Vanessa Fortier is a senior vice president and creative director at The Martin Agency. Fortier was instrumental in winning the Benjamin Moore account in 2013, and she is currently leading a multi-platform rebranding effort for the paint company, as well as contributing her leadership skills to campaigns for Discover Card. Fortier has won numerous industry awards, most recently for the retail giant Walmart, and she has generated an exceptional body of work for a long list of clients such as Iams, Olay, Kraft, McDonald’s and Kellogg. With regards to pushing the traditional boundaries of advertising, Vanessa has been referred to as a “velvet hammer.” Although she prefers to think of herself as a “taffeta nail gun.”
Where do your best ideas come from? There’s an app I downloaded called AdWizard, where you plug in a product and it gives you a world-class idea and a trip to Cannes. If that doesn’t work, I rely on a blend of inspiration, perspiration and sheer panic.
What do you consider to be the greatest ad campaign of all time? Just Do It. That said, I have great respect and envy for the Dove self-esteem work. The “Evolution” effort in 2006 was powerful, and a hard act to follow, but they achieved greatness again this year with “Real Beauty Sketches.” These are perfect examples of advertising being a force for good.
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Don’t go for the big agency name. Do whatever you can to work with people who have created great work. I believe in creative osmosis, and just breathing the same air will improve your talent.
What was your riskiest professional decision? Taking a job as creative director for the world’s largest retailer, known for its bouncing smiley-face campaign. Fortunately, the high risk became high reward when our new Walmart campaign won a couple of One Show pencils.
Where do you seek inspiration? Anywhere outside a conference room.
What is one current challenge that advertising agencies must address? To keep pace with evolving media, and to foster an entrepreneurial culture that offers full-service, multi-channel capabilities that enable great ideas to make real, meaningful connections with people.
What would you be doing if you weren’t in advertising? Whenever I have a bad day at the office, I think that maybe I should have been a surgeon in a hospital. But then I imagine how I’d feel if that work died, and I feel better about working in advertising.
If you could choose any product to create an ad for, what would it be? Actually, I’m pretty psyched about my current accounts. Benjamin Moore is the perfect blend of art and commerce, and recording a Brad Pitt voiceover for the ads, well, let’s just say it makes good cocktail party conversation.
How is the rise of technology helping or hurting the brands you work for? You start with a great idea, and technology is like pouring gasoline on it. In a good way. It spreads like wildfire.
What skills do young creatives need to succeed in advertising today? A killer work ethic and a great sense of humor. The ability to bounce doesn’t hurt either.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given in your career? “Take typing. You might need something to fall back on one day.” —my mom