From PRIA Golden Target Award recipient to co-founding a motorcycle girl gang, to becoming one of B&T’s 30 Under 30 winners, Erica Valenti has had a truly inspiring and creative career (even if her parents don’t exactly know what she does).
Welcome to another instalment of our celebratory content series where we’ve been catching up with our original 30 Under 30 winners from 2010. If you missed the earlier profiles, check them out here.
On-time entries for our 2019 30 Under 30 Awards close in under two weeks (22nd February) so what are you waiting for? Apply today!
Today we’re talking to Erica Valenti, who not only started her own millennial marketing consultancy which works with brands in the music and culture space, but she also co-founded a motorcycle girl gang called The Throttle Dolls that helped spark a worldwide movement. Check out our interview with Erica below!
Then: account director, Mango/junior creative planner, DDB
Now: director & millennial marketing consultant, Neon Baby
Back in 2009, Erica Valenti picked up a PRIA Golden Target Award for developing a zombi flashmob stunt for the launch of THQ’s Resident Evil 5 video game. She was also instrumental in implementing a specialised social media and brand communication unit within the DDB Group.
Simone Gupta (nee Drewry), then MD of Mango Communications, said Erica’s biggest asset is her “creativity and ability to generate big ideas and strategy that fuse innovative social media, word of mouth and traditional PR techniques to ensure campaigns have maximum impact for clients.”
CEO and Chairman of DDB Marty O’Hallloran added, “Erica has helped to truly integrate the agency and is very much a valued member of DDB Sydney… (She) is a rising star and a future leader.”
What did it mean to you at the ripe age of 28 that you were chosen as one of B&T’s 30 Under 30?
It means that even though my parents still don’t fully comprehend exactly what it is I do, at least they know I’m being awarded for it.
How do you think being nominated affected your career, if at all?
It opened up opportunities. Having been nominated while I was part of Mango/DDB Group, it was amazing for my profile within the network. And being able to list a B&T 30 under 30 nomination on my resume helped me stand out when it came to future job opportunities.
What’s been the biggest change to your life since then?
A few years after my nomination I landed a dream role at Red Bull and six years later I left to launch my own millennial marketing consultancy called Neon Baby, primarily working with brands in the music and culture space. During this time I co-founded a motorcycle girl gang called The Throttle Dolls that helped spark a worldwide movement (check us out @thethrottledolls).
What words of wisdom would you have shared with your 28 year old self back then knowing what you do now?
Know who your people are, and find a mentor to help guide you. Having a crew in your corner helps propel you through any challenge that you might face.
And that it’s true what they say – finding the time to prioritise wellness will help you be more creative and focused.
What are you most proud of?
I was recently the creative director of “Sound On” – a music and mindfulness festival put on for thousands of high school students in Perth, to help them on their journey to self awareness but wrapped in a fun musical bow to keep it engaging. Having the opportunity to do something grounded in purpose and meaning but equally infused with lighthearted pop culture made me very happy.
What do you see as the biggest challenges that face young people in advertising, marketing and media these days?
I have noticed that many big brands are so focused on the hard data that the magic is being sacrificed. And this can mean that young people in the industry have less of an opportunity to be creative, or learn without a fear of failure.
Conversely, what’s the biggest opportunity for those under 30 now?
The world is moving so quickly, especially with technology and (rightfully) ensuring that diversity is top of mind, so younger people now have the chance to be educating the older generations in the industry. It’s a real shift in power.
What can the industry do better to attract and retain young talent?
I think two areas to consider would be:
Flexibility in the workplace. The Digital Nomad movement is only getting stronger, and yet many in the industry insist on the classic 9am Monday to Friday in the office unless it’s a special occasion type of culture. And that’s not keeping up with what young people want. They want to be able to pursue side hustles, see family and friends, exercise, travel, and to feel that their employer trusts them to achieve their objectives but in a less linear way.
Living your values. This is an old one, but never has it been more important. Millennials and Gen Z want to work with organisations who have purpose and they can sniff out fake company values in a minute. Using the Iliza Shlesinger coined term, I am an “elder millennial” and values alignment is something that’s really important to me too when it comes to how I represent my consultancy and the clients I work with.
Entries for B&T‘s 30 Under 30 Awards for 2019 close Friday 22 May. For all the details and to submit your entry, click here. Tickets are also available for B&T Bootcamp, a day of speed mentoring and masterclasses aimed at up and comers in the industry.