How To Be A Good Partner In The Creative Industry

You are not going to receive any satisfaction if you buy your followers.

Photo by Sarah Diniz Outeiro

Around 50 years ago Bill Bernbach, the Patron Saint of The Creative Department, came up with the revolutionary idea of pairing copywriters and art-directors into teams. This was groundbreaking at the time because if you waltzed into any agency you’d find that Copy was one department and Art was another, maybe even located on different floors. They didn’t interact. At all. And, since all of advertising was print-based, the idea of busting up the silos was a big deal–a fucking brilliant one, if you ask me– as evidenced by the following Golden Age of print advertising ushered in by St. Bill himself.  And we’ve been partnered up ever since.

Here’s the thing about these partnerships; 9 times out of 10 you will not have the choice of picking your partner. It’s an arranged marriage from day one. After HR orientation someone will introduce you to a perfect stranger and say, ‘Here’s Steve/Sally, you’ll be spending 14 hours out of every day with him/her for the next few years. Each of you will have your careers in each other’s hands. Good luck!’

And that’s how I met your Mother.

Here are some tips on how to be a good partner.

Remember, you’re in it together.  

Keep each other in the loop. Try not to make any big decisions without talking to each other first. Art Directors should weigh in on copy and Copywriters should weigh in on Art Direction. When you’re on the same page, everything will go that much smoother.

Cover for each other.  

One day, your kid is going to have a dentist appointment on the day of the client meeting. This is when you want a partner that says: Don’t worry, pal. I’ve got this. The key thing here is: reciprocity.  

Call each other out on bullshit.

 Sometimes you phone it in.  Admit it. You were out late last night drinking and you didn’t wake up early the next day to write those headlines like you swore you were going to do. This is when a good partner tells you, “Hey pal. I love you. But you’re fucking up.” Tough love is a sign of respect.

YOU didn’t come up with the idea. WE did.   

Even when you did.   Police those fucking pronouns. You win and lose as a team.

Know when to call it.  

Just like real marriages, sometimes, well… it just doesn’t work out. If you ever get to the point where just the sight of your partner makes you physically, it’s time to ask for a new one. A close friend told me of the day he went in to ask for a new partner and his boss just sighed and paused a moment before saying, “I’m surprised you lasted this long.” Apparently, his partner had chewed up several partners before him. So, when it gets bad…ask for help and start practicing the “It’s not you, it’s me.” speech.


Rob Rooney is an award-winning Creative Director/ Copywriter with the experience in delivering unique brand-building creative to some of the biggest brands in the world, kind of like Don Draper, but without all that height and chiseled good looks.

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