In the Dream Teams section here at LBB we’re used to seeing creative duos, but this time we have something slightly different. We realise that creative duos don’t have to always have creatives on both ends, especially in the time of in-house. Global digital agency Collective now offers an in-house solution where the client’s creative team is housed within the agency. And with its client Avis Budget Group, this creative hothouse has seen a top-class Dream Team, consisting of creative director Alex Daniell and lead client Emma Saunders, grow and flower.
Alex and Emma met during Alex’s second interview for Collective. He says he had never done an interview for an agency where the client was present, so he was naturally more nervous than ever. “The pressure was on,” remembers the creative director. “But thankfully Emma made me feel very at ease and I instantly felt like I could be my own, sometimes silly, self.” Alex hopes for Emma to still find that silliness endearing, because this experience was also one of the main contributors to him accepting his current role at Collective. And it definitely is, agrees Emma. “Nothing has changed, if anything I’m more in awe of his creativity,” she admits.
During that interview, his first impression of her was that she easily understood the meaning of good creative thinking, “which is not always a given when that is not your specific role.” As with many successful duos, Alex and Emma instantly saw eye-to-eye on the first creative work Alex delivered for her, and this is still the case.
The first ever project they worked on together was a mock brief Alex was given to show Emma his creative thinking, which later turned into the first social campaign they launched together for ABG. “I really appreciated the fact that she trusted me in delivering this creative and understood the challenges and limitations of what it was like to work as a solo content creative at the time,” says the creative director. “It ended up being a great learning experience to understand how long it actually takes to plan, create and complete content, virtually a mini campaign, in ten languages,” explains Emma.
Like with any client/creative relationship, both Alex and Emma are aware that there will be some degree of disagreement when it comes to ideas and the final product that they collaborate to create. But at the same time, they believe that working together has helped them become more experienced at explaining their reasoning behind decision making, as well as compromising on certain aspects so that they can ultimately reach the common ground and achieve the best output possible.
Emma believes that like all good marketers, her colleagues and her know their industry and their brands exceptionally well, but what they lack is the creative genes to either help bring those ideas to life, or help them come into shape in a better and more effective way. “Alex and his team do this time and time again. They have effectively become an extension of our team, but one that doesn’t have to get bogged down in those infernal internal admin processes.”
Even with those newly learned skills when it comes to communication and collaborative work, Alex admits that as a creative, for him it is difficult to not get emotional about certain ideas. “Emma will probably tell you that she sees my face on certain calls and instantly gets ready to defuse the bomb! It’s not that I’m disagreeable, I’m terribly bad at keeping a poker face when certain feedback comes in. We’re comfortable enough with one another to be honest and always work hard to reach that common ground that keeps each party happy. What I love about our dynamic is that it is much more collaborative than the usual client/agency standards.” And Emma agrees. She sees the strength in their relationship and understanding which ensures that, “despite the obstacles” our original planned concepts still come through.
When it comes to learning from each other, Emma admits that she has learned a lot about efficiency and visual thinking from Alex, which has been revelatory for her. “Cropping and editing library stock or our own content can tell a different story and repackaging content can be just as effective as new. I can now look at what other brands do and see how they are being clever with locations or content to make it go further or stretch their budget. I like to think I understand the creative process more now too, which allows me to educate colleagues on what’s involved from a production perspective.”
On the other end of things, Alex has learned a lot about the product they are trying to sell. “Emma has always been great at breaking down the more complicated parts of the business, so we can come up with the best creative possible,” he says. “Furthermore, coming from a mainly social background myself, Emma has also helped me expand my knowledge on all the different channels we work on today, including Display, CRM, Web and PPC.” Whatever the creative or non-creative obstacle, it seems that this unlikely duo is up for any challenge and we can only wait to see what they do next!