Edelman's Judy John and Ajinomoto stand up to Asian hate
For our Asian American Pacific Islander Month Creative Excellence series, the agency's global CCO shares how her agency is helping the iconic food brand fight xenophobia and racism
May 21, 2021
We are honored to have Judy John, global chief creative officer of Edelman, to continue our creative excellence series celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. John needs no introduction, having steered one of the most celebrated brand campaigns in ad history, Always’ “#LikeaGirl. Created while she was CCO at Leo Burnett, the Cannes Lions Grand Prix- and Emmy-winning campaign broke ground and paved the way for more brave approaches to advertising in the feminine products category. It also helped earn John the title of Ad Age’s most-awarded chief creative officer in 2015. A self-professed introvert, John has proved that you don’t need a booming, boisterous personality to lead a global company and steer a team to powerful creative ideas.
This week’s guest editor, David&Goliath Founder David Angelo, describes John as “one of the most passionate and talented creators in the industry. I have deep respect for everything she stands for and is an incredible human being. Her brilliant work represents some of the greatest out there, namely the Always ‘#LikeAGirl’ campaign.”
While the Always campaign may be the one most are familiar with, John shares another series of efforts that have been personally meaningful to her, Edelman’s ongoing work for Ajinomoto, a brand that has stood up against the ongoing discrimination and hate crimes endured by those of Asian descent.
Recently someone asked me:
How did you get here?
Not a rundown of your CV.
What are the stories that shape you; that inform who you are and how you got here.
I love that question because those are the experiences that frame how we approach our personal lives, the business and the world.
Growing up as the third child of four, and a girl in a Chinese family did not put me in high regard or high in expectation. On top of this, we lived in a small town, where we were one of two Asian families, both of which ran Chinese restaurants. This backdrop helped to define how and why I use my influence and creativity to amplify others today.
Although Always #LikeAGirl is an obvious example of an important project that has had a significant impact on my career, the work I’m doing now and how it can impact the future is what is inspiring and driving me.
The work we are doing with clients in support of the AAPI movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, diversity and inclusion is not only rewarding but also some of our best creative work: Dove Crown Act, Dove Men + Care Father’s Day Taken, Good Humour Ice Cream Truck New Jingle.
One recent project I’m incredibly proud of is for Ajinomoto, the world’s leading producer of MSG. Over the last couple of years, we’ve been helping Ajinomoto fight xenophobia with three campaigns, “Redefining Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”—a racist term that created fear around MSG, “#TakeOutHate” to help Chinese Restaurants during the pandemic, and our latest effort “#KnowMSG.”
It’s been heartening to work with companies and clients who are taking the opportunity to play a positive role in society. We are seeing through the Edelman Trust Barometer that people have the expectation that companies step up and are rewarding them with their loyalty. Proving doing good can also be good business.