Life after Timberlake: The Evolution of the Creative Director


So we’re experiencing the evolution of the creative director.  First, we had the old school haberdashery and martini types, then the quirky cool all-black clad sophisticates. Then the young irreverent digi-hipsters populated the industry. And now we’re trending the “A-list celebrity” variety. Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Will. and other uber stars are not only setting trends in the music biz but adding lyrical flavor to high profile ad launches. And it seems the agency’s lessor known directors of  the Big Idea can do nothing but embrace it, watch in dismay or blog about it.

Okay, so marketers are riding high on this one. But is it going to last? I mean, come on. Celebrity CDs can go so far before that becomes passe too.  You’ve got to come up with a new unexpected, edgy twist. So what’s next? What will be the next big trend in the land of Creative Directordom? I’ve got two predictions…

A Reality TV Show

Reality shows rule the planet. People lose weight, get married, catch criminals, become singing idols, pawn valuables, hoard, eat deodorant, repossess cars, catch fish , dupe pedophiles, rock the runway, and so on and so forth. Why not search for the next generation of Creative Directors via reality TV?  Yeah! A total 360 degree turn-around, from riches to rags.  Kind of like The Apprentice. Call it, “Anybody Can Be a Creative Director.” No, that’s too long. How about, “Ad Star Search”? Eh…  It’s a working title.

Who would star in Ad Star Search?  Your ordinary shmo who doesn’t know dooda about advertising; Grabowski the butcher, Celeste the librarian, Or Shalonda, mother of two. Like The Apprentice, they ‘re given ad projects to supervise and produce from concept to execution. And each contestant’s work is critiqued by the biggest creative geniuses in the industry; folks like Lee Clow, Tom Burrell and Justin Timberlake.  Of course there are eliminations every week. The winner’s work is produced and they win the coveted title of Creative Director at a swanky Madison Avenue agency. Forget the college grads who slaved for an ad degree or the veteran unemployed ad exec trying to replant his foot in the industry door. That’s too expected. Ad Star Search contestants are far removed from the advertising mainstream. That’s what makes it so intriguing. Ad Star Search will be so popular that ad agencies will adopt the concept  to recruit for their own shops.  They will ride the “trend” like a stallion. Soon we’ll see webisode contests all over the web. And what about the aspiring creatives inside and the shops? They will stand on the sidelines and watch in dismay or blog about it.

Or maybe the trend will go techy:

Robo CDs (Creative Directors)

Robots programmed with the thought waves and algorithms of the most creative ad minds in contemporary history, like Lee Clow, Tom Burrell and Justin Timberlake. Robo CD’s efficiently and spectacularly direct creative and manage teams. This would be a great win-win venture for both client and agency because :

  • Robo CD’s are cost effective. Buy one for $999,998 and it pays for itself in a couple of years.
  • It has a built in budget manager that keeps spending costs within budget
  • A Timeline tripper to keep the projects on track. That eliminates finger-pointing. If the client fails to approve the copy at the agreed date, Robo CD has record of it. Clients will still blame you for the missed deadlines. But at least Robo CD’s got the proof.
  • It is the ultimate project manager, group manager and coffee fetcher all-in-one. No egos to deal with. It multitasks with ease and is always on time
  • It doesn’t talk smack, and it doesn’t get frustrated by temperamental creatives.
  • It presents the work to the client with well calculated and statistical rationale, the creative team is like a human accessory. In fact, for an upgrade, Robo CD could triple as a account planner, media buyer, and receptionist. Can we say “phase out positions?”.
  •  Robo CD comes in silver with a black mock turtleneck; it speaks 12 languages including Spanish and Ebonics. So you’ve got the multicultural thing covered.
  • The after-hour schmoozing? Well, give Robo CD a can of synthetic oil with a dash of lemon, and (s)he’s good to go.
  • You can program it to be male or female,  gay or straight.

Creatives hoping to rise to CD status will have to redirect their aspirations. But that’s the nature of the business. Robo CD is the new digital. We must adapt to our ever-changing industry.  Human creatives can do nothing but watch in dismay or yes, blog about it.



    Love this.  Very creative Edye and ah…thought provoking at the same time.  Passionate creative… really good creatives are not always valued today.  Then enter Ad Star CD or Robo CD.. we laugh, but that s$#@! is real.Thanks for sharing.Pepper******************************************************************************** The Hunter-Miller Group, Inc.Recognized Experts in African-American Market Researchand Consulting6745 S. Wabash Avenue, Suite 2Chicago. IL 60637Phone: (773) 602-1620Fax:    (773) 483-9101www.huntermillergroup.comBLOG:

  2. Kevin Williams

    Hi Edye, It’s been a while but I really enjoyed your article. Some very good and very creative insights!

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