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‘Laughter keeps me sane in this industry’: Beyond the Brief with Myra Williams, Davis Elen Advertising

Myra Williams, Davis Elen

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)? The Drum is now 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.

Myra Williams is an over 30-year advertising industry veteran. As the vice president media director for Davis Elen Advertising, she works on the agency’s McDonald’s account in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore region.

With past experience at the MarCom Group, Media Peritus, MPG and more, Williams has mainly spent her career in the Washington, D.C./Virginia area. As a part of her work, Williams has been a champion for diversity, noting that even though she has been in the industry for over three decades, she is “still counting on two hands the number of CEO's at major ad agencies that look like me.”

Williams has served as a mentor to students and as a speaker to continue to push the conversation forward. In June, she wrote on LinkedIn about her participation in Howard University's Media Sales Institute as a client/speaker/mentor.

“I received an email from one of the students in the MSI program saying that my assignment and subsequent question and critique session with the students in front of potential hiring Managers, resulted in him receiving several opportunities for employment! Can I rest now or should I keep pushing hard to crack the barrier?”

Williams love for the advertising industry, as well as her desire to push it forward to be more inclusive and diverse, shows how she is living beyond the brief.

Best moment in a client presentation?

My best moments in client presentations are when I receive applause from them after I have shed light on difficult to understand media mumbo jumbo!

Funniest moment?

The funniest moment in a client presentation was my wardrobe malfunction when a suit I squeezed into popped a button and the button went flying across the room in mid-sentence.

What keeps you sane in this industry?

Laughter keeps me sane in this industry. I work with an imaginary bubble over my head filled with things I want to say but can’t.

What keeps you driven to do great work?

Seeing the daily sales numbers from the client activity reports keeps me driven, however seeing success in the industry from those I have mentored gives me the ultimate confirmation of a job well done.

Who, or what, do you consider the future of the industry?

The future of advertising has to be a melting pot of content and concepts that embody honesty. Consumers want better and we have an obligation as marketers to insist that our clients provide better products, service, pricing etc. because if they don't they will cease to exist. Choice has made the consumer stronger and a lot smarter. Only the best will survive.

What’s a hobby that you love or would like to start?

I would love to narrate books. Writing a book is one thing but bringing it to life with tone, pitch and inflection as a sole narrator is an art form.

What book would you suggest to a stranger?

Everyone should have a copy of 'The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck' by Mark Mason.

What life advice do you give others?

The secret to finding yourself is being lost!

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