What does an Associate Creative Director do?

D. Jeffress

An associate creative director helps develop, initiate, and analyze marketing strategies and project concepts. Most professionals work in advertising agencies and creative divisions within the entertainment industry, though many directors are employed by large corporations that hope to improve their overall public image. They generally perform more administrative duties than the senior director, who is primarily concerned with coming up with original ideas and campaigns. By working directly with copywriters, graphic artists, and marketing employees, the associate creative director ensures that work is completed on time and that final products meet the expectations of clients.

An associate creative director may be hired by large corporations to improve their public image.
An associate creative director may be hired by large corporations to improve their public image.

Most associate directors are responsible for coordinating and overseeing activity in art departments. They explain basic concepts to graphic artists, designers, and copywriters, and make sure that work is performed as instructed. When an associate creative director decides that a project is not coming together as planned, he or she typically determines the best changes to be made. For example, a director who is in charge of an Internet marketing campaign for a new consumer product normally will explain the company's vision to a team of designers, detailing the importance of a particular color scheme and interactive graphic. Designers may need to submit several drafts of the project before the director is confident that the campaign will be effective.

Most associate directors are responsible for coordinating and overseeing activity in art departments.
Most associate directors are responsible for coordinating and overseeing activity in art departments.

An associate creative director in the entertainment industry usually specializes in a particular type of media. A professional might be in charge of putting together a live fashion show, designing a magazine ad campaign, or producing a movie trailer. Most directors are involved in every aspect of an event or promotion, from meeting with clients to evaluating a project's success months or years after its inception.

There are no set education or training requirements to work in this position. Most professionals hold at least a bachelor's degree in business administration, marketing, or art. A prospective director usually begins his or her career in another position within a corporation or advertising agency, such as an entry-level copywriter. With experience in the industry and a strong reputation for quality and timely work, he or she may be awarded a promotion to an associate creative director position.

Many associates eventually become senior directors. Most senior creative director jobs entail more private office work and less personal contact with employees. A senior director spends most of his or her time conducting Internet market research, reviewing proposals, and making the final decisions about whether or not to carry out a project idea.

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Discussion Comments


The creative director in my company is so lazy.


@letshearit - It makes sense that magazines would make use of associate creative directors. I remember doing an internship at a magazine and having to help out the creative director on occasion. She was always in such a hurry I imagine that she would have needed a lot of assistance to get everything done.

I wonder how long it takes an associate creative director to become a creative director?

I think you would have to put up with a lot of stress to make it into such a position.


You can also hold the title of an associate creative director if you are working in a magazine. These people help the creative director to make sure that the look of the magazine is uniform and that everything is up to standard.

A lot of what an associate creative director does in a magazine really depends on the size of the publication. I held this title for awhile at a smaller publication and it pretty much amounted to being a gopher between the creative director and the design staff. A lot of what I did was purely administrative with a bit of graphic design thrown in for good measure. If someone wasn't around to fix a font or bleeds, I was the one doing it.

I think before you take a job is an associate creative director you should really ask what the job entails. It seems to me to be a job title that is open to interpretation.


@ceilingcat - It sounds like you've never worked a creative job in a professional environment. You can't get too far off task even if inspiration does strike-you'll get fired!

Still, that doesn't take anything away from an associate creative directors skills. I admire anyone who can guide a group of people through completing a project.

Also though, I feel like it's some sort of cosmic joke that the job of a and associate "creative" director partly involves administrative duties! How disappointing.


I definitely don't envy an associate creative director. My degree is in art, so I have a ton of experience being around artists and other creative people. Let me tell you, I wouldn't want to be the one responsible for keeping them organized and on task!

I know firsthand how easy it is to get side tracked once inspiration strikes. Or to go off task just a little bit because you have a new idea that is so much better than the one you were working on. A creative director certainly has their work cut out for them.


@miriam98 - I did some freelance work as a copywriter for advertising companies. Copywriting is part art, part science; there is certainly a method to the madness, and I think inspiration takes a back seat.

But the most important thing to my clients was that I wrote strong, tight copy under deadlines.


I know someone who started out as a graphic artist and then worked his way up to become an advertising agency creative director; he is making big time money now.

For some reason, my view of the creative director had always been that of a master pitch man, delivering some great idea or the next killer concept. I had always thought that this person was just motivated by flashes of inspiration. I realize that this view of the position is probably motivated by television more than anything else.

My friend tells me that in working his way up, there were just a lot of administrative duties, just like the article says. You have to be a master of collaboration more than anything else, able to bring together the best ideas from a team of advertising professionals and helping to tailor the best of them for your clients. There are no one-man shows in this profession.

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