You would think the most important department in an Advertising Agency is the creative department. I mean if you’re at an Ad Agency, the point is creating successful ads. Right?
Cabell Harris would argue with that. Creative is important but only if it’s created on time. The most successful ad campaigns did not come out as rush jobs. They took time to cultivate, test out concepts and visuals and truly cultivate an idea and bring it to fruition.
To ensure those creatives have that necessary time, you need a department that can the flow of projects. That’s where the traffic department come in. To Cabell, the traffic team is the most vital department in any agency. At the end of the day (pun intended) it all comes down to the flow of the work and how it impacts profitability. Having the time to do the work properly and having necessary procedures like client sign-offs and approvals helps keep things from slipping through the cracks.
Bill Westbrook, formerly of Ford and Westbrook and later of Earle Palmer Brown is now owner of No Fences, a brand consulting agency that assists CEOs and Marketing Directors in focusing their advertising and marketing efforts, helping to create a more compelling message for their brand. With all his experience and expertise, Bill says, “The traffic system is the flow of dollar bills through the agency…The traffic people are the first line of defense: they control the most valuable commodity in an advertising agency, which is time. Without the creative director’s ability to control the traffic system and give the creative people time to do the work, they’ll simply be run over by the account people who are getting pressure.”
The creative industry is an industry of due dates. Without traffic managing the flow of work it could get unraveled quickly.