Creative Advertising Guns: MDS Graduates Ellie & Avani

MCA students

Graduates of Master of Creative Advertising from Media Design School Ellie Jones and Avani Maan have become an incredibly successful dynamic duo.

After graduating from the MDS AdSchool in Auckland, New Zealand in 2014 they won a Young Guns Gold award for their student work. With their success, they moved to Sydney working on some of Australia’s major brands, most notably McDonald’s. Their campaign won awards at Cannes and Spikes Asia. They were also selected as a group of 100 young creatives globally to experience the world of the LIA Awards and were shortlisted for B&T Magazine’s 30 under 30.

We sit down to talk to Ellie and Avani about their jobs and the role Media Design School played in their so-far brilliant careers.

Tell us, what do you actually do?

We’re a creative team, so we work together every day coming up with ideas for ad campaigns. Sometimes that can be something big – like writing and shooting a TV ad, or coming up with a new product. Other times it can mean designing posters or writing a Facebook post about International Talk Like a Pirate Day (and yes that’s a thing!).

How did you get there from studying advertising at MDS?

At MDS we were mentored by Paul Catmur, ECD at Barnes, Catmur & Friends. After our end-of-year show, we got an internship, and then a job, there. We learned heaps (mostly about how much we still had to learn) and then got a job offer from DDB Sydney. It was a big jump going from a company of 30-ish people to one of 300+. We worked there for two years, on some of Australia’s biggest brands and then moved to M&C Saatchi. We’re now at one of our dream agencies – 72andSunny – helping them start their Sydney office.

What’s been the most surprising, disappointing and thrilling thing about working?

“The best thing is making stuff that millions of people see every day is hearing random people talk about stuff that we have made.”

Surprising: The industry as a whole. Australia-New Zealand is a small world but the advertising industry is a very, very small world (and very, very obsessed with ads). It’s easy to forget the rest of the world hates ads and couldn’t care less – apart from when they’re great, of course.

Disappointing: I don’t think anyone realises when they first start advertising how hard it is and how long it takes to actually get an ad made. But you get used to that pretty quick. I don’t know where the number comes from, but lots of people say you’re doing well if you make one good thing a year.

Thrilling: It’s always different. We love getting to work with creative people with different skills – whether that’s a director, graphic designer, actor, fashion designer or installation artist. Travelling for work is fun too – our highlight was going to Las Vegas for a programme called Creative Liaisons.

But the best thing is making stuff that millions of people see every day, and every now and again, hearing random people talk about stuff that we have made.

What skills did you learn at MDS that are relevant now?

“As a creative, it’s so important to treat your ideas objectively – and not take it personally when it’s not right for the brief.”

The course was great in that it was structured to emulate working in a real creative department. We worked on live briefs so we were giving ideas to real clients who had real objectives. We learned to work quickly. We learned a lot about how to communicate. Most importantly, we learned how to have our work critiqued. As a creative, it’s so important to treat your ideas objectively – and not take it personally when it’s not right for the brief.

What’s one thing you still want to do in your career?

Fly business class. Write a jingle. Even better: write a jingle while flying business class.

What tips would you give others looking to get into your field?

This is a job you choose if you want to work hard because you love it, and you want to make something awesome. It’s fun, and rewarding, but if you want to go home at 5pm and switch off – well, it’s just not that kind of job!

“It’s a fun and rewarding job, but if you want to go home at 5pm and switch off, it’s just not that kind of job.”


Want to learn more?
Download the Master of Creative Advertising course guide.