2 Minutes With … Marie Danzig, Head of Creative and Product at Blue State

On her work for Obama and UNHCR, and Milton Glaser’s enduring 'I ❤ NY' logo

Marie Danzig is head of creative and product at Blue State, a values-led creative and campaigns agency that partners with leading causes, companies and campaigns.

Prior to Blue State, Marie helped lead the digital efforts of the Obama presidential campaigns. She graduated from Stanford University, where she spent most of her time playing ultimate frisbee (and has the national championship trophies to prove it). 

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

Marie, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up on Roosevelt Island, a small island connected to Manhattan by a tramway. Now I live in Brooklyn with my husband and two boys.

How you first realized you were creative.

When I dropped out of NYU Law School after one semester. 

A person you idolized creatively early on.

Björk. I listened to her nonstop when I was driving around Italy doing research for my thesis. She transports you. You never know what she’s going to do next.

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

Just after college I ditched all practical life plans to spend the ski season in Jackson Hole. That season turned into two years and a budding career in journalism. I’ve never been one to plot my life beyond one year because you never know what life has in store for you.     

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

Heath Ceramics. So simple, so great. We have Heath tiles crawling up our walls at home, Heath vases, Heath dinnerware. I love how Heath products turn what could be mundane into artwork.  

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

Somebody Somewhere on HBO. It’s all about character development, focusing on people and places that Hollywood very rarely makes shows about.

Your favorite fictional character.

Too many good ones! Choice paralysis! I’ll go with a character from a classic I recently shared with my boys: Louis the swan from Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White. He was born mute and overcomes his disability through music. It’s a beautiful story and incredibly narrated by E.B. White himself.

Someone or something worth following on social media.

Heath Ceramics, of course. U.K. cartoonist Gemma Correll (she makes you laugh about the things that make you cry). And I work with a lot of nonprofits whose social channels are great places to go to learn about opportunities to pursue social change and social justice—e.g., Amnesty USA, Vera Institute and Center for Reproductive Rights.

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

Personally, I take a lot less for granted. Professionally, collaboration and “office” culture has always been so central to who we are at Blue State. It’s a whole new challenge to capture that when we’re all remote, and now in a hybrid working environment. We’re still figuring it out, but I’m beyond impressed with our team’s ability to adapt, to facilitate remote brainstorms, to connect with one another and with our clients in different ways. The pandemic has also necessarily pushed our clients to accelerate their digital sophistication, and that’s opened up new and exciting opportunities.

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

The Barack Obama 2008 campaign, hands down. We changed the way people organize online and participate in politics and social movements. On top of that, it was a hell of a lot of fun. Most importantly, it helped Obama win.

A recent project you're proud of.

I’m consistently wowed by the work we do for UK for UNHCR to help the UN agency respond to refugee emergencies around the globe. In just two months, UNHCR has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for relief efforts in Ukraine, and a big part of that is research and testing that have led to resonant creative. 

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.

As a native New Yorker, I have a very soft spot for Milton Glaser’s "I ❤ NY" logo. He designed it in the back of a taxi on a scrap of paper. It struck a chord, and it still does, with millions of people. For Blue State’s 10-year anniversary, our founder Joe Rospars asked Glaser to do a piece that represented our work, our people, and our role in the world. He created "Blue Is Beautiful," which is hanging on my home office wall:

Someone else's work you admired lately.

A colleague shared "The Lost Class" campaign with me the other day. Change the Ref does a great job of talking about the gun violence epidemic in a different and memorable way. I'm not big on "stunts," but did appreciate seeing an NRA leader get duped.

Change the Ref | The Lost Class
Your main strength as a creative person.

Tying creative campaigns to real results. I think I'm pretty good at calling bullshit if something doesn't have a clear purpose. 

Your biggest weakness.

I'm an optimizer, which has upsides but also means I can spend way too much time researching or reworking. We relentlessly improve campaigns, but we also help brands move more quickly and get to market faster to test and learn their way to success. Balancing the optimization and speed is always a challenge. 

One thing that always makes you happy.

My youngest son Crosby likes to say, "Mommy, I don't like you." <pregnant pause> "I *LOVE* you." So, yeah, THAT! Similarly, seeing my colleagues take the time to share positive feedback makes me so happy. And I need to do it more.

One thing that always makes you sad.

When people doubt themselves or hold themselves back. I try to foster a culture where everyone can be their best selves, but there are so many systemic issues and barriers to overcome.

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

Film critic. That was part of my job for the Jackson Hole Guide straight out of college, and I loved it.

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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Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a contributor for Muse by Clio. She's also a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder's College of Media, Communication, and Information.

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