Should Creatives Be Thinking Beyond The Book?

Writing in Ad Age, CCO of High Wide & Handsome, Mike Wolfsohn, writes that when it comes to being a great hire for an agency, there should be more value given to creatives than just what’s in their books:

Now that I’m in the position of hiring creatives, I’m convinced there’s no correlation between the quality of a creative’s website and his or her ability to contribute to an agency and its clients. Of all the freelancers I’ve hired, the ones with the best books have often been the least capable. Perhaps that’s why they’ve invested so much time erecting a facade of talent.
And given the current economic climate, I’m probably not the only one who’s less impressed by an art director’s Flash intro or industry award than an art director or copywriter who can intelligently talk about a client’s business. Sure, I love stunning typography and a clever headline as much as anyone, but they have no value in this business unless they’re part of a thoughtful response to a brief. Someone who knows how to shift media strategies to reach new customers; reposition a brand in response to category trends; decrease the overall cost of an acquisition — that’s where the real value is.

I appreciate where Mike’s coming from, but he’s definitely in the minority of hiring managers. Dealing with creatives and their books is a quantity experience these days–everyone has a PDF or a site link they can send, so there’s a deluge of submissions for any open job. So it’s a large task for CD’s to look for a real depth of knowledge when evaluating creatives.
I’d love to see creatives get a more thorough examination. And lord knows I wish more creative directors would be drawn to the total sum of business and ad industry thinking and writing I’ve done both on AdPulp and TalentZoo in addition to my portfolio. But it’s still the shiny objects that excite most hiring managers.

About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for TalentZoo.com and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.