Debbi Vandeven, Global Chief Creative Officer, VMLY&R


Debbi is the global chief creative officer at VMLY&R, a brand experience agency the delivers contemporary, fully integrated digital and creative offerings to clients on a global scale. VMLY&R combines brand experience and brand advertising, drawing on the complementary expertise of agencies VML and Y&R to create connected brands that drive value for clients.

Debbi helped lead VML to being named to the 2018, 2017 and 2016 Ad Age Agency A-List. She was recently honored as a part of Adweek’s Creative 100 and Business Insider’s “The 30 Most Creative People in Advertising 2016” list.

Since joining VML in 2000, Debbi has continually fostered a collaborative creative environment that delivers smart and innovative solutions to clients around the world, including Colgate-Palmolive, Dell, Electrolux/Frigidaire, Ford, Gatorade, Mastercard, New Balance, PepsiCo, QuikTrip and Wendy’s. Her creative philosophy focuses on the idea rather than a specific channel, and she encourages teams to approach any project from this perspective. It’s this approach that’s at the heart of VMLY&R’s mission to move brands forward by creating connections across the connected consumer experience.

Debbi has served on international award show juries, including ANDY Awards, Art Directors Club (2018 jury chair), Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity (2018 entertainment jury president), CLIO Awards (2016 digital jury chair), IAB MIXX Awards, Loeries, New York Festivals, and One Show Interactive, and has judged Best Ads multiple times.

VML experienced unprecedented growth and award recognition under her leadership, earning accolades from top international shows, including Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, ANDY Awards, Art Directors Club, CLIO Awards, Effie Awards, Facebook Awards, London International Awards, New York Festivals, One Show, Spikes Asia, Webby Awards and more. At Cannes in 2018, the agency received 21 Lions and 62 shortlists with work from 10 offices for 21 clients. VML was also named Entertainment Agency of the Year for the second year in a row. Overall, the VMLY&R network ranked sixth globally.

This year, Debbi was part of the founding group of female agency leaders who launched Time’s Up/Advertising to address the industry’s pervasive problems with sexual harassment and gender inequality. She was named one of “Ad Age’s Women to Watch in 2014” and is a strong supporter of initiatives advancing women in creative leadership and mentoring talent to help women develop the interpersonal skills it takes to succeed in today’s industry. This mindset contributed to VML being named one of the two first-ever 3% certified agencies in 2017.