

ACDs usually want to see the work 24 hours after I've been handed a brief. It's never to their liking. But given it's been one rotation of the earth it's rarely to my liking as well. ACDs are funny because now that they have a title they need to start showing why they're worthy of a bigger title.

If and when the work goes to the next layer, the Creative Director, it is often caveated by the ACDs. And if something is liked, it's accompanied by some editorial...

"We told them to do that."

Not liked...

"We told them not to do that."

Creative Directors tend to be more savvy. They know to bring in extra artillery. So before the work, now examined by two all-knowing lawyers of middle management proceeds, it gets presented to the planners. If we are to go back to the cake analogy, the planners are the creamy vanilla filling. You can draw your own conclusions on that.

Next up, the work goes to the Group Creative Directors. Though these folks are spread thin on multiple accounts, they've still got plenty of opinions. And ways to get their thumbprint on the work. Of course, their revisions, deconstruction and new spin on the idea must be completed within 24 hours.

Everything it seems must be turned around in the span of one day.

Next up, the ECD. Executive Creative Directors didn't get to be Executive Creative Directors without having an opinion or two. And often those opinions are quite different than the plainly ignorant opinions of GCDs gunning for their position. So the work gets torn apart. And needs to be reassembled.

By when? You know when.

It's been a long journey, but now, finally, the work is being presented to the CCO, the Chief Creative Officer, the top rung of the creative ladder. Only, as I've mentioned in previous postings, he or she is not. Because even if the work squeaks by this big wig it still has to cut the mustard with the Leadership council/partnership/committee/squadron/board/conglomeration/junta.

And if you think a congressional filibuster is the height of inefficiency, well you haven't experienced the corporate equivalent of the Bataan Death March.

The good news is the work is finally put together in a deck. But because of scheduling conflicts, the presentation had to be canceled, so the 178 page deck was compressed and sent over to the client via a pdf on a very large zip drive.

Where it will sit unzipped, unviewed and unmolested for at least a week.

And then, it will start all over again.

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