2 Minutes With … Jill Applebaum, CCO of Wunderman Thompson NY
Jill Applebaum is chief creative officer of Wunderman Thompson New York, inspiring growth for ambitious brands. With decades of experience on brands big and small across myriad agencies, Jill has won all major awards and been named one of Fast Company's Most Creative People in Business.
Prior to Wunderman Thompson, Jill spent several years at Facebook's Creative Shop. Before that she led the Pepsi business at The Barbarian Group. Outside of work, Jill is the mother of two cool kids and mostly spends her time trying to avoid doing laundry.
We spent two minutes with Jill to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations, and recent work she's admired.
Jill, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I grew up in Parsippany, New Jersey, which accounts for my love of tomatoes, mullets and strip malls. I now live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, which accounts for my love of the combined smell of pizza and rat carcass.
How you first realized you were creative.
As a child, I used to cross out the words on Hallmark cards and write my own copy. Also, when I was young, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said I wanted to be the person who named nail polish colors.
A person you idolized creatively early on.
My grandma Thelma. What teenager models her bedroom after her grandmother's? She was crafty and had amazing taste.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
I met my husband.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
David Shrigley makes me laugh every day.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
The Midnight Gospel. I have a huge crush on Duncan Trussell. My dream is to put him together with the right brand.
Your favorite fictional character.
At the moment, Roman Roy.
Someone or something worth following in social media.
My friend @spencerist on Instagram.
How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.
I'm only now discovering some aftershock regarding how hard lockdown was on my kids. It's cliché but Covid reminded me there's more to everything and everyone than what you see on the surface.
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.
Oreo Daily Twist, because it was lightning in a bottle. We had a client, Cynthia Chen, who wanted to do something provocative and was willing to change the brief when an idea arose that excited her. While you'll see this project inappropriately appear in many portfolios, the truth is we were a small, scrappy team with Megan Sheehan and I at the helm and four incredible creatives who referred to themselves as "The Squirrels."
One of the most interesting parts was helping to create the infrastructure that enabled a complex organization like Mondelez to move at the speed of social at a time when real time and newsrooms didn't yet exist. I see the Oreo brand doing so much culturally relevant work today, and even though I'm no longer a part of it, I take pride that in some small way, setting up the Daily Twist enabled that way of thinking for the brand in perpetuity.
A recent project you're proud of.
We commemorated the 20th year after 9/11 in partnership with a great organization called 9/11 Day. Every line in this script was written with intention for the person delivering it. There was so much pressure to strike the right tone. The campaign drove hundreds of thousands of acts of kindness. It was a project close to my heart and it was a true collaboration with our clients.
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.
I've been lucky to have had so many outstanding mentors over the years who I still very much look up to. In "This is Your Life" order: Sandy, Terri, Ross, Ferg, Graham, Glen, Darren, Edu, Keller and Taras.
Someone else's work you admired lately.
Cindy Gallop has a lipstick!
Your main strength as a creative person.
I feel everyone's feelings.
Your biggest weakness.
I feel everyone's feelings.
One thing that always makes you happy.
Free time—the scarcest resource of all.
One thing that always makes you sad.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
I'd be a child psychologist.