Written by Jack Twachtman
B|G celebrates the promotion of Aerien Mull to Creative Director
Since first joining our team in 2007, Aerien Mull has been a consistent factor in the creative excellence put forth by Brunet-García.
In that time, she’s elevated the creative team’s output, winning countless awards, even while competing against the titans of our industry. She’s mentored dozens of up-and-coming creatives, helping them find their voice and guiding them on the path to success. And most importantly, her insightful contributions, inspiring leadership, and impactful designs have helped Brunet-García rise from its humble beginnings to its current soaring heights as a nationally recognized social impact agency.
Now, as we welcome a new year and a new beginning, so do we embark on a new chapter in the evolution of Brunet-García with Aerien’s promotion to Creative Director.
Founders Jorge and Diane Brunet-García knew from the start that they had found one of their own when they first hired Aerien more than a decade ago.
“From the very beginning, Aerien was the first one to jump up and get the job done, whatever that job was,” says Jorge. “She has been and continues to be B|G’s biggest cheerleader. She’s been there from the early beginnings of the company and has been instrumental in growing it. She deserves this.”
Diane adds, “Aerien is an ever-so-rare blend of left and right brain notions and proclivities. She brings the soul and vision of a painter or a poet to B|G, with an intellect as disciplined and organized as an engineer. She was like that from the very first day she walked in the door, and she’s been integral to what Brunet-García has become. I always knew she’d be creative director one day.”
Executive Vice President of Creative, Eduardo Sarmiento has spent the past several years working side-by-side with Aerien in her prior role as Associate Creative Director and has witnessed her capabilities first-hand.
“Aerien is an unstoppable being,” says Eduardo. “She is a fierce and strategic leader who inspires creative teams and clients, equally. In her eyes, the toughest communication challenges become fertile opportunities to create meaningful work. Her commitment and dedication are contagious. I’m fortunate to work with her and see her shine and shed light onto others.”
On the heels of her promotion, we sat down with Aerien to learn more about her journey, the state of the industry, particularly as it pertains to the advancement of women in the creative field, and what this opportunity means for her.
B|G: Congratulations on your promotion to Creative Director! What does this mean to you, personally?
Aerien: Thank you! Everyone who knows me has heard me talk about how happy and fulfilled my job at Brunet-García has made me over the years so this feels like an exciting, natural evolution. The intense reality of our current situation—stuck at home but continuing to deliver for our clients and being able to remain creative—has driven home how lucky I feel to take on this role.
B|G: How has your career in creative evolved over the years? Please, tell us about your journey.
Aerien: When I was 7, I won $1,000 in a Christmas card contest, which felt like the greatest thing ever at the time and cemented my commitment to a career in commercial art. In all seriousness though, I knew I wanted a creative career from an early age so all the other passions I picked up along the way, like English, business, or social sciences, ended up informing my interests in copywriting, advertising, and market research. I graduated from University of Michigan with a BFA and pretty quickly found a natural home at Brunet-García. I started as an Art Director in 2007 and have since held roles as Senior AD, Studio Manager, ACD, and now Creative Director. Along the way I’ve been part of the company’s transformation to a national player with a 100% focus on social impact, which has been extremely rewarding. I feel immensely lucky to have had such exceptional creative leadership role models, including Jorge Brunet-García, Lara Ortiz, Jefferson Rall, and Eduardo Sarmiento.
B|G: The number of female creative directors still only hovers at 10 – 11% in our country, and it’s perhaps even lower for our region. Why is recruiting talented women creatives and grooming them for leadership roles important? How can they shape a creative department and an agency as a whole for the better?
Aerien: Representation is necessary and vital to increase that number. I don’t remember there being any female Creative Director role models when I was very young. After I graduated and started applying for jobs, I remember being laughed at by one interviewer when I mentioned that Creative Director might be in my future plans. Women think differently and can be strong, empathetic leaders who see opportunities where others may not. Just going off observational data here, but I think we might be better listeners too, which means we can amplify an entire team’s ideas to find creative pathways previously unseen or unheard.
B|G: What are some of the challenges women face in the advertising/creative industry and what would you like to see change?
Aerien: It is not lost on me that I am moving into this role in the middle of a pandemic, working from home, and having recently returned from maternity leave. It would quite literally be impossible for me to be where I am today without reliable child care and a company that is extremely supportive of women and healthy work/life balance. Besides the obvious challenges (lack of role models and traditional gender roles), being an effective creative leader sometimes means being generous with the time you give to your job, coworkers, and your ambitions, and that can mean you need to be a little bit selfish in other areas of your life. Clearly, this is more difficult for women. For more females to be able to join and stay in this field, we need to change the idea that you always have to be “on” to be successful. We also need more flexibility in the work day and how we are able to pursue our career paths.
B|G: Who are some of the other women creatives (locally, nationally, and internationally) who you admire and what about them or their work inspires you on a personal level?
Aerien: Debbie Millman has always inspired me with her ability to bring together business and design. She can articulate design thinking in a way that makes a clear roadmap for any brand. Paula Scher’s creative flexibility and breadth of work is unmatched. As a design student interested in brand design, her Citi logo design on a napkin in a matter of seconds has stuck with me since I first saw it. When it comes to color, photography, and pure creative class, it doesn’t get better than Pum Lefebure.
B|G: Where does your creative inspiration come from and how do you keep your edge, campaign after campaign?
Aerien: I feel perpetually renewed by the myriad of critically important topics and challenges we tackle. I love getting into the strategy behind a campaign or effort and building our creative framework from there. If you start from where your audience is starting, every project is like a trip into a new reality.
B|G: What are your professional ambitions? What’s next for you?
Aerien: I’m planning on enjoying this for a while!