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What does a Creative Executive do?

By Alan Rankin
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A creative executive is a person who manages the creative product of a business, such as a movie studio or advertising agency. This position is sometimes also known by other names, such as creative director or media director. For a movie studio, TV network, or the like, this person will work closely with the producers and directors in charge of ongoing productions. For an advertising agency, the creative executive will direct artists, writers, and others to produce the material for clients’ advertisements.

Many businesses, large and small, depend on the output of creative personnel such as artists, writers, and filmmakers. In some cases, these artists are freelancers who hire themselves out to companies for a set number of assignments. In other cases, they may be under contract or otherwise exclusively linked to a single company. In either case, they are often not directly involved with the business’s hierarchy of managers, executives, and stockholders.

The job of the creative executive is to manage these creative personnel and ensure that they meet the requirements of the company. For a creative executive at a movie studio, this may involve regular meetings with agents, producers, and high-profile actors, screenwriters, and directors. He or she is in charge of ensuring that productions meet their assigned budgets and completion dates, along with any changes demanded by studio management. This person can also give the famous green light that allows an expensive production to go forward with studio backing.

In a television network, the creative executive faces many of the same challenges as the movie executive. In addition, the TV executive must also work with advertisers and marketing staff and determine where a show will appear on a network’s weekly schedule. As in the movie industry, this can be a stressful job, requiring long hours and decisions that can determine the future of a show. Actors and other artists can also be demanding to work with, although most are dependable and professional.

The creative executive of an advertising agency faces different challenges. In advertising, the creative staff bases its work on the needs of the client rather than the requirements of storytelling and performance. The advertising executive works with clients and creative staff and seeks feedback from the general public in the form of focus groups. The intent is to ensure the client’s message is conveyed correctly and appealingly to as many people as possible. Like other creative executives, the advertising executive must ultimately answer to the company’s executive management and their requirements for profitability.

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