An interview with the CMA’s 2022 Designer of the Year, Jenny McNally

By CMA Team on

Each year, the calibre of entries at the International Content Marketing Awards gets better and last year was no different.

One of the most coveted awards is the Designer of the Year category, where outstanding designers are recognised for their breadth and depth of creativity, imagination, innovation, technical skills and their ability to translate brand values into visual content.

We caught up with the 2022 Designer of the Year, Jenny McNally of Dentsu, on how she got started in the industry, how she approaches her award-winning work, what it means to win at the International Content Marketing Awards and more.

Please provide us with a little background on your career. How did you get started and get where you are today?

I did a Graphic Design degree at Brighton University and waitressed for a year before I decided I’d better start getting work experience like everyone else! It was mostly unpaid, and I still waitressed on the weekends, until I landed a two-week paid placement at John Brown Citrus (as it was called back then). I basically never left. Since then, I’ve worked across many different magazines, mainly in customer publishing, from Department of Education to banking and inflight publications, and lots more in between. I’ve also had two maternity leaves and came back as a part-timer, which has worked well both for my career and as a mother. Being successful as a part-timer is something that perhaps isn’t talked about enough in the industry.

How long have you been at Dentsu, and what does a typical working day look like for you?

John Brown was bought out by Dentsu in 2015. My typical day depends on where we are on the magazine schedule. The only constant is probably talking to my editor, Kate. We talk a lot! My favourite days are probably shoot days – seeing my ideas through from concept and planning, and working with different photographers. Seeing a final image on a screen never gets dull, especially if a fluffy model is involved.

You won Gold for Designer of the Year at the 2022 International Content Marketing Awards. What does it mean for you to win this award?

It’s always super lovely to have a nice shiny award, and there’s a thrill when your name is read out. It’s always great to get recognition, isn’t it? Working on Pets at Home’s customer magazine is a privilege. I get to look at cute cats and dogs all day! But really, creating any content, be it a magazine or a social post, is about the content itself. It’s harder to get it wrong when you’re starting with such strong subject matter. Plus, I have great colleagues and a lovely client.

Our judges said your work on My VIP magazine ticked all the right boxes, including trust in the brand, which is marketing gold. What’s your process when you work on a project like that?

When it comes to working on a magazine for Pets at Home, it’s all about nailing the perfect balance between design and brand trust. Being brand-immersed is really important. I can honestly say I feel like I know the brand inside out. In fact, Pets at Home has just gone through a major rebrand, so we had to redesign the magazine to reflect this. It now has a brand-new look and a new name: Pets.

I enjoy the challenge of balancing the brand’s needs and values while pushing them towards a creative aesthetic that ticks all the boxes in terms of look and feel. At the end of the day, we all care about pets, but we also want it to look good.

As an inspirational person in the industry, what advice would you give to people who would like to emulate your success?

Thanks, but even though I’ve won awards, I still battle with imposter syndrome more often than I’d like to admit. However, I think that’s OK. I’m at peace with it. I’ve been in the same job for what feels like forever, but, despite all that, I genuinely enjoy what I do. So, if you’re looking to follow in my footsteps (which, let’s be honest, might be a little wonky), here are my tips: keep learning, find inspiration without getting too caught up in comparisons, embrace your quirks, and mainly just keep doing what you’re doing.

Given your successful career to date, what are your career plans for the future?

As I might have mentioned earlier (haha), I’ve been in the same role for quite a while, but I love what I do. Right now, I think it’s a particularly exciting time in the industry in terms of AI generation, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it can be used as a visual tool for creatives.

To learn more about the International Content Marketing Awards or to submit your entries please visit

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