Fiona Farrell

Top 40 Under 40 2011

Photography 3Ten/Aaron Pedersen

Age: 31

Job Title: Creative Director, Donovan Creative

Why She’s Top 40: She’s a tireless champion for Edmonton’s marketing industry.

Key To Success: “I put more pressure on myself than I do on anyone else. Your ideas – you have to own them.”

You might not have heard Fiona Farrell’s name before, but you’ve seen her work.

Remember those ads that told us to use the Edmonton International Airport, the ones that instructed us to “stop the Calgary habit?” Well, those are hers. And what about those ads that made us rethink the Edmonton Public Library – the brightly coloured signs that proclaimed “chicks dig big brains?” Those are hers, too.

As the creative director of Donovan Creative, Farrell is one of the fastest-rising stars in marketing and advertising in Alberta. The 31-year-old believes strongly that Edmonton companies can successfully create campaigns locally, without outsourcing it to another city.

“We want to establish that this city is somewhere you can go for your marketing, that you don’t have to go to Vancouver or New York,” she says.

After being made creative lead on the Edmonton International Airport rebrand in 2007, she helped build a successful three-year marriage with the airport and Donovan. The airport ads alone have won her agency more awards than any one client, including three consecutive Peggy G. Hereford Awards recognizing the top airport marketing campaign in North America.

“What made that special was that we finished ahead of Vancouver [International Airport] in the third year,” she says, “and that was the year that they had the Olympics.”

Donovan’s goal was to help chop Edmonton traffic to the Calgary airport by one per cent. Within three months, the dent was three-per-cent deeper.

But, the job does have its price, she says. “This isn’t the kind of job where you take off at the end of the day. You work weekends, you work after hours. You are always working. Your family comes last, your weekends come last, you come last.”

Farrell isn’t going to be defined solely by her work, though. She does have plans to get away from it all, to a place where her smart phone won’t have signal. She’s made donations to an elephant shelter in northern Thailand, and is looking forward to the day when she can walk amongst the gentle giants.

For Farrell, it would be a vacation that’s well-earned.

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