32 Under 32: Laura Petruccelli and Rohan Cooke

By Egotist / /

Ok, we’ve come to the end of our 32 Under 32 series. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. Our last interview is a bit different. Laura Petruccelli and Rohan Cooke are creative partners at Goodby Silverstein & Partners and they were nominated together as a team, so we figured that was the best way to talk with them. Enjoy.
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Congrats on being chosen as one of the top 32 advertising and marketing professionals under 32. We selected people who really go above and beyond in their work. How do you think you approach your job differently than other people?

Laura: Thanks guys! The truth is, I’m a pretty competitive human. You kind of have to be when your competition is the internet. Tough match. So my attitude is to go all in. The idea needs to be different enough to stand out and the execution has to be beautiful enough to make people care. Otherwise your work doesn’t stand a chance against Pokemon Go.

Rohan: Since there’s more content in the world than ever before, it’s harder to get people’s attention. That’s why everything we work on has to be completely ingrained in culture so that it’s relevant to people’s lives. Otherwise you’re just making noise. Expensive noise.

What kind of accounts/projects are you working on these days?

Laura: Right now I’m getting stuck into a fun project for the California Milk Processors Board, a special piece about equality for SONIC and a COMCAST job for the Olympics.

Rohan: I’m currently working on Frito-Lay and SONIC Drive-In to help build their social presence and voice. For SONIC, we recently made the most Instagrammable food ever, the Square Shake, to help increase their Instagram following.

What is it about where you currently work that really pushes you to be better?

Laura: GS&P is filled with creative legacy campaigns like ‘Got Milk?’. To be able to bring those kind of campaigns to life in new ways is a huge opportunity. And our creative leaders including Margaret, Jeff and Rich, really want younger creatives to push the boundaries. You don’t always get that kind of support. In other places, I’ve had older creatives make it very difficult to introduce new thinking to our clients. Someone threw a pen at me once because he didn’t understand Pinterest. True story. That’s not the case at GS&P. They get Pinterest. They also give us the freedom to take creative risks. And that’s what it takes sometimes to make something great.

Rohan: At Goodby Silverstein & Partners, we don’t have one “golden client” that walks away with all the award-show metal. We are expected to create new and innovative work for all our clients, big and small. This year at Cannes was a perfect example, with GS&P picking up hardware for five of our clients across multiple categories.

In thinking over your career so far, what work had made you the proudest?

Laura: I’ve been lucky enough to work on a few things that have helped inject some good in the world. When I was working at Grey in Australia, I created an installation called ‘Ungiven Gifts.’ We painted hundreds of gifts white during Christmas– each white gift represented a life lost on the road. The road toll was its lowest in 90 years that year. I’m not saying our campaign is the reason, but I really hope that it made some people hand their car keys to a friend after a night of drinking.

Rohan: Recently, Laura and I worked on a campaign that helped expose the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses. We wanted to warn students of the unacceptable truth that one in five women is sexually assaulted in college. We leveraged the social trend of people sharing their joyous reactions to their acceptance letters. We then shared our own acceptance videos, which contained the dark truth of what happens to so many students at college. You can see it at dontacceptrape.com.

Laura, tell us more about the “Unacceptable Acceptance Letters” project.

Laura: The filmmakers of an amazing documentary ‘The Hunting Ground’ asked us to help make students aware of the horrible reality that faces so many freshman- 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted while in college. We saw that a lot of new students were uploading videos of the moment they were accepted on YouTube, so we shot a few ourselves but each student’s acceptance letter revealed a true story of sexual assault. We took a cultural phenomenon and twisted it to stress a very important message. The response has been overwhelming. Students have been using these films as tools to educate others, and survivors have shared their stories for the first time.

Rohan, you and Laura both came over from Australia. What differences have you found between Aussie and American advertising?

Rohan: The biggest difference is probably the budgets. Having smaller budgets in Australia meant that we had to think of creative ways to get attention without much money. The benefit of being in America is bringing that way of thinking to big clients, which are being looked at by the whole world.

Here’s a ridiculously clichéd interview question for you: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Laura: Making stuff still. Maybe back home in Aus. Level 50 on Pokemon Go.

Rohan: Whether I’m working in advertising or some other field, I want be solving problems and making things that are actually useful in people’s lives.

This might be tough, but here’s your chance to give a shout out to one person who has helped you get to where you are today. Go.

Laura: My Mum and Dad- for never letting me sleep in. And my creative partner in crime, Rohan. He is the J-LO to my LL COOL J.

Rohan: I’ve had some great leaders over the years, like Michael Knox and Margaret Johnson, who have shaped me as a creative. But I have to give a shout-out to my careers advisor, who asked me, “Why are you going to study multimedia and technology when you could go into advertising?” It’s nine years too late, but thanks, Mrs. Careers Advice Person!

Also, I couldn’t have done it without my creative partner, Laura. She is the Ja Rule to my Ashanti. Yes, in this scenario, I’m Ashanti.