Yvonne Cheng is a part-time exterminator. The former BBDO associate creative director, who just left the agency world to freelance fulltime last week, is one of the minds behind Unbaby.me, the buzzed-about browser extension that helped social networkers rid their Facebook feeds of the chubby cheeks and drooling smiles of their breeder friends' baby pictures. The idea, which she created along with partners Chris Baker (Buzzfeed) and Pete Marquis (BBDO), has been translated to another unwelcome subject, via a similar application they created for Buzzfeed, Unpolitic.me.
Cheng started out as a graphic designer, but quickly branched out into more digitally and multi-platform oriented efforts at agencies like Campfire, where working on assignments for HBO's True Blood taught her the true meaning of "interactive," and Droga5, which she likened to "advertising bootcamp." There she worked on the website for the agency's "The Million" mobile phone initiative, Vitamin Water and Puma's "longest-running" Hardchorus concert. Her latest stint was as an ACD at BBDO New York, which she called her most "grown up" agency experience, with assignments on brands like AT&T, GE and M&Ms. "I ended up running all of M&M's social media work and it was really fun to just put up tons of content and watch people go nuts over it," she said. "There wasn't a lot of convincing that needed to be done on our end, which was really refreshing."
Most recently, Ms. Cheng came up with another fun distraction, MyWhiteGirlName.com a website that tells you just that once you type in your current moniker. As for making things that catch fire in the social world, "I think it all goes back to just creating something that people can relate to, a statement that someone wants to claim and make their own, something they want to share out of pure love or hatred," she said. "Just tap into an emotion and put it out there for them. Don't give people what you think they want. Just give them what they already want."
Creatively speaking, Ms. Cheng prefers to take the road less traveled. "Something foreign to me is more intriguing than something I'm already familiar with," she said. "I remember asking for a banner brief at one agency just because I'd never done banners before. I'll try anything just so I've had the experience and so I won't sound completely stupid when I'm having to direct someone on something that I've never done myself."
Her recent decision to go freelance jibes with her M.O. "I like the idea of hustling for myself," she said. "I can work with all kinds of agencies and companies in a variety of roles, maybe UX and design, or just coming up with ideas and making a deck. That's what's exciting to me right now."
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