40 Under 40 2020 | Kara Arneson, ICF Next, 34

Shortly after graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Kara Arneson began interning at the then 15-person PR firm Dig Communications. Over the next few years, her creativity helped fuel the agency’s growth and reputation as she worked her way up to account executive on the firm’s then-fledgling Wrigley gum and Miller Brewing Company accounts, until assuming a group creative director role, driving creative for the newly combined legacy PR, advertising and social-media teams.

Today, as a group creative director within ICF Next, an evolution of the firm that absorbed Dig in 2012, Arneson has led successful campaigns for brands including Miller Lite, Blue Moon, Coors Light, Orbit Gum, 5 Gum and Tropicana. In 2018, she assumed day-to-day leadership of the Molson Coors account — the agency’s largest — and steered it to a record-revenue year.

Arneson’s integrated campaigns go far beyond the boundaries of traditional marketing. For Pilsner Urquell, she drove an unbranded documentary film called Brewmaster, which premiered at SXSW. For Blue Moon, she commissioned artists around the country to design moon-inspired labels and engaged fans by letting them vote on their favorites. The idea drove a massive surge in social engagement and a double-digit increase in sales.

From a bright-eyed intern ready to conquer the agency world to a steely-eyed agency leader who is conquering the agency world, Arneson successfully blends stellar account service, creative impulse, management skills and a fierce advocacy of her people.

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