Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The secret to a successful relationship

I’ve commented on the bizarre nature of copywriter-art director relationships in the past here and here. And here.

So rather than come up with any fresh ideas, I thought I’d just rehash that old gag again.

This week we look at how to foster a healthy long-term relationship.

Most copywriter-art director relationships operate like a loveless marriage – poor communication, constantly looking for ways to undermine and humiliate the other, and a practically non-existent sex life.

There are however a few exceptions to the rule. Beautiful, loving relationships where each values and encourages the other and they both flourish in a beautiful garden of burgeoning creativity.

After a couple of painful break-ups I’ve been wondering what these couples have that we don’t? So I conducted a little research into these unnaturally amicable and productive relationships. The results were very revealing.

Almost 100% of teams surveyed chose to look at one another.

As you can see here, I always place my computer monitor in the centre of the desk, directly blocking my view of my AD. I figure that this way I’m not distracted from work. What’s more, I only have to look at the annoying top of his stupid ugly head.

But in every case of happy relationships, teams actually prefer to move their monitors to one side so they can see one another!

Take for example Jon and Rich here.

They’ve been working together since they met at Watford College back in 1938 and are as in love today as when they first met. Look at the eye contact there. It’s beautiful.

One team here at Partners even goes a step further and lunches together every Friday. Like a sweet old couple going out on date night.

I find this kind of behaviour baffling. I want to say “But what about when he does that thing when he sniffs his marker and stares into the middle distance instead of thinking of ideas? Or what about when he nods at a line you give him, then actually writes only about 80% of the words you said plus a couple of his own swapped in, all of them misspelt?”

The only logical answer is that in these functional relationships, the art director is simply not too annoying.

So, to conclude. If you want a healthy long term relationship, you have to find a not-too-annoying art director. And those, dear reader, are rarer than rocking horse doo-doo.


  1. If you want to retain your centrally positioned computer monitors and maintain eye contact, simply attach a webcam to each monitor and swap the feeds, so that your AD's face is displayed on your screen and your face appears on his.

  2. I think the secret to a successful relationship is some noise reducing headphones and a large computer moniter. Or if you work on a laptop like me, go for the biggest one in the shop. That way you can avoid the annoying git for months.

  3. In my opinion absence makes the art director grow fonder.
    I spend as little time with my copywriter as is contractually possible.

    Here's a few ideas:

    1. Never socialise out of office hours, including lunchtime.

    2. Spend a lot of time away from your desk (include visits to the printer, toilet, kitchen, toilet, kitchen and general aimless wandering)

    3. Never take annual leave at the same time as your copywriter. Their holiday is your holiday.

    4. Spend a lot of time with other art directors. The more the better. Copywriters hate these kinds of gatherings.

    5. Encourage your creative partner to procreate as much as possible so that they take paternity/maternity leave . (Warning - actually getting them pregnant or getting pregnant by them without their consent could lead to HR issues)

  4. Are we still using human copywriters?


  5. The secret of my 10 year plus relationship with my art director is twofold: 1-she is a nice person. 2- she can spell.

  6. Chalky
    You sure she's not a copywriter?
    Those are some helpful tips for us all, thank you.

  7. Nicely written RM. Handy, as that's your job and all. I though, personally, like to spice up these AD-C relationships up by having the odd affair. You know, a quick idea for another copywriter here – a beer with another one there. It keeps the permie copywriter on his (or her) toes.

    I'd never let another copywriter see my Moleskine or touch my pencil though – I DO have standards.