Lauren SMALLWOOD

Dir. of Comm. | MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART

Lauren animates the MCA’s vision to make the museum necessary and engaging for Chicago’s diverse

audiences. In her time at the MCA she launched the brand’s first advertising campaign in nearly a decade

and managed the marketing strategy for the trilogy of blockbuster exhibitions including David Bowie Is,

Takashi Murakami’s The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg, and the now on view Figures of Speech from Virgil

Abloh. Whether working with for-profit or non-profit brands, her work focuses on storytelling and

finding ways to redefine the field of Communications. She previously worked as an Account Director at

Leo Burnett, where she led the launch of the Firestone brand relaunch as well as the local and national

roll-out of the Allstate Mayhem campaign.

questionnaire

1.) What was your very first job? 

Waitress. The best training ground for nearly any profession. 

 

2.) Please describe, in your own words, what your job is and what work it entails

Communicating the MCA brand across platforms. My goal is to find ways to connect our work with audiences who might otherwise overlook it. 

 

3.) How did you discover that the creative world was right for you? Was there a time in your life that you credit to this discovery? What was there train of events that brought you to where you are today?

 I’ve always been interested in finding new ways to tell familiar stories. I realized very early on in my career that the most satisfying part of this work is finding creative ways to sell risky ideas. 

 

4.) In your constantly growing and expanding industry, how do you find inspiration to keep your 

work fresh, innovative and relevant? 

Easy when you work for a museum like the MCA. Our exhibitions, programming, and performances are always changing which allows us to experiment with our messaging and promotional strategies/tactics. 

 

5.) If you had to pick one piece of work or project that you are most proud of, more for the creative work and innovation it required, rather than its recognition or industry “success,” what would it be? 

The perception that contemporary art is “not for me” is prevalent among most audiences. Any time we’re able to drive interest and awareness of an exhibition or program with new audiences, I’m thrilled. Activations and clever use of social media have proven most effective. 

 

6.) Which creative disciplines do you commission most, and are most interested in seeing more of and why? (ie photo, film, social, experiential, vr, etc) 

Non-profit organizations with limited budgets rely heavily on the power of social media (paid & unpaid). I am always looking for experimental tactics designed to drive interest/action in the work that we’re doing at the MCA. 

jury

Creative Director | ZENO GROUP
Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer | YMCA
Creative Director | WUNDERMAN MPLS
Executive Content Producer | R/GA
VP Creative Ops & Production | PADILLA
Creative Dir. | O'KEEFE REINHARD & PAUL
Creative Director | BEAM SUNTORY
Partner, Creative Lead | PUBLIC WORKS
Creative Director | OPTUM
Sr. Creative Director | ULTA BEAUTY
Vice President, Executive Creative Director | TPN
Director, Content & Production | LAND O'LAKES
Art Director | TARGET
VP Creative Services | KNOCK Inc.
Executive Director, Global Creative Production | AVEDA
Dir. of Content Production | COLLE+MCVOY
Global. Art Director | WILSON SPORTING GOODS
Creative Director/Art Director | EPSILON
Senior Art Director | YAMAMOTO
Director of Creative Integrated Production | BEST BUY
Associate Creative Director | GRUBHUB
Mktg. Comm. Specialist | BOSCH AUTO
CCO | THE MARKETING STORE
Founding Partner/Creative | ZEUS JONES
Executive Creative Director | FAME
Chief Production Officer | WE ARE UNLIMITED
VP Creative Director | EDELMAN
Creative Director | TRUE VALUE COMPANY
Creative Director | JEFF GRIFFITH CREATIVE
Founder + Chief Operating Officer | WHITTIER
Creative Director | CORNETT
Creative Director | DDB
SVP, Group Creative Director | GEOMETRY GLOBAL
Sr. Producer | McGARRYBOWEN
EVP, Executive C.D. | GEOMETRY GLOBAL
Exec. Dir. of Digital Media & Innovation | MN VIKINGS
Design Director | 10 THOUSAND DESIGN
Creative Director | R/GA
VP Creative & Engagement | STUDIO NORTH
Creative Director | LEO BURNETT
Group Creative Director | ANNEX / HAVAS
SVP Exec. Creative Director | FCB CHICAGO
Executive Producer | OGILVY & MATHER CHICAGO
Art Buyer | BEAM SUNTORY
Executive Creative Director | BBDO MINNEAPOLIS
VP, Sr Group Creative Director | SAPIENTRAZORFISH
Associate Creative Director | BEAM SUNTORY
Creative Director | HONEYWIRED
Creative Technologist | FALLON
SVP, Creative Director | FCB CHICAGO
Sr Director of Marketing | FACTORY MOTOR PARTS
Associate Creative Director | R/GA
Sr. Art Producer | THE MARKETING STORE
Global Art Director | WILSON SPORTING GOODS CO.
Creative Producer | TARGET
VP Creative Director | FCB CHICAGO
Creative Director | DDB CHICAGO
Assoc. Creative Director, Site Mktg | WALGREENS
Chief Innovation Officer | ENERGY BBDO
SVP Group Creative Director | GEOMETRY GLOBAL
Creative Director | BEAM SUNTORY
Creative Director | BUFFALO WILD WINGS
C.D. | BBDO MINNEAPOLIS
Director, Integrated Production | McGARRY BOWEN
SVP Exec. Creative Director | DDB WORLDWIDE
Brand Director | ANYTIME FITNESS
Sr. Art Producer | FCB CHICAGO
Group Creative Director | BI WORLDWIDE
Creative Director | MEDTRONIC
Executive Creative Director | WHITTIER
Sr. Channel Marketing Manager | FACTORY MOTOR PARTS
Group Production Director | MONO
VP, Group Creative Supervisor | HAVAS LIFE METRO
Art Director | TRUE VALUE COMPANY
VP Exec. Producer | ENERGY BBDO
Creative Director | COLLE+MCVOY
SVP, Director of Brand Strategy | IHEARTMEDIA
Dir. of Comm. | MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
Assoc. Creative Director | ABELSON TAYLOR
Design Director | 10 THOUSAND DESIGN
Creative Director | DDB
VP Group Creative Director | PERISCOPE
Creative Director | UNITEDHEALTH GROUP
VP, Experiential Marketing | BI WORLDWIDE
Director, Brand & Creative | MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Executive Producer | GENERAL MILLS
Executive Creative Director | FALLON MINNEAPOLIS
Creative Manager | RXBAR
VP Creative Director | FCB CHICAGO
Sr. Manager Brand Design | MILLERCOORS
Executive Creative Dir, Founder | HUMDINGER & SONS
Senior Marketing Manager, Production | BEST BUY
Chief Creative Officer | LEO BURNETT DETROIT
SVP Creative Dir. & Exec. Producer | LEO BURNETT
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