Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2022 REEL WOMEN – incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Women like Briony McCarthy are making “Herstory.”
Briony is a global marketing and media communications specialist with a 20+ year career helping brands and the people that power them to grow.
Passionate about putting smart, kind humans together to help solve problems in new ways and with a knack for simplifying media jargon and tech talk, Briony loves to turn numbers into words to help get the best from creative audiences.
A modern leader with a hands-on, muck-in-together style, Briony believes in fostering a democratic company culture where trust, teamwork and transparency come together to create work that is simple, scrappy and brave.
After serving as President of PHD, Briony went on to become President of Hecho Studios before co-founding SuperBloom House. Briony was born in Melbourne, Australia and currently resides in Los Angeles, USA.
Let’s meet Briony.
What’s your origin story?
I grew up in a country town in Australia called Kangaroo Flat and I have been bouncing around the world ever since.
After college in Melbourne, I bopped around a bunch of different advertising and media agencies including Y&R, DDB and ZenithOptimedia before joining a team of incredible marketing pirates who wanted to launch a one-of-its-kind radio station that played fewer ads. It was here that I got a taste of what it was like to break the rules and to find new ways to do old things.
America was never on my list of places to live but in a flash of restlessness and a glimmer of ambition, I thought, “why not” and flipped a coin. Heads was Los Angeles and tails was New York City and three months later, I was wheels up for NYC – a place I had only ever seen on TV. And this is where the real adventure began.
How did you get into Media, Advertising Content & Production?
In high school, I was obsessed with a show called Melrose Place and wanted to be like Amanda Woodward from D&D Advertising, mostly for the power suits and heels if I am honest. I really loved the idea of being a businesswoman.
But really, it was at college where I first fell in love with communications and advertising. I loved the whole process of getting to a good idea and pitching it in the room, even as a student. Pitching is still so incredibly satisfying even after all this time.
Who were your mentors?
This is a tough one and I really wish I had a better answer. I grew up in the industry at a time when there weren’t too many female leaders, so we all kind of simultaneously took care of, and competed with one another.
Mentorship has really been about mateship for me. When you have been fortunate enough to find your tribe and work alongside incredibly smart and supportive people, you become mates; the kind of mates who call each other on their stuff and make each other better humans, creators and business people.
While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
It still sometimes seems surreal having moved to New York, with no employment prospects or contacts, and got a job near Madison Avenue at PhD Media and 6 years later went on to become President of the agency.
But by far the best decision I ever made was the move to LA to explore the creative and production side of the industry and to now have co-founded SuperBloom House, which brings modern media content and production together, has been a dream I never knew I had. To do battle alongside partners who have become mates, is a dream I never knew I had, come true.
What drives you to create?
I get creative fuel from two places.
First, anytime there is the opportunity to pull on the thread of an institution or the status quo and challenge why we do things the way we do, sign me up. I still love to break s%^&.
Second, having grown up inside big media companies, the creative opportunities that came our way were limiting. Today, being in the company of a team of people with different creative backgrounds in entertainment, music, production and television is the most fun I’ve ever had.
Fusing our different backgrounds together and starting with the way people actually engage with modern media, then using this insight to spark an idea for a digital content series, or a social activation, or a how-to tutorial or a short-form documentary, has been the difference between creating an experience people actually want to see from a brand vs an ad.
What shows are doing the best job of portraying strong women on TV?
I am grateful for the revolution that is real women in film and television. Amanda Woodward would not cut it in 2022 that’s for sure. I typically like my entertainment to be a cross between some Olivia Benson/Law & Order SVU type energy teamed with the depth, complexity and comedic whack of a GLOW.
Two recent shows that really got me were:
- Mare of Easttown: Obviously, I would kill to have a beer with Kate Winslet.
- Hacks: For dialing into the competitive nature that exists inside all women, no matter the generation.
Coffee, Lunch or Happy Hour – Name a famous woman you would like to attend each function with.
Coffee with Jen Aniston to trade hair tips
Lunch with Dolly Parton to trade kindness tips
Happy Hour with the aforementioned Kate Winslet
What is the biggest challenge to women in your industry?
Outside of healthcare, childcare, mental health, equal pay and the old guard who just won’t retire, I think our biggest challenge as women in a creative industry is that popular culture, and the lens of what is deemed good is still viewed through the male gaze and a hierarchy of the same decision makers.
I also want to see and help more women work their network without the fear of asking, and to more seamlessly make introductions and referrals in the same way the old boys have done for each other for years. Let’s do more of that.
How has having the superpower helped you?
I think women especially have the incredible ability to laugh at themselves and with each other in a way that grounds us closer in the truth. We get to the core of things faster and with greater intention. We also get to laugh and cry in the same sentence so that feels good.
If being a woman is your superpower, what is your kryptonite?
Ugh….Ego is the worst.
High self-expectations are a close second.
Peanut Butter M&M’s come in strong in third place.
When you’re not creating, what do you do in your off time?
Oh man, this is going to come off a little “woo woo”, but I finally learned to meditate a few years ago and am no longer in service of the many critics and crazy bee’s living inside my head, which has been huge.
While I’m throwing down some west coast cliches, hiking is also my jam. Being Australian, I always thought of myself as a beach girl, but today it’s the mountains and the canyons that speak to me.
Predict your future! Where are you in 5 years?
My wish for SuperBloom House is that we keep smashing plates, flipping tables and making a good mess for brands while continuing to challenge the industry and work and our leaders to be better.
If we are still living our company mission of making different types of content with different kinds of people and championing this new breed of creators and makers AND having a blast doing it, then I will be that lady smiling maniacally to herself in her car while stuck in traffic. You know the ones.