Table of contents
Creative Ops

Will Galperin on manifesting a level of care in your work

June 14, 2023 · 5 min read

This is part of our 100 Creative Directors interview series. It has been edited for length and clarity. To return to the series homepage and browse other interviews, click here.

What kind of creative director are you?

Being a creative director inevitably means you’re going to be accused of being too much of one thing or another:

A creative director whose job is to manage the team and feels the need to get his fingerprint on every piece of work may be considered a “helicopter parent” creative director. 

Then you have that creative character who’s a “lone wolf”:That CD who is always on their own, who seems almost aloof because they’re such an artist and usually ends up selling his own work.

Creatives can either be too hands-on or too hands-off. It’s usually going to feel one way or the other.

The type of creative director I am is the one who looks at every project and asks this one simple question:
What is the greatest creative opportunity for the brand?

Not “what are we making?,” not “how do we fulfill the media buy?,” not “how does this meet a trend?,” but what is the greatest creative opportunity that also solves the client’s business problem? 

Asking that question and empowering the team to figure out the answer to that question: that’s the role of a creative director.

What is the most difficult part about shipping great creative work?

Whether you're on the brand or agency side, it’s often about being able to really help the client understand the opportunity in front of them. 

When I work with Fortune 500 company CEOs or CMOs and talk them through an idea, I really have to help  them understand that the obvious idea isn't necessarily the answer. 

As a concrete example, in the past I’ve had to pitch work that’s around answering a brief like: We’ve been trying to rally around this idea for our company. We’ve been saying this idea over and over and the consumer just doesn’t get it. 

But when it comes down to it, you’ll have a film or a tagline or campaign — and sometimes those things are the answer. But sometimes they aren’t! As a creative director, navigating which pieces are going to break through and be effective for the brand is really important.

One of the brands I used to work for is a big tech company. 

Every year they held a big tech conference wanting it to be received like Apple Keynote or Google IO. They really felt like they needed to be in that space. I’m of the opinion that that’s an important brand moment but the company had so much work ahead of them. That conference was only accessible to partners and developers. For me the real question was: how can we get the same message across to consumers about what we believe in and what we’re about? And how can that be always on, year-round, and truly living in culture? Not something that just lives in California at a tech conference and is only covered in trade publications.

That’s an example of a client seeing a big shiny thing in front of them and saying “Yes, a big tech conference! We need to be there!” rather than seeing that it's just a medium addressing a narrow audience. 

Your idea can often be realized in other formats.

How do you measure your team’s success? 

Does a project have a certain reverberation beyond the work itself?

Does it have the ability to be more than a one-off for the brand but can it start to build some connective tissue to other things down the road?

It’s really good to present ideas that go beyond the campaign — ideas that really say we can reuse this type of format going forward. It could be something as simple as Apple’s “There’s an app for that.” Apple can come back to the well on that one again and again. It doesn’t just have to be the solution for one campaign.

The success I’ve seen in my personal work is when a line for a campaign I pitched becomes the line. This doesn’t just have to be for TV commercials. For one specific brand I have in mind, I pitched a line that they used for all events in Australia and the U.K., long after the commercial I originally wrote it for had come and gone. It was cool because it really worked for the brand.

That’s the success I’m always looking for: how do we get this thing to have purchase beyond the campaign?

What are three tools you cannot do your job without?

  1. Slack: Email is not a friend. Email is for relationship building and documenting. Slack, especially during the pandemic, became the office water cooler for keeping in touch and keeping things moving. 

  2. GIF-making: I make a lot of my presentations in Google Slides. In 2023, we still don’t have a way to play video over streaming for some reason. I’m always pushing my team to think in the moving image and high quality GIF making. If you can show it in motion and it makes sense, GIFs can really help tell the story.

  3. iPhone camera: I started off my career in film school, so I quickly became the shooter/editor in the office. In those days, it was mini DV tape to DSLR. I worked on Apple’s “Shot on iPhone” campaign, and on numerous campaigns for Snapchat. Over the years I came to understand that everything is converging here. This [phone] is the new pencil. If you look at a pencil, its only use is to write or draw but try telling that to Leonardo DaVinci or Malcolm X. The way they used their pencil was vastly different. For them, the ordinary pencil was capable of creating a masterpiece. We’re in a world where everyone has the tool at their fingertips. If you have an iPhone 14 Pro, you have cinematic mode. You can do so much professional-looking work on your own now.

Best piece of advice you've ever received?

The best piece of advice I’ve received was from Lee Clow from TBWA, the godfather of Apple's advertising, as well as PlayStation and Adidas. He's just a genius. 

He said “You can teach almost anyone in the world to do anything. The only thing you can’t teach them to do is to care.” 

The things I care about — that’s what’s manifested in the work. That’s what you’re seeing. You’re not really seeing my skills, talent or intellect. You’re seeing my care on display. 

I believe that’s true of every creative. What you’re seeing is the sum total of their care. 

This is part of our 100 Creative Directors interview series. It has been edited for length and clarity. To return to the series homepage and browse other interviews, click here.

Related posts

Unblock creativity.

Everything you hate, we automate

Need to talk to a human first? Request a demo →

Air workspace