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May 1, 2014
How to Manage Creatives
Creative people are the heart and soul of every good agency. They create the art in service to commerce that the rest of us sell. But getting smart and savvy account and strategy people to contribute significantly and collaboratively to the creative process is not a slam-dunk.

Account and planning types support the creative team by finding relevant insights, mining customer data, understanding the customer’s journey from awareness to purchase, and by projecting client business goals and communications sensibilities. Ideally, the support team packages all this up as a springboard for the creative, who then internalizes the brief and make the magic.

But real life is much messier. Here are four proven ways to support creatives.

Differentiate. There are very few unique things on this planet. Every product or service has a competitor or two. Finding the real point of difference that actually matters to prospective buyers and communicating it to the copy and art guys is critical. Do whatever you can to explain, illustrate, and articulate the practical, physical, mechanical, and emotional differences between your brand and its competitors. Use analogies, schematics, examples, stories, or sock puppets to get this across. Don’t stop ‘til your teams can credibly play back the point of difference.

Provide Context. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Your creative team needs to understand the full product cycle, the competitive environment, the brand history, voice, tone, and manner, plus whatever else is going on at retail, in social, on broadcast media, or on mobile devices. You are asking them to board and re-route a moving train. They need to know what they are getting into and the forces that their ideas will have to contend with.

Think Experience. An ad prompts seeing, thinking, feeling, and action. Define what these are and what you need the creative execution to accomplish. Think through and detail where prospects are (physically and emotionally), what they already think about the brand or the category, what kind of offers and ideas they respond to, and what you want them to do in response to your message. 

Walk through how a person goes from total ignorance of a brand to fervent advocacy. Then map out the inflection points and the media touches over time along the way. Factor in reach across channels and frequency; the number of times or ways your target population is likely to hear or see your ads. Creatives need to empathetically see the world from a prospect’s perspective in order to get inside their heads and intercept them in the course of their routine online and offline behavior. Sharing the experience expedites the process.

Set Limits. Most people need deadlines. Some geniuses don’t. They are rare exceptions. Clearly and carefully cue creatives about what is needed when. Also, be very clear about client mandates, legal requirements, and client sensibilities. These are necessary evils that can annoy or limit creative people. But make sure they are properly accounted for.   

Working with great creative people is one of the joys of being in advertising.

There’s no better feeling than knowing that you’ve set them up for success. 


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Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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