The Work That Made Me in association withCreate This
The Work That Made Me: Nicoletta Zanterino
Advertising Agency
Milan, Italy
VMLY&R Italy's creative director on the influence of Björk, the poetry of Sony's 'bouncing balls' and working with Rolling Stone

I started my career in advertising in 2007, as an Intern Copywriter in Leo Burnett.

Funny enough, I never got a driving licence but I worked mainly for automotive brands like Volkswagen, Audi, MINI and BMW, for several years.

After a long and pleasant journey through some of the biggest agencies in Italy – such as DDB, Young&Rubicam, Lowe, Bcube - in 2015 I made my comeback to Leo Burnett.

Firstly as Head of Copy and since 2017 as Creative Director, I managed the creative teams working for McDonald’s, Samsung, Alitalia, ALDI and Sottilette [Mondelēz] - winning a few awards along the way (Cannes Lions, One Show, Eurobest, LIA, ADCI).

In March 2021 I joined VMLY&R Italy, as creative director for ITA Airways, Arbi, Franke.

Bonus: if you’re looking for someone to chat with about great 90s music, shitty 90s music, horror movies and cats and cats and cats, I’m definitely the right one.

The ad/music video from my childhood that stays with me…

Definitely Gondry’s video for ‘Bachelorette’ by Björk. I remember watching it and thinking at the same time “Wait, what’s going on?” and “So, this is what genius looks like”. My obsession for finding the perfect soundtrack when I work to a commercial probably comes from having been exposed to that video at pre-teen age.

The ad/music video/game/web platform that made me want to get into the industry…

Two ads, totally different from each other: 'Bouncing Balls', by Sony – pure visual poetry, with a stunning soundtrack.  And 'Cat with a pipe' for Buenos Aires Independent Film Festival. Because well, es un gato con una pipa!

The creative work that I keep revisiting…

Whenever I’m not working, you can probably find me listening to “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” by the Smashing Pumpkins, or reading for the twentieth time anything by Dave Eggers.

My first professional project…

My very first work when I was an intern copywriter was a promotional sticker for Indesit – still proudly decorating my mom’s fridge. But the first project to end up in my portfolio was a copy ads campaign for Smirnoff vodka, that earned me my very first shortlist at ADCI – celebrated basically like a Glass Lion.

The piece of work that made me so angry that I vowed to never make anything like *that*…

Tough question. I’d say any work born from pure pink-washing aims, any project exploiting inclusion and equality merely because they’re trend topics.

The piece of work that still makes me jealous…

There would be so many works to mention… Definitely Heineken ‘Auditorium’, that opened the way to brand new and totally disruptive forms of advertising; ‘Whopper Sacrifice’, one of the first social-media based campaign that’s still a benchmark. And Superga ‘The Challenge’, a sublime example of storytelling.

The creative project that changed my career…

I like to think to my career as constantly evolving, so my answer will always be “My next one!”.

The work that I’m proudest of…

"Rockin’ Mamas” for sure, the project for Rolling Stone magazine celebrating moms all over the world. Both because it was born to spread a message I strongly believe in, and because it’s the result of a great proactive effort that involved a great team along the way.

I was involved in this and it makes me cringe…

I was lucky enough to never be involved in projects I didn’t believed in. But surely it makes me cringe to realise how many works of mine could have been crafted better if only the team had more time and more budget available. 

The recent project I was involved in that excited me the most…

Again, Rockin’ Mamas. This project gave me the opportunity to work with an international team of amazing professionals, first of all our genius director Ali Ali. A really inspiring and formative experience.

Work from VMLY&R Italy