Women to Watch 2009

Vida Cornelious

VP-Creative Director, DDB, Chicago

By Published on .

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- When Anheuser-Busch approached its agencies about launching Bud Light Lime in late 2007, DDB had a problem: The product was supposed to appeal to women and cocktail drinkers, and its A-B account team didn't have either. So the agency's chief creative officer, the late Paul Tilley, handpicked Vida Cornelious, a standout creative on the agency's McDonald's account, to lead the shop's pitch for the business and its work on the brand.

Vida Cornelious

Ms. Cornelious proposed that the agency position Bud Light Lime as "a summer state of mind." The agency won the pitch, and the campaign Ms. Cornelious created -- featuring music from the pop star Santogold -- turned the brand into Anheuser-Busch's most successful product launch, by some measures, since Bud Light itself.

Ms. Cornelious, a New Jersey native, attended Hampton University undergrad and later received a master's degree in advertising from the University of Illinois. Her first advertising job out of school was with Burrell Communications.

Since joining DDB nine years ago, Ms. Cornelious, 38, has worked on some of the agency's largest accounts and most memorable campaigns, including Dell's memorable "Dude, you're getting a Dell" effort.

A 'day job'
For the past four years her primary focus has been McDonald's, which she said remained her "day job" even during the Bud Light Lime push. In that role, she focuses on product launches, having developed campaigns to get salads, snack wraps and an Angus Burger off and running.

She's also regularly worked as a mentor to other young, minority creatives.

Marlena Peleo-Lazar, McDonald's chief creative officer, ranks Ms. Cornelious "among the best" creatives the marketer has worked with. "This is clearly a woman who should be honored and celebrated," she said. "McDonald's and a whole host of other world-class brands have benefited from her insights and expertise."

Indeed, she has been honored, having her work shortlisted at Cannes and winning a gold medal from the Chicago Creative Club and a 2008 AdColor Award.

After Ms. Cornelious' AdColor win, DDB Chairman Bob Scarpelli remarked that he was "proud DDB has her."

Alas, not for long. Later this month Ms. Cornelious is departing the agency to accept a group creative director role at GlobalHue, an agency that specializes in both general-market and multicultural advertising efforts. "From a professional standpoint, having an opportunity to lead a team really appealed to me," she said. "But I also think that, with where we are in the culture right now, with a diverse president, that it's a real opportunity to make strides in how ethnic marketing is perceived."

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