Susan Treacy, Executive Creative Director Energy BBDO

Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2020 REEL WOMEN. During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready.

Susan Treacy is an Executive Creative Director at Energy BBDO. Over the course of her 20+ year career Susan has created impactful, relevant work that has driven brand success both nationally and internationally.

She has experience creating highly integrated campaigns across digital, social, TV, and activation programs for brands like Kerrygold and Bayer. Susan has also been widely recognized as an integrated innovator in industry award shows, including Cannes, the One Show, and D&AD. Finally, Susan serves as a creative thought-leader, judging creative shows around the globe.

What Did You Originally Want to be When You Grow Up? When I was younger, I dreamed of being an architect. I used to draw in a huge binder, filling it with layouts of foundationally unsound, wacky homes. Although I eventually entered advertising my passion for wacky ideas and creativity remained unchanged.

How Did You Get into Advertising? I had a fantastic composition and journalism teacher in high school who inspired me. My teacher unlocked my interests in creativity and advertising, and they took root from there. 

Who Were Your Mentors? When I was a Copywriter, my role models were men who were blind to my womanhood. They cared about my work—not my gender—and encouraged me to be better.

Nick Cohen, my first Creative Director, taught me to do work that could only come from my brain and my life experiences. He also taught me how important culture and relationships are to creativity.

Later on Chuck McBride, another Creative Director, showed me how to be hard on ideas until the best iteration is discovered. Through days and days of television production and editing, he repeatedly demonstrated the importance of craft in storytelling.

Name Your Biggest Achievement In 2018, I was fortunate to work with Kerrygold, the Irish butter and cheese brand, on the inspiring campaign “Music Behind the Recipes.” The program featured Spotify playlists that were curated so that every song matched a specific step of a recipe.

The food brand space can be cluttered and dull, so innovating within it was incredibly challenging and rewarding. As someone who cooks every weekend with music playing, it also was personally exciting to do.

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Biggest Disappointment I always thought I’d work in Amsterdam, London or Paris. In my next life…

Name Your Biggest Pet Peeves Settling. First ideas are really the enemy of great ideas. Creatives are so overloaded now, it’s tempting to fall in love with work that answers the brief, but nothing more. I live by Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling’s philosophy, “To get a good idea, you need a lot of ideas.” 

Predictions for Advertising over the Next Decade I think advertising agencies will start behaving more and more like creativity companies similar to Pixar, Lego and Ideo. These innovative companies don’t get to their original ideas by focusing on a lone genius.

Instead they get to fresh thinking by having different small project teams with diverse skill sets collaborating, iterating quickly, failing fast, and iterating again. I feel passionately about this concept and have been working to implement it with my own teams to find solutions that get to the heart of business issues.

Name a Job You Had that Would Surprise People Early in my career I had the pleasure of working as a Junior Copywriter at a hobby publishing company. Writing ads and collateral for Dollhouse Miniatures, Astronomy, and Model Railroader Magazine opened my eyes to the passion brewing in basements and craft rooms across America. The huge model railroad room in our office was a daily stop on my way to meetings.

Who Plays You in Your Life Story? Ideally. it would be Saoirse Ronan! I love her passionate energy and bullheadedness. Like Ladybird and Jo March, I may have once been called head strong. Plus, she is Irish like all of my grandparents.

What do You Wish You had More Time for? Spend time with my husband and three kids. Boring but true.

Do You Talk to Yourself? Sometimes. If I do, I always refer to myself by my full name!

What Inspires You to be Creative? I am a huge believer in human-centered design, or design thinking. With that lens, I look for the human problem within the business problem. I then have a fun puzzle that my team and I get to figure out. We look at it from all lenses, through analogous thinking, oppositional thinking, and getting out of the office to interact with real live people. That’s at the heart of why I think it’s fun to come into work to create every day.