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Business

5 Creative Direction Tips From Advertising Experts Goodby & Silverstein

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Mar 5, 2020 • 3 min read

Creative direction is a profession the requires a multifaceted skill set. To work as a creative director you need both a keen eye and strong leadership skills and management skills. Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein of successful San Francisco-based advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners believe that honing your craft as a creative director means taking all of your observations of design, language, and the world around you and using them to understand and take care of the creative people and staff you work with.

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Jeff Goodby & Rich Silverstein Teach Advertising and CreativityJeff Goodby & Rich Silverstein Teach Advertising and Creativity

Advertising icons Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein teach you how to break rules, change minds, and create the best work of your life.

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Who Are Goodby & Silverstein?

Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein were destined to meet. After graduating from Harvard, Jeff was a writer and illustrator, with illustrations published in magazines like Time and Mother Jones. Early in his career, Rich worked as an art director at various publications including Rolling Stone. Their worlds collided when they both worked at the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather in San Francisco. Before long, they decided to form their own agency—Goodby Silverstein & Partners.

GS&P is one of the most powerful ad agencies in the United States. They’re the team behind some of the biggest brand strategy campaigns—like the Budweiser lizards and the “got milk?” ads for the California Milk Processors Board. Their client list has included brands like Doritos, Pepsi, Cheetos, BMW, Xfinity, the NBA, and Nike. Jeff and Rich were named Adweek’s “Executives of the Decade” and GS&P was recognized as “Agency of the Year” numerous times by multiple publications.

What Is a Creative Director?

The creative director job description includes overseeing and managing all the aesthetic and functional pieces of a project, ensuring that each discipline comes together and operates smoothly from start to finish. They usually come equipped with a bachelor's degree in a specific creative field—such as marketing, graphic design, or a related job field—and at least seven to 10 years of experience.

The best creative directors listen to people, interpret their behavior, then help them progress in their creative careers. They oversee creative strategy by managing the visual and narrative aspects of creative campaigns and making sure that all assets ultimately align with a greater brand message that is being conveyed.

Jeff Goodby & Rich Silverstein Teach Advertising and Creativity
Jeff Goodby & Rich Silverstein Teach Advertising and Creativity
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Goodby & Silverstein’s 5 Tips for Creative Directors

With years of experience and numerous successful campaigns—including Super Bowl ads—that have been seen over the years across media, Goodby & Silverstein are masters of visual communication and know how to execute a creative vision. Here is some of their advice for working in an advertising creative director position.

  1. Observe the world around you. Everything in the world was designed to look the way it looks, whether it was for tactical reasons or creative reasons. Observe how and why the aesthetic elements of designed objects function, and allow this awareness to inform your own best work.
  2. Empower others to do the work. Your role is in the job title—you’re directing your creative department—so your biggest concern should be empowering the creatives you’re leading to do the work themselves. As a leader, you should know how to inspire your creative staff—not by solving the problems that arise, but by mentoring your advertising or marketing team during the creative process and giving them the resources necessary to solve problems on their own.
  3. Learn from your own experience. Experienced creative directors know what has and has not worked on previous projects, and they also recognize that all projects present unique issues. Do your research about the traditional and digital marketing landscape, analyze user experience, and figure out the best way to approach any issues that arise. These strategies can inform the way you direct your creative team members and the quality of your deliverables.
  4. Learn from the experiences of others. Great creative directors become great by studying their contemporaries—the more you learn about the field, the better equipped you’ll be to live it out. You should be constantly consuming design inspiration, whether that means following the work of incredible visual artists, holing up in a library with a stack of design tomes, or sitting on a street corner and committing the architecture there to memory. Becoming familiar with as many styles and designs as you can will greatly inform other possibilities for your own creative ideas.
  5. Communicate effectively. Like most facets of advertising, creative direction is about communicating with other people about their creative work in the way you would like to be communicated with. As a creative director, you should talk to a junior- or mid-level copywriter in the way that you would have wanted to be spoken to at that point in your career.

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