Ann Wixley Creative Director


The first opinion piece I wrote for Campaign a while back which kicked off a series of articles, all anchored around my experience as a Creative Director in a Media agency.


At a recent Omnicom group conference, someone said that we need rock bands not rock stars to make creative and business sense of the diversifying communications landscape with our clients.

We’re all in the business of ideas, but where they come from, and how they are delivered continues to blur - the hierarchy of message versus medium has flattened, the medium can be the message and increasingly we need to strip out the layers to put the audience in the driver’s seat or create a product instead.

To meet the challenge, I’d like to build on the rock band metaphor to suggest that we need orchestras - I’ll explain what I mean through my lens of a modern day media agency.

OMD practises a creative democracy, encouraging and expecting ideas from a myriad of sources. The creative team’s job is focused as much on empowering, inspiring and connecting others as it is on hands on idea-generation and development.

As a media agency, ours is not the craft of distillation and creative execution in the traditional sense, rather it’s a complementary craft of expanding the idea, finding ways to open it to audiences to share in, or to create a framework, at scale with our media and tech partners.

Our starting point is the audience, and often the pipelines to reach them, and it diverges from there.

For me, the orchestra metaphor is helpful - the creativity of the composer, the sensitivity and command of the conductor, the diversity of the artists and technicians - illustrate the value of each player along the idea journey from divergence to convergence to collaboration.
There is a need for interpretation and ‘arrangement’ in execution, individual specialist practice and collective rehearsal, harmony and dissonance, solos and accompaniment.
I think of it as a sequence of events not a hierarchy. A performance it certainly is.

This approach implies a need to encourage a broader definition of creativity as well as to create space for pure play creative thinkers. It requires an attitude of openness and a culture of trust, with some method in the madness to manage the uncertainty and to facilitate the necessary connections within and without the agency.

All implications we are working on, one brief at a time. I guess you could say that we are practising Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. I prefer to think of it as Orchestral Manoeuvres towards the Light.

Date created: September 2014 2014-09-01T00:00:00+0100
Date published: 9 February 2016 2016-02-09T19:51:45+0000


  • OMD UK, advertising industryClient

Ann Wixley was recognised as an Industry Influencer on 15th March 2016

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Ann Wixley has been a Contributor since 15th March 2016.

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