Give Your Creative Department The Holiday Season It Deserves

Forget Gifts. Pick a Few Ideas From This list.

Ad Agency Celebration
••• Ad Agency Celebration. Getty Images

The creative department is filled with copywriters, art directors, designers, producers, editors, and, well, lots of other like-minded creative professionals. And while they are exceptionally talented, they are often known as a petulant bunch. Clients and account executives think they complain too much, lose their tempers too quickly, and have it easy. After all, they get to do the fun stuff, right?


Well, life isn't that simple.

Although they should always be professional, creatives exhibit this behavior for a number of reasons that are somewhat beyond their control.

For example, working late due to a poor brief is a major cause of heartburn. Creatives are missing out on time with family and friends, because of mistakes made by someone else. Similarly, waiting four days for feedback, then having to turn things around in 20 minutes, causes untold angst. And being told “I just don’t like it, show me something else” can turn a saintly writer or designer into Charles Manson.

So, as it’s the season of good will, here are ten ways you can bring a smile to the folks in the creative department. Whether you work with them, or they’re in your agency of record, try a few of these out. They’re way better than a pair of socks.

1: Give a Good Creative Brief

It’s the foundation of great work, and without one, you end up with GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out.

If the brief is ill-conceived, the work produced by the creative team will be off target. It may be great work, but it will most likely be getting redone at 11:30 at night by the same team; and, it’s not their fault.

2: Give a Realistic Budget and Specifications

“What’s the budget?” There isn’t one yet.

“Where is this going?” Ummm, not sure. “What are the specs?” That’s fluid right now. Giving these wooly answers guarantees a creative outburst every single time. If you don't know these things yet, maybe you shouldn't be initiating the job. If the client insists on seeing something regardless, plug in some estimates. Don't just ask the creatives to come up with multiple solutions for every budget and media option. That's lazy, and creates tons of work that goes in the trash.

3: Give a Reasonable Timeline

Sometimes, the client pulls a fast one and asks for something right now. Sometimes, the account team drops the ball, and gets the brief in late. Whatever the reason, there is a great expression that almost every creative knows well – “Lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.” Learn it well. Creatives should not pay for poor planning. Also, don’t ask for work quickly, then sit on it for a week. If you want it now, but don’t need it for a week or so, then give them a week.

4: Give Constructive Criticism

“I hate it” or “I was looking for something different” are about as useful as a chocolate fireguard. It’s OK to dislike the creative work, and in fact the creative department will thank you for some specific feedback, but tell the team WHY you want something else.

Be exacting.

5: Give Feedback In a Timely Manner

You have given the creative team a deadline to meet. They meet it. It is now up to you to return the courtesy. There is nothing more frustrating than working to a deadline, only to have the client or account team sit on the work for four days before looking at it, only to give feedback that must be turned around quickly.

6: Give Them The Chance to Present Their Work

No one knows the work better than the team that created it. Sometimes, it may not be possible for the creatives to attend, but that is rare. So at least make the offer. They may be too busy, or unavailable, but they should have the chance to say yes or no to attending the presentation.

7: Give Creative Freedom

Creatives are professionals. They know what they’re doing. The client may have strong suggestions on what to produce, but in the end it is the creative department that needs to decide how to produce the campaign.

Just as you would not tell a surgeon how to operate on you, the same applies to advertising and ideation.

8: Give Them a Place At The Shoot

The creative team, meaning the art director AND copywriter, birthed the campaign that is about to be filmed or photographed. If you cannot find a place in the budget to ensure that they are on set to make that vision come to life, you need to look harder.

9: Give Praise When It's Deserved

Creative teams work very hard, often late into the night and on weekends, to produce great work. Don’t be afraid to tell them they did a fantastic job, and perhaps shoot an email to the client as well. Often, this is far more rewarding than a free pizza or bottle of beer.

10: Give Everyone Adequate Time To Recharge

There is no right or wrong answer in advertising. It is often torturous work, and stressful. Piling campaign on top of campaign on a creative team will lead to burn out, and that does not do the agency any good. After weeks of all-nighters and weekends, give the team a few days to recharge. They deserve it.