After nearly 10 years at Mother New York, Aarti Thiagarajan left the creative agency earlier this year to join Netflix as director of brand partnerships.
Replacing her in the role of managing director and partner is Katie Longmyer, who comes to Mother New York with an eclectic background and an eagerness to shake things up at the independent agency, whose clients include Dave & Buster’s and Tripadvisor.
“I have a little bit of a ‘let’s break the rules’ attitude, which Mother also does, but I think I maybe break them a little bit more and can turbocharge that vibe,” Longmyer said. “That’s the fun part. I don’t want to do what anyone before me did.”
Unlike most executives in the advertising industry, Longmyer hasn’t spent the majority of her career climbing the ranks at various agencies. She started out as a club promoter, something she said was “ongoing” for quite some time, although not so much recently.
“It’s easier when you’re younger; you can go out all night and work all day. It’s not the same anymore,” she said.
Longmyer landed at Warner Records after college, rising from a field marketing representative to brand partnerships manager. “I was in nightclubs every night during that time,” Longmyer said.
She eventually left the music industry and opened up an outdoor venue in Gowanus, Brooklyn that catered to residents of the neighborhood. According to Longmyer, it was a weekends-only, all-ages spot that hosted barbecues, dog parties and other events.
“That was my first foray completely into entrepreneurship, owning my own business and running it,” she said. “I loved it.”
Since then, Longmyer’s career has been a mix of entrepreneurial pursuits and corporate gigs. In 2014, The New York Times profiled Longmyer and her knack for connecting artists with brands in a way that’s beneficial for both parties involved.
“Katie’s like a translator,” Jasmine Solono, a DJ who worked with Longmyer at the time, told the Times. “She can translate artist language into corporate planning. That’s not easy to do.”
Shortly afterwards, Longmyer joined Translation, the agency founded by Steve Stoute. Longmyer built and led the shop’s experiential practice. After leaving Translation, she met Miguel McKelvey, the co-founder of WeWork. She was hired as his chief of staff last year, an opportunity that she said led to the “wildest year” of her life.
“I joke that I probably got three MBAs last year,” she said.
She described her role at the company as McKelvey’s strategic thought partner. “I sat with him in all of his meetings and discussed ideas with him,” Longmyer explained. McKelvey ultimately left WeWork in June after its failed IPO and the resignation of its CEO and co-founder Adam Neumann.
Longmyer recently co-founded 99 Problems, an initiative encouraging young people to vote.
“I have some themes in my career that have stayed consistent, but I think that allowed me to move around through different industries as a result,” Longmyer said. “Celebrating creativity, independence and community are the things you’ll find in every single aspect of my career.”
At Mother New York, Longmyer will report to the agency’s U.S. CEO and partner Peter Ravailhe. She will officially begin the role on Nov. 9. At the agency, she hopes to focus on widening the pipelines of access for job candidates.
“Creativity is endless, and the way people think is so unique,” she said. “When you widen the aperture of what you’re looking at as far as talent, you have more diverse voices at the table. Sometimes the resolution takes a little longer to get to, but it’s usually much more innovative and interesting.”