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Hi, My Name Is Anna Russett

Hi, My Name Is Anna Russett

Natasha Smith

Natasha Smith

January 8, 2018

"I never went into social media thinking, ‘How should I build my personal brand?’ I just knew what I cared about and that I wanted to share that with others."

She has nearly 100,000 YouTube followers—and growing. But Anna Russett, Creative Director at Havas Chicago, explains why her huge social media following isn’t her focus. Making a difference is.

So, how’d you get your start in advertising?

You could say my first venture into advertising was through collaborating with brands to create sponsored posts for my Instagram. Then, in my junior year of college, I met the cofounders of Popular Pays, a social currency app that connects brands to influencers, and they told me about a special opportunity on their platform. If you had at least 70,000 followers, you could apply for a summer internship with Havas. I didn’t know anything about Havas or much about the ad world, but I thought it was cool that a place like that was actively seeking out people like me with my social experience to work for them, so I applied. I got the internship, showed up on the first day, and have worked here ever since.

And why Havas Chicago?

We’re one of the only agencies that values creators coming from social and nontraditional backgrounds, and we have an exciting vision for the future of advertising. We acknowledge where advertising has f*cked up, and we want to change it for the better. Also, I’ve been able to have direct communication with leadership at Havas Chicago—and beyond. It’s really important to me to work at a place where I can get to know the people leading this massive ship, understand their plans, and feel like I can impact those plans.

Tell us: Exactly how much attention should brands pay to social media?

Social media has forever impacted the way we communicate with each other, celebrities, and corporations. Even if we, as advertisers, are still making work beyond social, like TV commercials or print ads, it’s imperative that we all know how to communicate with those mediums in a contemporary way. We need to understand why media like broadcast will increasingly be viewed as less interesting places to reach a modern consumer and instead help lead brands to reach people through the channel they use the most everyday: social media. Brands should pay attention to contemporary ways of communication, which for now is social media—and is not TV.

What’s your favorite social platform?

Snapchat and YouTube.

You have nearly 100,000 subscribers on your YouTube channel. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve shared with your followers?

A few years ago, I started using conventions and formats native to the YouTube community, such as makeup tutorials or challenge videos, as vehicles for more critical messages. For one project, I read a bunch of articles about local high schools in Chicago banning girls from wearing clothes like leggings or tank tops to school because this was too distracting to their male classmates. Obviously, that is some bullsh*t, so I made a so-called haul video that used conventions of this genre on YouTube and created a satirical dress code haul.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnliWDz1ui8

I went shopping for baggy clothing that would make a young girl less distracting to boys and their male teachers, but still appear ladylike. I asked my own followers if they had experienced similar issues and mandates at their own schools and got a bunch of feedback from them that I incorporated into this video. I deconstructed why this policy is inherently patriarchal and prioritizes the learning environment of heterosexual guys. It resonated with my followers, who sent this video to many of their principals and teachers and engaged them in a dialogue about the differences in expectations for girls and boys at school.

Anything that you wish that you could take back?

Nope.

How should someone go about building a following and a personal brand?

I always have a hard time answering this question because there is no one definitive answer. I never went into social media thinking, “How should I build my personal brand?” I just knew what I cared about and that I wanted to share that with others.

I’m very curious and excited to take advantage of the internet and social media to do that. I do think people should first focus on what they feel passionate about and how they want to share that with the world before thinking, “How do I get followers?” Just buy followers if you want the vanity metrics. But I get it—having followers has helped me immensely in my career and has given me privileges and credibility in a variety of ways, and so I understand why people are eager to understand how to get those numbers, too.

How do you explain your job, Creative Director, to people who don’t work in advertising?

I help brands view social media as a creative medium where they have an opportunity to reach people in unique ways the world never has before.

What would you like to change in the advertising industry?

A lot. We are in the business of putting a lot of money behind messages and imagery that impact a lot of people. I want all of us to take a critical approach to everything we do and to question it all. I see how my followers, who are mostly young girls, perceive themselves and the world based on the ads and media they see everyday. I want agencies to work with brands that are trying to make the world a better place—through their ads, products, production methods, and more. I also want the industry to be a less grueling place. We need our people to have the time and the mental health to space out, walk around in the sunshine on the weekend and during the workday, and let creativity and curiosity flourish.

 

"I hope to inspire by being honest and real with everyone who I encounter."

What do you hope never changes?

The internet. #SaveNetNeutrality

Who inspires you the most?

The girls who follow me online, the leadership at Havas Chicago—and this is genuine. I promise I’m not trying to kiss ass. Please, don’t drag me on Fishbowl—and our magical internet.

How do you inspire others?

I hope to inspire by being honest and real with everyone who I encounter (LOL, sorry cliché). Vulnerability can inspire others to be more like themselves.

Tell us your fun fact.

I used to create magazines and sell them to my friends when I was younger. I used Quark (content automation) and my parent’s Mac and even incorporated ads into the magazines #foreshadowing. Check out a 2001 Halloween edition.

Photo credit: Liam Trumble, Content Creator at Havas Chicago

She has nearly 100,000 YouTube followers—and growing. But Anna Russett, Creative Director at Havas Chicago, explains why her huge social media following isn’t her focus. Making a difference is.

So, how’d you get your start in advertising?

You could say my first venture into advertising was through collaborating with brands to create sponsored posts for my Instagram. Then, in my junior year of college, I met the cofounders of Popular Pays, a social currency app that connects brands to influencers, and they told me about a special opportunity on their platform. If you had at least 70,000 followers, you could apply for a summer internship with Havas. I didn’t know anything about Havas or much about the ad world, but I thought it was cool that a place like that was actively seeking out people like me with my social experience to work for them, so I applied. I got the internship, showed up on the first day, and have worked here ever since.

And why Havas Chicago?

We’re one of the only agencies that values creators coming from social and nontraditional backgrounds, and we have an exciting vision for the future of advertising. We acknowledge where advertising has f*cked up, and we want to change it for the better. Also, I’ve been able to have direct communication with leadership at Havas Chicago—and beyond. It’s really important to me to work at a place where I can get to know the people leading this massive ship, understand their plans, and feel like I can impact those plans.

Tell us: Exactly how much attention should brands pay to social media?

Social media has forever impacted the way we communicate with each other, celebrities, and corporations. Even if we, as advertisers, are still making work beyond social, like TV commercials or print ads, it’s imperative that we all know how to communicate with those mediums in a contemporary way. We need to understand why media like broadcast will increasingly be viewed as less interesting places to reach a modern consumer and instead help lead brands to reach people through the channel they use the most everyday: social media. Brands should pay attention to contemporary ways of communication, which for now is social media—and is not TV.

What’s your favorite social platform?

Snapchat and YouTube.

You have nearly 100,000 subscribers on your YouTube channel. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve shared with your followers?

A few years ago, I started using conventions and formats native to the YouTube community, such as makeup tutorials or challenge videos, as vehicles for more critical messages. For one project, I read a bunch of articles about local high schools in Chicago banning girls from wearing clothes like leggings or tank tops to school because this was too distracting to their male classmates. Obviously, that is some bullsh*t, so I made a so-called haul video that used conventions of this genre on YouTube and created a satirical dress code haul.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnliWDz1ui8

I went shopping for baggy clothing that would make a young girl less distracting to boys and their male teachers, but still appear ladylike. I asked my own followers if they had experienced similar issues and mandates at their own schools and got a bunch of feedback from them that I incorporated into this video. I deconstructed why this policy is inherently patriarchal and prioritizes the learning environment of heterosexual guys. It resonated with my followers, who sent this video to many of their principals and teachers and engaged them in a dialogue about the differences in expectations for girls and boys at school.

Anything that you wish that you could take back?

Nope.

How should someone go about building a following and a personal brand?

I always have a hard time answering this question because there is no one definitive answer. I never went into social media thinking, “How should I build my personal brand?” I just knew what I cared about and that I wanted to share that with others.

I’m very curious and excited to take advantage of the internet and social media to do that. I do think people should first focus on what they feel passionate about and how they want to share that with the world before thinking, “How do I get followers?” Just buy followers if you want the vanity metrics. But I get it—having followers has helped me immensely in my career and has given me privileges and credibility in a variety of ways, and so I understand why people are eager to understand how to get those numbers, too.

How do you explain your job, Creative Director, to people who don’t work in advertising?

I help brands view social media as a creative medium where they have an opportunity to reach people in unique ways the world never has before.

What would you like to change in the advertising industry?

A lot. We are in the business of putting a lot of money behind messages and imagery that impact a lot of people. I want all of us to take a critical approach to everything we do and to question it all. I see how my followers, who are mostly young girls, perceive themselves and the world based on the ads and media they see everyday. I want agencies to work with brands that are trying to make the world a better place—through their ads, products, production methods, and more. I also want the industry to be a less grueling place. We need our people to have the time and the mental health to space out, walk around in the sunshine on the weekend and during the workday, and let creativity and curiosity flourish.

 

"I hope to inspire by being honest and real with everyone who I encounter."

What do you hope never changes?

The internet. #SaveNetNeutrality

Who inspires you the most?

The girls who follow me online, the leadership at Havas Chicago—and this is genuine. I promise I’m not trying to kiss ass. Please, don’t drag me on Fishbowl—and our magical internet.

How do you inspire others?

I hope to inspire by being honest and real with everyone who I encounter (LOL, sorry cliché). Vulnerability can inspire others to be more like themselves.

Tell us your fun fact.

I used to create magazines and sell them to my friends when I was younger. I used Quark (content automation) and my parent’s Mac and even incorporated ads into the magazines #foreshadowing. Check out a 2001 Halloween edition.

Photo credit: Liam Trumble, Content Creator at Havas Chicago

Natasha Smith is the strategic communications manager for Havas Group. She happily represents 404 in the 212.

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