CDs: a user’s guide

I’m not going to pretend I can dispense ultimate ‘how to CD’ advice.

There are people far better at the job than I who have been at it much longer.

But I think it’d be really interesting to hear from you about how you see the job: what makes a good one or a bad one; examples of illustrative CD moments; how important (or otherwise) they have been to you etc.

I’d love to hear from both CDs and those who have a CD about how the job is done, the difference it can make and how the things have changed for CDs in recent years (if at all).

I’ll kick us off:

I’ve worked for some pretty amazing CDs. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of seeing my work improved by David Abbott, Dave Dye, Peter Souter, Paul Belford and Nigel Roberts (I’m going to stop writing that list because I’m bound to leave someone out), but they’ve come at the task from different positions. For example, Peter ran the agency as well as shaping the work, so he had an overall perspective that was different to, say, Dave Dye (AMV vintage) whose only job was to improve the creative standard of the work. To me that made Peter a little more pragmatic because he had input from a wider range of influences, whereas Dave was single-mindedly focussed on just one task. Dave made me work harder but Peter gave me a fuller idea of when to push and when to hold back.

When I freelanced the relationship was different because it was inherently temporary, but it allowed me to see far more of the good ones in action as I moved round London and Amsterdam. Working into Paul Silburn was a real education in terms of how he handled those ever-encroaching voices from planning and account management. He had a great sense of when to incorporate those non-creative comments and when to ignore them. He also showed how to keep the creative voice strong when it’s under threat and his unfailing eye for what the public wants was/is also a real asset to improving the work.

From my point of view of doing the job (this whole post started because someone from India sent me an email asking for my take on it as he had just been promoted to the position), I think that what you are ultimately paid to do is make decisions: this is right or wrong; that person should work on that kind of brief, not that one; we should stop now or go another round; that line is or isn’t consistent with the tone of voice; that person does or doesn’t need a raise; this issue should be delayed a day or dealt with now…

This list goes on and on, but that’s what it comes down to: making decisions that result in better work and happier people. Tony Cox once said that being a CD was like keeping the drinks topped up at a cocktail party. There’s a lot to be said for that, although I’d suggest it’s like keeping the drinks topped up at 31 cocktail parties simultaneously.

But sod what I think; what do you think?