Writer and strategist Leah Chamberg joins the 2020 edition of Reel Chicago Black List, an annual celebration of African-American creativity published during Black History Month.
The Reel Chicago Black List includes Global Mixx founder Mary Datcher, McDonald’s US Marketing Director Lizette Williams, and filmmaker Rhyan LaMarr. To view the archives, click here.
Chicagoan Leah Chamberg is a gifted writer and content strategist with work in print, digital, social media, radio, scriptwriting and even recipe creation. As an agency copywriter, she’s helped brands around the globe establish, re-invent or re-introduce themselves to the world.
Leah uses her love of psychology to connect with audiences and has crafted campaigns for clients like Kraft, P&G, Gallo Wines, Cover Girl, Glade. After a stint on the client side with Capital One, where her first campaign at earned over $540+ million, she recently joined DDC Public Affairs, an advocacy firm based in Washington DC.
Besides being a recent transplant to the nation’s capitol, Leah is an art groupie and travel junkie.
Meet Leah Chamberg
What are you working on right now?
I’ve been interviewing scientists and architects for videos on how innovations in concrete are being developed to fight climate change.
What did you originally want to be when you grow up?
A journalist and a humor essayist, á la Erma Bombeck or David Sedaris.
How did you get into the advertising/marketing industry?
Directionless after college, I was temping at an agency doing the worst tasks on the account side of the house. As the child of immigrants, I had no idea how to navigate a career here, no guidance or clear way out. I was shadowing my boss one day in a kickoff, and instead of just briefing the creatives, I blurted out a clever suggestion because I didn’t know any better. Instead of telling me to shut up, the CD put me on a path to becoming a writer.
Who were your mentors?
Maureen Sherriff, Bob Whitmore and the brilliant Kari Hailey.
What is your greatest achievement?
It’s a tie! My first speaking engagement a few months ago at Foreground and my career as a whole. I’m so happy with the variety I’ve been afforded, from my billboard with 50 Cent for Effen Vodka to the $540M+ my first campaign at Capital One brought in. I’m proud of all the cool stuff I’ve worked on and the people who asked for me by name to work on their projects. I’m just so amazed and grateful.
What is your greatest disappointment?
All the times I was victim to a runaway ego and that I didn’t learn to accept it as part of the business and how to navigate it sooner.
What are your biggest pet peeves?
Poor design and missed opportunities. Like when an ad just doesn’t work because it’s clear the CW and AD didn’t actually work together, or when a writer leaves a killer headline opportunity on the table.
What are your predictions for the advertising/marketing industry over the next decade?
Obviously optimizing for voice search is going to be major overall. But there will be so many things to come out of the rise of voice in terms of the ways and the places we market. Also, chat bots will be the new QR code; everybody will think they need to get involved but only some will know how to use them. Also also, we’re going to get even more tribal with the way we identify with brands.
Name a job you had that would surprise people.
Writing snarky pamphlets for political candidates in the last election.
What do you wish you had more time to do?
Nothing. I wish there was more time to do nothing. Just to sit alone with thoughts or laugh at dumb, funny stuff with smart, funny people.
What motivates you to create?
The need to elevate my surroundings and what’s directly in my line of sight or current experience. I am compelled to find and highlight the beauty, value or best thing about a product, a person or idea.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you share with your younger self?
Claim your power much faster. Playing small doesn’t work out for you, so just accept that you are a leader and that your contributions aren’t just valid and worthwhile, they are necessary.