Single or Team?

Do Creatives still have to be part of a couple nowadays?

A few years ago, nearly every Creative was hired as part of a team. If you didn’t have a partner, you couldn’t get a job. It was that simple.

And if you didn’t have a partner, it was up to you to find one. Only in exceptional cases would your agency do it for you.

But in the last few years, things have been changing rapidly.

The market is more fluid than ever. Australian Creatives are still heading off to do stints in London or New York, which can break up a team. But now there are also Creatives from all over the world coming to Australia, often as singles. And Creatives arriving from tech companies, or leaving to go to tech companies. There is more flux.

As a result, ECD’s often find themselves with a single in their department, and so are now looking for a single Copywriter or Art Director, almost as often as they’re looking for a team.

In an age when agencies’ creative output is more diverse than ever, agencies are also looking for singles to mix and match according to skills, knowledge and experience. A debate is even beginning about whether the very concept of the fixed creative team is outmoded.

CHI London announced last week that they are abolishing the traditional team structure. ECD Jonathan Burley wrote an interesting column about the move for Campaign called "The Necessary demise of the creative team."

At CD level, there are certainly fewer teams. The argument being that while idea-generation may be easier in a pair, decision-making is easier for an individual. And it’s certainly cheaper for the employer.

But there are exceptions. Even at ECD level, there are some Creatives still very successfully operating in teams, such as Gary & Wes at TBWA, and Matty & Dave at Special.

Teams do still have some advantages. They’re a known quantity – the ECD doesn’t have to hope that a single hire will gel with their new partner. And when two singles come together, they have the luxury of being able to create a combined book. This ‘best of’ will undoubtedly be stronger than their individual efforts… although it’s important to bear in mind that some ECD’s insist on teams that have been working together a while, and have several joint campaigns to prove it.  Meanwhile, others are happy for an experienced recruiter to put two individuals together.

The truth is, you are where you are. If you happen to be in a productive team, great. And if you’re a single, you now have plenty of opportunities too. The most important criterion is being talented - you don’t necessarily have to be a couple.