As mentioned last week, we got to wondering, what does it mean to be a creative in today’s world? How many “legs” does an idea have to have when advertisers and marketers are targeting various demographics, each using multiple media devices and social media platforms? And does having all that data mean you or anyone else knows how to use it?

We posed these questions to Chief Creative Officers at some of the world’s leading ad agencies and will be posting their responses here over the next few weeks. Together, they should give us an interesting take on the state of advertising creative today.



I sat down with Josh Rose the Chief Creative Officer at Weber Shandwick to discuss the state of the creative today.


In this new era of data and technology, what has been the fundamental change for creatives?

Well, I make a real distinction between data and technology. Data has meant that we know things we didn’t necessarily know before.  Creatives like knowledge. Sure, we have to let go of it, too, and just jam. But to truly understand our target to the degree we can in this day and age, because of data, we are empowered more than ever to discuss the validity of our ideas.  Technology, on the other hand, has simply expanded the palette for us with new media opportunities, new tools to express an idea with. A lot of times, a creative idea can start with, “Let’s be the first to. . .”  Technology allows us to break new ground more often.  That makes our jobs fun, interesting, innovative.

What does it mean to be a creative today?

This is discussed a lot in the walls of agencies.  Creative, as an adjective, is something everyone is being pressured to become.  Account Management, Business Affairs and Planning are not, technically, creative disciplines, but the best people at those jobs are highly creative.  To be a creative, though, is not dissimilar to what it has been for a long time.  To be a copywriter, art director, designer, director, even a creative technologist – you study it.  You withstand years of critiques and going back to the drawing board.  You have more ideas killed than made.  Lots more.  And then you finally get an idea bought and you do everything in your power to make it according to your vision.  That’s the job.  It’s not nearly as romantic as it looks in the movies.  But that’s the dirty little secret.  The main thing creatives go through that no other discipline goes through nearly as much: rejection.  That’s built in to what we do. And it leads to greatness.  And that’s the only reason anyone would continue to do it.

How important is it for a creative to understand data?

I don’t need creatives to understand data strategy so much as I need them to understand why it’s useful, and how to deal with it.  There are going to be meetings where people are going to tell you exactly where people dropped off, didn’t click, and stopped watching or reading.  Creatives have to know how to iterate ideas based on that kind of feedback.

Is it harder to be a creative in this world today?

I think it is.  Some might disagree.  But at the very least, you have to know how to ideate across many more touch points.  And, often, that means that you need ideas that “have legs.” The one-off print ad isn’t really a career-maker, the way it might have been. The platform idea that can launch a thousand ideas – that’s the gold ticket.  Also, real-time branding means that we’re often thrown into much shorter creative development times.  Managing that pace, and staying creative throughout it, is a new muscle creatives have had to develop.

In the market today, what does it mean to be the best, and what does it take?

In the larger sense of being “the best” it’s about creating a consistent body of great, effective ideas that change businesses and play on a large enough stage to matter.  But from a personal standpoint, being “the best” is some kind of mixture of talent, drive and opportunity, as it always has been.  Today things are changing so quickly, it also helps to have the added muscle of adaptability.

What is the coolest object in your office?

An all-black baseball.  I just love that thing.  First of all, there are few objects that feel as good in your hand as a baseball.  You can toss it to yourself, you can play catch with someone, you can just roll it around, or rub it.  It’s fun; it’s collaborative.  I mean, it’s a ball!  But then it’s a whole other level because it’s all black.  We know baseballs as white with red stitching. So, it reminds me to question my beliefs and highlights the essence of what we do here: challenge conventions.