Jillian Gibbs '88, Founder and CEO of Advertising Production Resources
As the founder and chief executive of Advertising Production Resources, Jillian Gibbs and her team oversee more than $1 billion in global advertising production for brands such as L’Oreal, PepsiCo, Walmart, and Microsoft. Getting there took several bold moves for the music performance major.
“Right out of college and after a six-month gig singing and dancing onboard cruise ships, I landed some work at advertising agencies as a temp,” she says. Unilever hired her to be a telephone operator and then assistant to the head of its broadcast production.
After her boss and mentor retired, Gibbs, who was 25 at the time, pushed to take over his job. She was given the mammoth task of developing television and radio commercials and print and outdoor ads for all of Unilever’s brands, which included Chesebrough-Ponds, Lever Brothers, Van den Bergh Foods, Ragu, and Lipton.
“I quickly realized that I was the only person at Unilever who had oversight across all five divisions and had visibility to all the content being produced,” Gibbs says. “I started to leverage their resources to work smarter and more efficiently.” She wondered if she could do the same thing elsewhere for other advertisers.
Nine years later, in 2000, Gibbs got her chance when she moved to Colorado. “I went knocking on the doors of the largest advertisers in Colorado,” she says. Her boldness paid off: Coors signed on, and her company got its start.
Part of the challenge in building APR has been the nature of the business itself: “Most marketing departments and creative agencies work in silos and think only about the projects assigned to them,” Gibbs says, but her approach has crossed boundaries. Gibbs has also expanded the consultancy’s reach to European, Latin American, and Asian based advertisers and offers other ad production services, such as auditing and creating a database for tracking data and creating industry benchmarks.
A music education may not seem to have much crossover with launching an advertising consultancy, but for Gibbs, it’s a natural pairing. “My degree in music performance helped me to excel in math, which is a big part of what I do today, and to speak to a crowd and engage them,” she says. “Ithaca College prepared me with the tools I needed to be bold, take chances, and keep evolving to stay current.”
Read more about top-shelf entrepreneurs that have roots at IC:
Christopher Burch '76, founder and chief executive of Burch Creative Capital
Carl Daikeler '86, creator and chief executive of Beachbody.com
Mark French '97, president of Mission Basketball, inventor of Court Grip