The road to Executive Creative Board Members

My first Golden Drum story comes with a trip. From Bucharest to Portorož, for attending the first creative festival in my life. No Google Maps, no smart phones, just lots of enthusiasm on the back seat of a brand-new car, an Alfa Romeo 156 and its “cuore sportive”. It was 2004, I was the young copywriter of a fresh Romanian creative boutique. Together with my art director, our Creative Director and a friend of the agency, we were ready to hit the road. A 20-hours’ drive was lying in front of us. Before the destination, that road was everything to me. My trip was to drive that Italian black beast on the highway. After a while, I kindly asked my CD, “Can I drive?”. “Not yet. Maybe later.” Of course, I insisted. Once. Twice. Ten times. Do you know Donkey, in Shrek, when they are going to Far Far Away, that was me with The “Are we there yet” attitude. Halfway, in the middle of the night, and after 10 hours of driving, my older colleague decided to give it a chance. “Catalin, it’s your turn. Drive!”

Finally, the wheel was mine. I felt the power under my right foot and the rigid chair that begs you to push the car to the limits. After a while, no later than half an hour, I told my creative sensei: I can't drive anymore. I'm too tired. But you asked for it all night long, are you tired now?! Humbly, I returned to my back seat and focused on the festival that was about to start. 

Next time, three years later, I drove 17 hours straight, and everything was so easy, so conventional. 

In the creative fields, as in business, the start-up attitude is the “are we there yet” attitude. You really want something new, but you’re not ready for it. And that’s perfect. Year by year, we are in an industry of absolute beginners. We are able to change the narratives for the brands that we are working for, it’s also time to change our own professional narrative. Fortunately, technologies are on our side. Things are evolving. We are not numbers in factories, we are do-it-yourselfers powered by algorithms. 

I hope that next years will bring us a Change 4 Creatives. A new creative revolution, very related to business and decision-making. If brands, start-ups, companies or states will be ruled by creatives, the impact of creativity will be significantly higher. Let’s imagine the business ecosystem if creatives were as powerful as the finance guys. But, if we really want to be insiders, not outsiders, we have to be active, we have to manifest our leadership not only in our ivory tower with beaches, rose or prosecco. We have to become decision makers in society, not just consultants. In my opinion, every executive board should have a creative at its table. It’s our call to be more empathetic with business decisions to diversify ourselves. From creative pitches, to investors’ pitches. From social media, to society. From marketing plans, to business plans. From brand purpose and brand activism, to creative purpose and creative activism. The hybrid between creativity, technology and business administration is our new playground. 

The role of a creative festival is crucial in this context. Paraphrasing Harari, here is the best reason to learn the history of creativity: not in order to predict the future, but to free yourself of the past and imagine alternative destinies. Of course, it is not total freedom - we cannot avoid being shaped by ideas of the past. But some freedom is better than none. And creativity comes with a sip of freedom, not just out of the tight briefs. 

 

Cătălin Rusu, Chief Creative Partner and Chief Executive Officer, Rusu+Bortun Bucharest, Romania