Today, Campaign US announced that Lanya Zambrano, Firewood co-founder and president, has been selected as a 2020 Campaign 40 Over 40 honoree. And we couldn’t be prouder. Campaign’s 40 Over 40 Awards honor executives for their noteworthy contributions across advertising, marketing, media, technology, and communications—from groundbreaking creative work and head-turning innovations to outside-of-the-box thinking and award-winning campaigns.
Lanya started Firewood in 2009—and her husband, Juan, joined her soon after—with the idea of creating a very different kind of agency, one that would offer its clients transparency, flexibility, and a better way to collaborate. An agency where creatives and clients would work side by side in close collaboration—a disruptive “embedded” model that would break down traditional agency barriers, lead to higher-quality work, and reduce the need for cycle after cycle of costly revisions.
Often asked why she wanted to be an entrepreneur and start her own agency, Lanya gives two reasons: She had just had a baby and wanted more work-life balance (which she says with a smile), and she wasn’t afraid to go out on her own and start something new. In her view, the traditional agency relationship was broken.
But Lanya believes in entrepreneurship for one vital reason: it’s allowed her to build a business based on the values most important to her and her family—humility, authenticity, inclusivity, and social responsibility. These core values are ingrained in the Firewood culture, in every client partnership and community interaction, and in every ounce of work produced—fostering a strong, cohesive, collaborative environment where people feel comfortable being themselves and presenting fresh and diverse viewpoints.
Integral to the Firewood culture is the social responsibility of giving back to communities, organizations, and marginalized groups that need support and allyship. Through the program Firewood in the Field, Lanya and Firewood have made a real difference for employee-selected humanitarian, cultural, and ecological causes and nonprofits through financial, marketing, and skilled labor donations.
Under Lanya’s leadership as president, Firewood has grown from its humble beginnings in a Northern California winery storage room 10 years ago to seven offices spanning four countries and nearly 400 people strong today. The agency partners with top tech brands, startups, and Fortune 500 companies, including Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, VMware, Salesforce, Cummins, Uber, and HP, among others.
Firewood has received a number of awards over the years, all of which have made us proud and extremely grateful. In 2020 Firewood ranked No. 1 on the San Francisco Business Times’ list of largest Bay Area advertising agencies and, for the second year in a row, No. 1 on the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s list of largest advertising, marketing, and PR agencies in Silicon Valley. And in 2019, No. 6 [large agencies] on the Adweek 100 Fastest Growing Agencies list. But the ones that mean the most to Lanya are related to employee satisfaction, most recently that Firewood was named an Ad Age Best Place to Work 2020.
Lanya regularly places the well-being of Firewood employees at the top of her list of priorities, promoting not only a diverse and inclusive work environment but one that offers a multitude of employee-centric programs, educational offerings, and opportunities for personal growth.
As is natural of Lanya, when she learned that she was being honored by Campaign US, she blushed and was quick to thank and give credit to others. Lanya personifies each and every one of the values we Firewoodians hold near and dear, as well as the core belief that started it all: Good people are good business. We are truly proud and honored to call her our leader, colleague, and friend.