Q&A: Lisa Fedyszyn – We’re all Trying to Make an Impact and Difference Where we Can

Lisa is Executive Creative Director at Special Group New Zealand.

Branding in Asia recently caught up for a conversation with Lisa Fedyszyn, Executive Creative Director at Special Group New Zealand. She joined Special Group in 2020 along with her creative partner, Jonathan McMahon.

Having started her career at Cummins & Partners Melbourne, the celebrated creative has held leadership roles at Ogilvy, TBWA, DDB, and Colenso BBDO, as well as a two-year stint with Droga5 in New York.

Over the course of our conversation, Fedyszyn talks about why she joined Special Group, creative work post-pandemic, the creative scene in New Zealand, some of her most rewarding campaign work, and an ambitious list of things she would like to be better at.


What’s been keeping you busy lately?

Our inspiring clients and their ambition, in fact, I was so inspired by a project for Tourism New Zealand I just had my first ski holiday in 20 years.

And another client has inspired me to eat chocolate for breakfast. (that’s my valid excuse anyway).

What are some lessons you learned from managing and motivating your creative team during the lockdowns that you carry over into post-pandemic?

That we should all work and be creative where it works best for the individual creative – be that at home, at the beach, at the park, in the shower… even at your desk.

And when it’s at your desk, make the most of the face-to-face time – because the ideas that fall out of those chats in between are sometimes the best!


But it still doesn’t mean online connecting and working can’t be just as meaningful and collaborative – isn’t that what the past two years has proven we can do?

Special says it’s “Born to break down the silos between advertising agencies and design companies.” Can you tell us more about that what attracted you to join them?

When the founders are creative the single vision is clear, and the entire agency works together as a single team.

I believe the Special work is evidence of this – We have a creative product that makes a positive difference to brands, people, and culture.

Awards most often focus on purpose-driven campaigns. Do you think that gives them an advantage in the jury room over more creatively-driven campaigns?

Well, who wants to vote against anti-gun violence, raising money for child cancer, or saving an endangered species?

In all seriousness, it’s up to the jury room to separate the creativity of the work, from the cause, no matter how emotive the cause may be.

“A creative ad trend we’re seeing is the stronger lean into the ‘for good’ space. So much seems to be out of our control, not just the pandemic, but the environment and the economy, and that can lead to a feeling of helplessness.”

And that’s hard – as we will naturally move to the altruistic. It’s in our nature.

It’s a jury’s task to assess the brilliance of the idea, the impact it has on culture, and the difference it makes for the brand (or cause) – and from what I can see in jury rooms it ultimately is.

As we (hopefully) emerge from the pandemic, are there any particular creative ad trends you’re seeing?

A creative ad trend we’re seeing is the stronger lean into the ‘for good’ space. So much seems to be out of our control, not just the pandemic, but the environment and the economy, and that can lead to a feeling of helplessness.

I think we’re all trying to make an impact and difference in the space where we can.

Having lived in New York, and Australia what do you think makes the creative scene in New Zealand unique?

New York and Australia are both extremely creative places, with their own unique environments, history, and population that inform their creativity.

What makes New Zealand creatively a little different would be a lack of population, it drives less layers and smaller budgets – so we need to think more about how the creative solutions can live, not only on screen, but to connect impactfully.

What are some of the campaigns you’ve worked on over your career that you are most proud of? (share links please)

One of the most rewarding pieces of work was for the New Zealand Police.

New Zealand is one of the most multicultural countries in the world, but it was not reflected in our police. “The “Most Entertaining Recruitment Film” saw the largest intake of female and representative recruits ever. It was exciting to see the work have such a positive impact.

Only one in ten New Zealanders living overseas were voting in elections prior to 2020, which meant that many Kiwi weren’t participating in our democratic right to vote. So instead of asking them to vote – we encouraged overseas New Zealanders to “meddle” in their own election, which saw seats in parliament shift for the first time since 1938 and overseas votes increasing by 42%.

This is a very simple idea – but for David Seymour, who is slowly dying from Motor Neurone Disease, it was the most provocative thing he could possibly do to raise awareness of his cruel disease.

David ‘hijacked’ TradeMe (New Zealand’s equivalent of Ebay) and slowly sold his personal belongings as the body-wasting disease stripped his ability to use them.

In the process, he created a digital timeline of his deterioration that educated the public on his condition and raised funds to help those living with it. It was provocative and incredibly brave of David.

Quick Hits

Book everyone in the industry should read:

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Favorite show(s) you’re watching lately:

Old enough
Heart Stopper
Whatever David Attenborough is narrating.

One album you would take to a deserted island:

Midnight Oil – Diesel and Dust

Something you want to learn or wish you were better at:

Playing guitar
Learning languages
General movement
Touch typing
Public speaking
Private speaking
Pub quizzes
The daily quiz

You can learn more about Lisa and her creative partner, Jonathan McMahon, over at www.lisajonno.com.

Lisa Fedyszyn & Jonathan McMahon via lisajonno.com


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