Two Peas In A Pod: DDB's Lisa & Derek


Lisa Topol
Partner & CCO Oberland

Tell us about you how you met and how long you’ve worked together?

We first met during the late Mesozoic era at Wieden+Kennedy, where we did a lot of ESPN, Nike, Brand Jordan and other things sporty and shoe-y. But our partnership began in 2013 when we both interviewed for a gig running the NFL account at Grey. It was down to the two of us, and apparently Grey CCO Tor Myhren was a bit torn on the choice. Lucky for us, he found out we knew each other and were fans of one another’s work and decided to try the crazy idea of hiring two writer/ECDs as a team to run the NFL along with a larger group of accounts. We’ve been driving account people crazy in stereo ever since.


How would you describe relationship between you two? In what ways has the dynamic changed since you first began working together? 

We’re like two peas in a pod. We’re like the Olsen Twins — except we don’t look anything alike, we don’t have our own sitcom catchphrase, and we don’t somewhat disinterestedly run a multi-billion-dollar fashion line.

From the beginning, we simply liked and respected each other — both in terms of our work but also as human beings. Those things are pretty key when you have to work with someone every day. We also have always had similar tastes in what we consider great work, similar work ethics, and similar views on how we treat others.

Over the years, we’ve gotten better at understanding each other, and have been able to find the best ways to complement our strengths and remedy our weaknesses. We developed the experience to know who may handle a certain situation better, and how best to navigate the waters, from both the agency and client-side.

In an industry that has more regularly abandoned the “partner” model at higher levels, we think we’re a really good example of why creative advertising was built on a partnership model in the first place. We truly make each other better as a team, the work is better, life is better, and clients and employees alike benefit from improved and sharpened thinking.

Plus, since we’re both writers, we’re really good at filling out AdForum questions in half the time.


Tell us about the first campaign you’ve worked on as a duo. 

One of the first campaigns we oversaw together was a brand campaign for the NFL. We don’t remember much except for a lot of late nights, football being a family, and us watching a YouTube clip of an overgrowneighth-grade Andy Reid crushing little kids in a “punt, pass, and kick” contest at least 5 million times. Trust, us. Look it up.


Do you have a favorite campaign you’ve worked on together? What makes it special?

Sorry, we can’t tell you. We’re working on it right now.


What has been the hardest part of working together? How do you resolve creative conflicts?

There’s really no downside; we always manage to talk through our rare creative conflicts with honesty and humor. Except for one issue: one of us is a die-hard Diet Pepsi drinker and the other is a fanatical Coke Zero person. One of us is very misguided.


Is there any advice you’d give to young creatives looking for a partner, or a duo just getting their start?

First and foremost, you have to like each other, not just put up with each other. The work suffers otherwise. Don’t be afraid of unconventional pairings. Rather, find the person who brings out the best in you and vice versa. And if you’re just getting started, don’t lose your voice adapting to someone else. Find someone who amplifies your voice and who is as hungry as you are to do great work. And of course, seek out those whose work you admire.'