Vendors line the halls of Fancy Food Fest

Help. I need a Creative Director.

by Gina Angie on 12/01/2011 | 5 Minute Read


This is not an advertising feature. It's an advertising design feature.

Recently, my New York design team completed a refresh of the great NY-based challenger brand, Help Remedies, founded by Richard Fine CEO and Help's Creative Director, Nathan Frank. To be asked to work on it was a real pleasure, as we were following in the collective creative footsteps of both Richard and Nathan, Chapps Malina and Little Fury, all of whom I have enormous respect for their design sensibilities. However, when we sat there looking at this tiny but hugely charismatic and powerful brand, which is changing consumer healthcare perceptions across America, the question that came to me and Mark Christou, my then Creative Director, was  'What's wrong?'.


Ultimately, the answer was not much. We built very nicely on an established visual architecture and strengthened product-type differentiation. Through typography enhancements and new iconography, Help now stands out more and people can identify what's inside each pack more easily. These are incremental steps, but they really needed thinking about in order to expand drugstore distribution. I won't pretend that we didn't try to push the brand further in our design exploratory, but I accept that a close-in step was the correct choice to help Help maximize its visual presence at this point in its evolution and the Creative Director's decision was correct in guiding the solution in this direction rather than trying to reinvent it.

The role of the Creative Director is critical in making decisions like this. It takes vision courage and empathy - for the small steps as well as the creative leaps. To get great work through, a Creative Director has to have the attributes of both therapist and prison warden and apply this behavior to their team's thinking as well as their own. Without these qualities the designers around you can turn into a frenzied flock of exotic birds, flapping their feathers for attention with a cacophony of twittering that get louder and louder as the deadline appears. Therapist and prison warden: listen, encourage, find the gem amongst the noise and then get those that need it to get back in line or back in their box.

As Executive Creative Directors of Pearlfisher, Karen Welman and I have been very fortunate to work with a lot of young talent. We allow them to grow and become strong in their roles and, over time, we let them deal with daunting and complex creative problems which they gracefully solve by putting truthful and desirable ideas on the table, many of which have gone on to become effective, award-winning case studies around the world.

Natalie Chung our current Creative Director in London is one of the freshest thinking creatives I know, delivering work for clients like Jamie Oliver and Waitrose, who are building multi-million dollar brands from scratch based upon the beautiful brand work she has created. Sarah Butler, our London studio's Deputy Creative Director, has won more awards in her 12 years with us, including the likes of NUDE and Green & Black's, than many designers do in a lifetime. Early in his career with us, Shaun Bowen was given creative responsibility of our portfolio of clients and, under his creative direction, our team produced a steady stream of classics for a whole host of clients including Absolut Vodka.  And it was Lisa Simpson, Pearlfisher NewYork's first Creative Director, who set the stage for the current cleaned up Coke approach with her ground-breaking Diet Coke work as well as designs for funky new beverage Honey Drop, which allowed Mark Christou to follow in her footsteps and create the Help evolution and the new packaging for a global coffee brand in Seattle that can't be named for legal reasons.

All of our Creative Directors to date have grown from within. Whilst this is great for all to experience it also presents a personal challenge over time because as each individual achieves success in this pivotal role it poses the dilemma: 'Where do I go from here? 'With limited comparative options it pushes them to the edge of the abyss, and they inevitably kick out into the ever expanding galaxy of stars that make up today's global design business. B&B, Buddy, Here and the Monday Collective are just a few of the companies starting up from a Pearlfisher pedigree, all of whom are making great strides doing their own charismatic work and long may it continue for them.
Of course when people do decide to move on, I immediately look from within to replace and take the familiar option of promoting someone who knows our culture and creative expectations. Although we have a lot of fun, we are deadly serious about this business and our desire to do work that pushes both creative standards and the return on investment for our clients. But now, for the first time in Pearlfisher New York I'm looking elsewhere. There is a gap from within and I need someone from the outside to take on the mantel of Creative Director (...therapist...prison warden). Are you interested? If so, I want you to be clear that I'm looking for top talent. And when I say top talent I mean the kind of talent that is at the top of his or her game. The kind of talent that thinks freely, creatively, expressively, challengingly, who has the power to direct an amazing team and an amazing set of clients, sometimes with compassion and empathy sometimes with steel.

Am I interested in hearing from headhunters? No, it's an old fashioned model that lacks vitality, and new ways of tracking and finding talent like Behance is the way ahead.

So, I want to hear directly from you, you creatively courageous and visionary ladies and gentlemen of the design community, who have an appropriate number of years experience in dealing with design, brands and creativity, who have ideas and accolades overflowing and who want to be a great Creative Director in a great place that's got some great ambitions.
 Go to: http://www.pearlfisher.com/creativedirector - which is only open until December 24th 2011.

Here you can upload your details, your work and tell me why you think you're good enough (and if its not you, you can even nominate talent that you think may fit the bill). If you are as serious about this as we are.....we want to hear from you.

Help is at hand!

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