This article was first published in Campaign magazine.
Acting with the brutal simplicity that is its hallmark, M&C Saatchi has left Elspeth Lynn, its executive creative director, chair-less in a radical rearrangement of the furniture within its creative department. But are some of her peers shuffling uncomfortably in their seats?
After all, if one of Britain’s biggest agencies feels it can get along fine without somebody in overall creative command, what chance is there that others will think likewise? Not much, according to Tim Delaney, Leagas Delaney’s chairman and executive creative director. “ECDs are essential to clients who want to deal with a grown-up,” he says. “Agencies will always need them.”
M&C Saatchi, however, sees little point in having someone set out a creative vision that is already accepted across the agency and believes the best work comes from making senior creatives accountable for it. Its output over the coming months will prove whether the ploy has worked. Less easy to predict is whether it marks the start of a reconfiguration of creative departments because the ECD job is becoming too complex for one person to handle.
CREATIVE HEAD: Leon Jaume, executive creative director, WCRS
“In the days when agencies had more time to produce work, there was one creative director who signed off everything. That’s no longer possible. Today, you need a group of creative directors who can be trusted to do that.
“Today, creative directors and executive creative directors have different roles, and an executive creative director isn’t just a person with a silly job title.
“Agencies not only need somebody who sets the vision and strategy but who can see things that their creative directors, working day-to-day on accounts, might miss. It’s not that they don’t have the talent; they often don’t have the time.”