Creativity is more of an energy than a discipline. It's the elusive, shapeshifting spirit behind the arts, the muse in music, the sleight of hand in sports, the rogue assassin in business. It's the animating force behind all problem solving—and the best toolkit we have for expressing our humanity, and maybe improving it.
In this first-ever Muse by Clio list of creative stars, whom we're calling Clio Creators, we celebrate professionals from a host of industries who've shown amazing dexterity at harnessing the power of creativity and applying it to entertaining, thought-provoking, beautiful and innovative ends—both artistic and commercial. They've created some of the most memorable work of the past year. And they're just getting started—most of the honorees are rising stars rather than fully established talents. They're not the CCOs, and you won't have seen many of them on industry lists before. Which is why we're all the more delighted to recognize their accomplishments here.
Congratulations to all of our 2019 Clio Creators. We salute your passion, curiosity and craft, and can't wait to see what you do next.
Clio Creators 2019
Click the links to jump to individual profiles, or scroll down to see them all.
• Amy Ferguson and Julia Neumann, TBWA\Chiat\Day New York
• Badger Denehy, HBO
• Berkeley Poole, Tokyo Smoke Brands
• Bridget Ferris, Universal Music Group and Brands
• Elliot and Allie Nordstrom, Venables Bell & Partners
• Emily Cheng, Netflix
• Eric Leiberman, YouTube
• Gabe Capone, H4B Chelsea
• Gabe Goldstein, GrandSon Creative
• Jackie Augustus, SB Projects
• Jim Helton, Final Cut
• Jim Nilsson and Jacob Gjelstrup Björdal, Clemenger BBDO
• Jonno Turner, The Ocean Race
• Jordan Dinwiddie, Wieden + Kennedy
• Karena Evans, Director/Actress
• Kelli Shannon, VMLY&R
• Kerry Paul, NFL
• Lauren van Aswegen, Mother
• Martha West and Will Montgomery, McCann New York
• Matthew Diamond, Trailer Park
• Mica Gallino, Joan Creative
• Paul Mascali, PepsiCo
• Peter Laundy, City Football Group
• Tierra Whack, Hip-hop artist
• Tommy Woods and Jacob Mehringer, Johannes Leonardo
Amy Ferguson and Julia Neumann
Executive Creative Directors
TBWA\Chiat\Day New York
Ferguson and Neumann produced wonderful work for JetBlue at MullenLowe before jumping to TBWA\Chiat\Day New York in early 2018. Within six months, they unleashed one of the great campaigns of last year—the "Billie Jean King Your Shoes" activation for Adidas at the U.S. Open, which has won just about every industry award, including four Gold Clios. For Ferguson, the move to TBWA was a homecoming of sorts—she started her career there, working on Absolut, before stints at Grey New York (on E*Trade's "Talking Baby," among others) and freelancing. Neumann is a veteran of Saatchi & Saatchi, Y&R, Wieden + Kennedy and BBH—and outside of work she's directed a documentary short, Deporting Myself, about an undocumented New York housekeeper's crisis following the election of President Trump.
The universally lauded "BJK Your Shoes" was the result of intense work and a never-say-die attitude—which was apt, considering the woman it honored. "It was the craziest production experience of my life," says Ferguson. "I was just back from maternity leave, and I am not kidding when I say it nearly killed me. But it was such a great idea, and sometimes you do crazy things for great ideas." The biggest thing she learned from the experience is to be brave. "When your boss or your client or the legal team or even your own doubts let fear start creeping in—be brave," she says. "If we can't be fearless, how can we ask our clients to be? Great work is usually scary for one reason or another. If you're not scared, maybe the work isn't brave enough. I think Billie Jean King herself would agree—nothing great happens without bravery."
"It was special to make a 75-year-old woman the star of a major sports brand, and in a way that would inspire and connect with an audience who is far from being 75 years old," adds Neumann. "What stayed with me is Billie Jean's fighting spirit, as well as our client's fighting spirit to make this happen. Yes, Eva, I mean you."
Neumann says her creative approach is to work off great strategy and insights, and always strive to create work that expresses the best of that thinking. "In the case of 'Billie Jean King Your Shoes,' we were bold and brave to use the competition as a vehicle to get the bigger message across," she says. "It's essentially what Billie did when she decided to play the Battle of the Sexes. We just copied it."
"I am all about the idea," Ferguson says of her approach. "I find the best ideas are usually the most simple. If you can't explain it in a sentence or two, or sketch it on a piece of paper, then it's probably too complicated." She asks herself two questions when evaluating work: "Would I be excited to make this?" "And would I be jealous of this work if I saw it out in the world?" She sums up her philosophy for getting great work in three short sentences: "Work hard. Have fun. Go home."
Denehy edited sports for CBS and promos for Lifetime and Comedy Central before a two-year stint in Los Angeles editing theatrical trailers at Create Advertising. He returned to New York in 2017 to build a creative team for HBO—a network he'd loved ever since his dad bribed the cable guy to hook up free HBO when Badger was a kid in Texas. As creative director, Badger has led buzzy, high-profile campaigns for Westworld, Chernobyl, The Deuce and My Brilliant Friend.
Chernobyl and Westworld have both been immensely rewarding for Denehy. "When we read the scripts for Chernobyl, it was clear how special this series would be. And when Craig Mazin, the writer and showrunner, asked us to make the marketing bold, we were gifted a dream combination," he says. "Each week our team created an entirely new piece to air during Game of Thrones that would gradually guide the campaign from an ominous monster feeling to the true center of the series—a courageous human story. I was really proud of the team for making every spot, no matter how small, match the caliber of this amazing series."
Westworld has also been a dream project, as Seasons 2 and 3 built on the original. Season 2 enjoyed massive exposure from a Super Bowl spot and the SXSWestworld experience, but Denehy says the less-heralded content work that came later was just as strong. "Our team didn't want to follow the trap of losing steam after the premiere," he says. "What ensued were one-word episode recaps, next-on episodics that played like theatrical teaser-trailers, social 'binge now' spots, and showrunner-led behind-the-scenes deep-dives into every episode. It was amazing to see the team rise creatively during a typically overlooked part of a campaign."
There was also the Westworld Season 3 tease during the Game of Thrones series finale. "We set out to create a piece that had everyone asking: 'What is this new futuristic show with Aaron Paul?' " says Denehy. "The build to Dolores and the reveal of the Westworld 'III' logo had a 'holy shit' effect. Working directly with Jonathan Nolan, only a few months into production, we were able to introduce a massive collection of people, unprimed, into the stunning third season of Westworld."
Denehy has a few different professional tenets he finds useful:
• "There are no small spots—only opportunities to prove you shouldn't be assigned small spots anymore."
• "Excitement is contagious—be at an 11 and use a lot of exclamation marks!!!!"
• "If you want different creative, work with different creatives."
• "Don't set out to fit a nine-hour series into 90 seconds. Try to find that unique 'thing' each series has and expand it to :90."
• "You can do all of the above without being a jerk."
Tokyo Smoke Brands
Poole came to cannabis from the fashion world, having held roles at Barneys New York, V Magazine, Visionaire, Laird + Partners and MTV. Born and raised in Toronto, she's now back in the city, working as creative director at Canadian cannabis company Tokyo Smoke, driving creative for the Tokyo Smoke, Van der Pop, Doja and Maitri brands. Her responsibilities include store design, brand collateral and retail experience for the Tokyo Smoke stores, as well as e-commerce for each of the brands, ad campaigns, photo direction, product, packaging, social presence and more.
Poole is fond of Tokyo Smoke's "how-to" videos that rolled out this summer, created with Toronto agency Common Good and director Ohji Inoue. "In Canada, we face a lot of limitations around what we can—or rather, cannot—do and say [about cannabis]," she says. "The challenge was to create product videos that showed people how to use our beautiful pieces, but they couldn't show people consumption or talk about the benefits of cannabis. So instead, I aimed to personify the pieces. Give them a personality that would in turn reflect the values and interests of our audience. For each piece, it also feels as if you're stepping into a movie or a moment in someone's life—there's the sense there is a whole world in and beyond the frame."
She's also proud of Tokyo Smoke's highly designed product photography—shot by likes of Mark Olson, Jodi Heartz and Alex Blouin, Mathieu Fortin, Royal Gilbert and Nik Mirus. "Each of these are so inspiring and boundary pushing, not just in cannabis but even for fashion or editorial," she says. "The way light is handled, and props and sets, feels super high-concept."
The trick with cannabis is to "make the intangible tangible," says Poole. "There is so much in the experience to explore as a creative. The emotion, the feeling, the ritual, the motivation, the vibe. Also don't forget—it's cannabis. It should be fun, weird, chill and inspiring. Too many cannabis brands right now are taking themselves way too seriously." She adds: "Be emotive, clever, funny, weird, artful, challenging, endearing. I want to think about a brand beyond a logo or color palette. Imbue it with a soul."
Senior Director, Brand Partnerships
Universal Music Group and Brands
Armed with a degree in music history from UCLA, Ferris joined UMG since 2011. As senior director of brand partnerships since 2017, she works on music activations for a slew of brands—including Honda, Marriott and Kellogg—executing programs with artists via branded content, media, licensing and experiential events. Her efforts include Honda Stage and the award-winning summer music programs for Kellogg's Pop-Tarts.
Ferris is especially excited about UMG's work with Marriott this year on its Live At Aloft Hotels Homecoming Tour, featuring Troye Sivan, BANKS, Dermot Kennedy, NJOMZA and Mala Rodriguez. "We're bringing artists back to their hometowns around the world," she says. "Travel is an essential part of all artists' lives and something fans don't often get to see. I'm proud to partner on an experiential and content-driven program which values the artist's journey and pays respect to their roots while also giving them a platform to share what's next."
The best work, Ferris says, comes from marketing teams and artists who are genuinely excited about the stories they're telling for brands. "When there is a clear point of view for the narrative of a campaign, all teams can bond together and lean on that program's 'mission statement,' so to speak, whenever there is an obstacle or problem to be solved," she says. "Mutual respect and lending all perspectives to the table forge stronger partnerships and lead to better campaign results across the board."
Elliot and Allie Nordstrom
Associate Creative Directors
Venables Bell & Partners
He's a copywriter from Wisconsin. She's an art director from San Diego. They met in the middle, as juniors at a small agency in Denver. They became life partners first, and advertising partners later—initially at McGarrah Jessee in Austin. After four years there, the Nordstroms decamped for Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco, where they've worked on Reebok, Chipotle and new business. They're currently in production on their first child. "As usual, Allie's doing most of the work," Elliot jokes.
The Nordstroms made one of our favorite ads of 2019—the surreal, irresistible "Storm the Court" for Reebok. "It's so different from anything Reebok, or we personally, have ever done," says Allie. "Not everyone loved it, though both its fans and its haters were forced to have an opinion, which made it memorable—rather than merely being a spot that floats into your eyeballs, never to be thought of again. We probably made a deck a week, selling each little piece of weirdness to the client. But it was worth it in the end. Even for the YouTube comments alone."
"If I said we originally set out to make a sports commercial turned Korean horror film turned Dragon Ball Z inspired dance battle, I'd be lying," Elliot adds. "Though through a combination of an epic director [Tom Noakes at Prettybird], a brave client, a tireless team and about 100 different Keynotes, PDFs and iMovie edits, we managed to make just that. This was one of those things that could have gone so, so wrong. But through sheer force of will, we managed to make something we're all really proud of."
Both Allie and Elliot say positivity goes a long way in the often-brutal ad business. "I think just trying hard, pushing past most of your ideas and keeping a positive attitude is the best approach, even when it seems hard or stressful. I'd rather do this than any other job," says Allie. Adds Elliot: "I try to remind myself that every setback, every killed concept, every challenging client comment is just another opportunity to make the thing we're making better. Also, I try not to eat lunch at my desk."
Global Creative Marketing, Original Films
Cheng worked in content creation and product marketing for action sports before moving into film and television. She led marketing for AwesomenessTV's original YA series for two years before jumping to Netflix in May 2018. Working on the global creative marketing team, with a focus on original films, Emily has generated buzz for a diverse slate of programming, from heartfelt comedy to genre-bending horror, including the Sandra Bullock thriller Bird Box—which became a true social-media phenomenon last December.
The Bird Box campaign stands out, Cheng says, because of the simplicity of the creative, including the iconic blindfold and the sounds of birds—all woven throughout the campaign, spanning trailers, print, the TV campaign, experiential stunts and social. "The genre itself was in demand, if you look at the landscape in 2018," she says, "but Bird Box had a sticky premise that actually sparked a social phenomenon. In working on the digital campaign, I was at the forefront of seeing what fans were excited about, and more importantly, what they wanted to know more about. World building was a huge part of stoking the conversation. Establishing the rules of the world early through our social campaign and creative helped fans latch onto the idea of survival through sound, not sight—hence all the blindfold memes and challenges that followed."
Seeing the campaign light up globally was a thrill. "It speaks to the power of Netflix," Cheng says. "Users have the ability to watch a film on the same day no matter where they are geographically, which feeds into massive social conversation online. #BirdBox trended for five days. It truly makes a moment like Bird Box pierce the cultural zeitgeist—it becomes a global viewing event. You equate it to a global sports moment like the Olympics or World Cup."
Cheng's general creative philosophy is that "you can achieve anything if you fuel your ambition with patience, respect and a keen eye. A willingness to experiment and try both new and familiar avenues is also important because it can be the spark that ignites an idea that feeds into a campaign. Collaboration is key—I'm a big believer in 'one team, one dream' and working alongside people who not only inspire but challenge me in the right way. In working in creative advertising, I think you also need a good dose of curiosity and grit."
In working through a campaign, she always looks at creative through the lens of serving the fans. "How do you get them so excited that they can't help but talk about and share what you've made?" she asks. "Especially when it comes to digital and social, creating that one-to-one connection is paramount, and it's all about actively listening to what resonates with consumers and staying nimble so you can pivot."
Head of Brand and Creative
YouTube Artist Marketing
Leiberman's eclectic background includes working in technology, sustainability and microfinance in rural South Africa and Nashville, as well as doing behavioral psychology research with capuchin monkeys. He now leads the team at YouTube that's producing acclaimed integrated artist marketing campaigns, including the Artist Spotlight Stories documentary series, which has earned three Clios and counting.
The Artist Spotlight Stories are truly something special, offering long-form video portraits of musicians including Marshmello, Billie Eilish, Maren Morris, Burna Boy, Shawn Mendes, Janelle Monáe, Camila Cabello and more. "What makes the series special is how intimate, personal and bespoke each film is—from the artist stories, to the creatives with whom we partner to tell those stories, to the locations where we shoot," says Leiberman. "Highlights have definitely been sharing a dance with Camila Cabello's grandmother in Miami and interviewing Burna Boy's grandfather who managed [legendary Nigerian musician] Fela Kuti in Lagos—you can tell I have a thing for the wisdom of elders. The Burna Boy and Queen Naija films won gold and silver, respectively, at this year's Clio Music Awards. "I'm uncomfortably excited for all the original content initiatives we have planned in 2020 and beyond at YouTube Music," says Leiberman.
Leiberman is inspired by this quote from iconic music producer Rick Rubin: "The artist may not always be the maker. He/she may be the person who sees the piece and recognizes the art in it." "I don't consider myself a maker in the conventional sense, neither by training, nor by practice," Leiberman says. "Rather, my growth as a creative has come from endless exploration and wonder, and a genuine passion for answering questions and solving problems. The journey I've been on, personally and professionally, has helped me hone my vision and taste for creative that moves people while simultaneously delivering impact to the company I work for and the artist with whom we partner."
Capone has written copy for 15 years for a plethora of brands and is currently creative director of the Sanofi Diabetes group at H4B Chelsea, a unit of Havas Health & You. Outside of work, the father of two is active in the comedy world—performing improv and sketch comedy and writing humor for sites like Scary Mommy and Fatherly. He's also an avid record collector and wishes he would have been around to attend The Band's farewell concert, The Last Waltz.
Capone has worked on gaming platforms for several health clients recently. He helped to craft an interactive hockey game for diabetes medication Soliqua 100/33—a literal interpretation of patients achieving their goals. He also came up with an idea called Aquatar for Stony Brook Hospital, where oncology patients immerse themselves in an underwater sea adventure that blends the digital and physical world—making their daily routine more interactive and welcoming. "I love the creativity that's been going into developing experience ecosystems," Capone says. "It pushes me and my team to think of different ways to tell a brand's story."
"Keep it simple. Be provocative."
Over the past decade, Goldstein has worked at Create Advertising, Motive, and is now an editor at GrandSon. He has edited theatrical trailers for multiple Academy Award nominated films, including Roma, A Star is Born, Straight Outta Compton and Amy. Originally from Cincinnati, he now lives in Los Angeles and enjoys spending time with his friends, family and dog Cali.
Goldstein is particular fond of his trailer for the Trey Edward Shults film Waves. "This was a really special movie that I felt instantly connected with," he says. "The music played such a major role throughout, and overall seemed like a culmination of everything I love about cinema—fantastic writing, directing, acting, editing and execution. It really felt like the whole package to me, and I feel very fortunate to have been able to play a part in the project."
"Music and originality over everything. Less is more."
Head of Digital Marketing
When Augustus was just 14, she ran MySpace fan accounts for the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato. Moving on to Twitter, she launched @bieberarmy in 2009, when Justin Bieber's very first single was just gaining traction. Bieber's manager, Scooter Braun, took notice and began sending her exclusives—making the account semi-official (it now has almost 1 million followers). In 2012, Braun offered Augustus a job. She's been head of digital marketing at SB Projects since 2016, running social accounts with more than 1 billion total followers and managing social strategies for some of SB Projects' most elite artists—including Bieber, Ariana Grande, Dan + Shay and Tori Kelly.
Augustus is heavily involved in SB Projects' philanthropic efforts—which earned Scooter Brain the 2018 Impact Award from the Clios—and she finds that work incredibly fulfilling. "I get to work on a lot of amazing projects but the thing I'll always be the most proud of is when I can use my skills to help give back," she says. "The One Love Manchester benefit concert, following the attack at Ari's Manchester show, and the Hand in Hand telethon, benefitting hurricane disaster relief, will always hold a special place in my heart."
"My go-to is to do what works, but with a spin on it," Augustus says. "We want it to be effective but also want it to stand out. I also think it's incredibly important to cater to your specific audience, as every artist has a different aesthetic and every fan base is different."
Born an Army brat in Germany, Helton studied film at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he met a young Derek Cianfrance. They became friends and frequent collaborators—Helton has edited many of Cianfrance feature films, including Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines. Their earnings from doing a short film for Chrysler bankrolled Blue Valentine, and Helton has edited plenty of other commercials through the years—most notably, Droga5's "The Truth Is Worth It" work for The New York Times.
"The Truth Is Worth It" ads rely heavily on the editing. The biggest challenge with that work, says Helton, is that production and post-production, and sometimes even pre-production, were all happening simultaneously.
"It started off as a four-week, three-film job that turned into a five-month, eight-film job plus cutdowns," he says. "Text scripts were changing as we worked, and the layout of those scripts was a challenge because they had to stay on one line without going off the screen, which is more difficult than it might appear. There were word puzzles that needed to be solved in writing and rewriting the scripts. And we needed to see them and figure out timings to make sure everything was working. The stills and footage that we received from the Times were not always approved, so we had to be quick with changes, and sometimes things that were approved wouldn't stay that way. We were also receiving footage and conducting interviews with journalists who were working on other pieces all over the globe while we were in the process of editing. And we were in production—directors Martin + Lindsay [TJ Martin and Dan Lindsay at Furlined] would shoot new footage as the edits came together, or in some cases they were creating most of the images based off what we created with the script and sound design."
Helton credits the team around him for helping making a campaign that resonated outside of the world of advertising—the Furlined directors; Droga5 creative directors Laurie Howell and Toby Treyer-Evans and producers Brandon Chen, Topher Cochrane and Holly Fisher; Final Cut executive producer Sarah Roebuck and producer Lareysa Smith; and graphics artist Phil Brooks at Significant Others.
Helton has a few central tenets to his editing process:
• "Watch the footage! Incredibly simple, deceptively difficult."
• "Organize the footage. This is where I learn the footage, and it allows me to be nimble when we want to try new things."
• "Listen to my collaborators, and do my talking with the work. Listening and being open to change is essential. Talking about the work is important, but it isn't a substitute for trying things."
Jim Nilsson and Jacob Gjelstrup Björdal
Clemenger BBDO, Melbourne
After studying together in Stockholm, Nilsson and Björdal moved to London, where they most recently worked on Xbox and Microsoft at McCann—crafting campaigns like "Survival Billboard" and "Football Decoded," the latter of which earned two Grand Clios at the 2018 Clio Entertainment Awards. They just left for Clemenger BBDO to get a taste of the Australian ad scene.
The pair are especially proud of their "Visit Xbox" campaign, which involved making tourism-style ads for in-game locations. "It was born out of a need to market a very technological product—Xbox One X Enhanced—in an emotional way," says Nilsson. "Technological advancements like 4K resolution, more detailed textures, etc., all add up to one thing—the game world becomes more lifelike. Also, many developers have incorporated a camera mode, which means you can take and share photographs from the game. To experience a virtual world in this way is like traveling to another country. The creative solution was to launch Xbox as a tourist board for virtual destinations. There was an interesting tension with Xbox meeting the world of travel, which allowed for a long-term and engaging campaign."
"We always try to develop ideas that are useful and meaningful to people in the world," says Björdal. "No matter the medium, we want to invite the audience to have an active role and take part in whatever we're creating and help shape the campaign. If we can create something that people actually want to be a part of—whether it's a livestreamed billboard or guided tours in games—then we've succeeded."
Head of Digital Content
The Ocean Race
Turner leads creative and digital at The Ocean Race, an epic yacht race around the world held every three or four years, described by organizers as "the toughest test of a team in sport, and sailing's greatest challenge." Turner previously worked at Twitter, managing Great Britain's communications during the 2016 Olympics, created content and strategy for the likes of Red Bull and was part of the team that launched BBC One's award-winning Snapchat account. He recently managed international content for Stockholm-Åre's 2026 Winter Olympic bid—a campaign to deliver the most sustainable Olympic Games of all-time.
The Ocean Race isn't just a sports competition; it also has various sustainability initiatives that raise awareness of ocean health. Its "Turn the Tide on Plastic" campaign, executed with partners including the United Nations and 11th Hour Racing, sparked a global movement against plastic pollution. "I think everyone wants their work to have purpose, and we're all about sharing our passion on this subject—it feels like you're making an impact," says Turner. "We have a really authentic story—the ocean is our race track, and the wind powers our boats—and that's seen us become one of the leading platforms in sport for brands to activate."
Turner is on a constant quest to keep pace with the ravenous audiences. "They want more content, deeper access, faster than ever before—and that's the case in The Ocean Race, too, despite our sailors sometimes racing closer to the astronauts in the Space Station than anyone else on land," he says. The Ocean Race creates almost everything in-house, from tech solutions to content. "Our technological infrastructure allows us to tell the raw, unfolding story of the Race—and that 'live' spine to the racing is integral," says Turner. "Last edition, we removed as many barriers between the action and the fan as we possibly could—creating an unfiltered 'raw wall' bringing together all content sent back from the boats and broadcasting almost 200 hours of live coverage directly on social to give fans a more immersive and interactive experience than ever before. After all, for all the jaw-dropping footage and human adventure stories, this is a sporting event that rightly has a place on the calendar and the competition needs to be showcased."
Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Dinwiddie began as an intern at Wieden + Kennedy in 2012. After being hired full-time as a copywriter, she became a fixture on the Nike account and helped craft campaigns such as "Come Out of Nowhere" and "Together," both centered around LeBron James. Dinwiddie loves all things sports, culture, fashion and "anything nerdy." She's also been featured on BET's list of the 25 most influential people in sneakers and on the Sept. 22 episode of the ESPN+ show Sneaker Center.
Jordan is most proud of her "Come Out of Nowhere" work for LeBron James. "It showed how basketball can really touch people from all walks of life, and it also made my granny very proud," she says. She's also thrilled to be working on an upcoming web series that "centers around two single black women dating and living in Portland, the whitest city in America." "It was a joy to tell stories that were longer than 60 seconds," she says, "and to tell stories that were so funny and personal to me."
"My general approach comes down to two things," she says. "1) Can I call bullshit? If it doesn't reflect the world in 2019 and isn't honest, then it's back to the drawing board. 2) Will my grandma like it?"
Director and Actress
Born and raised in Toronto, Evans has enjoyed a meteoric rise as a music-video director with her narrative-focused style that explores stories about the human condition. Repped by Popp Rok and m ss ng p eces, Evans directed several of 2018's most celebrated music videos for the likes of Drake and SZA. She was named 2018 Director of the Year at the BET Awards, where she also took home Video of the Year for Drake's "God's Plan." She was also honored with the Prism Prize's Lipsett Award for her innovative creative approach to music video art—the first woman ever to receive the prestigious award. Lately, the 23-year-old has begun focusing on the world of film and TV, directing the premiere episode of STARZ's strip club drama P-Valley and acting in Jasmin Mozaffari's acclaimed feature film Firecrackers.
Evans is thrilled to have worked on P-Valley, created by Katori Hall. "I grew up learning the craft of storytelling in music videos, but as we know, there is a longstanding history of a misrepresentation or a lack of representation of women—which never sat right with me," Evans says. "This show, one that centers around a community of strippers in Mississippi, completely flips the stereotype, the misrepresentation and the objectification of these women on its head. Katori so brilliantly communicates the strength, resiliency, vulnerability and especially empowerment of these women in her series, and it was an absolute honor to be a part of changing the narrative of this community of women—to have been able to find the truth at the heart of the story and bring it to the light."
Evans' ultimate goal is "to always find the heart of the story, in every story," she says. "To always be in search of the 'why' and the truth that lies at the core of anything I'm creating."
Integrated Producer and Music Producer
Based in Nashville, Shannon was part of the all-female team that concepted, created and produced VMLY&R's 2019 Super Bowl spot for Bumble, starring Serena Williams. Her music projects at the agency, which have earned several Clio Music Awards, include a pair of celebrated tourism efforts—"It All Begins With a Song" for the city of Nashville, and "Six Degrees to Tennessee" for Tennessee Tourism. More recently, she produced Wendy's first-ever in-store livestreamed concert, partnering with artist Har Mar Superstar. Outside the office, she can be found at live shows, new-artist showcases and songwriter's rounds.
Shannon is especially fond of the Bumble project from last winter. "Collaborating with a female team, on a female empowerment concept, was an inspirational experience," she says. "The result was a beautiful and impactful piece that communicated an important message and provided us with a unique opportunity to shift perceptions and create change."
To Shannon, creativity has to be fluid and take its own shape. "More often than not, forced creativity falls flat and the audience sees right through it," she says. "I tend to take the alternate approach and let the true soul of a concept guide the creative organically, versus settling for the obvious answer. I think pulling back the curtain and delving deeper into an idea helps bring content to life in a more authentic and meaningful way."
Paul made his early creative explorations in Brooklyn, where he studied at a fine arts high school and, later, at Pratt Institute. He started his career in the music world as a designer at Def Jam, and also spent six years at branding firm SME Inc., where his sports and entertainment clients included United SportsCar Championship/IMSA, NASCAR Media Group, the Miami Marlins, the Kentucky Derby, the New York Yankees and UFC. For the past five years, Paul has been at the NFL, first as a senior designer and now as an art director, developing notable campaigns that push the illustrious league's brand to new heights. Though it's his baby son Jasper that Paul calls his "favorite work of art."
Paul has worked on NFL brand extensions like the Super Bowl, the NFL Draft, the Pro Bowl and the "Play Football" initiative celebrating youth and high school football. He's particularly fond of the branding for Super Bowl LII in Minnesota in 2018 and for this year's NFL Draft in Nashville. "Both did a great job capturing and celebrating the essence of the location while infusing the energy of the NFL brand," he says.
Kerry says his passion for generating impressive work gets stronger with each project. He's excited about the future of design, and his goal with each piece of work is simple: "Make your audience feel."
Lauren van Aswegen
Mother New York
Van Aswegen studied advertising in her native South Africa and later worked at Leagas Delaney in Prague for three years before moving to the U.S. in 2014. She spent four years at Ogilvy New York, on clients like Motorola and Coke Zero, before landing at Mother, where her work has included the gorgeous, innovative and universally beloved "Insta Novels" effort for the New York Public Library—made with her former Mother partner, the freelance writer Martin Baker.
"Insta Novels," which redesigns classic literature for the Instagram Stories platform, is one of those campaigns that has dominated the awards circuit. Yet van Aswegen says it's actually an example of a "feels wrong" kind of solution. "It's a conversation heard all too often: Technology, and in particular social media, is the enemy—a modern pollutant dumbing people down," she says. "Many believe we're witnessing the death of literature at the hands of social media. It would seem counterintuitive for a library to embrace a digital-first philosophy. Yet that is exactly what we did. The medium can deliver the message in a new way. And even legacy brands like the NYPL can coexist with social media in a way that feels true."
For van Aswegen, rule breaking is critical for anyone trying to break new ground. "You can have all the experience in the world, but if it's not accompanied by an intellectual curiosity to break the rules or go off script, then nothing new can be achieved—what you have done before is merely being repeated," she says. "Go with the solution that feels wrong. Hey, if it doesn't work out, at least you were having fun doing something you haven't done before."
Martha West and Will Montgomery
Associate Creative Directors
McCann New York
West and Montgomery have been at McCann for three and five years, respectively. West previously spent time at Saatchi & Saatchi, Firstborn, FCB, Y&R and BBMG. (She also played soccer professionally for a year in Sweden.) Montgomery is an alumnus of 360i, Dentsu and Digitas—and is a fourth-generation Montgomery to work in advertising on the creative and art direction side.
The pair were ACDs on the award-winning "Changing the Game" campaign for Microsoft's Adaptive Controller—an Xbox controller, designed for gamers with disabilities, that adapts to their limited mobility.
"After our spot aired during the Super Bowl, we heard from people with disabilities who finally felt seen, and we heard from parents, teachers, friends and gamers saying thank you," says West. "I was grateful for the opportunity to shine a light on people who are rarely shown in the media, and to Microsoft for engineering a product that truly levels the playing field. It's our responsibility as advertisers and marketers to embrace and advance inclusion, both internally and in the work that we put out into the world, and to create products and craft stories that relate, represent and reflect diverse communities. That's a simple truth."
"This niche product gave a mass audience a newfound appreciation for inclusive design," adds Montgomery. "Meeting these kids changed the way I look at gaming. It's not the solitary, anti-social activity that many people assume it to be. It can provide real social and cognitive benefits and give kids the ability to compete and play with their friends when they might not be able to physically do so."
West's creative philosophy is quite specific: Find a truth and work from it. "Sometimes serious, sometimes funny, truth lies in human behavior," she says. "A truth could come from a fact or relatable experience, or might stem from a human desire or fear. It could simply be a product truth brought to life in a clever, creative way. It doesn't have to be some groundbreaking, earth-shattering revolutionary truth—I've sold mini chicken nuggets based on the truth that they're miniature and cute. And you know what else is cute? Miniature dogs. That was enough to lift an idea off the ground. Paradoxically, the more individualistic and unique the truth is, the more universal its appeal. From there, my approach to the work is to come up with the execution, including the right look, tone and feel to bring that truth to life. And then I ask, is it memorable?"
Montgomery's approach is similar: "Work hard to mine the truth of a product or brand, then come up with as many ways as possible to bring that truth to life in interesting, compelling and even uncomfortable ways. Anything can be a creative opportunity, so have fun with it and be nice."
Diamond hails from Bergen County, New Jersey, where he claims to have spent his formative years "watching every single movie that played on premium cable enough times to defy both logic and reason." He began his career at The Ant Farm as a runner, eventually becoming a full-time editor there. He went on to cut in-house for Fox Atomic and Fox Searchlight, and later at Transit, AV Squad and JAX. He recently joined Trailer Park in a new role as a creative director. Diamond has worked on award-winning campaigns including (500) Days of Summer, Jack Reacher, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The LEGO Movie, Steve Jobs, Star Trek: Beyond, Atomic Blonde and Ready Player One.
He is also the founder of TrailerBeat, a Twitter feed dedicated to answering the question, "Who finished that trailer?" He came up with the idea after watching the 2012 Super Bowl and wondering why there was no resource to identify the agencies behind film campaigns like there is in the traditional ad world.
Working on Ready Player One was a dream come true. "Steven Spielberg is without a doubt the reason I fell in love with the movies," Diamond says. "As a child of the '80s, [Ready Player One] was an assignment I'd spent a lifetime preparing for. The teaser started literally from scratch with only concept art and my idea to use 'Pure Imagination.' From the radical motion graphics, to the awesome custom score, the teaser is a testament to the power of collaboration. Watching the cut take shape over the course of many, many months was an emotional experience. When I finally saw the finished VFX at the picture conform, I nearly wept. Mr. Spielberg called the piece 'genius,' so yeah, it was pretty special."
"Well if I may borrow from the prose of one Sir Mix-A-Lot… I like clean cuts and I cannot lie," Diamond says. "Some other cutters like sound design. But when Zimmer kicks in with the strings and bass and a hero in my face, I get PUMPED."
Associate Creative Director
A native of Argentina, Gallino worked at Ogilvy, CHI&Partners and Johannes Leonardo before landing at Joan last December. Throughout her career, she's been passionate about doing socially conscious work. She's continued that at Joan, where she came up with the idea for the Womanikin—a vest attachment that turns a male CPR manikin into a female manikin, allowing trainees to feel more comfortable treating female victims. (Women are 27 percent less likely than men to receive CPR from bystanders in public, according to a recent study.)
The Womanikin project has been a special one. "It makes me feel beyond proud—of the idea, the team effort, and the change it's already making in the world," Gallino says. "There are millions of ways women are treated differently. This particular cause actually results in women dying on the streets with nobody rushing in to help them." As an Argentinean creative living and working abroad, it was important to Gallino that the project be open source, with the design patterns available for free on the website in different languages for any organization to download and use in their classes right away. "Currently, we have WoManikins bridging the gender gap in four different countries and we are about to produce our third batch of attachments," she says. "The Womanikin won't solve everything, but we hope and believe that it's a strong step in the right direction."
Gallino believes having a great idea is just step one. "Ideas are vulnerable. It only takes a two-letter word to melt them down," she says. "To survive, they need caring, nurturing and protecting. Creativity is not about just having a great idea; it's also about finding the smartest way to bring it to life. We have to think about the journey of the idea and plan it step by step to make sure the essence doesn't get lost along the way."
Head of Esports and Gaming
Mascali came to PepsiCo about a year ago, following four years on the agency side at OMD—including two years at Zero Code, OMD's interactive entertainment unit, where he worked on campaigns including Gatorade's "Beat The Blitz" VR game and NBC Sports' Universal Open Rocket League. At PepsiCo, he has a hand in practically all esports and gaming initiatives, and played an integral role in launching Mtn Dew Amp Game Fuel, PepsiCo's newest function beverage designed specifically for gamers.
Mascali orchestrated an impressive pro-am gaming event on Sept. 14 to celebrate Mtn Dew Amp Game Fuel's partnership with Call of Duty's newest title, Modern Warfare. The Game Fuel Pro Am paired six top professional gaming influencers (including Shroud, Scump and HECZ) with celebrities from sports, entertainment and music (such as Karl Anthony Towns, T-Pain and Blake Anderson) to battle it out in games of Modern Warfare over a five-hour livestream Twitch broadcast—competing for a charity prize pool. "By leveraging such a wide range of talent, we were able to bridge the worlds of gaming and traditional entertainment to reach a massive mainstream audience," Mascali says. "By featuring the game before it was fully released to the public, we were able to offer exclusive and sought-after content to a highly engaged audience. The broadcast itself was extremely well received by the community, showing that we were able to provide real value back to the Call of Duty fanbase."
Mascali's goal for any creative execution is to always be additive to the consumer's experience and authentic to the core audience. "Esports fans specifically are extremely receptive to brands that understand their 'language,' " he says. "Before producing or creating anything for a brand, I ask myself if this is something the audience would actively want to watch or engage with or if this is just another advertisement. My goal is to put the consumers' interests first and foremost, which I believe will help create a lasting impact. To ensure I produce the best work, I fully immerse myself in all facets of the industry, making sure I understand the audience's interests and how to speak their language."
Director of Partnership Planning & Creative
City Football Group
Laundy heads up strategic planning and creative direction for corporate partnerships at City Football Group—the holding company that owns Manchester City F.C. in the English Premier League and New York City F.C. in Major League Soccer, among other clubs. He's been at Man City for more than six years, and has specialized in sports partnerships throughout his career—having led strategic direction, planning and delivery of Lucozade Sport's extensive sponsorship portfolio at Fast Track Agency in his seven years there.
Among Man City's partnerships was a notable collaboration last spring with Heineken and Xylem, a global water technology company committed to developing innovative solutions to the world’s water challenges. Xylem and Heineken created a limited-edition beer called "Raining Champions" to celebrate Man City's back-to-back Premier League titles. "The story behind how the water for this celebratory beer was collected from the abundant Manchester rainfall on the roof of the Etihad Stadium, purified by a range of Xylem water technologies and crafted into a title-winning tipple, was a creative way to educate fans on the challenges of water while highlighting how they can help tackle them," says Laundy. More generally, he says, "creativity has been essential in helping differentiate our partnership platform and proposition from our competitors in the market, while helping prospective new partners truly visualize and feel what a partnership with us can stand for and deliver for them."
Man City's partnerships begin with what Laundy calls the "emotive nature and transformational power" of the sport itself—the global game and universal language that is football. From there, the team's creative approach originates from marrying powerful brand/product truths with key insights and behaviors of Man City's fans globally and locally. "For me, success is authentic, compelling content that can feature cross-channel," says Laundy, "allowing our partners to develop an authentic conversation and emotive connection between their brand and business and our fans. It's a depth of connection other partnership platforms simply can't accomplish."
The 24-year-old rapper from North Philadelphia loved Dr. Seuss as a kid, and her passion for poetry has endured in the clever, off-the-dome wordplay and barrage of freestyles in her music. This, along with her obsession for graphic, often horror-inspired visuals, has made her one of the most richly expressive young talents in hip-hop. Whack captured the attention of local luminaries like Meek Mill and DJ Cosmic Kev in Philly, which helped her solidify her early fanbase. She signed to Interscope Records in 2017 and released her acclaimed debut, Whack World, a year later, which featured 15 songs that are all a minute long or slightly less. She promoted the project by releasing five songs for five consecutive weeks as part of Apple's Up Next program. The 15-minute video for Whack World, directed by Thibaut Duverneix and Mathieu Léger, featuring 15 colorful and often absurdist scenarios, won a Gold Clio at this year's Clio Music Awards.
Whack remains incredibly proud of the Whack World project. "I felt like that was a great intro to so many flows and things I could show the world," she says. "I didn't want to overwhelm people with too much for my first project, and the minute length let people easily get into the music. The visuals also being so different from each other helped showcase all the ideas I had while creating the music."
The young star is very visually driven. "I have to have an idea for a visual in my head before I can finish a song," she says. "Every song I've done so far has had a visual reference in mind, whether it was something from my childhood or something current."
Tommy Woods and Jacob Mehringer
Copywriter and Art Director
Woods and Mehringer met at a portfolio review, graduated from the University of Oregon in 2016 and interned at SS+K. They soon jumped to Johannes Leonardo, where they've made a mark working on sports brands like Madden and Adidas. With CDs Jono Flannery and Paul Gregson, they crafted the "Area 19" dark-room experience for Adidas' Copa 19 boot, which won a Grand Clio at the Clio Sports Awards in June.
"Any time you get to work for a brand you're a fan of is a special experience," says Woods. "Our Madden 20 work captures the stardom you feel by making in-game choices like real-life superstars, something I've personally experienced whenever I beat Jacob in Madden. Kidding ... kind of." He's also proud of the Copa 19 campaign. "That work subverted the traditional boot launch and its flashy visuals and instead focused on what you feel in a lights-out interactive experience. It taught us the lesson that you can't subvert something halfway—either commit or don't attempt it at all."
Also a big sports guy, Mehringer jokes that working at JL "gives my knowledge of largely useless sports trivia a purpose." With a background in film and editing, he also recently co-directed a music video for the young singer Vaeda Black. "It reminded me how much I appreciate stepping away from a desk and making something with my own hands," he says. "Being able to take my technical [filmmaking] skills and combine them with the conceptual skills I've adopted from Tommy and my mentors at JL has been very rewarding. I felt that a story came out of the music that was an evolution of the artist's original track, and the experimental visuals were simply fun to shoot and learn from."
"It's no doubt a cliché, but I try to be a proximity sponge," Mehringer says. "When I'm experiencing something, I take a mental note of what's happening—the reactions, the surroundings—and archive it. For me, good ideas never come when I want them to. They come when I'm out with friends, or enjoying something away from work. In these sometimes inconvenient moments, I have to catch the idea and write it down before it's gone forever."
"We have a creative director and mentor at JL, Omid Amidi, who's shown us how to work sustainably," adds Woods. "When it comes to ideating, rarely does something good come after 12 or 1 a.m. You need to give your brain and body a rest. Instead of staying up late, get some sleep and wake up early. That's just one example, but it's a mindset. We're in an industry where it's easy to forget to take care of yourself. Work sustainably. Work efficiently. Your ideas will be better because you're spending more time being influenced by the world they'll eventually live in."