This is Maria Devereux in a nutshell – by Maria Devereux, because she did her own bio so well:
“In a fast-paced, restless world where no-one has time to stop and think about craft, let alone read about why it’s important, I believe it still has its place. Crafting both our ideas and our executions enables us to strip an idea down to its simplest form and reveal its true potency. After beginning my career as a graphic designer, I quickly found myself leading Colenso BBDO’s design department by day and working on creative briefs by night. When I made the move into creative I went on to win six Lions in my first six years as an art director.”
It’s little wonder that Colenso wanted Devereux to return to the agency. So after she left Colenso for Taxi Canada, became a creative director and worked at Y&R New Zealand followed by Special Group, Colenso won her back last year. She now has more than 100 awards to commend her.
The Stable: What makes experiential work worthy of a D&AD Pencil for you?
Maria Devereux: Some pieces of work just stand out as pure genius and you can’t stop thinking about them. They make you jealous – super jealous. That to me is a good sign they deserve a Pencil.
TS: Fearless Girl is just one example of a campaign that dominated all the awards and very many categories in its year. Is there a fame advantage during judging and how do you overcome it?
MD: A judge might be familiar with a piece of work which has already been heavily awarded but regardless of that, most judges will still have formed their own opinion of that piece of work. You might agree or disagree with its brilliance but most importantly, you need to feel comfortable you could defend your personal opinion if it came to it.
TS: You spent your “formative years” at Colenso and then returned. How has/had the agency changed and what drew you back?
MD: I was lucky enough to grow up at Colenso so the passion for the work, the work, the work and the culture of innovation is in my blood. Colenso has continued to grow and coming back again I’m happy to find the agency has just gotten stronger and better – all without losing its culture which is no mean feat.
TS: What work (yours or your agency’s) are you most proud of?
MD: Pedigree SelfieSTIX will always stand out as a memorable piece of work for me. Colenso’s culture of innovation and gut determination was evident throughout this project. We managed to create what Snapchat and Instagram couldn’t at the time – AR filters for dogs. Our team used unique dog facial recognition technology and trained a machine learning network to teach the app to recognize the face of any breed of dog. The SelfieSTIX clip which attached a Pedigree DentaStix to your phone had already taken two years to produce so the team had to dig deep when it came to building the app.
Spark Kupu is another stand out piece of work for me. It’s an app which translates the world around you into Te Reo Maori. The app combines Google’s cloud vision and translate API‘S along with Maori dictionary data to translate the pictures you take on your phone. It’s a beautiful piece of design and is already used and loved by most NZers which means we’re going our bit to help keep Te Reo Maori alive in Aotearoa.
TS: There is a lot of talk about women in advertising. What do you think are the challenges and opportunities? Should diversity in advertising include age?
MD: It’s an exciting time in our industry. As advertising creative departments get more diverse in age, ethnicity and gender, the work can only get better. As we begin to embrace diversity, I’m sure we will start to communicate in more interesting ways and bring more interesting perspectives to our work.
TS: Every creative is shaped by their work that worked, work that did or didn’t get through, mentors’ advice, intuitions assimilated…What are yours?
MD: Personally, I don’t like to focus on the work which didn’t get made. I’m always searching for new thinking, new technologies and new insights and I believe there’s an endless amount of amazing ideas just waiting to be brought to life.