“Always work on something”: Beyond the Brief featuring Candice Drakeford, Droga5

Candice Drakeford, Droga5 junior art director

(Editor's note: Beyond the Brief is a collaborative project celebrating 100 years of the 4A's and their members. See the industry pros we're featuring here.)

Agencies ask for a lot from their young creatives: a can’t stop-won’t stop mindset, military-grade work ethic, and an encyclopedic memory for all things pop culture—just a set of the certain skills Droga5 junior art director Candice Drakeford possesses.

Raised in Woodsbridge, Virginia, Drakeford joined the New York shop in 2016, months after graduating from the Creative Circus’ as one of its award-winning stars. This Young Gun winner brings a balance of passion and perspective to her craft, not just through her raw talent and previous experience at The Martin Agency and the Dalton Agency, but at Droga as well, through clients like Blue Apron, Pizza Hut, Trident gum, and (currently) Prudential. She’s brought this passion within the larger agency space, both as a winner of Adobe’s 3% Conference Student Scholar Competition and now as a coach for the incoming 2017 MAIP class of fellows.

It’s usually what’s inside that counts, and in Drakeford’s case, how she brings that innate sense of purpose outside the industry. Since 2011, Drakeford’s helped to protect our shores as part of the Coast Guard, a responsibility the Petty Officer, First Class doesn’t take lightly. Probably not the most glamorous of the military branches, the Coast Guard has seen its role become much more important in recent years due to climate change. That “always ready” mindset serves her well when briefed on missions and on new campaigns.

A gifted, ambitious hero to her teams, and to her country, Drakeford brings a fresh perspective to what it’s like to live beyond the brief.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

If I had to do it all over again I would forego undergrad and go straight to portfolio school. While I appreciate the experience of undergrad, I don't feel it efficiently prepares students to actually enter the ad world; hence why many students follow up by attending portfolio schools. I just feel I could've saved some time and a lot more money; especially considering what I learned in undergrad seemed to have no bearing on my success in portfolio school.

Who is your hero and why?

My hero is Sean Combs, better known as Puff Daddy, Puffy, P. Diddy, Diddy etc etc. I admire that he's made himself a global brand. He has a hand in everything and always works on something new. Just out in the world grinding, enjoying life; I want to be that happy with what I'm doing someday, and if I can make money off of it? Even better.

If you went back to school to pick up a new skill, what would it be?

Sign language, easily. It's something I've always had an interest in. I plan to enroll in courses soon, hopefully.

What life advice do you give others?

Do it. Whenever we as people have life questions, I think most of us tend to know the answer for ourselves but want someone else to confirm. I just tell people to "do it"—just go for whatever it is. The worst thing to me is being stagnant in anything, so go do something. You may not see immediate benefits, or reap immediate rewards, but you gain absolutely nothing by doing nothing.

To celebrate its 100th Anniversary, the 4A’s has partnered with us at The Drum to pull back the curtain and look at an industry full of problem solvers, creative types and analytical minds. But what keeps them going once the briefs are written, the campaigns executed, and the pitches won (or lost)? We’re interviewing 100 people at 4A’s member agencies — across all disciplines, levels, regions, and agency types — to get a glimpse into what drives them at work and what fuels them in life.

To pitch someone from a 4A's member agency for Beyond the Brief, please complete this linked form.

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Bennett D. Bennett

I am a NYC-based writer who calls BBDO NY home — putting copy together for major brands (and fiction for myself and others) and pushing for more inclusive, smarter work environments everywhere. I've previously sat on the ADCOLOR Advisory Board, and currently am a member of AAF's Mosaic Next-Generation Leadership Council and the 4As Steering Committee for High School Initiatives.

All by Bennett D.