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Pam Fujimoto is executive creative director at WONGDOODY Los Angeles, where she is responsible for the creative vision and leadership of the office. A thirteen-year veteran of the industry, Fujimoto started her career as an art director at the Seattle office of WONGDOODY, where she worked with Alaska Airlines, T-Mobile, the Seattle Supersonics and The Seattle International Film Festival. Most recently, Fujimoto was creative director of Creature in Seattle, where she helped bring in the agency’s two main clients, Dickies and Truvia, and led the ever-changing displays in the agency’s front windows. Fujimoto has earned awards from Cannes Lions, D&AD, The One Show and Communication Arts (design and advertising), and she was a judge for the 2013 CA Advertising Competition. Fujimoto is a graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. She enjoys traveling to faraway places in search of good eats, and is the proud mother of five-year-old identical twin boys.

03.04.14

Feeding My Brain

Where do your best ideas come from? I used to think they came from just working really hard, head-down, throwing time at a project indefinitely. But now ideas come through walking around and talking with others, getting lots of perspectives and feeding my brain more from the outside.

What are some of the challenges for women working at high levels in the creative industry? What are the advantages? I haven’t personally felt many challenges from being female (or a tiny Asian!). I think it’s mostly an advantage. Clients like to see a diverse group of minds leading their brand, especially if women are part of the buying decision.

What is one challenge currently facing advertising agencies that they need to address in order to remain relevant? The trend toward more project-based versus “agency of record” relationships is challenging. It’s hard for staffing and projections, and there’s something to be said for the value of a long-term client/agency relationship. But it’s certainly the new reality, and agencies need be nimble and flexible enough to compete.

What trends in advertising are you most interested in, and why? The definition of advertising is changing as content and advertising merge. Dumb Ways To Die is very effective advertising, but it’s also a video, a game and a very popular song. The way you solve a client’s problem is wide open, and the best creatives can solve it from many different angles. I’m also interested in the return of romance, the un-ironic kind. From Axe’s “Susan Glenn” to Intel’s The Beauty Inside, there’s an optimism to love in advertising that’s refreshing. It’s risky for a brand too, because many attempts slip and become corny, but these took that risk and succeeded.

What kinds of changes do you observe rejoining WONGDOODY, where you started your career? When I was here before, we could just do crazy fun stuff that got attention, and that carried us a lot—we won awards and got clients based on that method. There was always logic to the things we did, but now we’ve gotten much smarter about how we explain the rationale and thinking behind a novel idea.

How is the rise of technology helping or hurting the brands you work for? When used well, technology gives brands the ability offer a much more personal experience; more meaningful and effective. When it’s not, it’s pointless and annoying... which pretty much all bad advertising is.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in advertising? I would be doing something with food. Eating it, geeking out about it, making it, talking about it. I don’t have a lot of other skills, really. Thankfully I’ve been able to make a living out of this.

If you could choose any product to create an ad for, what would it be, and why? Tesla, because it’s sexy and the future. Or the opposite, like Ivory soap, because it’s not.

Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Everyone you encounter in school and your career matters, so conduct yourself with integrity. If you make a bad impression—or a good one—that reputation can follow you for the rest of your professional life. And everything is a learning experience. Even that crappy banner ad you have to do. Even having to work with that hack who you can’t stand. Even that pitch that went horribly wrong. Especially that pitch that went horribly wrong. So don’t dismiss everything you don’t enjoy; figure out what you can learn from it.