Creative Careers in Advertising

“Creative without strategy is called ‘art.’ Creative with strategy is called ‘advertising’.” - Jef I. Richards

The client servicing and account planning people tell the creative people in an advertising agency what message needs to be communicated through an advertisement or a commercial. The creative team packages the message attractively to make the user receptive to it. To know what it is like to work in the Advertising Industry, click here.

Creative Directors

The head of the creative team in an advertising agency is the Creative Director. They are responsible for all the creative content that an agency creates. It is their job to ‘make the idea happen’. They guide and motivate their subordinates who include Copywriters, Visual Art Directors and Illustrators. Each and every concept, whether it is visual or textual, has to first be approved by the Creative Director before it can be pitched to the client. Creative Directors create visions and develop an environment and ethos that encourages originality and innovation. They conduct team meetings, oversee the creative process and handle employees. Creative Directors have the final say within an advertising agency. They are the ones who’re responsible for the final advertisement and are directly answerable to the client. It is a job that requires managerial skills along with creative ability.

A Creative Director deals with the clients directly and often performs the functions of a Copywriter or an Art Director by creating new concepts. They make quick decisions as they have to constantly work under deadlines. It is the job of a Creative Director to approve budgets and set deadlines, and to make sure that they are met. They oversee and supervise the production process of commercials as well as other forms of advertisements. A lot of Creative Directors are involved in web advertising, and they have to make sure that their advertisements are designed in such a way that they are search engine – friendly. They are also responsible for revising, editing and proofreading content. Creative Directors have to monitor the effectiveness of advertising campaigns once they have been launched. They suggest changes to it if they feel that the campaign is not effective enough or can be improved.

There are no educational qualifications required for this job, but most advertising agencies will not hire professionals who are not graduates in Journalism, Advertising or Design. It is to be kept in mind that this is not an entry level job. It is at the very top of the ladder of success and reaching those heights of success requires years of experience and hard work. The career of a Creative Director depends upon his creative skills as well as his managerial qualities. They normally start off as Junior Copywriters or Junior Art Directors and then slowly move up. It normally takes years before one can become the Creative Director of an advertising agency.


Copywriters are often considered to be the ‘soul’ of Advertising. They are called Copywriters as they create a verbal or written ‘copy’ of the advertisement. It is their job to create, conceive, develop and produce advertising campaigns that make an impact on the audience. They create the story for the advertisement and evoke responses. Copywriters create slogans, catchphrases and messages.

The ultimate responsibility of the textual and verbal content of the advertisement lies with them. They are also involved in writing text for web advertising. In case of broadcasting media such as T.V and Radio, Copywriters are often involved in writing scripts and jingles for commercials. Copywriters and Visual Art Directors work closely with each other and together form the ‘Creative Team’ for an advertising agency. Copywriters also work closely with Media Planners and Production Teams to develop successful campaigns.

Copywriters write to market or promote a person, business or an idea. They are mostly hired by advertising agencies while some work as freelancers. A single Copywriter normally handles several campaigns as an agency works for multiple clients at the same time. They are responsible for dealing with clients and understanding the ‘briefs’. Through the brief, the client aims to explain his main purpose and idea behind wanting to invest in an advertisement. This acts as a starting point and a ‘goal’ for the Copywriter. It is the job of the Copywriters to sit and brainstorm with Visual Art Directors to create and develop innovative ideas and concepts for the advertisement. Once these ideas are completely developed, the Copywriters go and present them to the clients for approval. Based upon the feedback they receive from the client and their seniors, Copywriters make minute or major changes to their idea.

It is imperative for Copywriters to know about the client’s company and business thoroughly. It is also necessary to know in detail about the ‘Target Audience’ of the company and the advertisement. So for example, if the client is a manufacturer of toys, then the target audience of the advertisement will be children. So the Copywriter will have to create an advertisement that will appeal to children and create a desire for the product within their minds. Copywriters are also involved in proofreading advertisements and their scripts to ensure there are no changes or mistakes. They work under constant pressure and tight deadlines. Copywriters also have to make sure that there concepts and campaigns follow the codes and ethics of the Advertising Industry and stay within legal constraints. Once an advertisement campaign has been approved, developed and launched, Copywriters monitor the effectiveness of the campaign and make changes to it if they feel that the response is not good enough. Copywriters deal with a lot of people at the same time including production companies, clients, creative directors, typographers, illustrators, photographers, designers and printers.

Even though there is no necessary educational qualification for this profession, most agencies do not hire people who are not graduates. They prefer people who are graduates in the field of Mass Communication, Advertising or Journalism. The career requires excellent communication skills, especially written. Copywriters need to be creative and imaginative as they have to create the ideas from scratch. They require an analytical and creative bent of mind. Doing internships and creating a portfolio can be of great help in this profession. Most Copywriters start off as Junior Copywriters handling small – scale clients and then slowly move up the ladder.

Visual Art Directors

Visual Art Directors are professionals who look after the visual content of all forms of advertisements including Print Ads, T.V Ads, Online Ads and Outdoor Advertisements. Also known as ‘Creatives’ and ‘Visualizers’, they work closely with Copywriters as the other half of the ‘Creative Team’. The main difference between Visual Art Directors and Copywriters is that the latter is in charge of the textual content of an advertisement, whereas the former is responsible for producing visuals. It is not rare for Copywriters and Visual Art Directors to come up with suggestions regarding the visuals and text respectively. Their job responsibilities often overlap, and either of them can be responsible for coming up with the main concept or the ‘Big Idea’ for the advertisement. In simple terms, the Copywriter writes the ‘copy’, and the Art Director decides how the ‘copy’ will be presented.

Art Directors work on advertising campaigns from their conception and research about the client, the product and the target audience. The main responsibility of how the advertisement is going to look rests upon their shoulders. They come up with concepts and generate ideas related to the visual content in an advertisement. It is the job of an Art Director to come up with sketches, storyboards and roughs that depict the visual concept of the advertisement. They have to often ‘pitch’ their ideas and brief other members of the team including their seniors regarding the concepts and ideas that they have come up with. They think about the details of the visual content in an advertisement such as colors, fonts, graphics, pictures, photographs etc. Art Directors are often responsible for hiring and selecting photographers, painters and filmmakers. They select them depending upon who according to them, will be able to do justice to their visual idea. In cases of T.V commercials, Art Directors often accompany the crew for location hunts and shoots. They oversee the production and guide the filmmaker wherever and whenever necessary. They are often responsible for handling the editing and post production process of an advertisement. Sometimes, Art Directors are also responsible for maintaining budgets.

Art Directors make very big contributions in a variety of visual aspects in an advertisement, especially in designing logos, layouts and packaging of products. Even though there are no necessary educational qualifications to become a Visual Art Director, most agencies prefer to hire professionals who have degrees in Design, Art, Advertising or Journalism. The most important requirement for a Visual Art Director is to have a very strong knowledge base in the field of design and visual conception. They are highly creative people with knowledge in subjects like photography, film – making, typography and printing. Most Visual Art Directors work for agencies, but some also work as freelancers. They need to have a vivid imagination and should be able to conceptualize visual ideas clearly. Art Directors should be experts in designing software like Photoshop, InDesign etc. Doing internships and creating a Portfolio of your best works can be of great help if you want to work in this profession. Most Visual Art Directors start off as Junior Art Directors, handling smaller clients. They move on to bigger clients and campaigns as they progress in their career.


An Illustration is a graphic depiction that can be in the form of a drawing, painting, sketch etc. Illustrators are professional artists like Painters and Cartoonists, who create these illustrations to simplify the context of the content or the text. They are often used in advertising to convey stories and promote products in an effective manner. The main advantage of having an illustration in an advertisement is that it helps draw attention to your advertisement and makes it more interesting and easier to understand. Illustrators understand the mood and style of a campaign and create illustrations according to that.

Most Illustrators work alongside Visual Art Directors and are responsible for the visual content of an advertisement. They are mostly needed in Print Advertisements, but can also be required in commercials that have animations, logos and product windows. Illustrators need to know in detail about the client, the product and the target audience. It is their job to analyze briefs and meet deadlines. They go through the concept thoroughly and visualize the graphical elements that it can accommodate. Illustrators deal with clients and agencies and come up with new ideas and illustrations according to the concept. They create images, graphics, sketches and paintings. It is their responsibility to show sample illustrations or ‘roughs’ to their seniors and the client, and make changes to them according to the feedback received. Illustrators, along with Copywriters and Visual Art Directors monitor the success of a campaign once it’s launched. They review and modify their illustrations if they will that they can be improved to make the campaign more effective in any way.

Illustrators do not require any necessary educational qualifications, but a degree in designing, art or advertising can help. They need to be experts in computer graphic and designing software like Photoshop. Illustrators also need to have excellent drawing and conceptualizing skills. Almost all Illustrators work as Freelancers. Creating a Portfolio of your best works can be very helpful for aspiring Illustrators. They normally start off as Junior Illustrators and go on to work on bigger and better campaigns as their career progresses. Some Illustrators end up becoming Creative Directors as well.

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