Here's interview number three of our 32 Under 32 winners. Today, we're looking at you, Elyse Ash!
Congrats on being selected for 32 under 32. The judges have reviewed and scored every entry, looking for professionals who really go above and beyond in their work. How do you think you approach your job differently than other people?
"Although I've considered myself a 'writer' even before I could scribble stories on 1990s printer paper, I never thought I was 'creative enough' to be in advertising. Even in ad school, things didn't come naturally at first. It took me a while to learn how to solve brand puzzles creatively while staying on-brief (and even longer to learn how to stay on-brand and on-budget). So, I've always made up for my lack of confidence with work ethic. In headline writing class, what took one writer 20 headlines to crack, might've taken me 100 headlines. If I couldn't out-clever them at first thought, I knew I could out-work most of them. This creative endurance is not always easy, but I take solace knowing that for every one idea in your brain, there are 500 billion more hiding in there somewhere."
What kind of accounts/projects do you currently work on?
"At CCF, I work on a wide range of clients. Primarily, I work on Red Gold and Tuttorosso canned tomatoes, which is my first consumer goods brand. It's been a lot of fun learning about the process and the industry. I also work on Mayo Clinic, the Minnesota Zoo, the YWCA and Altru Health System. On any given day I might be writing radio scripts about giant spiders, TV concepts about canned tomatoes or banner ads about getting a colonoscopy. That's what I love about this industry: every day, every project, every client is totally different."
What's the best advice you've ever received?
"My grandmother used to say, 'Don't cry over anything that can't cry over you.' It's easy (at least for me) to get really emotionally swept up in work. As a naturally passionate person, I used to get upset over projects and things I had absolutely no control over. Lines would die. Concepts would die. Everything died all the time! It was very unsettling. But as I gained experience, perspective and control, I realized that it's just part of the business and it's not personal. It FEELS personal because we are our ideas to some extent. Regardless, my grandmother's advice serves as a good reminder that even though I love what I do, and it's certainly important, it's not as important as who I do it all for. Myself. My family. My friends."
What gets you excited to come to work every day?
"Knowing I get to collaborate with really talented, creative, ambitious, yet empathetic people. That's really what it comes down to. I thrive off of the energies of other people, so it's important for me to collaborate with imaginative, spirited individuals and teams who believe that one good idea can change everything."
What has been some of your proudest work?
"I worked on the Washington Area Women's Foundation at the beginning of my career and it's still one of my favorite pieces. The budget was minuscule, but the client was awesome. The organization helps donate money, training and resources to women in the DC area who need help getting jobs, childcare, food and health care. They have an annual conference and wanted to do a video to kick off the event. Well, the video we made for them was so well received by the attendees and donors that they started leveraging it everywhere. Before we knew it, it had thousands of views, had won an Effy and been featured in Archive magazine. That was a really emotionally rewarding project and experience all-around."
Who is one person who has helped you get where you are? Or, one person you really look up to?
"I think everyone in our lives helps get us where we are. That said, my parents/my sister/my husband were all so supportive of me going to ad school back in 2007. Instead of saying, 'Ya know, you sort of missed the grad school boat,' or 'Really? MORE student loans?' they ALL said I should go for it. My mom even helped me record my video interview (which I sent as a DVD...old school!). Without the support of my awesome tribe, there's no way I would have thought I was 'creative' enough to be in advertising. Also, I sort of cheated at this question. It said pick one person and I picked four. If this were an awards show, the orchestra would totally be playing me off right now.
Anything you want to say to the Minnesota advertising, PR, marketing community?
"Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can't Lose."
—Friday Night Lights (This feels like a yearbook quote, but whatever.)