Realignment in the Creative Dept

I don’t know if this the case in your neck of the woods, but where I’m from there are a lot of jobs where you place an initial before C and D.

We have ACDs (Associate Creative Directors), GCDs (Group Creative Directors), ECDs (Executive Creative Directors), the plain old CDs, and the grand poobahs, who are now called CCOs (Chief Creative Officers). We also still have juniors, plain old copywriters and art directors, and senior copywriters and art directors.

I might have missed a few (I have heard tell of the RCD – Regional Creative Director), but if you add in placements (or their equivalent), you have at least nine levels of seniority in the creative department. When I were but a nipper there were only creatives (with an occasional informal use of junior/middleweight/senior) and a CD. Some agencies had Group Heads, but until the early 2000s that was it.

In fact, here’s a handy guide to what your current job title would have been in a 1995 UK agency:

2018                                               1995

Junior Copywriter/Art Director        Copywriter/Art Director

Copywriter/Art Director                   Copywriter/Art Director

Senior Copywriter/Art Director       Copywriter/Art Director

ACD                                                Copywriter/Art Director

CD                                                  Copywriter/Art Director

GCD                                               Copywriter/Art Director

ECD                                               CD

CCO                                               CD

So how did things change, and is the new situation better?

I think the answers to both questions might be related:

  1. Promotions are free, and therefore easier to hand out than raises. Even though, in this time of 9 levels, promotions have become less significant, they still give people a nice fuzzy feeling inside and a new level at which to join a new agency. So, in these straitened times, they’ve become a cheap way to make disgruntled people a little happier.
  2. I think America has had these layers for longer. With the globalisation of agencies via holding companies, the practices of other countries have spread faster and harder, especially as the US office is often the mothership, imposing its ways on the rest of the world.
  3. With the fragmentation of accounts and disciplines, more people are in charge of smaller and more diverse parts of a campaign’s creation. Job titles help to differentiate them, although having four CDs on a job must get quite confusing. Then again, having fifteen copywriters, twelve art directors and three CDs would probably be even worse.
  4. People can’t help loving this shit. If you grew up thinking the CD was the cappo di tutti cappi, there’s a going to be a little voice somewhere in the back of your mind telling you that it’s still a big deal to become one, even though it now means you’re basically the equivalent of a 1997 ‘senior copywriter’.

Aside from it all feeling a little silly, I can’t see much of a downside. Enjoy your new titles if they make you happy, and if the dude from the social engagement agency now knows he should respect your authority then that can only smooth things along.