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With a natural talent for communicating, storytelling and collaboration, Jordan Doucette is committed to understanding clients’ marketing and business challenges. She has held chief creative officer roles at TAXI in her native Canada, Leo Burnett Chicago and FCB West (San Francisco), as well as a recent stint as partner and president at No Fixed Address.
Now in the position of CCO at Dentsu Creative in Canada, Jordan is aiming to continue creating amazing work, while also ensuring that she remains actively involved in the greater industry. To this end, she’s participated in programs such as the Google WomenWill Conference and podcast series, the Cannes ‘See It Be It’ programme, and actively serves as a teacher at the Miami Ad School in Toronto - seeking to inspire creativity and encourage the highest possible quality of work in this country.
LBB’s Josh Neufeldt sat down with Jordan to discuss her work, the most important lessons she’s learned since starting, and why her vision for modern creativity is to come up with ideas that change society in a big, beautiful way.
LBB> Just this January, you hit 20 years in the industry. Congratulations! What has your experience been like during this time, and how have you kept things fresh?
Jordan> My experience has been incredible! There are some days where I can't even believe this all happened, and I am eternally grateful for the advocates I've had along the way; something I feel is very different than mentorship. I’m fortunate to have had people in my corner who pushed me into new situations or opportunities that I didn't think I was ready for, and who supported me in taking on new opportunities. Because of that, I've been able to keep strong momentum throughout my career while always trying new things - something I feel has kept me relevant.
Beyond that, having sort of stuck with one approach, I've tried to push myself into learning how other people do stuff. I moved from Canada to the US to get job experience because I had no idea how people in the US did it, and honestly, that was the best thing I've ever done in terms of learning new stuff about how the industry, agencies and clients work. And, I've been able to come back to Canada and apply what I’ve learned!
All in all, I guess I would say my experience has been one of constant evolution. There’s never been a feeling of 'oh, this is it for me'. There's always something new to try and I've embraced that... Maybe too often sometimes, but I'm proud of pushing myself out of my own comfort zone and going for it!
LBB> On the theme of going for it, you became CCO of Dentsu in late 2022. What inspired the move, and how are you finding things thus far?
Jordan> I had lunch with Stephen Kiely, who is our Canadian CEO, and after that I was all in. Having been at quite a few agencies, one of the things I've learned along the way is that clients come and go. But, when you get the day to day partner right, that's magic. It’s like a moonshot. Every day feels like a massive opportunity (and each one is), and it makes you wonder ‘what are we going to do today?’. It’s the exact same thing with Stephen. When you meet him for the first time, you might think he’s brand new at Dentsu with how ambitious and energetic he is… but, he's been there for 20 years! Anyway, we discussed what the next iteration of Dentsu Creative looked like, as it had just been formed that summer, and he said, 'I want to embrace it and see'. At that moment, I knew this was somebody that I would do anything for. I was like, 'I'm going to do it with him'.
LBB> And what are your main aims and ambitions for Dentsu?
Jordan> We have a vision and ambition for modern creativity: ideas that jump into culture or change culture, ideas that impact society in a big, beautiful way, or ideas that take human insights and match them with data and technology to bring something new to the world. We literally just launched ‘The Inflation Cookbook
’, which I think is exactly that. It demonstrates where we want to take our ideas, really pushing, making them meaningful, and making them break through. We're really trying to do things that have never been done before, in combination with all of the other beautiful storytelling tools we have at our disposal. I still love making TV ads and I think digital is powerful, but then you mix in these culturally relevant, earn-centric ideas to really accelerate a brand.
That's been my focus for eight months - how do we build a process and a team that empowers us to get to ideas like that? We’ve spent a ton of time sharing what we have with our clients, giving them a sense of where we're aiming to be with some of the work that we're doing. It's been really fun and fast-paced, and we're just excited to keep going.
LBB> Before Dentsu, you were working in America at FCB West, and you were also CCO at Leo Burnett Chicago. With that experience, what are your thoughts on Canadian advertising at the moment, and how does it compare/differ from the American scene?
Jordan> I think Canadian advertising is amazing! Truly, truly, truly, I think we have some of the best agencies. We also have amazing leaders - look at all the Cannes judges this year from Canada - and their calibre is incredible. I would be thrilled to be sitting in a room judging anything with that level of talent.
When I went to work in the US, I felt like a student. It felt like starting over, because here, we have this sense of nimbleness. There's this resourcefulness and way of working collaboratively with clients that I feel like the US actually embraced from us. They're like 'wow, we love that about you!'. So, it's kind of neat to feel like the way we're doing things in Canada can inspire US agencies, and also vice versa.
Below are some of my favourite projects from my time in the US!
LBB> What have been some of the most significant projects that you've worked on in your career? Have they embodied this sense of nimbleness?
Jordan> One of my favourite pieces is 'Kraft Now, Pay Later', which we did at Leo Burnett Chicago. This was pre-pandemic, and we did it with Kraft in reaction to the government shutdown by starting a free grocery store in Washington DC... in a week. To do that, we really united, bonded and just made it happen. I loved the work, I loved the process, and I just have the fondest memories of that experience.
The other is ‘The Inflation Cookbook’. Today, I would genuinely say it's the highlight of my career. With it, I feel like I made something I've never made before. And, to get this baby birthed, I got to work with a global team of diverse thinkers and skill sets - people who I’d never worked with before. Really, I'm just super proud of it.
LBB> Now that you’re back in Canada you’re not only teaching at the Miami Ad School, but you’re prioritising highlighting the possibility of a career in advertising to a younger generation. What is this process like?
Jordan> I can't remember all of the schools we've visited, but there have been quite a few where we’ve gone in and given a 'hey, this is what the industry is like' presentation. From TV, it's easy to see advertising as just a creative thing, but there is always demand for producers, editors, strategists, business leaders, etc. There's a trillion positions which are all really interesting and value diverse skill sets, and we're trying to introduce this to younger and younger people so they get that idea in the back of their minds as they start to think about courses in high school and university.
LBB> In the past, you’ve participated in the Google WomenWill Conference and podcast. What was that experience like, and how are you pushing for advocacy and female entrepreneurship within the industry?
Jordan> I think to some extent, everyone has imposter syndrome, and I’m no exception. I really don't know how I got so lucky, but I'm immensely grateful for the job that I have. And, because of that, I want to make sure I'm giving back and using my seniority to look back and go, 'what were some of the roadblocks', and 'how can I support other women so that they can get to the top?'.
On that latter point, I think there's still a shortage of women in very senior leadership roles. So, I try to be vulnerable and honest about what it's like. I want to share that experience so other people can say, 'I feel some of those things, but I also feel like I'm gonna get there'. I also spend any free time I have mentoring women. I try to always be available to anyone who wants to talk, and this is especially true at the Miami Ad School. In fact, last semester, I'd say more than half my students were women! It's amazing that I get to meet and make a connection with them, and hopefully as they rise up in their careers, they feel like they have me to help them and support them, because I myself have been through it.
Ultimately, I just try wherever I can, and the WomenWill event was part of it. They asked me to come and talk, and a lot of it was about the biases that we place on ourselves, which prevent us from succeeding. It was a really interesting conference, and wherever and whenever I can talk about this subject, I try to do just that.
LBB> Building on this, what were some of the roadblocks you had to overcome in your career journey? Is there any advice that current you would give your past self?
Jordan> I would say to myself, 'ask for more things'. For me, there was always this feeling of 'if somebody thinks I deserve a promotion, they'll tell me', or 'if somebody thinks I deserve a raise, they'll tell me'. No, they won't - you've got to ask for it. And, if you ask for it, the worst thing that can happen is they say no, which will allow you to ask why, which in turn will make you more informed and empowered to make your next decision. To this end, I feel like women, including myself in the past, kind of sit and wait, rather than actively pursuing what they want.
I also think I did a poor job of communicating how I actually felt. You always want to be the ‘easy to work with’ person, so it’s easy to refrain from communicating your needs or desires about things you want to work on, or even open positions you want to take because you think 'oh, someone will engage me if that's what they think I should be doing'. So, I would encourage everyone to just be more vocal - strategically so. Build your case as to why something might be right for you, because even if they don't give it to you, you'll always learn something from it.
The other thing is that I put a lot of pressure on myself by thinking I couldn't have a baby in this industry, as I assumed that if I did, I wouldn't get ahead. In reality, when I had a baby, I swear to God that some of the same projects were still in play when I came back from maternity leave. The world had barely moved on, it was all fine, and I actually got promoted shortly thereafter. I don't know if women these days feel that same pressure, but I would have told myself, 'it's going to be super fine, don't worry about it'. Regardless, all those things in the moment feel like 'oh my gosh, this could be the moment where I don't get ahead in my career the way that I want to', and I think knowing all these things can make a world of difference.
LBB> With all this in mind, do you have an overarching goal for yourself within this industry?
Jordan> Maybe this is cheesy, but just the other day, a woman came back from maternity leave at Dentsu. Because she'd been away, I had not met her yet, and so we had a quick connect. She said, 'oh, I heard you speak once - many years ago - and you gave this piece of advice which I still use today'. That interaction made my year. To think that there's something I said which might make people feel empowered or more successful or more well-equipped to achieve their goals is incredible. So, I guess I would love it if when I leave this industry, there's people who feel like I've done something for them. I want to help them achieve their goals, whatever they might be.
LBB> What helps you destress after a long day at work?
Jordan> I have a 15-year-old daughter, so I can always get caught up on the latest teen drama (which, honestly, is kind of similar to my daily work drama, haha). I also have two dogs that I like to walk, because I feel like just being outside is good for my mental health. And of course, I do love a delicious glass of wine!
However, I honestly feel like my job is my life - in a beautiful way. It all sort of weaves together, and so I never feel like I'm done, done. It's always in my mind, but in all of the best ways possible.