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Creative Ops

Salesforce’s Jessica Bognar on putting the work you do in perspective

February 22, 2023 · 4 min read

This is part of our 100 Creative Directors interview series. It has been edited for length and clarity. To return to the series homepage and browse other interviews, click here.

What kind of creative director are you?

I'm an advertising creative director working with creative teams: copywriters, art directors and designers. I worked in the traditional ad agency sense for a very long time, and now being in-house at Salesforce, it’s become a more cross-functional role with so many different partners.

It's a very creative job. 

It was something I wasn't really expecting. I didn't know what I was getting into, going into a B2B tech company, but it's really creative in the sense that when you're at an ad agency, you're working on one client, one project — you don't really understand the larger breadth of the brand. 

Being at Salesforce, there are a thousand different facets of the company that an agency might not see. We work across so many things like values, equality, product, and events. So it keeps things really interesting.

What’s the most difficult part of shipping great work?

Getting everyone on board with the right path forward. 

As creative people, we often go with our gut, where non-creative people are maybe looking for more proof and are a little less willing to go with their gut and take a chance.

So it becomes about building those relationships and getting the trust to ship something great, even if not everybody understands or is sure that it's going to succeed.

I think it's different too at a B2B company versus a consumer one where you’re selling frappuccinos and you're like, “This is delicious!” Sold! 

This is like “wait, what does Salesforce do?” 

So how do you do that creatively? And is it provocative? Can we be provocative?

How do you measure your creative team's success?

First and foremost, is my team proud of it?

Did we go through hell and back to get it done, and are we all burned out and over it by the end? Or are we energized by what we created? Like regardless of how it performed, are we proud of what we put out?

In my previous ad agency life. I was very much like, ‘Can I put this in my book? Is this winning awards?’ But now I've worked at Salesforce for eight years, you're kind of a lot more invested in if it actually worked. 

How did it perform and how do we keep iterating or building on our successes to make something even more successful? 

What are the three things you could not do your job without?

  1. An awesome team. 

    Something I was told early on in my career is to hire people that are better than you. That's one thousand percent true because if you're trying to do it all yourself and your team can't support you, it's not a recipe for success. 

    Right now, I'm lucky enough to have two women that report to me who are amazing. If I'm sick or take a couple days off, I don't have to worry about it; I know that the work is gonna be awesome. 

  2. Taking care of yourself. 

    A lot of the ad agency grind ended up getting to a lot of people. You put your health at risk and you're not doing the best work.
    You're not succeeding if you're exhausted from working 80 hours a week. 

    Making a shift and putting yourself first is going to make you a lot more successful. Obviously you need to work hard but knowing how to strike that balance is super important — especially to creativity. 

  3. Often, we're so in the weeds of just doing the work that we forget to find inspiration. We’re just making ads, and we see ads, and we just rethink and recycle the same ad ideas. 

    Making the time to put other inputs into your brain or else you're just gonna like keep coming up with the same stuff.

Best piece of advice?

We're not curing cancer. 

I've been in rooms where people are fighting and blaming, and everyone’s just exhausted. At the end of the day, we are very fortunate to be able to be creatives and get paid to do what we do. 

I definitely spent my fair share of nights lying awake thinking about things. Figuring out how to put it in perspective constantly is key. That’s something that I had to have a shift pretty early to keep doing this job. 

It goes back to your mental health. What we do is silly. It’s important but it’s silly — and we need to remember that.

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