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Thought Leadership

Things your creative team thinks (but doesn’t want to tell you).

Sarah O’Bryan, VP/Creative Director

January 28, 2021

Ah, the age-old debate surrounding the delicate flowers of your agency—THE CREATIVES. Dressed in black, moody AF, missing deadlines as they complain about their dashed hopes for winning a Gold Pencil thanks to the latest crap assignment you just put on their desks. Well, that’s the stereotype anyway. And I’m kind of tired of it.

I wonder if confessing some of the things that we’re afraid to utter out loud or contradicting some of the myths might help open up a dialogue and bring our teams closer together. Or it might just start one big internet argument. Who knows? But here are a few insights into the minds of your makers in hopes that we can start to better understand each other.

We crave real feedback.

While you might think we just don’t want your opinion at all, that’s entirely untrue. We want your insights. We need your perspective, so that we can make the work better. But jazz it up, give it some oomph, add some flair—these are not helpful phrases. Not only do they sound more applicable to reviewing a Broadway show, they’re not quantifiable or even actionable, for that matter. One person’s pop is another person’s fizzle. The most productive (and impactful) critiques stem from the brief and provide concrete direction that’s rooted in strategy.

We don’t mind if you act like the client.

Because let’s get real, real-world feedback can sometimes be the furthest from on brief. So as much as it pains us to admit it, we don’t mind when the team challenges the work in weird ways. Is it still going to be slightly annoying? Yes, but it gives us practice for defending against the unexpected. You see Rodney Dangerfield’s face inside the logo design? The color palette reminds you of the wine coolers you drank in college? You don’t like the word “nugget,” but can’t say why? As much as we want the feedback to be tied to strategic motivations, the fact is creative is entirely subjective. And so is the criticism.

We are afraid we’ll let you down.

That fear of swinging and missing is ever present in every project. What if we can’t think of anything good? What if the words won’t come? What if they finally figure out that we actually have no idea what we’re doing? Yeah, it’s a dark place in these brains of ours sometimes. What we do as creatives makes us so exposed, so vulnerable. We put our ideas on display and have to defend our choices in ways that others in the agency simply don’t experience. And though that fear of failing keeps things exciting, it can also be what makes us bristle when timelines get crunched or feedback gets muddled. We want so badly to deliver for you—and we’re afraid those external factors will finally be what exposes us, flaws and all.

We want you to like it.

There’s a lot of time, effort and thought that goes into the solutions we create for our clients. And though they’re our ultimate end audience, the internal team’s enthusiasm is important to us. We want you to be as excited to sell the work as we were to create it. To be as proud to present it. To defend it like it’s your idea, your nothing that you made into something—because you did. Your effort to nurture client relationships and create thoughtful briefs got us to the finish line. You deserve to celebrate too.

Everyone is moody. Not just us.

Sometimes, the assignment is frustrating or the feedback is information that would’ve been helpful yesterday or we stayed up too late binge-watching Selling Sunset. We’re all going to have off days and instead of chalking it up to us being oversensitive “artistes” who can’t take criticism, aim for empathy instead. Because you’re going to need it one day, too.

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