Q&A: Haylie Craig – Creative Director, Colenso BBDO

Leading up to the 2024 Caples Awards, I recently caught up with Haylie Craig, Creative Director at Colenso BBDO in Auckland.

Haylie has previously been a Creative at Google, We Are Social, and various other creative places and spaces.

Haylie brings a unique perspective on how creativity can help solve complex societal issues and business problems, working best where innovation and technology meet human-focused creative solutions.


You’re a busy creative director. Do you have a side hustle? What do you do as a counterbalance to the pressures of your workplace?

Perspective. Stepping back and looking at the bigger picture of what is going on in the world helps.

If you hadn’t ended up in advertising, what would you be doing instead?

I’d like to think I’d still be involved in trying to help solve societal or business issues. Seems to be my default mode to make people’s (particularly minority groups) daily lives better / get mainstream society to understand and make space for them.

In your career, what one piece of personal work are you most proud of?

Right now, most of the internet still runs on two gender data points – male and female. This makes transgender and non-binary people invisible online and the data captured on them inaccurate.

So Spark (New Zealand’s biggest telco and digital service provider) and OutLine (mental health organisation) created Beyond Binary Code – a single piece of code that can be added to any website, instantly updating gender forms and fields to be inclusive. The code helps businesses truly understand the transgender and non-binary community by making them visible for the first time through data.


Beyond Binary Code was one of the projects that made up the only 1.02% of all the 2022 Cannes Lions entries that won a Silver. Along with being one of the 16 finalists for Cannes Class Lion for Change.

See the project HERE.

What work has your agency/team produced you’re particularly proud of?

‘ACL United’, A team of the world’s best footballers united by the same injury.

Female athletes are up to 5X more likely than male athletes to injure their ACL, due to a lack of research on the role hormones play in injuries.

During the Women’s Football World Cup 2023, enough top female footballers were on the bench with ACL injuries to form a football team. So, Medibank, Australia’s biggest health insurer, sponsored the team that nobody else would: ACL United.

High-profile players from around the world joined the team and shared their journey to recovery with fans in the club support hub. Medibank and the team were united in the mission to even the gender research gap and make this a club with far fewer members by the next Women’s World Cup.

Follow ACL UNITED here for updates and progress.

What recent work have you seen from another agency (or agencies) that you would really like to see entered into The Caples? And why?

2023 for me felt like the year for women and non-binary athletes in sports. Football/Soccer, Rugby, Cricket World Cups, basketball, volleyball Finals, tennis Opens etc.

I thought this piece of work by W+K  for Nike where they entered the 2023 season of the National Women’s Soccer League for “Best Television Series, Drama” was a great way to leverage this historical moment in sports.

It was a perspective to help combat perceptions that just because of someone’s biological gender, sports are automatically less entertaining, less action-packed, less drama, less hype, less skill, less everything. Which if you’ve seen any of the NWSL you’d know and back me up on this being the complete opposite.

I’m a huge football fan and just loved the simple PR twist-hack for the category and for the league itself.

See the campaign HERE.

Can you identify any trends that you and your fellow judges should look out for at The Caples 2024? GenAI, perhaps, or new developments in influencer marketing, etc?

Not really a trend. But just investigate each piece of work. Try it, play with it, watch it no matter whether it is a film, website, app, AR, VR, product, service, AI bot, interactions on social etc.

Trend-wise, let’s make sure the AI has a core purpose and that the idea couldn’t be achieved without it. So it isn’t just jumping on ‘what’s hot right now’.

Are awards important?

Yes. They are a currency in the industry for creatives, strategists, clients, everyone. But they tend to have an expiry date so you have to make the most of them while they are hot  🔥.

What does it mean to you to be a juror of The Caples Awards in 2024?

Sounds cliché, but I am honoured. I love that the show is about rewarding the work that works and has emphasis on that aspect.

If you could have five creative luminaries sitting around your kitchen table, having a drink and a chat, who would they be? What do you think you’d talk about?

It would be amazing to have these awesome humans. I don’t think I would be able to speak due to being starstruck to be honest:

  • Beth O’Brien (she/her), Head of Innovation at The Monkeys Australia
  • Maria Devereux (she/her), Head of Innovation and Executive Creative Director at Accenture Song, North America
  • Tea Uglow (she/they), Previously Creative Director, Google + Founder of Dark Swan Institute
  • Grace Francis (they/them), Global Chief Creative and Design Officer, WongDoody
  • Azsa West (she/her) – CCO of Wieden+Kennedy Portland

I imagine there would be endless discussions about the future of the industry and what they want it to become. Along with mind-blowing perspectives on ideas, as well as the trials and tribulations they’ve faced. But also, the epic moments they’ve experienced so far and many more to come.

Impossible question. But what is your one all-time favourite piece of advertising, the idea you most wish you’d done yourself?

Sick Beats by Woojer.

Where they created a vest that used soundwave therapy to merge the music that kids love with the daily treatment they need to clear their airways if they have cystic fibrosis (CF). Using particular frequencies to penetrate the body to loosen lung mucus. I love its use of soundwave technology.

And its ability to turn an uncomfortable, isolating treatment into a more entertaining and enjoyable one, which means the kids are more likely to do the treatment they need.

This interview was published in partnership with The Caples Awards. To learn more about the Caples Awards including entering this year, go here.

Picture of Patrick Collister

Patrick Collister

Patrick Collister is Custodian, The Caples Awards

Read More

subscribe & get more brand in your diet


get more brand in your diet

We never share your info,
we only share ours