Essential Mass Hires Valerie Carlson as Chief Inventive Officer

Valerie Carlson has been named Chief Creative Officer of Critical Mass, a 950-strong digital marketing and experience design agency with offices in 11 locations around the world.

She replaces Conor Brady, who left Critical Mass last year. Carslon comes from Wunderman Thompson Los Angeles, where she was Executive Creative Director. During her career, she has held creative roles in Possible, Evolution Bureau and Razorfish. Carlson also served briefly as global vice president and creative director at cleaning company Method.

Carlson told Adweek she was keen to take on this role because she has “struggled for over 20 years to build teams and create work that revolves around people, our culture and human needs.”

After speaking with the agency’s CEO, Dianne Wilkins, and President, Chris Gokiert, Carlson said she “realized that Critical Mass is one of the few agencies” that has end-to-end experience with them “People really want to get in touch”.

As chief creative officer, she wants to focus on helping the agency’s clients and teams break down silos between areas such as traditional and digital media.

“So many customers are struggling to catch up from a digital ecosystem perspective right now,” she said. “I will focus on helping our clients and teams break these silos to focus on long-term business transformations versus short-term KPIs.”

At Wunderman Thompson, Carlson said she recently helped Vistaprint work from home with “a huge vision of digital transformation.” She said the project involved moving Vistaprint from a “business card provider” to an “end-to-end self-service agency” for small businesses.

“Ordinarily, we would all have been in the same room together to make changes organically and build systems together in a flow, but instead we had to figure out how to do this online,” she said. “It was tough, but in the end we did some of the best work of my career.”

At Critical Mass, she will work with clients such as Apple, BMW, Citi, AT&T and Marriott. Eight customers were added to the list this year, according to Critical Mass.

Recent work by the agency includes a Pinterest-friendly push for Lactaid, created to convince users that the product is actually real milk. Critical Mass recently worked with BMW on Build Your Own, a platform for customizing cars.

Earlier this year, Critical Mass partnered with BBDO to create a campaign for AT&T starring Milana Vayntrub, the actress who went ubiquitous on TV screens across America a few years ago in the role of AT&T associate Lily.

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