By Katie Deighton | Senior Reporter

August 22, 2017 | 3 min read

Natalie Marsan has managed to do what was once the impossible: raise a baby, hold down a London-based job while living in Croatia, and travel – constantly. But less than three years ago she was buried deep in New York’s marketing scene. In the latest episode of Why I Left Advertising, Marsan explains why and how she became a nomadic working mother.

Marsan currently works as an account director at The Social Element, where she leads her team from her two homes in Croatia’s Zagreb and Zadar. In between commuting to London for meetings, she travels throughout the world seeing friends and new places with her husband and toddler; this year alone the Marsans have visited Morocco, Denmark, Austria and the US.

“We travel because of a basic sense of wanderlust that is just insatiable,” she said. “I call our approach to life ‘wabi sabi’. I haven’t thrown an anchor down – I don’t want to throw an anchor down – and I think we’ll always be a bit nomadic in the way we live.

"For now, we like the impermanence of living where it feels right.”

It hasn’t always been this way for Marsan, who once worked in the heart of New York’s advertising scene at the likes of Razorfish and VaynerMedia. It was a busy time, but not necessarily a fraught one; she recalls a “fast, fun” agency culture that “takes over your life a little bit” but involves “a lot of drinks and dinners with colleagues and clients”.

“New York changed a lot,” she said. “In the late 90s when I moved there it was a city for artists and freaks … it wasn’t the big money city, the big city that it is now. I kind of grew out of New York a bit in that it got too hectic for me. I wanted just an easy and relaxed vibe … and I realised I didn’t want to raise a child in that dense, urban place.”

Luckily Marsan and her husband have dual citizenship, so a move to Croatia was an easy one to make. But she never envisioned working in an agency once she’d left, and instead imagined her family would live as entrepreneurs in that Mediterranean country without an established ad scene.

The Social Element, however, eventually tracked her down and offered her a contract that would epitomise out of office working. Still though – with a new family and a new continent on her doorstep – why did she go back?

“One of my former chief executives used to say: ‘Guys, we’re not saving lives here, this is just fucking advertising, so just chill out’,” Marsan explained. “That was exactly my sentiment of how I felt in advertising. I just wanted to move back into a world where I was finding a problem and solving it.

“Working in social media right now really does have that aspect of helping brands be more real. There’s enough of a cause-like element to working with brands on social media that I’m okay with for now.”

Advertising

Other episodes in the series

Episode 1

Kate Robertson on leaving advertising : ‘You never realise how bad materialism in the industry is until you get outside'

Today (7 December) sees The Drum launch a new video series examining the myriad reasons behind personal exits from the marketing world. Why I Left Advertising’s first subject, One Young World co-founder Kate Robertson, details her industry insights only garnered after resigning from her position as president of Havas Worldwide in 2015.

Episode 2

Jonathan Durden on exiting the industry: 'I felt bored being treated like gold'

In the second in The Drum's Why I Left Advertising series, we speak to PHD co-founder Jonathan Durden about his escape from - and re-entry into - the media and marketing industries.

Episode 3

'We thought we were Mad Men but we were drinking in Tiger Tiger': Chris Maples on life after advertising

After a lifetime in high-profile ad sales, Chris Maples departed his post of VP, Europe at Spotify to try something completely different – running a school. In the third part of The Drum’s Why I Left Advertising series, he chats through his reasons for departing the industry, and discusses how his life is different now.

Episode 4

Emer Stamp's journey from ECD to children’s author: ‘Advertising gives you a very hard skin’

In the fourth episode of Why I Left Advertising, Emer Stamp, the former Adam&EveDDB executive creative director, explains her reasoning for giving up life as a creative to write and illustrate full-time.

Episode 5

Dave Buonaguidi on his hiatus from the industry: ‘You shouldn’t hate working at your own agency – but I did’

When Karmarama co-founder Dave Buonaguidi quit the agency he founded, he did so publically, lambasting the “professional creatives who are only creative between the hours of 9am and 6pm” who work in agencies all based on Mad Men”. Yet now he’s back in ad land, working as creative director at CP+B.

Episode 6

‘It felt like either I’d gone mad, or everyone else had gone mad’: why Paul Pateman had to give up his life in advertising

Paul ‘Pâté’ Pateman left advertising to become a graphic illustrator after a bout of pneumonia forced him to rethink his career path. But years before, as a creative director at TBWA, he had felt the first pull away from the industry.

Content created with:

The Social Element

We build genuine human connections through social media.We simplify social media marketing, and bring calm to the chaos.

Find out more

More from Advertising

View all