Business Insider’s rising stars of Madison Avenue of 2018.
Shayanne Gal/Business Insider
Introducing the rising stars of Madison Avenue. Whether developing breakthrough ad campaigns, using data in new ways, or coming up with new ways to reach consumers, this crop of young advertising professionals is turning traditional advertising on its head and shaking things up on Madison Avenue and beyond. Criteria and methodology Business Insider has in the past recognized the 30 most creative people in advertising under 30. This year we broadened the criteria to include rising talent in departments beyond creative while increasing the age limit to 35. We’ve included people with a variety of roles and experiences, spanning planning, creative, strategy, business development, and talent. We looked beyond ad agencies to consulting companies like Deloitte Digital and IBM iX that are increasingly competing with them. We finalized the list based on agency and peer nominations, our own research into their awards and campaigns, the influence they’ve had on their companies, and their potential to be future leaders in the industry. Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination, and congratulations to our winners. (The rising stars are listed in alphabetical order by last name.)
Kate Baynham, 32, and Hanna Wittmark, 34, of Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Baynham and Wittmark, associate creative directors.
This creative duo has worked at Goodby Silverstein & Partners for six years on high-caliber brands like Comcast, Frito-Lay, Adobe, Chrysler, Nintendo, and the Ad Council. They also helped the agency land two of its biggest accounts, Pepsi and Liberty Mutual, in 2017. One of their most standout pieces of work was the “#IAmAWitness” anti-bullying-emoji campaign for the Ad Council, which gave kids a tool to combat online bullying. Their work has nabbed awards at festivals such as the Cannes Lions, D&AD, the Effie’s, Art Director’s Club, and the One Show. In 2017, they became the first female team to be named Next Creative Leaders by the One Club and 3% Movement. Baynham was featured on Business Insider’s 30 most creative people in advertising under 30 list in 2016.
Veronica Brothwell, 29, Giant Spoon
Brothwell, strategy director.
Giant Spoon has become synonymous with creating breakout experiential activations for brands from HBO to Warner Bros. But Brothwell was spearheading experiences for the agency’s entertainment clients long before its experiential department came to life. She’s been behind some of the agency’s most memorable work, including its splashy “Blade Runner” live experience at Comic-Con in 2017 and the Ready Player One experience at SXSW 2018, which took over a two-story space in the heart of Austin.
Corbin Brown, 30, Giant Spoon
Brown, VP, strategy director.
Giant Spoon/Corbin Brown
Brown was Giant Spoon’s first hire as a project manager five years ago. Today, he shapes brand and creative strategy for some of the agency’s most high-profile clients in New York, including Synchrony. He led the creation of Synchrony’s recently launched podcast “Business Schooled” with Reddit and Initialized Capital cofounder Alexis Ohanian, in which Ohanian travels the country and gathers business and life lessons by small-business entrepreneurs. In its first week alone, the podcast landed on iTunes’ Top 5 Business Podcasts list and was among its Top 30 podcasts overall. Brown was a finalist for The Drum’s Young Innovator Award for 2017 and Cynopsis Rising Star in 2015.
Cable, associate director of data analytics.
Cable leads analytics for prominent clients including Michael Kors, Huda Beauty, Louis Vuitton, PGA Tour Superstore, and Ralph Lauren, transforming their websites through e-commerce redesign, personalization, and product customization. As the agency’s associate director of data analytics, he combines data and analytics with design to create ecommerce experiences for retailers that drive conversions. His work this year on retailer John Varvatos’ site resulted in a 55% increase in mobile revenue year over year during the brand’s Memorial Day holiday sale.
Cross, VP of strategic growth.
As head of global business development, Cross focuses on employee engagement, operationalizing the business, and helping the Brooklyn shop differentiate itself. She is the brains behind the agency’s associates program that brings on entry-level people and trains them in business development, as well a rotational program that helps employees find their niche in a 12- to 18-month period. Cross’s initiatives helped Huge win new business, lowered turnover in global business development — more than any other department in the company — and contributed to Huge’s best growth year in its history.
Frank Cunningham, 26, Deloitte Digital’s Heat
Cunningham, business executive.
Cunningham helped win and onboarded Aspen Dental, the largest agency of record business at Deloitte Digital’s Heat. It was his work on Aspen’s business and audience strategy that led to Heat winning brand and digital responsibilities for the brand without a pitch. It was also the first time that Deloitte landed the branding and digital duties for one company. He also leads the day-to-day Campari business, with Heat being the social agency of record for Wild Turkey.
Alexa DePasquale, 29, Grey
DePasquale, SVP of innovation.
With a startup and technology background, DePasquale brings entrepreneurialism to her role at Grey, where she recently pioneered its first-of-its-kind partnership with startup incubator Betaworks. The Betaworks deal helped Grey get big brands to think more like startups while getting startups to tap into these brands’ vast resources. Before the Betaworks partnership, DePasquale spearheaded the Grey Adventures initiative, which focused on finding creative solutions to problems by promoting a venture-capitalist mindset among clients, with revenue-share deals and joint venture agreements.
Corianda Dimes, 28, TBWAChiatDay
Dimes, senior strategist.
With experience in social media, strategy, and public relations, Dimes embodies the new breed of talent in demand as advertising gets more collaborative and cross-functional. She takes an unconventional approach to strategy, creating digital content driven by human insights to help clients like IMAX and Nissan grow their social presences, identify their brand purpose and push it out across their owned channels. Dimes is plugged in outside the agency’s walls too. She’s been an advocate for #TimesUp Advertising, serving as the youngest speaker at #TimesUp’s first agency event in Los Angeles.
Quinn Katherman, 34, Crispin Porter Bogusky
Katherman, creative director.
Real Time Academy
Katherman got her start writing humor cards for Recycled Paper Greetings, which helped her land her first gig as a copywriter on the Sonic Drive-Thru account at Barkley. At Arnold, she went on to develop the voice of Progressive’s Flo character before ending up at CP+B Boulder in 2015, where she helped the agency quickly win multiple brands from The Hershey Co. She was named creative director a year later. In April, she launched the “Beyond I Do” campaign for the Ad Council and Gill Foundation to raise awareness of legal discrimination against LGBT Americans. As the lead on the Hotels.com account, she launched a six-TV spot campaign in May promoting Hotels.com’s different types of accommodations beyond hotels.
Zak Kubert, 32, New York Studio, IBM iX
Kubert, executive creative director.
Kubert leads and oversees all creative out of the New York Studio at IBM iX for clients such as Marriott Hotels, Coca-Cola, UPS, JetBlue, and Live Nation. Most recently, he applied his user-centered design bent to create the Apple Watch’s first banking app, for Citibank. Over the past year, his team also produced the first artificial-intelligence-powered highlight reel for Fox Sports and the FIFA World Cup, using AI to help automate the editing and production process. His team also just launched the first digital kiosk for the Department of Social Services, aimed at helping homeless people in New York get shelter and services quickly.
Steven Lai, 33, ION-Ayzenberg
Lai, VP of talent and content strategy.
From fake bot followers to inflated metrics, influencer marketing is fraught with problems. One person trying to clean it up is Steven Lai. At ION, which specializes in influencer marketing, he’s developed a proprietary algorithm to measure and evaluate campaigns. He has worked with more than 500 influencers on more than 7o campaigns, contributing to millions of dollars in earned media value for clients including Amazon, Microsoft, Fox, Sony, Netflix, and Alphabet.
Marybeth Ledesma, 31, Droga5
Ledesma, associate creative director.
Diversity has been front and center in the campaigns that Ledesma has produced over the past few years, including CoverGirl’s huge inclusivity-fueled makeover in 2017 and Hennessy V.S.’s Marshall “Major” Taylor campaign in 2018. Her focus on diversity has paid off. In just a week, the Covergirl campaign amassed over 700 million impressions and nearly 10 million views. Further, the campaign led to a 5% increase in same-store sales.
Gabrielle Levy, 26, McCann New York
With “Price on Our Lives,” a campaign for the nonprofit March for Our Lives, McCann New York took a stand for gun control after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, by putting a dollar amount on how much students’ lives are worth to politicians. It began thanks to Levy, who attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and approached agency leaders wanting to help the students. From those conversations came the Cannes Gold Lion-winning campaign, which spread virally with zero spent on paid media. “Price on Our Lives” was followed up by “Vote for Our Lives,” a collaboration with singer Kesha, her brother Sage Sebert, and Alabama rapper Chika to encourage people to vote on November 6, 2018.
Mimi Lopez, 29, Hill Holliday
Lopez, program manager for diversity and inclusion and agency communications.
Hill Holiday/Mimi Lopez
Lopez began her career at Droga5 as a receptionist, moving on to a PR role before joining Hill Holliday’s new business team in 2016 and helping land clients like Planet Fitness, Party City, Simple Mobile, and Optum. Her enthusiasm for diversity and inclusion led her to current role. Under her stewardship, the agency’s “Diversity & Inclusion Council” had a 40% increase in members in the past year. She’s also pioneered a new speaker series and mentorship program.
Ralph Paone, 32, Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Paone, group strategy director.
This former Harvard debate captain started at Goodby as an intern and is now the youngest group strategy director in the agency’s history. Paone has been a key figure on some of the agency’s biggest accounts, overseeing strategic planning for Pepsi and Frito-Lay brands Cheetos, Doritos, and Tostitos. One of his most notable campaigns was “Cheetos Museum,” where the brand challenged its customers to submit the weirdest Cheetos shapes they could find so it could include them in an exhibit. The campaign doubled sales goals, increased market share along with winning a Silver Effie, four Gold Lions and two Silvers at Cannes in 2017. He led strategy for this year’s “Doritos Blaze vs. Mountain Dew Ice Super Bowl Rap Battle” — a Bowl spot that drove one of the most successful product launches in the two brands’ histories and won two Gold Art Directors Club Awards, a Gold One Show Pencil, and four Gold CLIOs.
Juan Javier Peña, 31; and Ricardo Casal, 32; DAVID Miami
Peña and Casal, executive creative directors.
Peña and Casal may be among the most awarded creatives in recent years, raking in a whopping 24 Cannes Lions awards in 2017. Their best-known work included Burger King’s “Google Home of the Whopper,” which hacked Google devices to promote the Whopper; and Heinz’s “Pass the Heinz,” which brought a campaign from “Mad Men” to life. Their winning streak continued in 2018, with Budweiser’s Super Bowl spot “Stand by You” and “Whopper Neutrality” and “Nightmare King” for Burger King. Overall, they helped DAVID Miami win a total of 14 Lions across seven campaigns.
Armando Potter, 34, Deutsch
Potter, VP, strategy director.
Since joining Deutsch almost five years ago, Potter has worked on some of the agency’s marquee clients, including Volkswagen and Taco Bell, leading strategy for award-winning campaigns. He has led strategy for some of Taco Bell’s biggest product launches of late, including the “Bigger Than” Quesalupa Super Bowl effort and the “Web of Fries” campaign, contributing to the most successful product launch in Taco Bell’s history, topping Doritos Locos Tacos. He also worked on Taco Bell’s “Breakfast Defectors,” which won a Cannes Lions and received a 16% jump in traffic and sales in 2015; and “Test Kitchen,” which sold out tickets in just 34 seconds. Potter also traveled the country for the agency’s recent study, “America in the Raw,” which examined how the values of Gen Z and millennials match the rest of America and what the findings mean for brands.
Lauren Riddoch, 26, DDB Chicago
Riddoch, senior copywriter.
The first senior copywriter at DDB Chicago, Riddoch has worked on some of the agency’s largest accounts, including Mars and State Farm. She’s also been key to DDB’s winning pitches for Blue Moon, Miller Lite, and McDonald’s in recent years. When she’s not producing ads, she spearheads cultural events for the agency, including an office-wide pop-up market on International Women’s Day featuring female makers from the Chicago area. Since joining DDB three years ago, she’s mentored 10 creatives, six of whom are female. This is a comeback for Riddoch, who won a spot on Business Insider’s creative 30 under 30 List back in 2017.
Sebesta, UX designer.
Sebesta has carved a niche for himself in the burgeoning area of conversational and voice experience design. He helps clients like Headspace figure out how to use voice to bring conversational experiences to life, helping them shape a two-way interaction between brand and consumer. Sebesta is also helping establish best practices for voice search and commerce as he builds Alexa skills, Google Actions, and other conversational experiences for clients.
Sen, group strategy director.
Sen uses consumer, cultural, and market insights to develop brand strategy and drive value for a number of Droga5 clients including Mailchimp and Chase. For Mailchimp, for instance, she brought dry B2B tutorials to life, leading to a campaign that showed how marketing automation tools are like a second brain for your business. The campaign beat all benchmarks for engagement and acquisition, exceeding paid sign-up goals by 27%. Her work has won several industry awards, including Effies and Cannes Lions.
Chris Serrano, 27, and Alex Fox, 27, Leo Burnett Chicago
Serrano and Fox, art director and copywriter.
This art director-copywriter duo were just interns at Ogilvy when their work for Amnesty International was published by the legendary Milton Glaser in his book “The Design of Dissent.” Since then, they’ve landed at Leo Burnett, where they have brought in three out of the five Clio Awards that the agency has won in the past 11 months. Their best-known work includes Country Time Lemonade’s “Legal-Ade,” which has gotten 1 billion impressions and eight awards; and “All Together Cereal” — a Spirit Day activation with GLAAD where Kellogg’s stood up to bullying against LGBTQ youth. They also work on some of the agency’s most iconic brands, including Kraft (Country Time, Capri Sun), Kellogg’s (Kellogg’s, Nutrigrain, Keebler) and Dunkin’.
Jess Shriftman, 34, Wieden + Kennedy
Shriftman, art director.
Wieden + Kennedy
As an art director, Shriftman has been the brains behind some of Wieden + Kennedy New York’s most notable campaigns, for brands including OkCupid, Delta, and Equinox. She turned a Brooklyn wall into a popular ad for Delta and Tinder that got massive social engagement. With a campaign for OKCupid, she got people across the country to unabashedly say that they were “DTF” and helped grow the dating site’s user base 25%. Her work on the “Commit to Something” campaign for Equinox, which positioned a cancer survivor’s mastectomy scars as a badge of honor, won an Athena award from the 3 Percent Movement. Shriftman has been featured on Business Insider’s 30 most creative people under 30 twice before and in November was 1 of 10 women named to The One Club/3 Percent Movement’s distinguished group of Next Creative Leaders.
Danielle Sporkin, 32, Essence
Sporkin, SVP, global client partner.
As the global strategic business lead for Google, Essence’s largest long-standing client, Sporkin oversees the team that develops digital advertising strategy for key Google products including Chromebooks, Chrome browser, and Google Play. She has helped the tech giant with high-profile product launches such as the Pixel Phone, Google Home, and YouTube Red. Outside of work, Danielle is a skater and the VP of Gotham Girls Roller Derby, a nonprofit committed to supporting amateur female athletes.
David Stamatis, 33, Optimist Inc.
Stamatis, creative design director.
Stamatis was a pioneer in experiential marketing long before it became an industry staple by brands looking to transcend traditional advertising. One of his notable achievements was helping develop 007 ELEMENTS, a museum dedicated to James Bond that sits more than 9,800 feet above sea level in Austria. He led Jordan Brand’s first sponsorship of NBA’s All-Star Uniform. It wasn’t just a jersey takeover — the activation featured a live broadcast on TNT, panel discussion with celebrities, and performance by Travis Scott.
Steiger, creative director.
Steiger joined FF (formerly Fred & Farid) in September to open its Los Angeles office and oversees projects across the agency’s LA, New York, Paris, and Shanghai offices. Her most recent work was launching the Family Plan campaign for Spotify, which gave out Google Home Minis to Spotify Premium Family account owners. She previously worked on campaigns for Diet Coke, Target, Facebook, and HP.
Roz Urso, 32, IBM iX North America
Urso, experience lead.
An ad agency account director turned digital consultant, Urso joined IBM iX three years ago when the consultancy acquired creative shop Resource/Ammirati. Urso is IBM iX’s lead for the electronics industry, helping clients like Panasonic, NetApp, and Cisco create digital experiences that touch marketing, sales, service and operations. Recently, she led a large digital transformation program for a well-known New York financial institution, which IBM iX declined to specify.
Watts, associate strategic planning director.
Watts goes beyond the focus group with her research. In her recent report, “The Identity Shifters: A Gen Z Exploration,” she combined qualitative and quantitative research to break down the Gen Z cohort to the agency’s clients, including a “mobile appnography,” which detailed their mobile-app habits. After the 2016 presidential election, Watts led a group of ethnographic researchers to North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Minnesota to learn about the attitudes and values there that tipped the election. On the client front, she was pivotal to helping win the social-media business for Farmers Insurance and Southwest Airlines and tied them in to relevant cultural moments like the Oscars and Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” with the campaign “Stranger Claims.”
Gabe Whaley, 29; and Ben Rosen, 32; MSCHF
Rosen and Whaley, VP of creative and CEO/founder.
Whaley and Rosen try to make brands relevant not through traditional advertising, but by making experiences that are a natural extension of how people use the internet. The results have included Insomnobot, a chatty text-based bot developed for mattress startup Casper, to keep night owls and insomniacs engaged; and Away Mode for Hippo Insurance, an Alexa skill that tricks burglars into thinking you’re home. In addition to challenger brands Casper, Hippo Insurance and Breather, their clients now include Bed Bath & Beyond and Target.
Gila Wilensky, 34, Essence
Wilensky, SVP, media activation.
Wilensky joined Essence in 2013 where she built an SEM and biddable-media team for Google — eventually turning the business into a large Adwords account and helping Google codify its best practices for search. Today, she oversees all of Essence’s digital-media buying, which comprises SEM, social, programmatic and display for all of Essence’s North American clients, including Google, NBCUniversal, and Target. Essence credits Wilensky’s leadership for solidifying its position in programmatic, which accounted for 32% of Essence’s annual spending in The Americas at the end of 2017.
Jean Zamprogno, 33, and Fernando Pellizzaro, 33, DAVID Miami
Zamprogno and Pellizzaro, associate creative directors.
The pair, known as Zampa & Zaro, have swept the awards circuit in 2018, winning over 30 international awards, including 13 Cannes Lions, Clios, D&AD Impact, and the Grand Prix in El Ojo and Wave Festival. One of their most celebrated campaigns, “This Coke Is a Fanta,” turned an old homophobic expression in Brazil into a symbol of pride. The campaign got more than 1 billion impressions with zero media investment. Other campaigns of note included “Whopper Neutrality, “BK Bot” and “McMansions” for Burger King. Most recent, they worked on the global Christmas campaign for Coca-Cola’s global Christmas campaign and are producing two 2019 Super Bowl spots for other clients. On the business side, they contributed to pitches that helped bring in new business from Nestlé, Coca-Cola, and Volkswagen.
Maria Zavala, 27, R/GA Chicago
Zavala, media supervisor.
As media supervisor, Zavala bridges media and creative, strategy and buying, and programmatic, and partnerships. She was key to planning and executing the digital campaign for the launch of Bubly, Pepsico’s new sparkling water. The campaign features a partnership between Bubly, Giphy, and Neil Patrick Harris, with GIFs associated with their campaign already having been viewed more than 100 million times. Since launch, sales of Bubly have had double-digit percentage increases, week over week. Zavala has also served as a steering committee member for SOMOS, R/GA’s Hispanic employee network and mentored interns and junior team members.
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