Annals of nouning: creative

On an opinion piece on KQED-FM heard this morning, commenter Bobby Podesta was identified as

head of creative at a San Francisco startup

— with the noun creative referring to the “creative department” of the firm, that is, the department responsible for the “artistic product” of the firm.

One more nouning of the adjective creative, to add to the others attested in the OED.

Background: Podesta (formerly an animator at Pixar) is Head of Creative at ToyTalk, Inc., which says about itself:

With a passion for entertainment and technology, ToyTalk strives to break new ground in the art of storytelling and the science of computing.

and identifies Podesta as responsible for the firm’s “words and pictures”.

Many ghits for {head of creative at”}, for instance:

Lipton Promoted to Head of Creative at AKQA SF
Well, it looks like AKQA is happy with Pierre Lipton‘s handiwork as it’s promoted the man to executive creative director of its San Francisco office, making him only one of two U.S. ECDs at AKQA (link) [AKQA is “a creative agency specializing in interactive marketing”]

Head of Creative
Dan [Germain] has worked at innocent [Innocent Drinks] since the company started and is the company’s Head of Creative.  These days his duties include overseeing all advertising and creative tasks, from the web to books and packaging to advertising. He endeavours to make sure that the innocent brand grows up to be big and strong, as well as still finding time to draw rubbish pictures for the front of the smoothie labels. (link)

And there are some hits for {“works in creative at”}, for instance:

i’m not sure to believe this…of course I am one of the biggest KH [Kingdom Hearts video game] fans and would love to see it happen, especially with the 3rd game in the works but when I spoke to one of my friends who works in creative at WDI [Walt Disney International], glendale he said there is no market really for it here in the states (link)

Such a good day today! Guess who now works in creative at Leo Burnett [advertising agency]? Yup, it is me! (link)

Well, you couldn’t pay me to listen to Cjay [radio station CJAY] anymore, but they do spin Cumbersome now and then I believe. Get this though, my buddy works in Creative at Cjay, so I was there pre-drinking the afternoon of the show. (link)

So, Creative is responsible for “product”, in particular artistic product, especially advertising.

OED3 (June 2003) has quite a collection of nounings of the adjective creative, which it groups together under two headings:

1. The creative faculty; creative work; (Advertising) creative material produced for an advertising campaign, such as the copy, design, or artwork.

2. A creative person, a person whose job involves creative work; (Advertising) a person who carries out creative work on an advertising campaign, esp. a copywriter, art director, or designer.

The cites have a 1903 outlier for subentry 1 and a 1938 outlier for subentry 2, but otherwise the cites begin in the 60s for 2, the 80s for 1, all associated with artistic endeavors (including writing), especially in an advertising context. For 2:

1965    Listener 20 May 747/1   May not teachers be thought of as creatives manqué rather than failed doers?

1970    New Yorker 12 Sept. 29/2 (advt.)    The media used will be those that ‘creatives’ consider their own.

1989    Campaign 21 Apr. 5/3   Planners write the brief on screen, creatives read it, then visualise and copywrite on one of the various enhanced computer graphics systems.

2000    M. Johnson Drop iii. 160   Could you send a portfolio over, a client list and such?.. And could you tell me the name of the head creative? Thank you.

And for 1:

1987    Bottomline Nov. 35/1   Good creative for bank advertising is similar to any other creative.

1989    New Yorker 15 May 41 (caption)    Bruce, you look fabulous! Who’s doing your creative?

1993    Chicago Tribune 29 Jan. iii. 4/2   Icon Marketing, a Chicago-based firm, was identified as providing the creative behind the spots, with Turner doing the production.

2001    Revolution 1 Aug. 5/4   Youth web site is using ‘in-your-face’ ads to drive users to the service… The creative was designed by agency Digital Outlook.

The second set of senses looks to be somewhat earlier than the first and has been remarked on in many places; creative ‘creative person’ is listed in both AHD4 and NOAD 2. The first set of senses — in particular, referring to a finished ad — doesn’t seem to have made it into the one-volume dictionaries yet. But, as Chris Waigl pointed out on ADS-L in 2006, it now seems to have a lot of traction in the advertising world, as here:

Send us the creative [the ad copy] and we’ll work with you to create custom packages for you / your client (link) [Affluent Digital Media is an ad agency targeting the affluent]

How many times does the client really get the idea first time after sending him the creatives?

Depends on the client. But why risk that? That’s why it’s always wise to send the creator along with the creatives. Better yet, on major initiatives, invite the client over to your office. (link)

Advertising creative occurs as the first N in a great many N + N compounds, and it’s not always clear which of the two sense groups is involved, or whether the items are in fact  Adj + N composites (with a pseudo-Adj creative), or sometimes even whether creative might be an ordinary Adj. A sampling of composites:

the creative brief [the ad brief], a creative writer [ad writer], creative files [files for an ad], the creative unit [advertising unit], creative director [advertising/art director], creative images, creative video, a creative agency

Though we can’t be sure about the pronunciation of these examples (which come from written texts), there’s a general tendency for the primary accent to be on the first element of a composite if it’s a N, on the second if the first element is an Adj (whether an ordinary Adj or a pseudo-Adj). So creátive wrìter ‘ad writer’ but creàtive vídeo ‘video made by a creative’.

I’m still getting used to the idea that there are creatives who produce creatives.



One Response to “Annals of nouning: creative

  1. The Ridger Says:

    In Russian, the word креатив (kreativ) – often креатиф / криатиф (kreatif / kriatiff) in Internet slang – means a creative person, particularly in the artistic sense, and also creative marketing or creative design, and – especially on the Internet – the product of such a person.

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