Caroline Paris is a Creative Director with 10 years of agency experience and whose most recent claim to fame saw her named as one of the industry’s top 30 female leaders by Campaign magazine.
Paris was a festival speaker at D&AD in the summer and has been on the jury for three of the most prestigious creative advertising awards bodies in the UK; D&AD, Creative Circle (Gold Jury) and Campaign BIG.
We caught up with Paris to ask about the more prosaic day-to-day life of the creative. Here’s what she had to say…
Please describe your job: What do you do?
CP: I’m a Creative Director in an advertising agency. My role is to oversee the creative department and help them to ideate and produce advertising campaigns across a number of different channels; TV, digital, press, outdoor and social media. I am part of a brilliant agency called Brave, where we work with clients big and small including Panasonic, John Frieda, Lovehoney, Superdrug and Flight Centre – to name a few.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
CP: I am part of the senior leadership team and report to the MD, Ash Bendelow.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
CP: To be an effective Creative Director you need to be inherently creative (no surprises there!), but also have commercial understanding – which doesn’t always come hand-in-hand. I also think it’s important to have brilliant communication skills, the ability to relate to and work well with lots of different people – from suits and tech folk, to creatives and consumers.
Tell us about a typical working day…
CP: For me the working day starts early: I work out from 6:00am, because it gives me time to focus my mind on the day ahead and what I need to achieve. I get lots of ideas early in the morning, so I am forever writing things on my phone between sets of weights. From there, my days at work can be varied. I can be on set shooting a commercial, or at castings, edits, grade suits or sound studios in the pre- and post-production phases of a project. If I’m not making something, I will be in the office creating it! This entails working on presentations to share thinking with clients for new campaigns and developing ideas with the creative team.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
CP: Never, have I had Sunday night dread! Seriously.
I genuinely enjoy what I do – otherwise I just wouldn’t do it. The best parts have to be working with other creative folk to come up with ideas and landing on the thing that makes you say ‘yes’, that’s it – something that’s a great brand fit and will do something brilliant for that company. At Brave, we work with clients big and small, and creating something that will help them succeed gives me a buzz.
Plus, I enjoy seeing creative work out in the world that Brave have created (and being able to tell my Mum: “I made that!”).
On the downside, I don’t love some of the crazy deadlines. Sometimes pressure can make diamonds, but other times it can just be super stressful!
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
CP: Goals to measure creativity specifically can be difficult because it can be so subjective.
However, we work in advertising, we’re not dealing in fine art. So metrics aren’t ‘love or hate’, they are impressions, brand awareness scores, sales and awards – and those things come from the best creative work.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
CP: My favourite ‘tool’ is probably ways of finding inspiration. And that comes from changing things up; environment, art, films, travel, even reading things you wouldn’t normally – the Daily Mail for example!
So, I try to fill my time with a mixed bag of stuff, as they really help with my day to day – from understanding consumers who might not be like you, to coming up with some fresh creative thinking. It’s much easier if you try walking in different shoes.
How did you end up at Brave, and where might you go from here?
CP: I have been at Brave for seven or so years, and have had quite a linear journey compared to many Creative Directors. The reason being: I haven’t moved around lots to be promoted or gain new successes. At Brave I found a place that is built on people – and I love that.
I have been part of the team who have helped to grow the business from around 25 to 60 heads now and have increased our client base with a number of new business wins – and I’m still enjoying the ride.
Which creative (not just Brave’s) has impressed you recently?
CP: I really enjoyed The Crystal Barn from Barclaycard. I loved the bravery of the execution, particularly for the financial sector, and I actually think the irony of the aesthetic is a really difficult thing to achieve, in other words, being good at making something look ‘bad’.
I also felt really inspired by the passion I saw in 100 Years and Counting from 4Creative, celebrating 100 years of women of the past, but also the future.
What advice would you give somebody who wants to be a creative in an agency?
CP: Scare everyone. Be the fresh, fearless, new talent that makes everyone envious of what you bring to the party.
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