Re: Today’s Creative Director, BBH’s Kevin Roddy gets it 90 percent right

I give Kevin Roddy a lot of credit for coming out and declaring that creative directors might actually be clueless when it comes to creating ideas for the post digital age.

In a guest column in Ad Age, Roddy suggests that traditional CD’s may still know a great idea when they see it, but he questions whether they can inspire or conceive complex digital ideas if their real comfort zone is in the media of TV, print and radio.

BBH New York’s CCO goes on to suggest that advertising creative directors whose experience comes from old media story telling should “admit that they don’t know enough about technology and start asking for help.

“Take down the walls and ask other people for suggestions about how to make the work better,” he smartly suggests.

I’m in total agreement with everything Kevin says. But I might go one step further.  Knowing how most traditional CDs, writers and art directors work, I can confirm that there’s still a tendency among many to generate ad “ad idea” first and then go seek out their digital counterparts who might “make the work better,” to use Kevin’s words.  In fact plenty of creative technologists will tell you that the question they usually get is, “Can you build this?”  When the question they want to be asked is “What should we build?”

Kevin’s right that those of us who grew up on the traditional side of the business need help with the new complexities of technology.  But we should make sure we get that help before we have an idea.

In fact we should be aggressively and proactively learning as much as we can about what’s possible with mobile, geo, APIs, social media and the very latest technology before we or anyone on our team closes the door to go and concept.  Better yet, the people we concept with should be the techies themselves – creative technologists, UX professionals, social media enthusiasts.

I once had a CD tell me that he didn’t really need to know technology because, “No matter what I think up there’ll be someone who’ll know how to build it.”  True, but my question back to him was, “But if you knew what was actually possible, wouldn’t you think up even more interesting ideas?”

Thanks again to Kevin for admitting and reinforcing what we all need to do.  Let’s just make sure we get the help he recommends first. Then we can brief teams, look at ideas, and know we’ve picked the best one.

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