ADOTAS talks to renowned advertising workhorse Carisa Bianchi, President of TBWA/Chiat/Day-Los Angeles. Carisa enlightens us on her extensive, hallowed background, including her work on the legendary “Energizer Bunny” campaign.
For someone with the kind of clout that TBWA\Chiat\Day-Los Angeles President Carisa Bianchi has, it’s refreshing to hear that even she couldn’t predict her future in advertising. Having built up both a long-term client roster including such notables as Apple, Energizer and PlayStation, as well as TBWA/Chiat/Day’s San Francisco office, it’s hard to imagine Bianchi doing anything but taking a leading role in the advertising community.
Would it be any more surprising, then, to note that her original career ambition was lodged somewhere between being a political advisor and working in Hollywood productions? In a phone interview with this advertising pro, who was en route to Palm Springs, Bianchi tells be that her career in advertising really happened “kind of by accident.”
She explains, “I really thought I was going to join the CIA or the State Department. I took some marketing courses towards the end [of college] and the other thing I thought is that I might go into the creative side of Hollywood productions, more from a director/producer [angle]. So those were two paths that I pursued…and when I graduated from college, an actor’s strike was going on. So I decided to dip my toes in something that would bide my time until it passed over and so [in 1980], I got a job at an advertising agency.”
After graduating from both Stanford and California Polytechnic State University where she majored in communications and political science, Bianchi began her advertising career as an assistant account executive for Benton & Bowles (a now defunct agency), working on such accounts as Home Savings of America and Continental Airlines. It was there that her focus on becoming a company strategist began to percolate.
“It was an interesting job and they actually gave me optimum opportunity to grow rather quickly which I was sort of surprised by and they gave me two paths: you can either go into production which sort of related to the creative path…or go into account management and I haven’t turned back since,” she tells me. “When I looked at it, I thought Account Management [because] you get to sort of be the coach of the team and I like having a holistic perspective rather than just focusing on one piece of it.”