Why do we need creative leadership in Advertising and can Design Thinking help?

- Part 2


Recently, I have investigated the need for creative leadership in the advertising industry and if design thinking could help in re-imagining the creative team structures as part of my research in Future
Design Leadership. (read Part 1 here)

I had the privilege to interview 4 prominent creative leaders in the Ad industry. I chose them based on the diversity of their experiences that span from traditional Ad agencies to digital ones.

Each creative leader that I interviewed helped me understand more about creative leadership in advertising by sharing with me their experience and way of thinking in an industry that is being challenged by many factors in this day and age. Their perspective on creative leadership was diverse as their
experiences differed.

I’ve understood from these creative leaders that “Design Thinking”
can help agencies especially if it is embraced as a mindset, but that
still doesn’t make it sufficient alone. In addition to that, it doesn’t suit
all clients due to many who are not willing to pay extra to put a diverse
team to work on their account nor are they willing or have an interest
to collaborate.

Inside agencies though, there is a good understanding that collaboration is needed more than ever because it produces the best results. I also sensed that creatives coming from digital specialty have a better chance in embracing and applying design thinking techniques compared to the ones from traditional departments in ad agencies who are not opposed to experimenting in theory. I think that traditionalists are more sentimental about past methods since they have proven to have worked out. Perhaps they feel that all these new approaches aren’t really presenting a real holistic solution to what they are going through.

Also, there is a good understanding that Design and systematic thinking are rising in importance as opposed to storytelling and they should be understood better in order to tell better stories.

Finally, with many challenges currently facing Ad agencies like being bought out by consultancies, this doesn’t mean though that agencies will stop existing in one form or another, because there will always be a need for brands to seek partnership and help from creative organisations. It is true that the Ad industry is getting affected by the many revolutionary digital advances due to it being the forefront of communicating ideas through various mediums and media, but at the end of the day it will always stay a human industry that is based on the power of imagination.

*All videos have received ethics approval from all participants to be shared as part of this article.

Interviews with 4 creative leaders

Nick Law: Global Chief Creative Officer of Publicis Groupe and President of Publicis Communications.

Ben Welsh: Chief Creative Officer of DDB, Sydney.

Riku Vassinen: Head of Digital Transformation @ JWT, Singapore.

Nicole Hetherington: Creative director at WiTH Collective, Sydney and Auckland.

Thank You for reading & watching.