Seth writes about real creativity.
As usual, he's right.
One of the hardest things for a creative director to do is tell the creatives they have to follow the rules. Especially young creatives. Agency culture celebrates the people who break the rules. So if you, Mr. CD, are telling us we have to follow them, you're a hack.
When I worked on McDonald's, I constantly had young creatives delivering concepts that, well, McDonald's was just never going to run. Just wasn't going to happen. The concepts were good. In a vaccuum. But we were a franchise group agency - and to run the concepts would require a complete overhaul of the brand work - typically in a seriously unorthodox direction. Like I said: It wasn't going to happen.
Now, here's the difference between the good CD and the hack:
The hack, when confronted with this scenario, says something like: "There's a reason for the formula. The formula works. Use the formula." (note: actual quote, overheard.)
The good CD says: They have rules they won't break. Not for you, or me, or even for themselves. But those rules don't establish a formula. You can still do something good, and different. Great, even. You just have to think harder, longer, and better.