Laura Fegley — Executive Creative Director, Colle+McVoy
Laura talks to TheNextGag about why creative agencies need media departments, the advantages of going freelance as a creative and when it’s time to clean up your resume.
Laura Fegley is the Executive Creative Director at Colle+McVoy in the USA.
As ECD at Colle+McVoy, Laura Fegley is known as a dynamic creative and internationally recognized for bringing new life to brands. Her inspirational leadership approach, along with her ability to nurture and push talent forward, has made her a trusted partner to some of the greatest creative teams in the industry.
While previously at BBH, she helped build a uniquely gender-balanced creative department while overseeing the global Vaseline business and various brands under the Newell-Rubbermaid account, including Graco and Calphalon, as well as The Guardian in North America.
Before BBH, she held creative director roles at JWT, and Cliff Freeman and Partners, working on Stouffers, Toll House, DSW, TBS and Fox Sports. As a freelance creative at CP+B, Chiat LA, Kirshenbaum Bond, Euro, JWT, Publicis, DDB, Mother, Sapient Nitro, FCB, and Ogilvy, she nurtured an eclectic creative background in numerous categories with top brass brands including BMW, Ford, Nissan, Absolut, Heineken, Kahlua, Pampers and Huggies.
She has been recognized by nearly every major award show and was named one of “The Most Creative Women in Advertising” by Business Insider. Laura attended the first 3% Conference.
THENEXTGAG: I AM NOT REALLY FAMILIAR WITH THE KINDS OF ACCOUNTS THAT YOU HAVE AT THE MOMENT. ON WHICH BRANDS ARE YOU WORKING ?
LAURA FEGLEY: Well, technically I touch everything at the agency. But hands-on, I am working on the global Invisalign account. Invisalign is a brand of clear aligners that are an alternative to metal braces for straightening your teeth. We’re helping to create a seamless brand experience wherever the brand is encountered across the globe. So, we’ve been really busy. Basically, it’s a brand that marketed more in the medical space and is now executing a full global consumer marketing campaign. It’s a total redo of an entire global brand so it’s like drinking from a fire hydrant right now, but it’s very exciting.
TNG: SO WHAT KINDS OF PIECES ARE YOU GOING TO DELIVER FOR THEM ? IS IT STRAIGHT ADVERTISING OR IS IT MORE LIKE MARKETING AND STUFF ?
LF: We work on their consumer and professional business. We launched a new global brand identity — reimagined their entire brand look and feel and created a new global positioning which kicked off in an integrated advertising campaign. We work on everything from TV to social and redesigned the US website. There’s also a teen consumer campaign, which is taking very different forms. We are forming media partnerships and creating content for Awesomeness TV. We are also working with them on how to bring their brand to life or on new ways to show their technology in a cool way, getting people to see what it would look like if they straightened their teeth. We’re also helping them develop what the retail brand experience would be. We get the opportunity to evolve the brand and touch so many things.
I think as an agency, this is what we love the most — affecting all points of the experience. Obviously, we still like making ads. But when we can help push big things for our consumers through a lot of different touchpoints, that’s the stuff that really gets us excited.
TNG: SOME AGENCIES CALL THEMSELVES FULL-SERVICE AGENCY BUT YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT’S BEHIND THIS, SO IT IS ALWAYS GOOD TO HAVE A LIST OF WHAT THEIR CAPABILITIES ARE.
LF: Full-service brings a lot to the table. When I came here, it was so eye-opening — I hadn’t had in-house media in my last few agencies. Media adds to the idea generation and on deciding what’s the right thing to do. And it’s not just media buying, but really strategic media thinking. And our design department here is amazing. We’ve got 20+ really killer designers who can help take projects to the next level and give us the ability to work on things like space design and packaging. We also have an innovation group here. If you have something that you think would be interesting, they can prototype it so the clients have an easier time visualizing it. It’s awesome to have all this under the same roof. And I think we’re just the right size at 240 people.
I’ve worked in a couple of big agencies, but mostly in small agencies, 100–150 in size. And I think that if the extra 100 people are the right 100 people who can bring more capabilities, that can help produce bigger ideas for a brand vs. just simply advertising.
The minute you start feeling like you are getting stale, it is probably a good time to do the scary thing and move on to somewhere else.
TNG: YOU’VE WORKED IN A LOT OF DIFFERENT COMPANIES AND I AM SURE YOUR EXPERIENCE SERVES YOU WELL AT YOUR POSITION AT THE MOMENT. DO YOU THINK A CREATIVE CAN BE AS CREATIVE IF HE OR SHE STAYS IN THE SAME AGENCY FOR HIS/HER WHOLE CAREER ?
LF: I gave a talk to the MPLS MadWomen organization about that recently. I think it is ok, if it’s the right company. The key for creatives is to stay for the growth and learning and if they are being forced to stretch their wings a little bit. There should always be some kind of fear in what they are doing. And that they are punching above their weight a little bit.
I think potentially you could stay at the same agency and always continue to be out of your comfort level and be pushed a little bit. But I think it’s difficult to be stretched continually at the same agency. There is something to be said for changing agencies from time to time. We can get into a groove and I think our groove affects how we think and how we look at solving ideas. I am all for an agency where you feel like you are continuing to get more experience. If that’s the case, then stay. Play that out as long as you can, but the minute you start feeling like you are getting stale, it is probably a good time to do the scary thing and move on to somewhere else.
TNG: YOU ENJOYED SOME STINTS AS A FREELANCER, IF I AM CORRECT ?
LF: Yes. Basically, between staff jobs I would freelance for like a year or a year and a half to kind of cleanse the palate. But it was also a good opportunity to get away a little from the responsibilities of managing people and business. As a freelancer, you just have to create work. But is also lets you have a peek inside a bunch of agencies around town and see what they are doing. It gives you a chance to say “Whoa, I am interested to hear more and maybe I want to work there” or “No thank you!”
I think every job we have is an opportunity to keep making your list of what works and what doesn’t work. And the more agencies you can expose yourself to, the more you can take that to your next job. Hopefully you learn to make a hybrid of the best things you’ve seen and learned.
TNG: NICE PERSPECTIVE. BECAUSE I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT AS BEING FREELANCE AS A DEFAULT OPTION AS MOST PEOPLE WOULD PREFER TO HAVE FULL-TIME EMPLOYMENT. BUT MAYBE, NOW WITH PLATFORMS LIKE WORKING NOT WORKING, FREELANCERS CAN HAVE IT ALL.
LF: I don’t love freelance. I love the freedom of it. I love having a break from the staff job. But a lot of times, it is hard to get invested in stuff. You feel much like a day worker vs. having an investment in the account and brand. And I do really love that. I love feeling very invested in the agency and the accounts.
But sometimes you often get surprising freelance opportunities that are just amazing. One agency I worked with had one really interesting commercial for The World’s Most Interesting Man for Dos Equis. And then they brought me in as freelance to write and be creative director on it. And I was like “Nobody else here wants to do that?” But it was amazing. I got to do the first national work for this really amazing campaign, as a freelancer.
But every now and then, there are freelance jobs where they just want to bring in somebody who hopefully they know will follow through for them. And that can end up being an amazing creative opportunity.
TNG: I AM SURE YOU’VE SEEN A LOT OF DIFFERENT CREATIVE ORGANIZATIONS. FOR EXAMPLE, CREATIVES WORKING SOLELY ON AN ACCOUNT OR CREATIVES SHARING AN ACCOUNT AND ALL COMPETING FOR THE TOP BRIEFS. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST EFFICIENT CREATIVE ORGANIZATION ?
LF: Sometimes, with some accounts that are so gigantic, you need to have dedicated people working only on that account. I don’t love that. I’ve never liked working in a job like that. In this place, and in my last job at BBH, we definitely tried to have every creative have at least two, sometimes three — depending how big the work was — accounts. This ensures people get a range of things to work on and if one account is being challenging, hopefully you have the other one to balance it out.
And I think creatives are generally promiscuous. We like to work on different types of things. I think you can keep creatives longer and happier if you can give them at least a few focused things. Here, we try to expose our creatives to two or three accounts a piece, so they have some knowledge of those accounts and aren’t just starting from scratch every time. But hopefully it keeps things interesting for them. And when they get to the end of the road on an account, then we can put them on something else.
We talk a lot about how to keep people engaged and excited about coming up with fresh ideas.
TNG: YOU MENTIONED A SPEAKING RECENT ENGAGEMENT NEXT WEEK. I SEE YOUR NAME A LOT IN THE PRESS. IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO BE VOCAL, TO BE VISIBLE, TO HAVE A VOICE AND OPINION IN THE INDUSTRY ?
LF: Yes. I am on the older side of female creatives and I am really aware of the fact that there aren’t that many of us. And I would like to be one of the last generations of women where this is the situation. I have always felt very compelled to be very vocal — especially as a creative — about being a woman and how it affects my career.
The talk was interesting because it was me and another woman who is the CFO at Best Buy. She has been there her whole career. She came up through the ranks, staying at one place the whole time. And I am the opposite example of getting to where I am by jumping around a lot. I thought about it and realized I am kind of an agency slut, since I moved jobs so much.
I talked about what the pros and cons of moving around, as well as what you should be getting out of every place to make it work. I am very opinionated so I am more than happy to share my opinion whenever anybody asks.
Executive Creative Director
TheNextGag offers ad professionals an up-to-date calendar showing upcoming deadlines of the major global ad awards competitions and rankings of campaigns, brands, agencies and creatives in a beautiful mobile site.
TheNextGag | Obsessed with Creative Advertising