2 Minutes With … VaynerMedia London ECD Becky McOwen-Banks

Finding a reason and a purpose in the world of creativity

Becky McOwen-Banks is executive creative director at VaynerMedia London. She joined Vayner in March 2020 after more than five years at FCB Inferno.

Becky believes in the power of creative thinking, creative problem solving and creative leadership to change a business. Her curiosity and ambition continues as a scholarship-winning eMBA student at Berlin School of Creative Leadership.

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


Becky, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

A small village in rural Northamptonshire, then from 16 on Guernsey in the Channel Islands. I currently live between two beautiful parks in South London.

What you wanted to be when you grew up.

A vet or in advertising (there was a friend of my mum's who was just entering adland when I was still little, and I loved what she did). 

How you discovered you were creative.

I could say that I did an impressive range of cow-pat paintings when very little, or the way I drew and distributed my own comics as a teen, or that I played lots of musical instruments from age 7 and made lots of mad clothing as a teen. It was always just something I did and how I encountered the world.

A person you idolized creatively growing up.

As I mentioned previously, the eldest daughter of my mum's friend hugely influenced me and opened my eyes to creativity being a career choice. 

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

I died on the operating table. Ohhhh OK possibly that's overly dramatic. I didn't recover in the recovery room after a huge brain operation when I was 16—just after sitting my GCSEs—and had to get an emergency team in to get me back. Ever since then I've thought I'm here to do something—I'm here for a reason, a purpose and tried my best to understand what and make that a reality. It's why I am an activist, a challenger and a catalyst for change.

The first concert you saw, and your favorite band or musician today.

Oh lordy, I think it was Elton John way back when. I'm a real mixed bag when it comes to tunes. I love classical and opera and often have that on in the mornings, but as someone who did uni in Manchester in the Madchester rave scene dance is my Friday night disco go-to.

Your favorite visual artist.

Antoni Tàpies. I am a HUGE art lover and buy as often as I can. I adore Tapies. His visceral quality and the incorporation of type and mark-making fills me with joy. I saw one at an exhibition last year that literally stopped me in my tracks in the midst of the walkway. It took my breath away. Art is joy.

Your favorite fictional character.

Miffy.

The best book you've read lately.

As I'm doing an MBA and am a lifelong learner, I read a lot. But one that crossed between theory and life is What If This Were Enough? by Heather Havrilesky.

Your favorite movie.

I'm going to say The Royal Tenebaums but really anything directed by Wes Anderson. His joy of the visual medium makes my whole body smile.

Your favorite Instagram follow.

@keeping_a_lighthouse. This account will take you around the Cornish coast with some beautiful shots. Nothing to sell. No point to make. Just a moment to let your heart soar.

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

Leading a growing department when I had only joined the agency five days before lockdown in London has certainly been a challenge. It was like I had one of my superpowers taken away. However, the realization that ECDs and creative departments can work remotely has opened up huge swathes of talent that previously we would not have been an option for, which can better our industry and creativity.

Your favorite creative project you've ever worked on.

The Girl Effect project from my time at FCB Inferno was such an amazing project. To allow your talent to contribute directly to changing lives is a huge moment. This was so much more than a project—we became a mini-agency with the client in their offices in Rwanda to create their first-ever brand campaign. The Girl Effect is dedicated to giving girls an adolescence—committed to showing the value of girls and the future they can have when not expected to go immediately from daughter to wife to mother.

A recent creative project you're proud of.

In a similar vein, my work with UEFA women was work with purpose. Continuing an award-winning campaign to move the message from empowering girls, to change in the attitudes of parents, speaking to dads across Europe about the importance of including their daughters in their love of football, too.

Someone else's creative project that inspired you years ago.

I won an internship at Saatchi & Saatchi and was lucky enough to meet the amazing Paul Arden. His work was huge for me—as was his manner and way of thinking. The joy in simplicity and paring ideas back to their minimum for maximum power is something I hold as a North Star to this day.

Someone else's creative project that you admired lately.

I have long admired Ade Chung's work. Then when she launched her own product last year—a very low alcohol gin-style spirit—she stole my heart. The design of everything has been exquisite, and to launch a product off your own back and see it become a success is something to be awed by.

Your main strength as a creative person.

Curiosity. 

Your biggest weakness.

Attention span! I am NOT a "details" person and had to work to train my brain to pay attention. It's one of the reasons I don't cycle around London. I am easily distra…

One thing that always makes you happy.

Coco snoring makes me ridiculously happy—she looks like a happy otter when she does it. Coco, or Miss Moo as she is also known, is my Frenchie.

One thing that always makes you sad.

Grumpy people. It is SO much easier to be positive. What a waste.

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

Running an art school that links the St. Ives movement with Japanese students.

2 Minutes With is our 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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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards, editor of Muse by Clio, and host of the podcast Tagline. Previously, he was creative editor at Adweek.

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