“Like a Girl” creative A.J. Hassan joins R/GA as ECD

R/GA’s new creative director AJ Hassan

A.J. Hassan, the Leo Burnett VP/CD, acclaimed for her work as a key creative on the multi-honored viral phenom “Like a Girl” for Always/P&G, has joined R/GA as executive creative director of its Chicago office.

Hassan, who worked at Burnett for 17 years, was the creative who came up with the idea to ask young girls to enact on film what the pejorative phrase meant to them, during a brainstorming session with Judy John, CCO/CEO Leo Burnett Canada.

She is also associated with other purpose-driven pitchen like Secret’s “Mean Stinks” anti-bullying campaign and Esurance’s #Equal Dreams in advance of the Supreme Court Ruling on marriage equality.

Ad Age in 2015 named Hassan the most-awarded copywriter. To date, #Like a Girl has received more than 90 million YouTube hits and Hassan has collected hundreds of top industry awards. They include 14 Cannes Lions, a Grand Prix among them, and an Emmy for Outstanding Commercial.

Her new role at R/GA, Hassan says, feels like a natural evolution of what she had been doing at Leo Burnett: “Working for big brands and bringing them into new spaces, telling new stories in the spaces that are important in connecting with people in the most relevant ways and finding fresh ways to do that.”

Hassan began her copywriting career at the Frankel agency in in advertising after she failed to land a writing gig at the Rosie O’Donnell show. But the O’Donnell pitch letter sufficiently impressed the Frankel agency to hire her for her first job in advertising.

When Hassan first started applying for jobs in the late ‘90s she believed it helped if she didn’t disclose her full name, Ayesha Jacobie Hassan. It was hard to pronounce, sounded “too ethnic” and so she went with just her initials. “I ended up getting calls back,” she said.

Her resume also includes a stint at DraftFCB before joining Leo Burnett.

At R/GA, Hassan will work closely with ECD/experience design Dinesh Goburdhun. “R/GA is leading the way in innovation and storytelling and the intersection of those things, which is now and the future of big brand ideas,” she said.

R/GA opened its Chicago branch in 2010 to better serve its Midwest clients. Current clients include the Beef Council, UFC and hotel Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

R/GA founder Bob Greenberg will be inducted into the New York AMA Marketing Hall of Fame on April 28.