2 Minutes With … Maureen O'Boyle, Head of Operations at DE-YAN
Maureen O'Boyle started her career in the film and theater industry, and is now head of operations at DE-YAN. After a run as an associate producer at National Geographic, Maureen was drawn to the fast-paced environment of small creative studios, where she honed her skills as a content and experiential producer. Maureen has produced over 200 campaigns and experiences, including keynotes, concerts, digital extravaganzas and permanent installations. Her client roster includes American Express, Google, YouTube, Louis Vuitton, Moncler, Ferragamo, L'Oréal, Calvin Klein and Snapchat.
We spent two minutes with Maureen to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations and recent work she's admired.
Maureen, tell us ...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I grew up in Connecticut, and now live in Brooklyn. A pretty small geographic range, which completely misrepresents my wanderlust.
How you first realized you were creative.
When I texted my family this question, my dad replied, "When you started to want to redo things the way you liked them." From organizing my closet and dressing myself for preschool, to directing my (older) siblings and cousins in our holiday "pageants," I guess I've been directing for a while.
A person you idolized creatively early on.
I always idolized my mom and grandmother. My mom had a way of making everything look easy, which I think was a result of her embracing challenges instead of begrudging them. She had an incredible musical gift and could play any song by ear on the piano or guitar. She also spoke several languages and was a doctor and owned her own practice. My grandmother, if born in a different circumstance, would have been a fashion editor or a creative director. She used to take our dance costumes and add details, sewing on sequins or lace to give them a little something extra. The first time I was chosen to produce a big show in Paris, she immediately exclaimed, "What will you wear?!" She would always rally for me to not be afraid to stand out.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
During my first production internship, the executive producer sat all of the interns down in the conference room in front of a plasma screen and paused on the opening scene from The Devil Wears Prada. She said, "Write down everything you see that costs money." I can't think of a better introduction to the production industry. Not because of the financial responsibility, but realizing that nothing you see (or hear) is there by accident, or gets there without you or someone making it happen. The ability to create reality out of a vision and have input in the details—big and small—hooked me instantly.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
At the risk of sounding predictable, I would be a fraud if I didn't own up to my absolute admiration for Beyoncé. Lemonade is the most ambitious and revolutionary album ever created. I'm not accepting counterpoints.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
I loved Tina, the Tina Turner documentary on HBO. Her story is so rich, layered and awe-inspiring. RIP Anna Mae.
Your favorite fictional character.
I've always felt kindred to Madeline from the Ludwig Bemelmans series. Adventurous, independent, brave—while also deeply empathetic. And she lives in Paris, hello.
Someone or something worth following in social media.
I highly recommend that everyone should be following Ian Schrager on Instagram. The man conceived, co-owned, and designed Studio 54 and is an absolute legend with such eclectic (and incredible) taste. He also owned and designed the Palladium. For me, there has never been—and will never be—another nightclub to rival the sheer glamour, energy and wild creativity that was Studio 54. His feed is a collection of his own design, stuff he likes (#IanSchragerLikes), and an occasional image of celebrities at the nightclubs that made him famous.
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.
Fenty Skin stands out as one of the wildest and most fulfilling endeavors of my career. In the spring of 2020, as the world grappled with lockdowns, our team was challenged with finding a way to celebrate the launch of Fenty Skin that would do justice to the brand. Our approach to technology sets us apart, focusing not on the digital realm alone but enhancing real-life experiences. We don't use tech for tech's sake, we use it to make things better. This project perfectly exemplifies that, as we took the experience of a real-life house party and transformed it into a captivating digital event—all in about six weeks. Picture an AI bartender recommending drink recipes based on the ingredients you have at home, a live DJ spinning tracks on a virtual dance floor, and an engaging chat feature that brought people together at a time of total isolation. Oh and did I mention Rihanna? Oh yea, Rihanna was there, too.
A recent project you're proud of.
The launch of Lemme with Kourtney Kardashian was incredibly gratifying. Collaborating closely with Kourtney and her team, we worked together on every aspect of the brand's journey—from defining the strategy and ideating the perfect name to designing the logo and product itself. Seeing the jar displayed on store shelves, when it was only an idea a year before, was a highlight of my career.
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.
The Venmo launch was one of the best teaser campaigns of all time. For months, the mundane chronicles of a man named Lucas were plastered all over New York City with messages like, "Lucas drinks a coffee," "Lucas walks to work," and of course, "Lucas uses Venmo."
It was impossible to escape and the campaign had the entire city wondering... who is Lucas?! And what in God's name is Venmo?! Brilliant application of psychology and advertising. Coinbase used a similar tactic for last year's Super Bowl ad and tapped into people's curiosity with its simple yet irresistible QR code bouncing around the screen. Both campaigns were so clever, a testament that sometimes less really is more.
Someone else's work you admired lately.
KidSuper is a really interesting and irreverent artist. His latest fashion show during Paris Fashion Week was a 40-minute comedy special starring Kenan Thompson of Saturday Night Live. He completely broke the mold of a traditional runway presentation. I love his originality and ability to create something the fashion industry has never seen before.
I also recently saw Rosalia perform during the Motomami tour and the entire show was flawless. The stage design, lighting, choreography and pace of the setlist were a perfect 10 out of 10. Most notably, she's completely revolutionizing the use of IMAG for stadium performances. It’s like watching a music video live.
Your main strength as a creative person.
I think my mental dexterity mixed with my curiosity makes me a strong creative and strategic partner. I love problem-solving, collaboration and team building. I understand that details make all the difference, and I believe in making the impossible possible.
Your biggest weakness.
I've been accused of having a perfectionist streak, which can sometimes manifest as impatience. Luckily, I work with an incredible team that shares equally high standards, so I'm surrounded by people who think and work in a similar way.
One thing that always makes you happy.
Meeting and engaging with people who think entirely differently is always invigorating. One of the most exciting parts of my job is sharing a creative brief and seeing how people take it in completely different directions.
One thing that always makes you sad.
Apathy. I'm a very passionate person, and when people are indifferent, it totally depresses me.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
Having come from a traditional agency background, in many ways, I don't feel like I work in advertising at DE-YAN. The past few years at the studio have been the most demanding and rewarding years of my life. It's so exciting to be building something we believe in, and feels like we are on the precipice of our next big jump. I don't see myself getting bored anytime soon.