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Advertising Agency Creative Director Career Profile

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Job Description:

A Creative Director (CD) oversees the creative team to help develop the agency's creative product for clients. This team includes copywriters and designers. The CD also works with Account Executives to make sure the client's needs are being met and the creative goals are on track. CDs also develop every aspect of an ad campaign based on the client's marketing plan, conceptualize those ideas for clients, assign projects to staff and verify the client's deadlines are being met. A CD generally gets the glory when a campaign is a success and takes the blame when it's a failure.

Salary Range:

Between $62,798 and $115,526 for Creative Directors with at least five years experience. Some reports have shown CDs making upwards of $200,000. Salaries will vary based on the agency's size, market location and the employee's experience level.

Special Skills:

  • Ability to lead a team of creatives
  • Solid background in copywriting and/or design
  • Must be willing to work long hours
  • Travel sometimes required
  • Experience with Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, QuarkXpress, PowerPoint and other programs usually required to apply
  • HTML, PHP and other Web experience is quickly becoming required of Creative Directors
  • Must be able to manage the creative team from concept to completion of the projects with strong leadership
  • Knowledge of each step of an ad campaign's process to give creatives direction, work on schedule and meet client's advertising expectations

Education and Training:

Most Creative Director positions require a bachelor's degree and/or related experience. Agencies usually ask for at least five years experience and the trend shows many ask for at least seven years of experience in advertising. Larger cities tend to ask for at least 10 years experience.

Typical Day:

  • Attend strategy meetings for new business
  • Meet with creative team to check the status on current projects and assign new projects
  • Lead brainstorming sessions with creative team to develop ad campaigns based on client's needs
  • Create advertising proposals for clients
  • Pitch concepts to clients

Common Misconceptions:

Many people confuse Creative Directors with Art Directors. CDs oversee the entire creative department, including Art Directors, designers, and copywriters. Some companies even post job listings for an Art Director/Creative Director.

Getting Started:

Creative Directors don't step into this job title right out of college. CDs are usually promoted to this management position after working in copywriting or design roles for many years.

Some agencies, usually the larger ones, are going to require a bachelor's degree with an emphasis on design, fine arts, communications or journalism. Other agencies will evaluate your career experience and/or accept a bachelor's degree in other fields.

Begin interning at an ad agency to get your foot in the door and make contacts. After college, become a copywriter or designer to begin working your way up to Creative Director.

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