At inVisible Creatives, we champion the female creatives that are making this industry better. We interview with the new senior team at David Miami, Sarah Dombkowski, and Georgia Taylor, about their big move and inspiration behind some of their work, including The McDonald’s The Flip.
We all know that finding the right partner in advertising is like finding your soulmate. How did you meet each other? How do you balance the partnership; what makes it work?
We met at our previous agency, We Are Unlimited. At first, we were partnered with other people, but then worked together on a project and haven’t separated since. There was even a time when resourcing tried to have our work with other people, but we had to hit them with a hard no on that.
We’ve been partners for about three years, and think we work so well because we both agree on the caliber of work we want to create and are self-driven, so we both are fine being left to our own devices to get things done. We also don’t strictly follow our own copywriter/art director roles and help each other out, whether it’s finding visual inspiration or writing scripts.
How would you describe each other’s leadership skills? What leadership skills do you look for in your boss?
We’re definitely still growing and evolving our leadership skills, but to us, autonomy is very important, so we try to offer as much advice and guidance as we can, rather than telling people exactly what to do.
As far as bosses go, we like mentorship and guidance. So far in our careers, we’ve been lucky to have had great creative directors that had our backs. We think it’s important to develop relationships with people you trust and know have your best interests at heart because the industry can be pretty shady at times. We also appreciate bosses that take risks and find opportunities most others would overlook. Finally, we like people with opinions that help build on ideas to push them to be the best they can be.
What is your favorite piece of work you ever made? What challenges did you stumble upon when producing the work?
We’ve been lucky enough to work on a lot of great projects in our partnership, but our favorites so far are The Flip, when we flipped the McDonald’s logo from an M to a W on International Women’s Day, and Shambow, which was a green rainbow that celebrated the return of the Shamrock Shake. We like these the most because not only were they larger experiential events different from what the brand was used to doing, but they also taught us a lot about the way we work best and the industry.
We’re at our best when we’re left to our own devices without much oversight, but these projects showed us that it really does take a great team to get the idea over the finish line, as well as the importance of needing a client willing to take risks.
What is the kind of work you would love to do you are missing in your book now?
We’ve done a ton of social and activations, which we like doing, but we really want to have a solid broadcast or OLV campaign. Expanding the types and variety of brands we work on is also something we’re looking forward to doing.
What was your favorite piece of work from David in the past year that made you make the jump from the cold streets of Chicago to the hot sunny streets of Miami?
From the last year, this Coke is a Fanta is our favorite. It’s such great insight, message, and simple execution. But to us, their entire body of work and the clients they have that are willing to take risks is the most appealing because it lends itself to a ton of creative opportunities. After all, at the end of the day, you can have a great idea, but if you don’t have a client willing to buy it it doesn’t really matter.
What skills do you wish they taught you in school that you really need today?
We feel like how to effectively handle office politics would have been a great heads up. We also think there should be a class that mentally prepares you for the sometimes painfully slow death of an idea. It also would teach you how to have the proper balance of optimism and realism because you always need to see every project as an opportunity and believe things will work out the way you want, but, at the same time, you have to be prepared for all the things that can go wrong.
What qualities do you look for in talent you hire?
We haven’t had the opportunity to hire anyone yet, but when the time comes, we’d look for driven individuals that are passionate about the ideas they make and have a sense of detail and craft. Finding people that help elevate the ideas rather than kill them would also be a plus. It’s super easy to brush off a thought-starter or say that it’s been done already, but that really doesn’t contribute well to the overall vibe of the team.
We also think that with the pace you have to work at these days, it’s important to have people that have initiative and can keep track of what needs to be done, so they don’t have to have their hands held.
What makes an idea strong?
The strongest ideas have a good insight, are simple and have a strong link to the brand or product. Having craft and style also adds to its greatness. Obviously, a lot easier said than done.
What advice would you give to young women in the industry wanting to land their dream job?
First and foremost, make sure you’re being recognized for the work you do. Also, be sure to make your own opportunities because you’re not always automatically going to be given them. It’s also important to find a mentor who you trust that can help you navigate the craziness of the industry and ask for advice when you need it. Finally, after you’ve done all that, harass everyone that works at the place you want to work at until you’re able to get your foot in the door. Oh, and probably don’t be a dickhead because everyone somehow knows everyone and will find out.
—Maddy and Senta