Next Creative Leaders: Laddie Peterson

Posted on Nov 02, 2016

What's your "How I broke into advertising" story?
I'm sure this is how everyone thought they should go into advertising - my junior year of college, I gave the eulogy at my grandfather's funeral and someone at Wieden and Kennedy heard me give it and thought I should be a writer. My eulogy was based on a piece I'd written about my grandfather way back. It only took me four jobs to finally get Wieden Portland to hire me!

What made you put yourself forward for Next Creative Leaders?
Sometimes I feel that most studies on how women act in a workplace is based on me. We're collaborative. We're inclusive and try to raise people up. Yet we also don't go for the next opportunity until we're absolutely certain we'd be perfect at it.

I'm so excited for the next generation of women to have all this perspective so young because I feel like I can recognize things now that I wish I never had to un-learn. I finally read "Lean In" on my kindle when I was newly pregnant and couldn't sleep while on a shoot in Budapest, and I realized that I was not owning enough of what I was doing in my job. I thought the book was going to be a rant and I thought I don't need a rant, I need ideas on how to do things in business. And turns out that's exactly what it was!

What piece of creative work are you most proud of and why?
I've been in a debate about this. I feel strongly about my Clinique work because it was so beautiful and the technology was beautiful behind it too. Plus it was a really strong, primarily female project that I got to lead.

Though I also feel really strongly about this work for Southern Comfort. We chose to hero a woman for the first time in the campaign about people who are comfortable being their awesome themselves. This strong African American woman isn't seen very often in mainstream media outside of a Tarantino film, and frankly a super strong badass woman of any kind isn't seen often enough in mainstream media. And to be able to show her in such a confident, cool way was inspiring. This work positions her as the top of the food chain. We should all want to be Sharks like her.

What do you want your legacy to be?
To write things that are meaningful and resonate with people.

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?
I have to take the mom answer here and say my daughter. Though really she is her own accomplishment. You can show her peek-a-boo, but she is the one who watches you and figures it out.

If you could go back 5 years in your career, what advice would you give to you?
Be more proud of your work. Trust your instincts more. And I wish I had heard this earlier — start thinking like the level above you. Karl said that to me — Start thinking now like a creative director. And I have owned that point of view since then. Basically, hand in work so all your creative director has to do is pick between two or just say "great." Think about the budget and realities of the project. Make friends with your account person. Be the person your client turns to on set.

You have a "no fear" policy when it comes to big moves. How has this opened up your career and allowed you to grow?
As my grandmother JoJo used to say: "say yes to every party because you never know if you'll get a second invite.' And I live by that. Just say yes and see what happens! We need to do that more in the work too. Bravely say yes even if you're not sure it's absolutely perfect. It's how the tech industry thinks — make something, keep moving and make changes as you go and as agencies we should start to think like this too.

Talk about your biggest learning experience in the past year.
Ye old juggling being a working mom. It's been both easier and harder than I thought it would be. I read an article where someone said that moms are actually better workers because they're more efficient and I have totally seen that with my working mom friends. They're not wasting time during the day because they're engaged when they're at work, they want to get their work done and then they want to get home. I also think that you don't become a mom and suddenly become a totally different person. I think you are just you with a new perspective.

Wieden gives a nice maternity leave and that makes a difference. They value time with family and that comes down from the top with both Karl and Neal being parents. Though there are challenges (you get four months leave, yet you're gone for four months from work and you want to come back in with a bang!) I've found that all of motherhood comes down to how you frame it in your mind.

Any secret creative weapons?
I think it's what any creative has—having my own point of view. I think as someone who is sensitive and empathizes with people, I'm driven to dream up ways of including people that aren't always seen in the world in my creative. It's why in our Southern Comfort work—we "heroed" an outlier. It was the same way on GAP. It's also why for Kraft and Velveeta we introduced a guy who flies a helicopter all day at the mall. Your first thought is he might be a loser, but the spot twists that to prove that we're the losers and he's the one who's really figured out life.

What inspires you?
Everything! Especially the young energy in this country and around the world that is brave enough to think their way around the system. They don't wait for someone to give them a job, they start their own companies. The kids that have vine and snap and write amazing comedy. Reddit is the best comedy out there.

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