Media Mavens 2009

Nadine McHugh

Managing Director, Mindshare New York

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NEW YORK ( -- Nadine McHugh is trying to ban the term "creative agency."

"I correct anyone that says it," she said, "from clients to people very high up here."

Nadine McHugh
Nadine McHugh
"The term is old," continued. "It's not really valid any more. We all have the ability, and I think the responsibility, to think creatively and innovatively across our businesses for our clients and ourselves."

Of course, media agencies and creative agencies both still exist, no matter what you call them. But Ms. McHugh deserves some admiration for her ability to nurture creative thinking at her agency and deliver innovative programs.

She's delivered, for example, through big roles on striking campaigns for Unilever: Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty and Suave's In the Motherhood effort.

The Campaign for Real Beauty caught on by validating real consumers; In the Motherhood asked women to share real-life stories, some of which then provided narratives for professionally produced webisodes integrating Suave and Sprint, the other big sponsor.

Ms. McHugh also played a big part in reorganizing Mindshare in North America, breaking down silos and integrating digital into everything.

And she's developed and run M Academy, the training program for employees at Mindshare and sibling agency Maxus that's partly designed to make sure creativity applies to them as well.

From the academy sprang a unit devoted to helping staffers tell stories better. "It's a group of people that are naturally passionate about this, that have volunteered to be evangelists," she said. "So it's meant to be a catalyst and help generate the change we need. It's really great fun."

Ms. McHugh, 42, has been with the WPP Group, first at Ogilvy & Mather and then at Mindshare, for 20 years, give or take two "short deviations."

When it came to In the Motherhood, recalls Laura Klauberg, VP-global media at Unilever, "Nadine...was relentless in shepherding it through what at times was a difficult development and approval process."

"She has a unique ability to inspire and cultivate great talent, which I consider to be one of the true measures of a great leader," Ms. Klauberg added.

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