Margaret Midgett

Born: Aug. 17, 1969 (29)

Partner, Creative Assistant

TBWA/Chiat/Day

Most advertising creatives in their 20s toil away on little-known campaigns for pretty dull clients, hoping to get a break.

Margaret Midgett's break came with her first ad campaign.

Midgett was working as an executive assistant for TBWA/Chiat/Day's Lee Clow when she got the idea to put an image of Rosa Parks on an ad for Apple's "Think Different" campaign. Specifically, her concept was to put the Rosa Parks image on bus placards.

Parks, an African American who refused to give up her bus seat to a white boy in Montgomery, Ala., sparking the civil rights movement, was seen as a perfect addition to a campaign that sought to position Apple as a computer that reflects the strength of the human spirit.

Midgett wasn't even a member of the agency's Apple creative team when she designed the ad, which went on to win numerous industry awards.

The 29-year-old joined TBWA/Chiat/Day in 1993 as a switchboard operator after graduating from Long Beach State College and worked her way up to be executive assistant to Clow, the agency's creative chief. That has been a full-time job, but Midgett worked off hours to give voice to her own ideas. One night, she came up with Rosa Parks.

"She was generating ideas over and above what was a 10-hour job being my assistant," said Clow. "So finally, I had to promote her to be a creative assistant."

Since then, Midgett has designed the ad campaign for the Los Angeles Belding awards, including one in which Clow poses as a homeless vagrant on Venice Beach, his Belding bowl filled with spare change from passersby. "They can never take it away" is the slogan.

Clow has come to depend on her to flesh out his initial visions. "She doesn't deserve to be the fourth art director on a piece of business because she's better than that," he said. "Throwing her onto a piece of business would almost be a demotion, so I'm going to keep her with me."

The arrangement has its advantages, not the least of which is the window seat she has to one of the most creative minds in advertising.

At the same time, Midgett said, "I think in retrospect, my way was a really hard way to go. If I had the guts, I would have just gotten out there and been a junior (art director) first. I think it took a lot longer."

Shelly Garcia

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