The 4 themes of the yellow brick road with VMLY&R

There are four key methods that can help creatives work magic in their campaigns.

Provided Image: CCO at VMLY&R Debbie Vandeven

Inspired by the classic movie The Wizard of Oz, CCO at VMLY&R Debbie Vandeven told us about her team’s methods for creating impactful ads.

Be smart before doing your creative work

Today’s creatives have access to data and insights that can help them create smarter, more impactful campaigns.

Vandeven said access to better technology can help create campaigns for technological breakthroughs like the I will Always Love You book that empowers people living with motor neurone disease (MND) to bank their voices.


Prior to the VMLY&R ad, only 12% of people with MND had gone through voice banking prior to the campaign.

Vandeven said that when creatives work in areas they have no experience in, they need to bring in experts from those areas, like in the metaverse or the health space. This is to make sure everything is done correctly.

Create for humans

“If you’re moved from a job, you’re more likely to connect with that brand,” Vandeven said.

Its first example is the fast-food brand Wendy’s which has changed in the last ten years by entering the world of gaming.

Wendy has grown from a traditional brand with a 50-year history to becoming a well-known player character on various gaming platforms like Fortnite and Mario Cart.

Keep in mind if campaigns can actually work for a brand.

Is it brave enough? Stand out in the world

“If it makes you a little nervous, maybe it’s the job that lands,” she said.

Vandeven said there were clients who decided to take a stand on an issue like racism, homophobia or toxic masculinity. “If your client does, make sure the brand makes the change or takes a stand internally as well.”

Picture provided

Vandeven used the car company Ford as an example that took a stand against toxic masculinity when a homophobic fan of the brand complimented a new model but said the color was “gay”. In response, they created a Ford happy pride vehicle called the “Very Gay Raptor” that took the internet by storm.

It reached 22 million people who loved and hated it. “If it makes sense for the brand, do it,” she said.

Looking for a way to come home

Vandeven said creatives should make sure they work at agencies where they feel at home, but shouldn’t let their work become their life. “When you look back you realize you miss a lot when you’re there. [with your family]; make sure you’re there,” she said.

Keep it smart, human, and brave and you’re on your way to a great job.