The Drum recently caught up with James Robinson, executive creative director at The Martin Agency in New York, to find out what he thinks it takes to be a great creative. Robinson joined the agency last summer as its first New York executive creative director after stints at TwoFifteenMcCann and Venables Bell & Partners.
For Robinson, a great creative is somebody who “knows the rules of advertising but really is in the game to sort of break them.”
“It does mean that you have to know your audience very well,” he said. “You have to know the environment and the media that you’re in, but you have to know how to play with that media, how to upend it, how to change it.”
He also said great creatives have the ability to “stay in that uncomfortable place where you don’t have the answer” for as long as possible.
“I think what happens to most creatives is they find a solution that they think is a good solution and they eject really quickly,” he said. “I think a really great creative keeps rolling that idea around and finding new ways that it can express itself.”
Throughout his career, Robinson’s work has been recognized by Cannes, the One Show and the Webbys. A campaign he helped create for the Montana Meth Project was once cited by the White House as one of the most effective anti-drug campaigns in US history.