Marcella Oglesby, Executive Creator Director for EDGE Marketing, talks to AdForum about her creative journey from pre-med school, to her time living in Costa Rica and her return to the U.S. to help build from the ground up what would become EDGE. Here she discusses some of the memorable creative projects she’s been involved with, how EDGE adapted during the pandemic, where she finds creative inspiration, and even her short-lived surfing career.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you work, what is your title, and what do you do?
ECD for EDGE Marketing. Recently relocated to Jackson, MS from Chicago.
Currently, I’m oscillating between standing at my desk in my home office, working at the kitchen table, or tending to my plants during calls. I lead a team of 30 creatives and project managers, share a voice in shaping our agency, while growing and bending ideas. My goal is to create inspiring and impactful work that makes people’s lives a little easier and a little more fun. Most importantly, I’m focused on making EDGE a place where folks want to show up to work (and to play) every day.
How did you get into the creative world, and what is your previous experience?
Intrinsically, I’m an experiential and kinetic learner, and have always been ready to take chances when exciting opportunities presented themselves.
From exiting a pre-med program in Texas, to a stint exploring how to surf in San Diego, then pursued a program in fashion design in San Francisco — only to realize very quickly I hated sewing machines, but discovered I loved creating. A quick pivot to a major in graphic design and another road trip down the 101 to LA had me working and studying like crazy. While loving every minute of it, and receiving my degree from FIDM, my first job was at Guess & Lucky Brands as an in-house designer. Great gig, but it was time to get back “home” for a minute. So, a move back to Dallas was where I earned my AD title working on Neiman Marcus and American Airlines.
While successful, it was time again to try something new and try a work/life with less structure. Off to Vail, CO where I worked as an interior designer, screen print artist, and freelanced, creatively supporting all kinds of athletes and entrepreneurs, sporting events, restaurants and festival experiences. Followed by a six-month adventure in Costa Rica!
Back in the U.S., it was time to explore yet another aspect of my creative DNA, and this time, in the Southeast. In Charlotte I worked for Pier 1 as visual merchandiser, and at Newell Rubbermaid, I rounded out my bag of tricks with package design, display merchandising, and marketing and communication strategies.
Life threw me a curveball, bringing me to the Northeast where I was hired as a Creative Director for IN Connected Marketing (and Advantage Solutions agency) where I remained for many years.
Until about eight years ago when the opportunity to create a new agency, along with a partner from Advantage Solutions, was presented to me. Today, that agency is EDGE! This is where I’ve worked on brands including Unilever, Smithfield, Church & Dwight, Tabasco, Dole, Ferrero, Bayer, and so many more. What a wild and beautiful ride it’s been the past 14 years!
What’s exciting about the work you and EDGE do?
No two days are the same! Between the range of our clients’ business objectives, the shifting cultural trends, strategic puzzles to solve, and the mystical alchemy of turning ideas into a physical form, we’re constantly trying to dig deeper, and to find answers from our endless curiosity.
Does your work fit into any industry trends currently on the minds of marketers?
EDGE embraces the dynamic chaos of our borderless retail world. We are energized by the opportunities and possibilities, and always strive to thoughtfully create relevant experiences through connected marketing.
Has that changed since the pandemic?
Absolutely. We’ve seen the scope of ecomm and retailer media networks drastically change; and in turn, we’ve had the opportunity to think on different wavelengths. People engage and shop differently now, and we’re providing solutions in unexpected places.
Can you tell us about some of your previous ‘milestone’ or high-profile projects you have worked on?
A project that really stands out for me was a sustainability initiative for Unilever. The goal of the project was to demonstrate the work Unilever and brands were taking internally — from water conservation, recycling, responsible practices in general. So, we concepted, designed and constructed a totally sustainable, modular structure, interactive with products and education. Everything down to natural dyes for printing, biomimetic polymers for adhesives, and biodiesel fuels for transportation. Fascinating and rewarding work.
How about a smaller project but was a personal favorite of yours? And why?
Interestingly, I would say one of my favorite smaller projects is an internal one —which was the development of our EDGE ethos: HEART, HUSTLE, RESPECT, COURAGE, AND CREATIVITY. These words were sourced directly from our associates, who provided these key attributes about why EDGE is where they work, and why EDGE is important to them. We then built our mission, vision, and agency strategy from that platform. I live, breathe, and bleed our ethos’ words. It’s how we treat our clients, our brands, and each other. We take great pride in our strong community of equality, shared voice, collaboration, and integrity we’ve all created.
Any side hustles or passion projects you are involved with or used to be involved with?
A couple of friends and myself had a custom t-shirt company for a while, mostly sports humor and pop culture. Started a catering business with my best friend a few years ago for evening and weekend gigs. I’ve since peeled off, and she’s wildly successful now! Volunteered marketing ideas and design for various charities, focused on both humans and animals.
As a creative, what inspires you?
Music, the healing properties of nature, travel, the sea, other creative humans — tall and small — science, space. Really, as a creative, I’m expecting anything to inspire me.
Any plans or ambitions for what lies ahead? Any creative goals you have set that you still want to accomplish?
At this point, everyone I’ve hired around me is more qualified and smarter than me. And that’s a great feeling. My creative goal moving forward is to continue to be inspired, and be inspiring. Helping others find their authentic voice, in what often can feel like an inauthentic industry. There’s so much beauty and wisdom around us – how do we channel that into our daily work?
Any other thoughts to add?
Thank you for sharing creative conversations and for generating creative energy. Appreciate the opportunity to be here!