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Friday Forum

Black and white headshot of a woman with long black hair, smiling with head leaning on fist.
Friday, Oct. 26
11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

VCU Commons Theater
907 Floyd Avenue

Karen Costello

Chief Creative Officer, The Martin Agency

Topic: Respect, responsibility and the reward of making a difference.

Advertising is one of the biggest influences on human behavior. As Gloria Steinem recently said: "Create ads with men raising children, and millions know that it’s possible. Show girls playing sports, and girls see that our bodies are instruments and not ornaments. Show diverse people together and diversity becomes community." Come hear thoughts and inspiration from a big dreamer and eternal optimist about the power we have for social impact, the responsibility we have to make it positive and why diversity, empathy and the radical notion of respect for others is more important than ever.


A study in contrasts, Karen loves bacon and tofu in equal measure. She is comfortable in the wilderness and in art museums. And although she doesn’t consider herself a risk taker, she rarely says no to a challenge.

Karen has always considered herself a dreamer and an optimist. She believes in the power of creativity, loves the question ‘what if’ and rarely says no to a challenge.

Prior to joining The Martin Agency in 2017, Karen was an executive creative director for Deutsch Los Angeles. She helped grow that office from 13 people to over 400 in its first few years. She led the Target account for over six years and was behind the award winning Gwen Stefani video, an ambitious creative feat that had never been done before: creating a music video live on TV during a commercial break on the Grammys.

Now, as the first female CCO in The Martin Agency’s history, Karen is embracing yet another challenge. She believes in using creativity to make brands, the industry, and the world, better. She has worked tirelessly to create and advocate for more female leadership roles; has helped create more equitable and humane work environments; and has addressed local community needs by working on political campaigns and building volunteer workforces.