Commentary: Creative directors in danger

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The Independent Online
A new trend is becoming apparent in the world of advertising that could make creative directors an endangered species. Saatchi & Saatchi yesterday announced its third international advertising agency network to complement its existing two.

The new set-up has been formed by merging the activities of CME and KHBB which, until now, have operated as independent subsidiaries. But they have been welded together in response to growing demands for cost-efficiency by multinational advertisers.

Until recently, many big advertisers have been content to use their agencies' local offices to reach consumers worldwide. But faced by rising marketing costs the trend has been to use global campaigns across many borders. As a result, television viewers as far afield as America and Japan have been watching Michael Jackson moonwalking on behalf of Pepsi. The snag is that many agencies have been poorly structured to meet their clients' changing needs. Too often creative ideas developed in one part of the network are undermined by staff in another corner because of personality clashes and administrative problems.

Saatchi's new network aims to overcome the problem by centralising the most creative process at key locations and leaving the execution of the marketing strategy to local staff.

In practice, this will eliminate the need to maintain large flocks of creative directors in every location. Well known for their sensitive temperaments and garish plumage, their upkeep has become - rather like London Zoo - too expensive for agencies and their clients.