Meet the 30 most creative women in advertising
There are more influential females in the advertising industry than ever before. Female creative directors account for around 11% of ad industry award-winners, up from fewer than 4% a decade ago.
But while there have been improvements, women are still seriously under-represented in the industry. That's why each year we put out a call for entries for our annual rankings for the most creative women in Adland.
From these nominations, paired with our own research, we selected 30 amazing women. Factors we considered included recognition within the industry, seniority in their respective agencies, size of the shop, and stand-out creative work that's garnered attention outside of the advertising world.
Our list is by no means complete. But it does feature the fiercest talents in the business.
30. Cynthia Davies, managing director at Safari Sundays
Davies is responsible for overseeing the creative at cool New York design consultancy Safari Sundays, which works with brands including PepsiCo, Walgreens, Unilever, Hershey, Nestle, Starbucks, Frito Lay, and lots more.
She also recently co-founded Animal Studios, a New York-based photo and post production studio dedicated solely to product photography.
Davies spearheaded Safari Sundays' work on Pepsi's global partnership with Beyonce as part of the drink's "Live For Now" campaign.
29. Lindsey Lanpher, senior copywriter at SS+K
During her career Lanpher has worked on big-hitting campaigns such as the branding of Lincoln to the The Lincoln Motor Company and the HBO Go's "Awkward Family Viewing" campaign, designed to promote HBO Go to millennials and their parents.Other brand credits include Converse, Marriott, and Virgin America.
She joined New York-based SS+K in 2013 but has worked for a whole heap of brands and agencies including Converse, HudsonRouge, JWT, Anomaly, and McGarryBowen.
Here's one of the funny HBO Go "Awkward Family Viewing" spots Lanpher worked on.
28. Victoria Appleby, business director at Mediacom UK
Appleby might not work for a creative agency but she helps make media planning and buying creative, often influencing clients to trial first-of-their-kind media buys. She works on big accounts including Coca-Cola, E.On, and Scope.
She has also been responsible for running the agency's graduate trainee scheme.
Outside of the day job, Appleby has also written a novel, "Secret Stone."
Appleby led the team that delivered the 2014 "Share A Coke" campaign in the UK. That included the first ever personalized video-on-demand ad on Channel 4's 4oD.
27. Alex Holder, executive creative director at Anomaly London
Together with creative partner Oli Beale, Holder has worked on high profile campaigns for brands including Smirnoff, Stella, Nokia, and Amnesty International.
Recent award wins include D&AD pencils, Cannes Silver Lions, and even a Q Magazine award for her work with the band Kaiser Chiefs.
Holder is also the brainchild of "Headshots of Hand Models," a book which tracked down the faces behind famous pairs of hands.
Holder and Beale are seeking fellow creatives to band together to "fight bad guys" in an initiative called "Us V Them." They released their own ad targeting the bad industry.
26. Leslie Sims, chief creative officer at Y&R New York
Sims only recently joined Y&R. Prior to that, she had been at McCann since 1999, working on big campaigns for brands such as the US Postal Service, Dentyne, Joe's Crab Shack and the National Breast Cancer Coalition.
She has a huge string of recent awards to her name including Gold Cannes Lions, Clios, Webby's People's Choice awards, and she was listed by iMedia as one of the top 25 leaders and innovators in marketing.
Sims was led the creative for the USPS holiday ad, entitled "Gameday."
25. Sue Anderson, VP and executive creative director at Crispin Porter + Bogusky LA
At CP+B, Anderson heads up the creative department in the LA office.
She started her career as a copywriter for TBWA Hunt Lascaris in Johannesburg, South Africa. During her 10-year stint with TBWA, she worked on campaigns for BMW, Land Rover, and the International Cricket Board, for which she worked with Nelson Mandela. From there she went to Wieden+Kennedy’s Amsterdam operation and then back to TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York. She joined CP+B in 2013.
Her awards include: Cannes Lions, One Show pencils, being published in D&AD, Epica Awards, London International, and EFFIES.
Anderson was the creative director for this 60-second TV spot for home automation innovator WeMo, the brand's first-ever consumer marketing campaign.
24. Pam Mufson, executive creative director at Y&R Chicago
As co-executive creative director, Mufson's role is to oversee creative for all of Y&R's clients, including Butterball, Carfax, Laughing Cow, DoubleTree, and more. She has flourished in making stand-out videos designed to go viral.
Mufson, alongside her co-ECD Jeremy Smallwood, have a string of awards including Cannes Lions, One Show, London International Awards, and others.
Mufson's work on Sears' "The Getaway" online ad was an instant hit, winning multiple awards at the ADDYs and also contributing to Y&R's "Chicago Agency of the Year" win.
23. Ann Lewnes, SVP and chief marketing officer at Adobe
It takes great creative guts to create big-spending, stand-out, funny ads for such a corporate brand but Lewnes has consistently done so across Photoshop and its Marketing Cloud. And the brand has won several advertising awards on the way for those campaigns.
A well recognized figure on the marketing scene, Lewnes serves on the boards of Mattel, the Advertising Council, and the Adobe Foundation.
Under Lewnes' watch, Adobe released this funny "Click, Baby. Click" TV ad.
22. Bridget Angear, chief strategy officer at AMV BBDO
Angear runs UK creative agency AMV BBDO's strategic output. Alongside Craig Mawdsley, the duo have been voted London's top strategists three years a row in Campaign's annual "A List."
For years she has sat on the Cannes Lions awards juries and has won several gongs of her own: Cannes Effectiveness Grand Prixs, IPA Effective Agency of the Year, Marketing Society Excellence Awards, and APG Creative Strategy Agency of the Year to name a few.
Clients under Angear's strategic and creative control include Guinness, Pepsi Max, Adidas Originals, and Starbucks.
This work by AMV BBDO for Guinness won a silver at Cannes in the film category last year.
21. Xanthe Wells, chief creative officer at Pitch
Wells leads all the creative output from boutique Culver City-based ad agency Pitch, working for brands including Burger King, Konami, and Pepsi.
Since Wells joined in 2013 Pitch has also been named "Agency to Watch" by AdAge’s Agency A-List and received a Silver in the Small Agency Awards last year.
Her trophy cabinet is filled with awards from Cannes, Effies, Clios, Andys, The One Show, and more.
Wells helped create this great ad for Burger King about the return of the Yumbo sandwich.
20. Lucy Farey-Jones, partner and executive strategy director at Venables Bell & Partners
Farey-Jones is the only female partner at Venables Bell & Partners, an independent, San Francisco-based ad agency of ~200 staff.
As the founding strategy leader, Lucy has been instrumental in leading the VB&P team to victory in new business and shaping such brand positioning as Audi’s “Truth in Engineering,” Intel’s “Sponsors of Tomorrow,” eBay's "When it's on your mind, it's on eBay," and the launch of Google Fiber in Kansas City.
Farey-Jones has helped the agency win nine EFFIEs. Prior to joining VB&P in 2001, she worked at BMP DDB in London, where her work on the Volkswagen account won three Gold Lions, five Silver D&ADs and Best of Show and five Gold Pencils at the One Show.
A huge highlight of Farey-Jones' career has been her work for Audi, which has helped drive the automaker to achieve five years of record sales. Here's a recent ad, starring Ricky Gervais, which aimed to connect the brand with a new group of consumers: Millennials.
19. Tara Greer, EVP and executive creative director, platforms, at Deutsch LA
Greer's role involves working across all Deutsch LA's digital accounts, as well as overseeing its user experience and invention divisions.
She is one of the most-awarded digital product designers in adland — with numeros Clio, D&AD, Art Directors Club, Webbys, and One Show awards under her belt. Her work on the Nike+ Fuelband also earned Greer and her team a Cannes Lions Titanium Grand Prix in 2012 (and more than 60 others that year.)
Greer has also played an important role in new business, having recently helped Deutsch LA become the digital agency of record for Taco Bell and creative agency of record for Sprint.
Here's some of Greer's work for Volkswagen, which took a page from online dating to help consumers find a new car.
18. Lisa Topol, executive creative director at Grey New York
Throughout her career, Topol has challenged the traditional female creative stereotype by creating award-winning work on accounts usually associated with men: Nike, Jordan, ESPN, and the NFL to name a few.
The string of awards she has earned during her career include Cannes Lions of varing colors, Clios, One Show, D&ADs, Effies, and ANDYs.
Topol was on the team that created this hard-hitting Super Bowl spot for the "No More" anti-domestic violence campaign.
17. Caitlin Ryan, group executive creative director at Karmarama
Ryan joined Karmarama from Proximity, where she had been executive director since 1995. She is responsible for leading and managing all the agency's creative output, for clients including BT, the BBC, Cobra, and Honda.
Under Ryan's leadership, Proximity became the most awarded direct marketing agency in the UK, and she now sits on several awards judging councils.
Ryan is also joint owner of three of London’s most popular and awarded cafés; Lantana in Fitzrovia, Ruby Dock in Camden, and Salvation Jane in Shoreditch.
Ryan's work for CoppaFeel saw the UK breast cancer awareness charity partner with photographer Rankin for a campaign that aimed to desexualize the image of women's breasts.
16. Jill Gray, head of UK Creative Shop at Facebook
Gray is responsible for leading a team of five within Facebook's in-house "Creative Shop," which helps brands create and deliver content and campaigns across Facebook and Instagram.
That means collaborating with brands' internal marketing teams, as well as their advertising agencies across the globe.
Prior to joining Facebook in 2013, Gray worked as an international business director at Publicis Paris. There she was the global lead in NESCAFE, repositioning the brand, setting the global strategy, and generally raising the bar on its marketing creative.
Gray acted as creative director on McDonald's "Fry Futbol" campaign during the World Cup in Brazil. It reached 125 million people and the campaign was such a success, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg called it out during the social network's Q2 2014 earnings call.
15. Jean Batthany, group creative director, DDB Chicago
Batthany was recently the winner of the 2015 Advertising Working Mothers of the Year award and is an avid supporter of women in the industry.
For her dayjob, she has recently been responsible for a multimedia marketing campaign for Safeway, whcih has helped lift sales by more than 20%.
Her work has been recognized by the Effies, Addys, Clios, , Communication Arts, an Ad Council's Gold Bell for Public Service, her work is in the Permanent Collection of MOMA's AICP, and she has won the Keith Reinhard People Award.
Most recently Batthany worked on the new national campaign for Kohler
14. Jennelle Tilling, global chief marketing at Yum! Brands
Tilling oversees the marketing, innovation, and brand strategy for brands including KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut.
She has steadily risen through the ranks since joining Pizza Hut as director of marketing strategy in the UK in 1999.
Tilling is a former president of WACL (Women in Advertising and Communications London) and is a fellow of the Marketing Society.
KFC recent ran a funny series of "outraged kids" commercials, which saw children trying out KFC Popcorn Nuggets and then asking why they've been subject to inferior nuggets so far in their life.
13. Sarah Watson, chief strategy officer at BBH New York
Watson joined as BBH New York's first ever chief strategy officer four years ago.
In that time she has worked on some major campaigns for brands including Axe, The Weather Channel, and Johnnie Walker. She also helped BBH New York become the agency of record for PlayStation (work which won the agency two gold Cannes Lions last year).
Aside from client work, Watson was also responsible for spearheading the agency's "Griffin Farley Search for Beautiful Minds — a three-day mentorship program in honor of a late colleague that helps nurture untapped creative talent.
Here's that award-winning PlayStation work
12. Lauren Connolly, creative director at BBDO New York
Connolly joined BBDO NY in 2001 and since then has been responsible for some of the agency's biggest campaigns.
She has the fortune of working on huge brands such as M&M's, Lowe's, Mountain Dew, as well as several pro bono accounts.
She was an honoree at the inaugural MAKERS conference, named AdAge's "40 Under 40", and Adweek's "Young Influential 20 under 40."
Here's some of Connolly's creative work for M&M's - an action movie spot broadcast during The Oscars
11. Rosie Arnold, deputy executive creative director at BBH London
Arnold has worked at BBH London for more than 30 years. She served as president of the D&AD from 2011 to 2012.
The roster of clients she works for includes: KFC, Weetabix, Axe, British Airways, and St John Ambulance.
Arnold regularly features in Campaign Magazine's "A List" of the most influential people in advertising.
BBH London created the stand-out Axe "Peace" 2014 Super Bowl campaign. Arnold was creative director for product design.
10. Vicki Maguire, deputy executive creative director at Grey London
Maguire has spent the past 15 years working for more than a dozen agencies including Ogilvy, StrawberryFrog Amsterdam, Wieden+Kennedy, and now Grey London. She has won more than 35 major awards along the way.
Alongside awards for her creativity, she has also been awarded for her leadership: Being named the IPA's "Woman of Tomorrow" and one of D&AD's 20 most influential women in advertising.
She also owns and runs East London vintage sweet shop Suck and Chew.
Maguire was the creative director on this beautiful PSA for The British Heart Foundation, which showed the work the charity is doing to fight inherited heart conditions.
9. Kerry Keenan, chief creative officer at Deutsch New York
Keenan has featured on the "Most Creative Women in Advertising" list for the past two years and she's continuing to make waves in the creative community.
She has helped win consumer paint brand Sherwin-Williams and Jagermeister, as well as helping to win more of Johnson & Johnson's ACUVUE business.
Much of her focus this year has been on pro-bono and PSA work, such as work with the AdCouncil in partnership with FEMA and The American Heart Association, and creating an original song titled "I'm Good" to spread an anti-bullying message for acne medication brand Epiduo.
Here's the "I'm Good" PSA, which featured teens reading real social media posts.
8. Emma de la Fosse, chief creative officer, OgilvyOne EMEA
De la Fosse is the lead creative across OgilvyOne's Europe, Middle East, and Africa business.
Together with joint chief creative partner Charlie Wilson, the pair have been spearheading a drive for better creative work across the direct industry.
The push has resulted in OgilvyOne London becoming the most-awarded direct agency in the world, winning Grand Prix, Gold, and Silver awards at every major festival including Cannes, One Show, D&Ad, BIG, and the DMAs.
De la Fosse was the creative lead on British Airways' Magic of Flying campaign, which was one of the most awarded campaigns globally in 2014 across any media. The boy in the outdoor ad looked up any time a BA flight was overhead.
7. Joanna Monteiro, VP creative director at FCB São Paulo
Under Monteiro's creative direction, FCB Brazil marked another successful 12 months.
Cannes Lions was a particular highlight, with the agency bringing home 17 trophies, including the Mobile Grand Prix for its Nive "Protection Ad" and 10 awards for its "Speaking Exchange" campaign that connected Brazilian CNA students with English-speaking senior citizens.
Here's the heartwarming CNA language school "Speaking Exchange" video.
6. Eliza Esquivel, VP global brand strategy at Mondelez International
Esquivel is responsible for Mondelez's high growth brands, such as Oreo and Cadbury. She also sits on the board of directors at the Advertising Club of New York.
Prior to joining Mondelez, Esquivel was head of planning at TBWA/Chiat/New York.
Beyond her creative day job, Esquivel is a strategic thinker and is speaking about how privacy has gone from a niche concern to a mainstream fear at SXSW this year.
Esquivel was part of the team that created this fashion line for Trident gum, made with radio frequency shielding fabric to stop the wearer's phone becoming a distraction.
5. Kate Stanners, creative partner at Saatchi & Saatchi
Stanners sits on the Saatchi & Saatchi UK board and has created some of the region's most memorable campaigns in recent years: T-Mobile's "Royal Wedding" viral sensation, the famous 1990s Cadbury Flake spot with a girl in the bath, and the Jeff Goldblum "Anagrams" Holsten Pils campaign.
More recently she has worked on brands including mobile carrier EE, NSPCC, and Toyota.
She is a member of WACL and the RSA, and sits on the IPA Council.
Under Stanners' direction, Toyota partnered internet prankster Rahat for this funny "invisible driver" spot promoting the new Aygo.
4. Judy John, CEO and chief creative officer at Leo Burnett Canada
John is not only Leo Burnett Canada's chief creative, but she also runs the business as the agency's CEO.
She has helped guide the agency through several creative milestones, including winning its first Digital D&AD Black Pencil, launching the world's most awarded billboard campaign in 2009, and guiding the agency to become the inaugural ADCC Agency of the Year in 2011.
More recently John was the executive creative director on the incredibly popular and multi-award-winning Always "Like a Girl" global campaign.
Here is this year's "Like a Girl" Super Bowl ad for Always, for which John was the creative director.
3. Susan Credle, chief creative officer at Leo Burnett
Credle is one of the most high-profile female creatives in the industry and sites on several awards councils.
She started out covering on the phones for receptionists on bathroom breaks at BBDO NY in 1985, but rose up the ranks to become executive creative director, where she worked on M&M's and Cingular Wireless.
Credle has created work for McDonald's, Kellogg's, P&G, Sealy, Allstate — you can thank her for the insurance company's famous badboy spokesman, Mayhem.
Recently, Credle worked on this "Signs" campaign for McDonald's, which ran during the Golden Globes as part of the fast food brand's refresh.
2. Susan Hoffman, global creative executive creative director at Wieden + Kennedy
Hoffman has spent 30 years at Wieden & Kennedy and is responsible for some of the industry's most game-changing work.
She worked on Nike before its slogan was "Just Do It," and she has managed to create cutting-edge throughout her career.
Recent work under her creative director includes campaigns for Powerade, Herbal Essences, WeightWatchers and two 2015 Super Bowl ads: For Coca-Cola and TurboTax.
The Coca-Cola Super Bowl commercial aimed to highlight some of the negativity that is spread via the internet and how it can be turned around.
1. Emer Stamp, joint creative director at Adam&EveDDB
Emer Stamp (alongside joint creative director Ben Tollett) has helped spearhead an amazingly successful period for Adam&EveDDB.
You only need to look at the amount of gongs Stamp and the Adam&Eve DDB team brought home at Cannes Lions 2014 to get a measure of her creative accomplishments. For Harvey Nichols' "Sorry I spent it on myself" ad: Four Grand Prix winners, eight Golds, one Silver, and two Bronze. And for Marmite's "Love it, hate it, just don't forget it" ad: Four Golds. Outstanding work like those two campaigns also helped Adam&EveDDB take home the "Agency of the Year" award.
More recently, she has helped create the incredibly popular John Lewis Christmas ad, starring Monty the Penguin and his friend Sam, and she has helped take Virgin Atlantic in a new, cooler creative direction.
Here's the multi-award wining Harvey Nichols ad.