Creatives–friend or foe


By Amanda Puglia, VP, Account Director

When I started my career in advertising, there was always an unspoken rule between “account” and “creative”—you play in your lane. You don’t cross, dabble, or dip a toe into the other department’s territory. Yes, we were all friends at the local bar after a long day, but in the office, there were imaginary walls among the cubicles that set clear expectations for who did what, etiquette for interacting, and rules for managing the inevitable conflicts that arose.

So, we all played nice. My comments to them rode the creative-friendly line of things like, “You might want to consider toning this down.” Or, “Yes, that’s an interesting way to interpret the direction.” Or, “Maybe you might want to think of it this way instead.

I never really understood where this unshakable, time-honored tradition of having to take sides came from. In reality, this division muddied the ebb and flow that should happen between the account team and the creative team. The creative team wasn’t getting the direction they needed or input that I could have provided. This was just the way it was, but really, what did it accomplish?

Account and creative are inherently different, both in perception and reality, and yet, they’re both working toward a common goal, just coming at it from their own unique angles. So, what happens when that imaginary caution tape between account and creative is no longer there? When the lines between the departments begin to blur inadvertently or maybe even intentionally? When I can make suggestions, or maybe something even stronger than a suggestion? When I’m asked my opinion on creative for accounts I don’t work on? When I’m welcomed into brainstorming sessions? When maybe I might even have a good idea…

What happens is proof that the power of many creates a better product than the minds of a few. That everyone–account, creatives, and most critically, the clients–benefit from a united front where everyone contributes his or her own insights, experiences, thoughts, and feelings to solve a problem. A good idea can, and has, come from anyone and anywhere. People begin to build on ideas using various past experiences, expertise, and insight into the client and his or her wants, and it only serves to make things better. Ideas are a group effort, and all that experience and headspace have value, no matter where, or whom, they come from. Instead of feeling like your toes are being stepped on, it turns into “I never thought of it that way,” and everyone benefits from that.

There will always be disagreements over timelines or whether there’s really not enough space to add just one little product benefit, but the benefits of tearing down those silos between account and creative far outweigh the benefits of keeping them—the proof that creatives no longer have to be foes.