5 Takeaways From the New Creative Director Report

by Marcus Varner
, 2 min read

So many creative directors live in crisis. Usually, they've risen up from the ranks of creative folks and become creative directors out of a desire to (get a cooler title and maybe their own office, but especially to) have more influence over the creative direction of their organizations and to help their team members build memorable, portfolio-worthy work. But the realities of their jobs soon leave them with little to no time to think about creativity.

Instead, they spend most of their time in meetings, following up on requests, putting out fires, etc. Anything but creative pursuits. What they were hired to do is woefully out of reach.

To better understand this phenomenon, we surveyed 457 creative directors about topics like job satisfaction, biggest roadblocks, and how they balance their desire to be creative and the need to manage their team's work. Here are five of the biggest revelations from the State of the Creative Director Report:

1. Few creative directors are really satisfied with their jobs

We've all heard or known the beaten down creative director anecdotally, but the survey confirmed that job satisfaction is a problem for creative directors. Fewer than a quarter describe themselves as 'very satisfied', and this is a problem. After all, these are the individuals who marshal an organization's creative forces, who are largely responsible for guiding their team to the next great campaign.

What happens to your organization's competitiveness in the market if these individuals are turned off? 

2. Dissatisfaction is higher in external agencies

As you can see in the column on the left, which shows percentages of creative managers who said they were only somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied, creative directors are much more dissatisfied in outside agencies than in in-house agencies.

While we don't know exactly why dissatisfaction is so much higher in external agencies, we do know that one challenge looms larger than all others for creative directors as a whole...

3. Creative directors long for time to be creative

With all the challenges that creative directors face, the one they ranked highest was a lack of creative time. Yes, they also named interruptions, troublesome clients, and resource shortages, but one could argue that all of these time drains for the typical creative director. The more time creative directors spend trying to manage things, the less time they have to be creative.

Hence, the low job satisfaction rates.

4. Creative directors are finding some relief in project management software

If all the legwork involved in trying to manage the work of a creative team has become the bane of creative directors' existence, then tools that take this work out of their hands might be their savior. More than three-quarters of them use PM software and 72% of those report that it has helped their productivity. 

5. Creative PM software use is patchy

Of course, not all PM software tools are created equal, and most vary widely in terms of features and capabilities. This portion of our survey revealed that, while most creative directors are using software to help with request intake, few are using the full gamut of what the best PM software solutions have to offer.

For the sake better organizing and automating their work management, creative directors should seek out those solutions that help them manage all work processes—from intake and planning to execution and measurement. These solutions should also automate communication with team members and stakeholders and shorten and organize the usually unwieldy approval process.


What other challenges are creative directors facing? How are they overcoming them? To find out, download the complete "State of the Creative Director Report."

Want just the highlights of the report? Click here to view the report infographic.

 

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