What do they do all day? Pablo Marques on the role of a chief creative officer
As part of our new series demystifying the many job titles that make up adland, Pablo Marques of New York indie creative agency Raw Materials explains what a CCO actually does.
Pablo Marques, Raw Materials’ CCO (he’s not made of plastic; this is a 3D image he created) / Raw Materials
I’ve done a bunch of things. I’ve done films and copy, and I designed and coded websites. I don’t think about having a specialism. I think the specialism is creativity.
I started my career as a programmer. I went to school for computer sciences in the early days and that somehow led me to design and then to design inside agencies, which then led me to becoming more of a creative.
Later, I did the creative director thing, the ECD thing. Up to a point, all you care about is the work. When you get to a certain point in your career, you still care about the work but you go at it through different means – either directly or because you’re working to build the environment in which the work is made so the company makes the best possible work.
We have about 100 folks in Raw Materials and I have four direct reports. I like to have a one-on-one with each of them once a week. It creates a bit of a pyramid, but it’s necessary – people need to be managed by people who can spend time with them.
I learned to do that just by being human – as you become older, you live through more things, you make more mistakes, you learn more. (And therapy – a whole lot of that.)
Being a CCO isn’t necessarily a head-of-department deal, though I’ve done that before as an executive creative director (ECD). Instead, you come into work as part of the management team; you bring a different point of view. And you’re advising your CEO on making the best decisions, on what’s possible.
Are there a lot of meetings? Fucking hell, yeah. I do still get to make things, though. I like making things and don’t like not making things, so every now and then I make stuff. I find ways of carving out time for myself, to the despair of some of the people I work with. But most of the work is meetings. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet invented a better way. Useless meetings are bad. But if they’re done well, they are a collaboration – they are people working together to do things.
In many ways, my biggest partners are the delivery people: the program managers, the product managers, the project managers. They are the glue that holds everything together. You end up spending a lot of time with them.
I’ve worked at places that were advertising companies or product companies. We’re trying to be more of a product and branding company. Conceptually it’s the same, but tactically you can be different because of the nature of the stuff we make. If you’re a creative in a product design environment, you get more into the research and business analysis sides of a project. So much of that is connected to the decisions you’re making as a designer, whereas if you’re writing a film, some decisions come ready-made.
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UX people walk that line between creativity and strategy more often than anyone else. If you want to be able to lead these folks, you need to be able to understand that. That’s the difference between what I see here and, say, BBH.
In previous jobs at Elephant and R/GA, I’ve worked with some wonderful people. I’ve worked with Nick Law, Nick Gill, John Hegarty. You borrow from all the years of experience of all the people you work with and put your own spin on things. You’d be dumb not to. And because Raw Materials is a different kind of company to those companies, it needs you to do your own thing.
As told to Sam Bradley.