Pam Fujimoto — Executive Creative Director, WONGDOODY
Pam talks to TheNextGag about the causes that are close to her heart, her take on egg-freezing benefits and why June Cleaver had to go.
Pam Fujimoto is an Executive Creative Director at WONGDOODY in the USA.
Pam Fujimoto is Executive Creative Director of WONGDOODY LA, where she brings over 17 years of experience developing and launching creative solutions for diverse global brands. Since joining the agency four years ago, she started the Wongtern internship program, launched the Women in Advertising scholarship, led a refresh of the agency identity, and helped WONGDOODY win an Ad Age’s Small Agency of the Year award, twice. Pam is also co-founder of the site JuneCleaverIsDead.com, which explores how marketers can better understand and connect with moms today.
Prior to WONGDOODY, Pam was at Creature in Seattle for 3 years, as Creative Director. There she led the agency’s two biggest clients, Dickies and Truvia. Pam also helped launch the “In An Absolut World” campaign for Absolut Vodka, the brand’s first new campaign in 20 years, while at TBWA Chiat/Day New York. She started her career as an art director at the Seattle office of WONGDOODY, where she worked on Alaska Airlines, T-Mobile, Seattle Supersonics, and The Seattle International Film Festival.
Pam was on the 2016 jury for the One Show, and has judged numerous other shows. Her awards include Cannes Lions, D&AD, One Show, Communications Arts Design Annual and Ad Annual. She is also the proud mother and co-wrangler of nine-year old identical twin boys.
THENEXTGAG: HOW DID WONGDOODY BECAME SUCH A CLOSE PARTNER TO A HUGE TECHNOLOGY FIRM LIKE AMAZON ?
PAM FUJIMOTO: Amazon is in our backyard as a Seattle agency, and we’ve done project work for Amazon for 6 years, mostly around consumer electronics. We worked on their first brand campaign, and we helped them launch several Kindles, Fire TV and Echo. We’ve even worked directly with their in-house agency, Day One, on things like Super Bowl TV.
We are also the AOR for Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s cloud platform — and we have a campaign in market right now for them across broadcast, OOH and digital. It’s been very exciting to be able to play a part in the trajectory of this Seattle success story.
TNG: HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY WOMEN ? WHY IS THIS CAUSE IMPORTANT TO YOU ?
PF: We had a creative idea come up that addressed the gender pay gap during a moment in time the Treasury was announcing a new $10 bill featuring a woman. Female empowerment issues have been a constant theme around our “push project” initiatives here. As we started to research possible non-profits to partner with to bring the idea to life, AAUW was the best fit because they have been a leading authority on this issue for decades. They even already had started a campaign that our social idea fit perfectly with, so it was an easy pitch to them at that point.
TNG: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MANAGEMENT STYLE ?
PJ: I’m not typically not the loudest person in the room, so I don’t know that I fit the traditional ECD stereotype. I try to be direct and give rationale to my feedback, and think it’s my role to bring a higher level perspective because as a creative I know it’s easy to get in the weeds. I always want to hear thoughts from others when we review work. We operate according to an approach Tracy Wong calls Creative Democracy — a belief that valuable input can come from anyone. We make each other’s work better. And this has led to a very collaborative culture that often feels different to folks coming in from other agencies.
As a manager, it’s important to me to be working with each creative on their individual goals, outside of the direct projects we work together on together — regularly checking in on progress toward those goals — because as an ECD you’re not just championing creative work, but people.
TNG: WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO ADVERTISING ?
PJ: I always have enjoyed art, and I like problem solving. This has elements of both. But I love that it changes all the time and it requires me to constantly learn — because that’s the part that has kept me interested enough to stay in it.
Craft is what ends up separating good art directors and writers from the great.
TNG: WHAT IS THE SKILL THAT YOUNG GRADUATES LACK THE MOST ?
PJ: That’s a very broad question with no broad answer. Sometimes young graduates focus only on the big idea without enough attention to craft. Craft is what ends up separating good art directors and writers from the great. And sometimes young graduates (and people of all levels) forget that originality will always be the greatest value you deliver — art directors that just copy references and don’t know how to come with their own design solutions are rarer than they should be. Have originality. Take ownership and pride in what you put out in the world. Use brain!
TNG: IS IT IMPORTANT FOR AN AD AGENCY TO MAINTAIN A CERTAIN VIBE/CULTURE/WORK ENVIRONMENT ?
PJ: Of course. Every agency is a culture — and creativity is born out of an environment that encourages an exchange of ideas, regular inspiration, people you enjoy being around, and the desire to both have fun and word hard together. That’s always been important to us — to maintain and develop, but also as a filter for hiring. What are you bringing beyond your job role, that adds to our culture?
TNG: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF COMPANIES OFFERING EGG-FREEZING AS A COMPANY PERK ?
PJ: I think it gives a mixed message — are you offering me this benefit so you can get more “good years” out of me before I have babies? Or is this about you supporting me having children on my own schedule? Is this for the company’s benefit or mine? Will this encourage more women to do it who otherwise wouldn’t?
TNG: HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THE AGENCY’S VISUAL IDENTITY ?
PJ: Tracy, the “Wong” of WONGDOODY, designed the original identity at the time the agency was founded 21 years earlier. It was deliberately designed to be a boring contrast to the funny name, giving much needed credibility to the start up boutique it was at the time. But it was well overdue for an update, that was more of a reflection of who we are now.
So we did it like this. I was the CD, and the client was Tracy Wong. Which sounds like a disaster, to be designing the new agency logo for the founder of the agency who is also an art director, right? But when we landed on it, we knew it was the one. It was loud, energetic, and fun, and lets the memorable name be the hero, and optimized for screens. If you’ve met Tracy, it actually feels a lot like him.
TNG: TALK TO US ABOUT YOUR INTERNSHIP PROGRAM ?
PJ: Our Wongtern program is one of the most important parts of the agency. When you are a small agency, everyone’s contribution becomes even more valuable — from all corners of the agency, including interns. Especially interns! And as we all know, Millennials and Gen Z are the target more than ever, so our interns regularly become a key source of knowledge. It’s also been a gold mine of new talent to hire from — some of our best people have come from being interns.
TNG: WHY DID YOU FEEL IT IMPORTANT TO START AN IN-HOUSE CONSULTANCY ?
PJ: Skyler Mattson (Managing Director of WONGDOODY) and I started June Cleaver is Dead to bring a focus to one area of advertising that we felt was especially lacking from our perspective — marketing to moms. And the potential for doing it well is massive, because moms make 85% of of the household purchase decisions. It’s still new so we’re learning as we go, but it’s been exciting to feel the enthusiastic response from both marketers and people on the agency side.
Executive Creative Director
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