In Conversation with Wendy Mace

Wendy Mace has been Creative Director at DDB Shop since 2004, a retail specialist division of DDB Melbourne, which she established with Andrew Williams. In a career spanning 26 years Wendy has worked at FCB, Grey, Tutcor, Adtown, George Patts and The Campaign Palace. Clients have included Myer, Myer Direct, Kmart, Target, Retravision, Amcal, Adairs, Forever New, Guardian Pharmacies, FlyBuys, Review, Metalicus, Jeanswest, ANZ, Westpac and Westfield.

What inspired you to become a Creative Director?

I can’t say that I ever thought to myself “When I grow up I’d like to be a Creative Director” but art was always my thing. Raised on a grazing property in the Wimmera, creativity was my entertainment. My brother and I loved making ‘stuff’, from treacherous tree houses to wonky billy carts. My gumboots would overflow digging clay out of the dam to make pots which I’d paint in bright colours and my prized possession was my set of 72 Derwents. My mum encouraged me to study graphic design so I moved to Melbourne where I discover catalogues – Myer, Target, DJ’s, Sportsgirl, Kmart. As lame as it sounds, I collected every one and I knew this was the next thing I wanted to create.

How did you get your first break?

My first gig out of uni was in a two man agency in Blackburn where I made bromides, (google it if you’re under 45), illustrated pine furniture and produced ‘old school’ finished art. But my first real break came when one of my uni mates recommended me for a role art directing Venture catalogues at FCB. We’d hand draw and colour the layouts, mock them up into booklets, cast, produce and art direct the photography then work with ‘All Graphics’ (now ShowAds) to finesse the finished art. In fact, shooting Venture with Ric Wallis in 1988 was where I met a bubbly young photography assistant by the name of Sally Brownbill.

What paths have you taken to get to where you are today?

Advertising is one of those industries that can be hard to crack but once you establish yourself, doors open. I was lucky enough to have an incredible mentor in Warren Tutton, a Canadian marketing guru. By my late 20’s he’d promoted me to CD of the Kmart creative department where my role diversified. Along with press, magazines, point of sale, packaging and bucket loads of catalogues I starting writing radio and TVCs. Being in-house at Coles Myer I was also constantly client facing. We created new brands including World for Kids and Australia’s Choice. I guess I got to where I am today by not being afraid to have a go.

What advice about the do's and don'ts would you give to someone looking at working towards becoming a CD?

Don’t get tangled up in titles.

Be the best art director, digital designer or writer you can be and if you end up with CD in front of your name, you’ve earned it. And ‘do’ have some kids and/or get a dog. They’ll keep it real in an industry that, at times can seem superficial.

Tell us about the projects you're currently working on and what sets DDB Shop apart from the rest of the industry?

At DDB Shop, retail is our passion. It’s always fresh, vibrant and face paced. We generally don’t follow traditional agency protocol enabling us to be nimble in everything we do.

Currently we’re looking after Jeanswest, Westpac and Westfield. I know! What’s with the ‘west’ thing? For Jeanswest it’s all about point of sale, rolling out fashion campaigns every 3 to 4 weeks. Australia’s leading fashion photographers are commissioned to shoot with us on location throughout Australia and New Zealand. We produce everything ‘in-branch’ for Westpac including digital content for paperless branches. This means working closely with both DDB Melbourne and Sydney as we deliver integrated campaigns. And for Westfield we bring shopping centres to life with innovative visual merchandising.

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