35 Rising Agency Talents Who Are Exploding Onto the Scene

Meet the breakthrough honorees in this year's Creative 100

19th & Park leaders Whitney Headen, Tahira White and Nicole Januarie are rapidly building their young agency.
Photo: Flo Ngala

Advertising is a crowded field, packed with entrenched veteran creatives and constantly being supplied with new waves of fresh talent. So it’s no small feat to make a name for yourself as a rising creative star.

Each year, Adweek’s Creative 100 looks at today’s strongest talent across a range of experience levels and disciplines. Check out this year’s rising agency stars below.

Jean Zamprogno and Fernando Pellizzaro

Creative directors, David Miami

Headshot of Jean Zamprogno and Fernando Pellizzaro for Adweek's Creative 100
Photo: Nellie Santee

Hometowns: Vitória, Brazil (Zamprogno), and Curitiba, Brazil (Pellizzaro)

Recent work: “This Coke Is a Fanta” for Coca-Cola. “The world is full of homophobic expressions such as ‘He plays for the other team.’ In Brazil, people say, ‘This Coke is a Fanta.’ Not in a nice way,” Pellizzaro says. “So Coca-Cola decided to take a stand. To celebrate International LGBT+ Pride Day, we launched a limited-edition Coca-Cola can with Fanta inside and a message: ‘This Coke Is a Fanta. So What?’ The idea had zero media investment and got 1 billion media impressions.”

Dream celeb collaborator: “Salvador Dalí,” Zamprogno says, “but I must have the creative control.”

Personal mantra: “Be humble,” Pellizzaro says, “and don’t give up until you make it.”
Minda Smiley

Michelle Lamont and Rose Sacktor

Copywriter and art director, Wieden + Kennedy New York

Headshot of Michelle Lamont and Rose Sacktor for Adweek's Creative 100
Photo: Kristin Gladney/Wieden+Kennedy New York

Hometowns: Los Angeles (Lamont); New York (Sacktor)

Recent work: HBO’s “The Inspiration Room,” an experiential campaign tied to the network’s #BecauseOfHer project. “We’re so proud of the Inspiration Room,” Lamont says. “In the process of creating it, we spent hours every night reading over 800 diaries submitted to us by real women, and it was such a labor of love finding a way to bring those stories to life that felt like it did them justice.”

Advice for aspiring creatives: “Don’t compare your career and your path to other people’s,” Lamont says. “There is no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their time.”

Personal mantra: “It’s just advertising,” Sacktor says. “I mean this in the best way possible. No matter how big you screw up, no one will die over it.”
Doug Zanger

Gabrielle Levy

Integrated producer, McCann New York

Headshot of Gabrielle Levy for Adweek's Creative 100
Photo: Katie Henry

Hometown: Parkland, Fla.

Recent work: “Price on Our Lives” and other campaigns for March for Our Lives. “As an alumna of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., I was deeply affected by the mass shooting at that school on Feb. 14, 2018. Not willing to consign myself to ‘thoughts and prayers’ or accept that in others any longer, I set out to work on projects that would expose gun violence in various national and global campaigns.”

Most rewarding part of the job: “Successfully bridging my career and the causes I care most deeply about.”

Best advice for aspiring creatives: “Never be afraid to ask. Ask for advice and guidance. Ask to take on new work or pitch crazy new ideas on your own. Ask for raises and promotions when you feel deserving.”
Doug Zanger

Marques Gartrell and Heather English

Creative directors, Deutsch New York

Headshot of Marques Gartrell and Heather English for Adweek's Creative 100
Photo: Daniella Morrison

Hometown: Philadelphia (Gartrell), and Asheville, N.C. (English)

Recent work: “In the Busch #Car2Can campaign, we turned Nascar driver Kevin Harvick’s historic season No. 4 car into collector’s-edition cans of Busch beer,” English says. “It took us over a year to sell Busch on the idea and then had a fast and furious five months of anxiety, more meetings than we can count, and sweating it out with multiple vendors to get the cans made in time for fans to win them during the Daytona 500.”

Best advice for aspiring creatives: “Always find the undeniable truth in the insight,” Gartrell says. “It’s what makes your audience react.”

Dream celeb collaborator: “Donald Glover,” Gartrell says. “Name the last uninteresting thing he did.”
Doug Zanger

Jen Smith

Creative director, T3

Headshot of Jen Smith for Adweek's Creative 100
Photo: Rachel Martin

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

How she got her start:
“I started my career as a copywriter at a small agency in Cincinnati, Ohio, working on a slew of P&G brands–from Pringles to Bounty, Charmin and Puffs.”

Recent work: “Wishes Delivered” for UPS. “Wishes Delivered [was] a brand storytelling campaign for UPS where deserving people throughout the world were surprised with a life-changing wish. The stories we created gave real people a platform to bring their message of good to a larger audience. I partnered with our Group Creative Director, Aaron Cacali, to oversee all of the storytelling components. That included everything from finding people with an amazing story to tell, planning the wish delivery, providing creative direction on set, and overseeing all of the creative output—totaling 100-plus assets (from long-form video to social-first content).”

How she recharges: “I do some writing on the side, which allows me to keep my mind fresh and meet people who have a totally different perspective of the world.”

Dream celeb collab: “Reese Witherspoon. She’s a fantastic storyteller and huge advocate for fellow women artists. I love that she saw a problem with the way females were represented in her industry and, instead of complaining about it, she did something about it. That’s badass.”
—Minda Smiley

Laszlo Szloboda and Alex Sprouse

Associate creative directors, FCB New York

Headshot of Laszlo Szloboda and Alex Sprouse for Adweek's Creative 100
Photo: Woody Davis

Hometowns: Budapest, Hungary (Szloboda), and Toronto (Sprouse)

Recent work: “The Whopper Detour” for Burger King. “I joined the agency as the idea was in its infancy and worked over the course of the year-plus we were evolving the idea, to concept and bring to life each piece of the campaign,” Sprouse says. “It’s been an amazing experience to work with such a relentlessly positive team. There were many pitfalls that could’ve been a deathblow to the idea along the journey, but BK and FCB had so much faith in the idea that we always found a way around any roadblocks in our path.”

Most rewarding part of the job: “I’ve always gotten a kick out of solving puzzles and logic problems since I was a kid,” Szloboda says, “and getting to do something similar as part of my job as an adult makes my inner child happy.”

Advice for aspiring creatives: “Try to find the right people to work for,” Szloboda says. “It’s people that constantly do good work that will keep on doing so. This was advice that was given to me by someone when I started out, and it proved itself to be true.”
David Griner

Alice Chiapperini and Matteo Capaldi

Senior copywriter and senior art director, AKQA

Headshot of Alice Chiapperini and Matteo Capaldi for Adweek's Creative 100
Photo: Courtesy of AKQA

Currently based in: Portland, Ore.
Originally from: Italy

Recent work: “Unstatus Quo,” the new Palms branding. “How often do you get to completely relaunch a brand—especially one that has Cardi B and Ken Block as partners?” Capaldi says. “As the leading team on the project, we came up with the campaign idea and followed every step of the production—from conception to delivery. I led the copy aspects across the whole project, including crafting the campaign tagline, brand manifesto, film scripts, headlines and social copy.”

“Las Vegas had been offering the same clichés for ages,” Chiapperini says. “To prove that Palms is different from any other destination in town, we literally coined a new phrase, rallying a motley crew of Palms partners—all known for breaking conventions—to bring a feast of different to the Vegas routine.”
David Griner

Gabriel Jardim and Guto Monteiro

Creative directors, VMLY&R New York

Headshot of Gabriel Jardim and Guto Monteiro for Adweek's Creative 100
Photo: Rebecca Canavan

Hometown: Porto Alegre, Brazil

Recent work: “The Runaway Pub” for New Balance. “To support runners training for the London Marathon 2019, we created a pub in London where runners can exchange their miles for pints,” Monteiro says. “A card was automatically downloaded to their Apple or Google wallets, collecting miles as they run and turning them into currency in real time, the only currency accepted at the Pub. During 3 months, more than 20K wallets were downloaded and 62K pints were earned.”

Most rewarding part of the job: “Our industry is in a moment where brands that are not culturally relevant are more likely to be out of the game,” Jardim says. “As creatives working in the ad industry, we’ve never had so much opportunities to impact people’s lives as we have right now.”

How they find inspiration: “I love the North Face tagline: Never Stop Exploring,” Monteiro says. “So when I want to recharge my batteries, I get out of the agency and go travel. I try to connect with other people, discover different cultures, get to know a young artist, devour a new book or watch a weird movie.”
Minda Smiley

D.J. Bowser

Associate creative director, Zambezi

Headshot of DJ Bowser for Adweek's Creative 100
Photo: Marcus Black-Clark

Hometown: Los Angeles

How he got his start: “I started my career as a designer at Apple and really credit my time there with my success. Not only did it make me obsess over every detail and to just ‘ask questions,’ it also taught me that collaboration is going to get the best work.”

Client work: “I have spent the better part of the past year working with our clients at Beats by Dre, and it’s been a great partnership.”

Advice for aspiring creatives: “I truly believe that unless you immerse yourself into a brand and their product, you simply cannot tell an effective story. Reading a brief won’t make you an expert, but using and studying the product, and sitting down with the teams behind it, is a good first step.”

Where he finds creative inspiration: “Outside of work, I love to travel. Being in a foreign country can teach you a lot and helps to provide a better view on global culture. With that, art—of all types—is a big part of my life, and I try to go to as many museums, galleries, exhibits, and movies as I can. It’s inspiring to see what people are capable of creating and their individual perspectives. I also have two hobbies that help me disconnect a bit: cooking and golf. Luckily, they balance each other out, calorically.”

Personal mantra: “Can it be better? OK, now simplify.”
—Minda Smiley

Stephanie Butterworth

Creative director, Elephant

Headshot of Stephanie Butterworth for Adweek's Creative 100
Photo: Edgar DeLaCruz for Elephant

Hometown: Sydney, Australia

How she got started: “After graduating from the University of New South Wales, College of Fine Arts, in Sydney, Australia, I moved to New York City to kick-off my design career. I worked as an intern in two small NYC design shops, Tronic Studios and Maker Is, before getting a full-time job at the digital agency, Createthe Group.”

The most rewarding part of the job: “Whether it be design support, career advice, or helping other females navigate a male-dominated industry, the most gratifying part about my job is mentoring designers. Having benefited from strong female mentorship throughout my career, I want to be able to offer the same support to others. I am constantly in awe of the talent and drive of the next generation of our industry.”

Side hustle: “I co-own a clothing brand, Don’t Worry Baby. It is a side hustle founded on the love of fashion, design and friendships. We make ‘play clothes’ for grown women, tailored to the fun-spirited and environmentally conscious crowd.”

Personal mantra: “Don’t do it for the money.”

Dream celeb collab: “Aminatou Sow and her best friend, Ann Friedman. These are two wonderfully witty and opinionated feminists who host the podcast Call Your Girlfriend. Part of their appeal is the die-hard devotion to their bi-coastal friendship.”

Best advice for aspiring creatives: “Make things with your friends, for fun.”
—Minda Smiley

Whitney Headen, Tahira White, and Nicole Januarie

CEO, COO and CCO; co-founders; 19th & Park Inc.

Headshot of Whitney Headen, Tahira White and Nicole Januarie for Adweek's Creative 100
Photo: Flo Ngala

Hometowns: Hampton, Va. (Headen), Queens, New York (White), Swakopmund, Namibia (Januarie)

Recent work: “We recently worked on StreetEasy’s first commercial campaign in collaboration with Alldayeveryday and Lighting Orchard, which captured the essence of living in New York City,” White says. “As a native New Yorker, I had a blast recreating Cheryl Dunn’s archived street photography of moments one only truly sees when they step foot into the Big Apple.”

Most rewarding part of the job: “I really love watching the company grow,” Headen says. “I enjoy being a mentor and helping our staff achieve things that they didn’t think were possible. The most rewarding thing from a creative execution standpoint is the sale. I love coming up with creative concepts and convincing a brand to trust us enough to bring it to life for them. That never gets old.”

Personal mantra: “Even Google has extensions—meaning shortcomings are a part of any great process,” Januarie says. “Your initial coding will get you to a certain point, and updates are needed beyond. So don’t look at it as shortcomings. Look at it as added extensions.”
David Griner

Sarah Dembkowski and Georgia Taylor

Senior copywriter and art director, We Are Unlimited

Headshot of Sarah Dembkowski and Georgia Taylor for Adweek's Creative 100
Photo: We Are Unlimited

Based in: Chicago
Chicago (Dembkowski) and Wellington, New Zealand (Taylor)

Recent work: “The Flip” for McDonald’s. “On International Women’s Day, we flipped the McDonald’s Golden Arches logo for the first time ever in honor of women’s contributions,” Dembkowski says. “I was a copywriter that was part of the core team who was responsible for figuring out how to bring this campaign came to life: what we would do in the hero store, what we would do across the country, where we would do this, how social and digital would be used.”

Also: “The Shamrock Shake Rainbow” for McDonald’s. “McDonald’s Shamrock Shake returns during the gloomiest period of winter,” Taylor says. “So we created the ultimate beacon of positivity: a green rainbow that at its end delivered not gold, but golden arches.

Advice for aspiring creatives: “Be prepared for people to tell you no,” Dembkowski says, “and then figure out how to do what you want regardless.”
David Griner

K.T. Thayer and Quinn Katherman

Creative directors, Crispin Porter Bogusky

Headshot of KT Thayer and Quinn Katherman for Adweek's Creative 100
Photo: Jeffery Garland; Robyn Von Swank

Based in: Boulder, Colo.
Richmond, Va., and Colorado

Clients: Katherman is creative director on Hotels.com, while Thayer is a lead on Fruit of the Loom.

On breaking into the industry: “I wrote greeting cards and put all my rejected jokes onto Twitter and that’s how I got my first job as a creative in advertising … by failing at a different job,” Katherman says.

Recent work: “We did a campaign for Fruit of the Loom where we hid piles of cash in NYC to see if anyone would notice,” says Thayer. “This was an outrageous idea because, in many ways, it was an indictment on advertising, the thing we are in the business of making, by calling attention to the fact that no one pays attention to it. Fortunately for us, the social experiment as a whole got a lot of attention and we didn’t look like idiots … on that specific occasion.”

This story first appeared in the June 10, 2019, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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