Next Creative Leaders 2020: Lauren Haberfield
on Oct 29, 2020
She / Her / Hers
Hometown and country:
Current employer, city and role:
BETC, Paris, Associate Creative Director
How did your upbringing, family or hometown shape you as a creative?
I’ve been told I'm a bit of an anomaly as a creative because I’m very organized and rational. This isn’t a surprise when the majority of my family is math and science orientated, my dad is an engineer so he showed me how to apply logic and strategy, and my mum is a kindergarten teacher so she encouraged me to explore my creativity and independence. Even though they are currently 17,000km away my family always had my back - it’s a lot easier to make bold choices when you have people who blindly believe in you.
The Australian culture has also played a big part, as traditionally we are very easy-going, informal and straight to the point. Being surrounded by these qualities has helped ground me in the egotistical and hierarchical world of advertising, which has allowed me to avoid the politics and pitfalls and to focus on doing honest creative work.
What’s your “breaking into advertising” story?
I was very persistent. I knew I wanted to work in advertising so as soon as I started my design degree I began to email creative directors almost every week, constantly bombarding them to meet me and eventually hire me. Rather than a generic ‘please find my CV + folio attached’, I tried to show who I was through my emails - honest, passionate and unrelenting. It paid off, I spent my last year of studying being paid to work 3 days a week at Ogilvy Melbourne before transitioning into a full time role.
What’s the piece of work you’re most proud of and why?
I worked on a social impact project called “Contrôle de la Poitrine”, that used the visibility of football in France to get more women tested for breast cancer. It was a simple idea with a simple objective. In french a breast exam has the same name as a chest trap in football: ‘Contrôle de la Poitrine’. We used the popular french team, Olympique de Marseille’s online community of over two million fans to start a movement asking people to do their own ‘controle de la poitrine’ on the field to get more women to do them in hospitals.
At the time I was working on the project, my Auntie was fighting for her life against the same cancer. Being able to use my work to help other women avoid this fate gave me a sense of purpose and pride beyond anything else I have ever experienced.
What does being named a Next Creative Leader mean to you?
It’s been an incredible motivation boost. I am in awe of so many of the women that have been selected in previous years– to be considered on their level makes me want to do better and do more so I can live up to the honor.
Who has most influenced you in your career thus far?
I’ve been very lucky to work for exceptional creative directors that have helped shape me in different ways. My first CD, Dave Scott taught me how to express creativity and pushed me to find better ideas. A few years later when I was starting to grow in talent, but not in confidence, my CD at the time Carmine Coppola, gave me autonomy and independence so I could find my voice. Today I work for an incredibly talented ECD, Antoinette Beatson who has encouraged me to work on projects that I believe in, and protects me from ones that I don’t.
What is your secret (or not-so-secret) creative super power and how do you flex it?
I don’t like selling things. No matter what the brief is I will always find a bigger purpose for the product or the brand and direct the creativity in that direction. It doesn’t always work but it does open up bigger conversations.
Your Purina project makes a case for taking time to really develop an important piece of work. What did you learn from this unique creative challenge?
It’s never too late to change something to make an idea better. Having more time on this project allowed me to learn this first hand, but the principle applies to any timeline. Clients and partners are more open to evolution than we give them credit for, even when it costs them time or money.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing the creative industry right now and how would you solve it?
No one takes responsibility for the negative impact that our industry has on the world. There’s always someone else to blame, some excuse to make, and some way to completely ignore what is happening in front of us. We talk alot about ideas that shape culture and yet never look how we, as an industry, have aided and abetted low self esteem, body issues, mental health concerns, ageism, sexism and under representation.
These are big topics but addressing them is relatively easy. The first step is to stop normalizing this behaviour and start raising objections. We need to stop promoting retouched perfection, stop manipulating images and stop casting cisgender-causcasian-20-year-olds for every single product or service.
What’s the biggest lesson that 2020 has taught you?
We can change things overnight if we want to. If a covid-world has proven anything it’s that we as a society and as individuals can adapt extremely fast if we choose to. We can overturn centuries of behaviour, dramatically shift political agendas and revoke outdated norms. And we can do it starting now.
How have you pivoted your creative process/the way you work while sheltering in place?
I’ve always found better ideas when I change location, so I’ve had to find ways to open up my mind without moving physically. Allowing myself more breaks to do something that has nothing to do with work has helped shake up my thoughts without changing my surroundings.
How do you “fill up your cup” creatively?
I’ve been talking to people a lot more. More time at home has meant human contact has become more important. I’ve realised, even though I’ve been less social, I’ve been reaching out to people more and just talking to them. This opens up so many different topics and situations to be inspired by.
How are you caring for yourself during this stressful time? Any self-care tips and tricks you can share?
For me it’s less about what I’m doing and more about prioritizing self-care. Women especially have a tendency to put themselves last and self-care can feel like the least important thing. Making the switch to realize that doing things for yourself means you are offering those around you a better version of yourself really made a difference for me. (And avoiding Netflix binges, there’s a reason your parents limited your screen time when you were a kid.)
How are you working to celebrate, support or elevate other marginalized voices and experiences?
I make sure I am vocal. I am aware I am in a position of privilege and power, and I do not take that for granted. I voice my concerns about the inequalities within our industry and try to lead by example so that others feel they can as well, both in a day-to-day setting and through communications, panels and talks.
Creativity can save the world. What real world problem would you want to tackle with creativity, if time, budget and logistics were not an issue?
This question is going to keep me up at night because there are so many. The cause I am most passionate about is gender inequality. I would start by combatting both conscious and unconscious bias that holds back over half of the population because I believe at the root of many inefficient societal structures is lack of equality and representation.
What or who is currently inspiring you?
The Black Lives Matter movement completely blew me away. Not only did it trigger a much needed wake up call to the world, but it was articulate, creative and crossed so many disciplines and levels of communication.
How are you leaving the work, the workplace or the world a better place than you found it?
I try to put a little bit of good inside everything that I do. I’ve learned that you will not always be given the opportunity to do good, but you can bring about positive change no matter what you are doing. You can say ‘no’ when you believe something is wrong, you can ensure your teams have diversity at their core, you can retouch less, you can insist on sustainable options, you can be kinder to those around you, and you can always do more and we can always do better.
If you could go back in time, what pivotal advice would you give yourself before your first day as a professional creative?
You get to choose what type of creative you want to be. You have to learn the ropes and jump through the hoops but at the end of the day it’s your unique view that is important, and you get to choose what that looks like.