"I'm still trying to figure out the geographic boundaries of the Upper West Side," Ms. Neill said. After only two years in New York, the new president of creative at Doremus is still a relative newcomer to the city.
Ms. Neil, 40, joined Doremus in June, when the agency reorganized its structure. The Omnicom Group agency has long been known as a corporate-advertising specialist, but has broadened its focus in recent years, as financial advertising dried up.
The structure includes three units focused on strategic consulting, creative and integrated marketing. Ms. Neill heads the creative unit, called D2.
Doremus had all the pieces of consulting and advertising communications to make effective marketing, but "we realized the final piece we need to put into place is creativity," said Jeff DeJoseph, Doremus' chief strategic officer.
"We needed a whole different ability and mentality" that Ms. Neill could bring, Mr. DeJoseph said. He described her reel as "a blockbuster."
She began her career in Key West, Fla., where she pumped gas to pay bills while acting in a local theater. A fellow actress managed a local radio station, and suggested she try selling ads. She took the job, but found she had better luck selling when she wrote ads for the clients.
That job led to another, after she moved to Santa Barbara, Calif. As Ms. Neill tells it, she'd just interviewed and landed a sales job at a station whose lush music she didn't like. Listening to a better station on the drive home, she'd finally had enough. She pulled over to a pay phone and called that station's manager.
"I told him I've been hired by the beautiful-music station and if you don't hire me, I'll be competing against you," she said. He did hire her, and she again ended up writing her clients' ads. Before she left the station, her boss suggested she try advertising as a career.
A LITTLE MORE THAN 5 YEARS
Taking his advice, she enrolled in Portfolio Center in Atlanta, which led to her first agency job, as a copywriter in WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather's Atlanta office. That led to a job at Weiden & Kennedy, first in the Portland, Ore., office, then in Weiden's Amsterdam office. During 10 years at Weiden, she worked for clients including Nike, AltaVista and Coca-Cola Co. She arrived in New York in 2001, as senior copywriter- creative director at Shepardson, Stern & Kaminsky and shortly after moved to Interpublic Group of Cos' Deutsch as group creative director.
"I really thought it would be a five-year profession," Ms. Neill said. But after nearly two decades, she's still at it. "It's not advertising that I love so much, it's communication," said the former actress. "It's doing something people respond to."
Name: Evelyn Neill
Now: President- creative, Doremus
Challenge: Upgrade creative for Doremus' corporate campaigns