My career in 5 executions: Joan's Jaime Robinson

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From LEGO to Intel, Joan's CCO makes work audiences can make their own

Name: Jaime Robinson
Title: Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Joan Creative
Years in ad industry: 19
First job in ad industry:  Copywriter/Assistant, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, NYC

Even though she'd been an English major, Jaime Robinson won an internship at the agency Mad Dogs and Englishmen in a contest after college. Afterward, they offered her a job as an assistant, with some copywriting on the side. "I was a terrible assistant," Robinson says. "I lost people’s books. But I was okay at the writing." Soon, she was a full-time copywriter.

After a stint at TBWA\Chiat\Day in San Francisco, in 2007 she took a position at EVB and immersed herself in all things digital. "I fell in love with just doing things that would let the audience have a voice in it," she says—interactive media that viewers can change and make their own.

She met PJ Pereira and Andrew O'Dell shortly after they founded their eponymous agency, before they had any paying clients. "I don’t know anything about these guys," she thought, "but I just feel like they’re going to be successful," so she signed on, working her way up to ECD over the next six years before joining Wieden+Kennedy.

In 2015, Robinson met Lisa Clunie, then-COO at Refinery29, and the two had instant chemistry. They began planning a venture together—a new agency. Joan Creative opened its doors in May 2016 with General Mills as its sole client. Since then, the agency has picked up Netflix, Booking.com and Adidas.

"Make up a game, then give it to people to play with," Robinson says of the way she approaches the work. "You want your idea to move and change when others with different life experiences, references and passions touch it. Let yourself be surprised by what they bring back."

Here are the 5 executions Robinson says define her career.

Client: Haribo
Brand: Haribo Gummi Bears
Agency: Mad Dogs and Englishmen
Work: "Naughty little bears"
Year: 2003

When Robinson won the internship after college, she had a choice of agencies. She could have taken a creative position at a fairly traditional buttoned-up shop. But she was also offered a gig at Mad Dogs and Englishmen, where her interviewer wore ripped jean shorts and a mustard-stained T-shirt emblazoned with a picture of Barney the Dinosaur shooting heroin. "It was the most insane place I ever could have landed," Robinson says. "I had the unbelievable good luck to start my career here and work under the rebellious, fantastic creative direction of Nick Cohen, Dave Cook and Mikal Reich." (Robinson also met her husband, James, at Mad Dogs.)

"One of the agency’s big philosophies was that it was good to be sweet and fucked up," Robinson says, pointing to this award-winning Haribo campaign as proof. "To this day, I still try to push boundaries and surprise people."

Client: Ray-Ban
Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day San Francisco
Work: "Never Hide"
Year: 2006

Robinson left Mad Dogs and the East Coast altogether to join TBWA\Chiat\Day in San Francisco, working under Chuck McBride. She worked on the launch of "Never Hide," a campaign Ray-Ban only recently retired.

"This was really the first time that I felt part of a bigger, grown-up campaign. It was everywhere," Robinson says. Its longevity allowed her to see other creative takes on her concept long after she left the agency. "From the get-go, we had big hopes for more meaningful statements about equality and love, and while it took a few years to get there, it was so exciting to see that somebody eventually got those done!"

Client: LEGO
Agency: Pereira O’Dell
Work: "CL!CK"
Year: 2009

Robinson worked on a series of branded films for LEGO shortly after giving birth to her first daughter. "I was really getting a kick out of watching that magic moment when an idea would pop into her head—when things would ‘click,’" she says. It was the first project where Robinson hadn’t let herself feel pressured to be funny or "one of the guys."

"The ever-wise PJ Pereira was instrumental in helping me realize that being different from most of my peers—and being a woman and a mother—was a good thing and could be an asset in giving me a unique creative perspective," she says, a message she works hard to pass on others she works with. "It’s the key to unlocking the really, really interesting stuff."

Client: Intel & Toshiba
Agency: Pereira O’Dell
Work: "The Beauty Inside"
Year: 2013

This series of branded content films for Intel and Toshiba relied on audience participation for not only content, but plot points. Six episodes form a single film revolving around the love life of a man who wakes up in a different body every day. To play him, viewers were asked to upload "video diary entries," with themselves in the role of Alex waking up in a new body and recounting his experiences from the previous night.

"The agency felt electric, the client was visionary, the audience really threw themselves into it and everybody put so much of their heart and soul into getting this one right," Robinson says. "It will always be one of my favorite stories, and I know we just scratched the surface of what could be told here."

In 2015, "The Beauty Inside" was made into a feature-length film in South Korea, and earlier this year, Fox bought the rights to an American version, with Emilia "Mother of Dragons" Clarke slated to play the female lead, Leah.

Client: Netflix
Agency: Joan Creative
Work: "Rules for the Modern Woman"
Year: 2016

It’s nearing a year since Robinson and partner Lisa Clunie began laying out plans for what would become Joan. "We really sat down to decide what this company was going to be about," she says. "What can we bring to the table?"

This film was the agency’s first public work, stitched together with clips from Netflix’s deep catalogue. "Badass female characters! Done on a super-fast timeline," Robinson says. If it’s an indication of work to come, there will be plenty more of it.

"Hopefully there’s nothing after Joan," she says. "I hope this is the last fucking agency, because I can’t imagine..."

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