DDB Aotearoa’s Priya Patel on Shifting Creativity

“It’s amazing, I feel like I’ve been given the keys to a candy shop,” says DDB Aotearoa’s Priya Patel as she shares her thoughts on being announced as DDB Group New Zealand’s CEO. However, the now creative leader almost didn’t step into advertising having never known that the career path was an option to her.

Born in the UK, Priya recalls that advertising was never something she considered doing, instead she was guided towards paths that were more law, accountant or medicine led. Though, a chance seminar when she was at Oxford University changed all that. “I was recruited on the milk round, you know how they do these things, the bankers and the management consultants and the ad agencies, they will come and present at the uni. I felt like the advertising one was just so much more interesting than all the other pitches and I really liked that it was a blend of creativity and commerce.”

From there she was offered a graduate position with DDB, a role that took her through each phase of the advertising journey from writing a brief to pitching to clients. It’s this experience that has inspired Priya to think about creating an in-schools programme to show pupils what goes into advertising. She explains: “There’s so many touch points, but you don’t really think about it as this whole enterprise.”

After leaving DDB, she went to Rainey Kelly London – now VMLY&R – an experience which allowed her to work on some of the UK’s biggest finance and shopping brands. Also, and crucially, this role helped Priya explain to her parents what she ‘actually did’ due to the many household names she worked on.

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