2019 Predictions from Debbi Vandeven, Global Chief Creative Officer | VMLY&R

Debbi Vandeven, Global Chief Creative Officer | VMLY&R 


As the role of agencies continues to shift, and brands reevaluate their marketing models (e.g. the trend to move resources in-house) what can the ad industry do to showcase its value in new ways this year?

The key to proving our value is to absolutely embrace the shifting role of agencies — which, in my mind, puts us in a position to help forge true connections between our brand partners and customers. As 2019 begins, that’s certainly the role we’re playing for each of our client partners at VMLY&R. We’ve become a brand experience agency. And we’re harnessing creativity, technology and culture to create connected brands. As challenging as it may be, I find this an incredibly exciting time to be a creative leader in this business.

A connected brand is a brand that lives in people’s lives by relating to them on an emotional level — wherever they are and whenever they are — and inspiring them to connect with others. We’re creating work that drives value for our clients, touches consumers and, ideally, has a true impact on the world.


As we move toward this type of work, as agencies, we put ourselves in a truly amazing position. By keeping ideas at the center of all we do, we can provide exactly what our brand partners need — whether that means delivering across the entire consumer journey or just one particular part of it. A guiding principle at VMLY&R is that “we put everything we are into everything we do.” This means we are extremely passionate and committed to delivering the most outstanding ideas — and quality of work — to clients. Our clients want to be inspired, and our goal is to inspire them every single day.

Collaboration, which has always been important, is now more vital than ever. It’s not about keeping our heads down. It’s about looking up, reaching out and working well with others. Because we’ll need the flexibility to work with each other regardless of discipline, as well as with other agencies, in-house client teams, production companies, media partners and other groups that haven’t even been determined yet.

Our role will be to rise to the challenge of always upholding the highest level of craft in our work, even when faced with the realities of efficiencies with staffing and condensed timelines. It’ll be up to us to evaluate when good is good enough and when great is needed. And those moments of greatness are when a brand really connects with consumers — when it really shines — and becomes a true connected brand.