My career in 5 executions: Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness' Kathy Delaney

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Name: Kathy Delaney
Title: Global Chief Creative Officer at Publicis Health/Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness
Years in ad industry: 25
First job in ad industry: Junior Art Director, SSC&B, Lintas

Kathy Delaney began her career working as an intern in the creative department of SSC&B, Lintas while still a student at the School of Visual Arts. After graduation, her portfolio landed her a job as a junior art director at the agency.

In 1994, she joined Chiat/Day as an associate creative director, working on clients like Reebok. Three years later, she moved to Deutsch, where she spent 12 years helping to grow the agency beyond its boutique roots. She worked on campaigns for brands like IKEA, Tommy Hilfiger, Tylenol, MCI and Tanqueray. In 2004, she became chief creative officer and president.

In 2007, Delaney joined Nitro as chief creative officer, eventually taking the same position when the agency merged with Sapient in 2009. Two years later, she founded her own consultancy, before joining Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness in 2013. The following year, she served as the jury president for the inaugural Cannes Lions Health festival.

"When I feel something emotionally about an issue or cause, I am blessed with the ability to galvanize a group of like-minded people to help do something about it," she says.

See also: The professional paths of 8 pharma execs

Here are the 5 executions Delaney says have meant the most to her and her career.

Client: INGKA Holding B.V.
Brand: IKEA
Agency: Deutsch
Work: "Dining Room Table"
Year: 1994

In 1994, no major TV ad in the US had ever depicted a gay couple. Delaney was relatively new at Deutsch at the time, looking for a way to connect with couples that were ready to take a bigger step in their relationship…and buy furniture.

Of course, there was some backlash to the ad, "but the positivity squashed out those few naysayers in the end, and IKEA became a stronger and braver brand because of it," Delaney says. "I learned that expanding the idea of inclusion to a common activity is sometimes all it takes to create a game-changing campaign."

Client: Pfizer, Inc.
Brand: Zoloft
Agency: Deutsch
Work: "Dot"
Year: 2001 

Zoloft was Delaney's first pitch for a pharmaceutical account, and the story the brand wanted to tell was complicated. Anti-depressant medications weren't widely understood or spoken about publically at the time." How do you go about speaking to people suffering from depression with a story that really ‘speaks' to them, without scaring or blaming them?" Delaney says.

The answer was science. "It helped us redefine depression from ‘There's something wrong with me' to ‘I have a chemical imbalance and this can help fix it,'" she says. And it helped jumpstart a new type of storytelling in healthcare advertising. 

Client: Monster Worldwide, Inc.
Brand: Monster.com
Agency: Deutsch
Work: "Today's the Day"
Year: 2006 

Toward the end of her tenure at Deutsch, Delaney became increasingly interested in using adverting to inspire and uplift audiences. "What better vehicle to do that than a commercial about looking for a new job?" 

The job search is inherently nerve-wracking, but this spot focused on positivity and exhuberance, the feelings of having already landed a new position. "My big ‘ah-ha' was tapping into the mood of excitement," Delaney says. "I forever learned that tapping into the right emotions can be the key to connecting people and motivating them into action." 

Client: ConAgra Foods
Brand: Healthy Choice
Agency: Nitro
Work: "Spokesperson"
Year: 2011 

Healthy Choice was burdened with a boring name and was looking to reinvent the brand. Delaney and her team redesigned the packaging, the menus and created this series of ads starring "Seinfeld" alum Julia Louis-Dreyfus and directed by Christopher Guest.

"If you're trying change people's behavior, it can only help to make them laugh," Delaney says. "Bringing humor to such a staid category did wonders for the brand." It was also the first time Delaney had tried an entertainment-focused approach to convince people to change their eating habits. 

Client: Crossroads Community, Inc.
Brand: Crossroads Community Soup Kitchen & Food Pantry
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness
Work: "Street Fare"
Year: 2015 

As CCO at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, Delaney has worked on campaigns to prevent teenage suicide, bolster gun control efforts and improve emergency disaster relief. 

But few campaigns have been more popular than this one. "The drawings went viral and appeared on international blogs, social postings and websites," Delaney says. "Quite humbling, yet it reinforced in me the essence of what makes acts of creative good work—that when people feel something, they then take action to do something truly remarkable."

This story first appeared in Campaign.

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