Meet Justine Armour, Chief Creative Officer at Grey NYC.
How did you get the international attention you got?
It’s always the work. I was a copywriter for 12 years before I really made anything good, and any recognition came after that. Making famous work granted me the opportunity to make more of it. The industry has become fixated on titles and money, but if you stay obsessed with the work, originality, simplicity, and the craft, then the recognition comes eventually.
In what way is Australian creativity unique?
You don’t necessarily realize or appreciate this when you’re there, but creativity in Australia gets to exist on the edges a little more than in the markets where you have a lot of clients and a lot of money riding on the creative decisions you’re making. So I think you get to play a little more loose, you can be more provocative and there’s more audacity in the work. And that gives you more of a sense that anything is possible. The creative feels more free and less worked, but the craft is still there. I don’t think Meet Graham would have happened in the US. I couldn’t imagine a major bank here making GAYTMs.
From what you observe, what do you think are the main differences between working in Australia and abroad?
The scale. Of the risks, but also the opportunities. Quite often we’re making work targeted at audiences many times the size of Australia’s total population.The potential for impact is massive.
Who inspires you in this industry?
Despite the attention you and your work has gotten, do you ever feel visible at work still? Did you ever at the start of your career? What did you do to overcome it?
Leading a big creative department as a new CCO during a pandemic, I’ve needed to be intentional about how I show up and make sure people have felt my presence even when I’m not around them physically. But aside from what the pandemic has thrown at me, no I don’t feel invisible in my job. I absolutely did, as a younger person in the industry. Some of that was gender-related and feeling like an interloper in what was a white male dominant industry culture. But a big part of it was also just that my perspective wasn’t as informed as my more experienced coworkers. Listening and learning, working with great teachers, focusing on making things, and really putting in the time at the beginning of my career to hone my craft, all set me up for leadership roles where my input is informed by experience and people pay attention.
What is the piece of work you’re most proud of having worked on?
When I was at W+K I led the relaunch for a deodorant brand called Secret. The work cast a light on various aspects of gender inequality, including the pay gap. It’s almost six years later and the brand is still focused on pay equality, and has done a lot of meaningful, impactful work on behalf of women workers in the US. The first campaign we made was shot by Aoife McArdle and I love the work on its creative merits alone, but when you can make something that you, your audience and client all love, that does something positive in the world, that”s pretty much as good as it gets in this business.