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April 12, 2024

The Creative in Creative Energy

Mason Ahrens

The Creative in Creative Energy header image.

We promise it right there in the title–Creative. While creativity is an integral part of all our activities at Creative Energy, today is about the one and only Creative Department. A group of talented, stressed, and frankly strange people dedicated to creating the ads that go out the door every day.

These are the Designers, Art Directors, and Copywriters of an agency.

All three concept ideas for ads. We sit together in meetings and Google Meets, stare at walls, and discuss what works and what doesn’t. What’s exciting and what isn’t? It is on the brief, does it grab attention? Most important of all, is the idea even any good?

In general, the Copywriter is in charge of the words. Art Directors bring ideas to visual life. And designers make everything look perfect. But in truth, I’ve seen Art Directors write scripts, Designers tackle headlines, and Copywriters sketch out ideas on paper… well to be completely truthful the copywriters usually aren’t great with Adobe Creative Suites so we usually leave it to the professionals. BUT, It’s still a collaborative effort.

Meet the Team

Back in the old days, Copywriters and Art Directors were on separate floors of the office. A writer would draft something up on a noisy typewriter, send it down to the art department, and let them figure out what to draw. Then, sometime in the 1960’s, a change was made. A smart fella by the name of Bill Bernbach decided that copywriters and art directors should sit in a room and hash it out together, turning ad creation into a joint effort.

The first campaign to come from this new style was Volkswagen. It quite literally changed how advertising was done in the U.S. It was funny. Sarcastic. And turned a crappy German car into the chic ride of the ’60s. It was a revolution still felt today, as the CW and AD team is still a foundational setup. Now, we even see not one Creative Director, but instead by CD teams. Two bosses? Yikes.

So, while copywriters are still in charge of crafting headlines, concept writeups, and scripts, and art directors are in charge of what I like to call the “visual vibe,” it’s a give-and-take that blurs the lines between occupations. But the important thing is that two people are in a room (or virtual meeting space) looking at a blank piece of paper, trying to figure it out.

The Grand Design

But I’ve left out our third member of creative. The designer. While Art Directors direct the art, designers traditionally take that direction and make something exquisite. They can execute an idea to its fullest extent, and make an ad sing. I have also found they really enjoy designing packaging.

While in a classic sense, designers are used strictly for design, the designers I know are also excellent conceptual thinkers. Just because someone loves the intricacies of packaging doesn’t mean they ain’t idea people too. And at small agencies like ours, where nimbleness is key, our designers have always stepped up with their conceptual talent, and have created some of my favorite campaigns of this agency. 

A Voice From Above.

We now come to our last member of the creative department—the Creative Director. The journeyman/journeywoman who’s seen it all didn’t like it, and wants another round of ideas on their desk by Friday.

I kid, I kid. But these folks are like the editors of a creative department. We grunts present them our ideas, layouts, copy, moodboards, and they mold it into something worth putting on a billboard. They push, ask questions, say “I don’t like that.” It’s not cruel, it’s the job. Good work needs a good eye to recognize.

This eye comes from years and years of hard work. It’s a development of taste specific to the advertising world. And this eye leads us to make the work that works.

Trust the (Creative) Process

All these pieces come together to work for YOU, the client (if you are a client or potential client reading this. If you are neither, then this part doesn’t apply to you). At Creative Energy, we have creative leadership, copywriters, ADs, and designers ready to execute your vision with all the tools available.

Check out some of our creative work. You’re already on the website.