2 Minutes With ... House of Content Co-Hosts Janni, Melissa and Christine
Janni Widerholm is a creative director at TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles, leading the agency's social creative and content. Widerholm's work has evolved beyond conventional advertising, with Vanity Fair describing her as "doing real things, rather than conjuring up slogans." In Finland, Widerholm was named a Future Maker Under 35 by national newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, and she recently became an "accidental" wedding creator on TikTok.
Melissa Kontu is an award-winning marketing expert at TBWA\C\D L.A. She specializes in integrating brands with culture and current events. With a decade of experience, Kontu develops content for a 1 million-strong audience on TikTok.
Christine Göös is a freelance copywriter and communications director with expertise in creative tech, advertising and podcasting. Named Storyteller of the Year by Top Women in Marketing in 2021, Christine has made a career of growing brands with two successful exits in the past five years.
Janni, Melissa and Christine, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
- Janni: I grew up in Helsinki, but for a moment in time, I've also called Wisconsin and Hong Kong home. Now, I live in Los Angeles with my husband (whom I met in Finland) and our Golden Doodle puppy, Finn.
- Melissa: I was raised in Finland, right in the midst of the forest, and have been living in Helsinki for the past decade. This March I relocated to Los Angeles with my partner.
- Christine: I grew up in Helsinki, as well as touring with the circus all over Europe. My dad is a third generation circus artist. I live in Brooklyn with my husband (also a copywriter) and 8-year-old stepson.
How you first realized you were creative.
- Janni: After watching home videos of my twin brother and I as kids, and realizing I've been a creative even before I had the title.
- Melissa: When I was 11, I made a fake ad for a wrinkle cream using Microsoft Paint and it got voted Image of the Day on the most popular social networking website (IRC gallery) in Finland. It was a big thing for me.
- Christine: After taking first place in a national fiction competition in third grade.
A person you idolized creatively early on.
- Janni: I've never been a big #fangirl, but I've always been influenced by trends, shows and music. When I moved to L.A., I (embarrassingly) told my now husband that I needed to see Laguna Beach in real life after spending my youth watching hours and hours of MTV.
- Melissa: My sibling Esme who is six years my senior. Despite the limited opportunities for activities in our small town, Esme would include me in her endeavors, such as recording our very own "radio show," typing up books or coming up with dance choreographies inspired by MTV. It helped me grasp the importance of creativity at a young age.
- Christine: My dad for his skill and eye for adapting classic Italian comedy to engage modern audiences.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
- Janni: When I moved to Hong Kong and took a class on consumer analytics. That led me to apply to a data analyst trainee position at TBWA in Helsinki. I was hired after three months and my internship was cut short so I could focus on my first global campaign that went viral on social media. I was instantly hooked on working at a creative agency.
- Melissa: After finishing high school, I took a two-year break and lived in Brazil. This is when I made the decision to pursue an international degree.
- Christine: When I got hired at TBWA in the middle of my sophomore year. I almost quit university after winning Young Lions Finland.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
- Janni: Right now, photographer Charlotte Wales. As someone who is highly inspired by visual art and aesthetics, I'm obsessed with her glossy editorials that have that cool vintage feel. I’m also rooting for the first OVO female artist Naomi Sharon.
- Melissa: Billie Eilish is an incredibly talented artist who has carved out her own unique space in the industry.
- Christine: The Civil Wars. I wish they'd reunite for one more album or tour.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
- Janni: I'm currently reading Ideaflow by Jeremy Utley and Perry Kiebahn. I'm inspired by the thought that every problem is an idea problem and the pursuit of increasing idea inputs to master your flow. Sounds very complex, but this book is a good reminder that there's a method to madness and creativity is something that can be actively trained.
- Melissa: I'm a real psychology nerd. My recent favorite book is The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga. It explores the principles of Adlerian psychology and challenges the common assumptions and beliefs that we hold about ourselves and our relationships with others.
- Christine: I've made Daisy Jones and the Six my whole personality lately.
Your favorite fictional character.
- Janni: Hermione Granger. Being smart is cool. And maybe I see a bit of myself in how she shows up to class. She’s also a Virgo, so that checks out.
- Melissa: Daenerys Targaryen. Her story is quite inspiring. She starts off as a powerless and abused young girl, but gradually grows into a powerful and determined leader.
- Christine: Carrie Bradshaw. Yes, she's the worst but she's also responsible for me and 90 percent of millennial women moving to NYC.
Someone or something worth following in social media.
- Janni: I'm always looking for opportunities to learn and have lately been loving the content posted by @cocomocoe, @thenatebrown and @maggiesellers_ on TikTok.
- Melissa: Andrew Huberman. He makes neuroscience accessible and digestible for people. I wish I could teach him a thing or two about short form videos, though (his videos are up to five hours long).
- Christine: Two amazing LinkedIn influencers come to mind: Jasmine Bina for strategy and MacKenzie Green for social media.
How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.
- Janni: I refocused on self-care, exercising and started habit stacking. Those moves have informed the daily routines I see myself following far into the future.
- Melissa: I got really sick with Covid while staying at my family cabin with my best friend, with no running water or proper heating. It lasted for about two weeks and for a moment I wasn't sure if I'd make it. The experience gave me a newfound appreciation for life and health.
- Christine: I spent four months in Brazil with my husband's family and picked up a new language. I even completed my mother-in-law's sommelier course in Portuguese.
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.
- Janni: In Finland, it has to be when we built a zero emission cabin experience with our client Neste to let young people experience what low emission traveling feels like. In L.A., we recently worked with HomeStart to allow people to buy apartments in the metaverse to help prevent families from being evicted in real life.
- Melissa: We made Burger King the most relevant Finnish brand in social, using idea-first and audience-centric approaches to content and community management.
- Christine: My previous podcast, Brand-Side, where I got to interview industry legends like Madonna Badger and Travis Montaque.
A recent project you're proud of.
- Janni: We recently partnered with Emily Zugay to let people rename paint colors for Behr paint. So many brands are struggling to create authentic partnerships with creators, and I loved how the idea felt native to her style and invited people to be part of the idea. Now, you can buy "not quite purple," "flustered mustard" and "mossed opportunity" from Home Depot.
- Melissa: I was part of making The Great Frozen Pizza Expedition come true last month and traveled to Angle Inlet, the northernmost point of the contiguous U.S .locked inside of Canada. We built a massive freezer, loaded it with Freschetta pizza and used local sled dogs to carry it across the frozen lake to the Angle. That’s the kind of ideas we make happen at Chiat\Day.
- Christine: This Cannes Lions Palais takeover for the Creative Automation Company Celtra in 2022 with close to a hundred OOH placements peppered around La Croisette. It was a surreal moment to—literally—stand on my own work at the festival.
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.
- Janni: I remember being extremely jealous and inspired by "Trash Isles." This was in 2018, but to me, it's still a great example of using creativity for good.
- Melissa: "Like A Girl," an empowering campaign that changed the way people think about the phrase "like a girl."
- Christine: "Dumb Ways to Die." It had a resurgence on TikTok recently, and I was reminded of the brilliance of the idea.
Someone else's work you admired lately.
- Janni: "Bless Your F*ing Cooch" by Eos and Mischief. Truly genius.
- Melissa: "The Lost Class." A graduation ceremony for the students who didn't make it to graduation because of gun violence.
- Christine: RXM’s "Not Another Second," which celebrates LGBT+ seniors and the collective years they have lost not being their true selves.
Your main strength as a creative person.
- Janni: Understanding the big picture and creatively orchestrating ideas.
- Melissa: The skill of creating viral content.
- Christine: Crafting stories that bring business results.
Your biggest weakness.
- Janni: Always saying I can make it happen.
- Melissa: I'm a terrible multitasker.
- Christine: Patience. And Finnish liquorice.
One thing that always makes you happy.
- Janni: The streets of Hong Kong.
- Melissa: Vegan options on the menu.
- Christine: Sing Sing Karaoke in St. Marks' Place, NYC.
One thing that always makes you sad.
- Janni: Never having all of my favorite people in the same country.
- Melissa: Being half a world away from my family.
- Christine: Succession being in its final season.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
- Janni: I'd be a jeweler or a luxury wedding stylist.
- Melissa: I'd be a relationship coach specializing in attachment styles.
- Christine: I'd own a vintage store that only sells dresses.