Copyranter: Who’s the biggest creative department d-bag?

Mark Duffy has written the copyranter blog for 10 years and is currently an unemployed but freelancing copywriter with 20-plus years of  experience. His hockey wrist shot is better than yours.

Last week, ad people were stirred by the launch of yet another “clever” self-depreciating industry website: The Creative Director Douchebag Detector Device. With it, you could “scientifically” figure out not only if your CD (or you yourself) is a douche, but exactly what kind of douche he is. (It seems to not consider the possibility of a female CD/douchebag.)

I’ve met a couple of full-on douchey CDs (hello David), even worked for a couple (Hello Dennis). But the CD I worked for for the majority of my career was not a Massengill. It’s why I worked for him for 19 years (Hi Paul, <3).

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But creatives, in general, are considered prima donna douchebags, especially by account people—who in turn are considered two-faced lizards by creatives. This divide has apparently softened a bit in recent years, probably because now everybody in the agency (especially in “digital” agencies), including AEs, is creating ad “content.” This is not a good advertising culture shift.

Anyway, here are some of the specific douchebag characteristics of the three distinct ad creatives.

Creative director
People outside of our industry often ask: What is a creative director? And, what does a creative director do to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year? They make nothing, they only destroy: ideas, enthusiasm, and wills to live. At bigger agencies, they’re often ruthless political monsters. They’re the ones presenting your ideas to the client, where they take credit for the good ones and shit on your head when they’re received badly, even though they loved the ideas when you presented them to them.

Friday @3pm: “Have a nice weekend guys, need to see new ideas Monday morning” (punches elevator button twice).

It was your campaign that won the $20 million account. But it is the CD who goes on the California shoot where he stays for a week at the Château Marmont, “surfs” and attempts to hook-up with several not-models. Aided by the visionary director, he will change your idea just enough so that it’s no longer yours, and no longer worth adding to your portfolio.

He mocks the lack of “creativity” of your automatic daily plain t-shirt/jeans ensemble while dressing himself like a complete fashion idiot. Enough with the black turtlenecks/jeans—you’re not Steve Jobs and you look like a pencil-neck graphite pencil. Just wear a suit like Draper, doofus.

Art director
Nobody in advertising whines more than art directors. “Waaah, my younger copywriter makes $10 thou more than me. Waaah, my mega-turbo computer’s too slow. Waaah, I can’t get rid of this widow. Waaah, I just wanna paint.” While you’re waiting to see the finished comps, Helmut will spend hours working on one drop shadow, time he/she should be spending on online spelling lessons. No, I don’t care about your thoughts on Bodini, and no don’t send me that Wes-Anderson-centers-everything video. And yes: the commas and periods need to stay in.

Never forget this, shaved-head: without copywriters, who come up with 99 percent of the concepts, you’d have plenty of time to paint: street scenes, because you’d be homeless. Advertising may not be a science, but it ain’t art either. Just make the layout readable and IT’S 8PM JUST FINISH IT SO I CAN PROOF READ IT.

I’m sorry I yelled. Yes, that’s a very nice origami Eames chair you made, but it clashes with your superhero figurines.

Copywriters are the most insecure folk in the agency, and all of them are big honking vinegar-filled douchebags. Nothing else needs to be said, but I’ll add a few specifics.

No you’re not a real writer, but you certainly will be when you finally finish that ad agency novel and become the next Augusten Burroughs and get sued by your former co-workers.

One of the douchiest moves CWs make is leaving early the night before a morning presentation because the concepts and writing are all done and approved. He/she will walk gingerly up to his/her AD partner working on the comps and mumble something like “I trust you, just email me the work and I’ll proof it. Make them pay for a car home…” (slinks out). A young art director touched on how easy copywriters have it, here on Digiday back in 2013.

Ironic t-shirts are an ad agency epidemic, but CWs are the biggest carriers.

The verdict
So who’s the douchiest creative douchebag? The answer is simple: None of the above. It’s the social media manager.

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