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D&AD Meets a former Shifter working as an Influence Creative

Shift alumni Isabel Mickleburgh on starting her own Gen-Z hat business and helping brands with their influencer strategy

Bean Baby by Isabel Mickleburgh

An influence creative is a relatively new role within advertising agencies that helps ensure brand's influencer work is as impactful as possible. 24-year-old Isabel Mickleburgh, who graduated fgrom D&AD Shift in 2019, is currently an Influence Creative at Ogilvy. In this new interview in our D&AD Meets series, we ask her what her role entails, how she started Bean Baby, her brand of ‘uniquely cheeky’ hats, and the importance of being nice. 

What does your work as an Influence Creative at Ogilvy involve?

My job at Ogilvy is to make sure that their influencer work is as impactful as possible, so supporting brand partnerships with influencers, channel strategy, influencer strategy, and also just making sure creative is as strong as possible. I make sure that Ogilvy is connecting with the right people in the right places to make the most impact for the brands they work with. They have a huge roster of brands as well. I work there two days a week and the rest of the time I do freelance work.

You have your own hat brand Bean Baby, how did that come about?

Bean baby was honestly a happy accident. It was a really nice, natural process. I essentially started to make hats for myself that I couldn't see available. Then friends wanted them, and then friends of friends, and then strangers and now we ship all over the world, which is wild. It was a very natural process and honestly my favourite thing about the brand is just this huge, kind of really weird and wonderful community of people who are everywhere. I collaborated and did a shoot with someone who's in LA by just seeing her stuff on TikTok and reaching out and being like, "I love this. Can I send you some stuff?" And we did a collaborative shoot. But yeah, it was all a very natural process, built on the fact that I think the product is good and there was sort of like this appetite from largely very creative customers who end up gravitating towards the baby. 

Tell us about your route into the industry?

D&AD Shift was absolutely my route into industry. It not only gave me an introduction, practically, but it also made me aware of potential career opportunities. Before that I just knew that I had a lot of creative talent, or that was the way that my brain is inclined to work — through a creative perspective and I didn't know how to use it. So going through D&AD, I got my first placement off the back of our Shift show, and I think I started and went straight in with AKQA which was a brilliant opportunity and it was very much a domino effect from there. I went through a series of agencies, and now I freelance, but it all started with D&AD and they made me aware that this industry even existed. Coming from outside of London, it just wasn't something that I was aware of. I didn't know that there was this whole industry to tap into.

Still Summer by Breaks Agency for Dr. Martens

What was your favourite part of the D&AD Shift experience?

One of the best things about my experience at D&AD was the network of people surrounding me, and I had an amazing mentor. We met incredible people and agencies, but I also feel like the class itself, the people that I was working alongside, and especially my teammates when it came to doing the live briefs at the end, are people who I will now have relationships with for the rest of my life. Like they're a support system, as far as if there's something I'm really struggling with that I know is my specialism, I have this network of people who feel almost like industry siblings, that I can go and speak to and ask them about their own experiences. But it was just a brilliant time. I constantly am recommending D&AD Shift to people. If someone's not sure, or if I can see someone who's in a similar position as where I was before I did it, I will always vouch for the fact that it's a programme that I think just opens your pathways. Whether you're going to be a brilliant copywriter or a strategist or an art director or whatever it is, I just think that having the opportunity to explore each of those fields is so rare. Anyone would be lucky to have that opportunity. I feel so blessed to have had that opportunity.

What has been the biggest challenge that you have faced on your career journey?

Definitely trusting my gut when an environment didn't feel right. I can say this retrospectively, it takes quite a lot of courage to leave something that doesn't feel right but it's relying on your experience and your intuition to know that it's the right time to leave somewhere. One of the best things I've ever done is trusting my gut and leaving when something isn't right and knowing that you're capable of starting something new. 

What are your career highlights so far?

There's a campaign that's just come out for Doc Martens, which we shot back in February, and that's one of my favourite campaigns I've ever worked on. It was also one of the most challenging campaigns I've ever worked on, from a production perspective because it was something that I was really heavily involved in from start to finish from an art direction perspective, from strategy from casting, like everything was so involved but it's visually one of my favourite outputs that we've ever done. I am very excited that it's finally out in the world. That's definitely one of my career highlights for sure.

Still Summer by Ogilvy for Dr. Martens

Can you tell us three creatives who are doing interesting work? This is your chance to shout our creatives on the rise.

I've got four people that I just think are absolutely wicked. Sam Pemberton, who is doing amazing work at the moment that has got this huge football focus. It feels like a new generation's approach to football. His work is largely focused around making it a more inclusive space, and a more accessible space as well. 

Nate Agbetu. I've worked with him briefly on other stuff, but his creative studio Play Nice is becoming the industry standard of how to do something with a community focus without compromising the narrative. 

Iona Jackson, who is a copywriter I've worked with, I think she's incredible. She manages to just elevate the brand tone of voice effortlessly and make sure that it always lands in a message that works for the channel as well.

And the last one is Millie Heane, who is one of the people working on creative for Peachy Den. She's done incredible work directing campaigns for them and I think you can see this very consistent brand persona that's come through and I think a lot of that is as a result of her work.

What advice do you have for someone trying to break into the creative industry?

It sounds so silly, but actually being nice is so underrated. Like making sure that you're approaching everyone as a person first is so important, leaving a lasting and good impression on people. I've ended up, especially on the freelance side of things, being referred for a lot of roles because people have had positive experiences working with me and I think it's just so important that you remember to make sure that you are leaving a positive experience and a positive reference for yourself behind you everywhere that you work.

Get in touch with Isabel Mickleburgh @idmbaby and here and here

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