2 Minutes With … Liz Taylor, Global CCO of Ogilvy

On the gun violence epidemic, Glade's Museum of Feelings, and lining her dorm room with ads

For over two decades, Liz Taylor has been recognized as one of the industry's most progressive creative leaders. She currently serves as global chief creative officer of Ogilvy. Before that, she was global chief creative officer for Leo Burnett and chief creative officer for Publicis Communications North America.

Her work has been featured in the Museum of Modern Art and multiple Super Bowls, seen across the pages of Harper's Bazaar, Fast Company and Rolling Stone, and even topped the Billboard charts. Her career credits include iconic and brand-defining work for Budweiser, Clorox, Gatorade, Wrigley, Michelob Ultra, Morton Salt, Beam Suntory, GE, Kimberly-Clark and Boeing.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin and Portfolio Center, Liz is based in her native Chicago, where she lives with her husband, a Goldendoodle and her two kids when they are home from college.

We spent two minutes with Liz to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations, and recent work she's admired.

Liz, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

Same answer for both: JohnHughesland.

How you first realized you were creative.

I wrote a book in 7th grade that won a competition. "Beth's Summer at Camp Maplewoods" was the story of a sarcastic, frizzy-haired Jewish kid with a love of Broadway musicals who didn't quite fit in with the "in" group. Technically it was entered in the fiction category, but let's be honest, it was really my first memoir.

A person you idolized creatively early on.

Writers. Judy Blume, S.E. Hinton, JD Salinger, Harper Lee, William Golding, Ray Bradbury. I devoured books. Still do.

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

I had just graduated college—University of Wisconsin-Madison—and was all set to attend law school in the fall when my brother, an attorney, pulled me aside that summer and said, "What are you doing?! I think you think it'll be like L.A. Law, filled with drama and excitement. It's not. It will suck every ounce of creativity out of you. Go do what you love. Go be creative."

I cold-called Leo Burnett the next day and asked how I get a job "making the ads." They invited me to a portfolio night, where I first heard of Portfolio Center. With the encouragement of a very supportive mom, I applied the next day. I also met my husband there.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

David Shrigley. His acerbic wit and deadpan drawings make me giggle.
Knowledge Bennett. Love his Cojones series. All the attitude. All the swagger.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

Ted Lasso. A masterclass in what great leadership looks like. (I'm currently working on a presentation about the Ted Lasso way of leading.)

Your favorite fictional character.

See above. This minute: Ted Lasso. Also I'm a bit obsessed with Walter White, Penny Lane and Wendy Rhoades.

Someone or something worth following in social media.

@CampWandawega. Wes Anderson IRL. My happy place. David and Tereasa are close friends.

How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.

How didn't it?!

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.

Museum of Feelings for Glade. We set out to reinvent grandma's favorite $4 candle. This project literally took an army to execute. I had the privilege of working with some of the most talented, interesting, brilliant creative thinkers, architects, technologists and designers. At the time the whole experiential thing wasn't a quite thing yet.

This was brand experience with data, tech and storytelling at the core. We created a visual mood ring of the city. We demonstrated how scent has the power to change how we feel. We never imagined four-hour wait times in the middle of the winter. We didn't expect to be the biggest tourist attraction in New York City. We were shocked when celebrities wanted to rent it out or have special back entrance access. It was one of those projects where dreaming big paid off. The best tweet: "Holy F*ck, this was Glade?!"

Glade | Museum of Feelings Case Study
A recent project you're proud of.

The Lost Class for Change the Ref. We wanted to honor the memory of the 3,044 victims of school shootings who should've graduated high school this year. We also wanted to confront gun lobbyists. There are so many chilling moments from this project that will forever stick with me. Manuel sharing the story of his son with our team. The moment the team presented the idea. The image of the chairs. The filming took place a week before my own son graduated high school. It was a powerful, heartbreaking experience that brought me to tears more than once.

I'm passionate about doing whatever I can to help end gun violence in America. For the last 10 years I've done work for the Brady Campaign, Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence and Change the Ref.

The Lost Class | David Keene
The Lost Class | John Lott
The Lost Class | BTS
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.

Absolut and Nike. While everyone around me decorated their college dorm rooms with movie and band posters, I covered mine with all the Absolut and Nike ads that I had saved and collected. I think I still have them all saved somewhere. The design of Absolut. The writing in those Nike Women ads. Forgetaboutit. Stands the test of time.

Someone else's work you admired lately.

The work from Burberry.

Burberry | Singin' in the Rain
Burberry | Open Spaces
Your main strength as a creative person.

Resiliency. Relentless curiosity.

Your biggest weakness.

I live in constant state of divine discontent. (Thank you, David Ogilvy, for coining the phrase.) A restless dissatisfaction, always seeking ways to improve the work, the craft, my skills, myself. I also get unhinged if my phone or laptop battery get below 80 percent.

One thing that always makes you happy.

My family. My dog.

One thing that always makes you sad.

Missing my mom.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.

Trying to qualify for the World Series of Poker.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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