Steele is demonstrably creative and she runs a pitch that is all about the work. She’s also not afraid to go there and push those potential-client buttons during presentations. Take McDonald’s, which Wieden+Kennedy, New York, won in September 2019.
As her nominator declared, "The way she sees it, you’re not gonna marry someone you can’t laugh with, and we want to laugh with you...In our most successful meetings, Jacq doesn’t shy away from letting prospective clients see our quirks."
Chemistry, quirks and all, is a non-negotiable, prospecting tenet of Steele’s. Another is the potential to do good work.
Pitches center around Wieden+Kennedy’s vast expanse of great work and the range of conceptual thinking behind it.
Steele doesn’t go into new business meetings with campaigns fleshed out, as if to lure ‘em in. She tries to convey how they’re looking for collaborators and sells the thinking, not the pre-fab ideas. Steele’s all about "showing clients what it’s really like to work with Wieden."
Her third tenet weaves back to chemistry, or "the ability to be ourselves." That means Steele doesn’t shift the Wieden+Kennedy pitch to match each client, but presents the agency as bringing a needed outsider’s perspective, albeit a talented, storytelling outsider.
The agency gets away with this equal-footing approach to new business because, as an independent, it can maintain its maverick culture and has no quotas or repercussions from on high.
In addition to McDonald’s, Ford was another recent win spearheaded by Steele. In the past, she’s brought Sprite, Vitaminwater, OkCupid, Duracell, Fox Sports, Bud Light, Equinox and Lyft to Wieden’s New York office.
2019 represented the agency’s biggest growth in a decade. In New York, Steele has helped the agency top growth for three consecutive years.
"Massive respect for what Jacq has accomplished," noted one of Campaign’s judges. "While she does have the agency behind her, she’s a one-woman phenom AND a mother. Kudos to her and the agency for building such a successful dynamic."