Russell Barrett is a Managing Partner and CCO at BBH India.
Why are you into Advertising?
I write well and I’m good at telling stories. There are few options left for people with those skills. Legally.
Did you attend school for fine art or design or Communications?
I studied English Literature. No gainful employment is possible with that degree.
You have won so many international awards etc. How has that impacted your career?
The awards have taught me a lot of ‘non creative’ lessons: discipline, hard work and resilience.
Your personal favourite campaign?
I’ll be honest, I don’t have a favourite son, I don’t have a favourite colour, I don’t have a favourite genre of music, I don’t have a favourite book, I don’t have a favourite campaign.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
My family. They are all amazing in different ways and I’m humbled by the people they are and what they’ve accomplished in their lives.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in Advertising?
My brother, Gavin Barrett. He wrote the original Give Me Red campaign and soon after, left India for a career in Hong Kong and then Canada. He now owns and runs Barrett & Welsh, Toronto with his partners.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
From any and everything around me; from life.
Tell us something about the work environment at BBH…
Working at BBH is like playing with Lego. What you make with your time here is entirely up to you.
We believe in the primacy of the idea and we abhor politics. The junior most person has the opportunity to crack the biggest idea of the year. BBH is an open transparent place that attracts incredibly talented people who are really nice as well.
Do you have any kind of a program to nurture and train young talent?
We do not have a formal training program, but we all, even now, learn on the job. So we are committed to hiring fresh, exciting, young talent, who learn with us.
What about new and young film makers/photographers? Do you consciously keep looking for newer talent and try someone completely new?
Absolutely. The industry is in dire need of talented people. I’ve worked with many new directors and new production houses. Some have been worth the risk, others not so much.
What do you think of the state of Print advertising right now. At least here in India, the released work is most often too sad?
That’s putting it mildly. The regular print work is mostly shit. But that changes in December. Then we see some amazing ideas, brilliantly crafted. You know, if you do a study, you’ll realize that the most number of awards India has won at international shows has been for print. So there’s obviously great talent and ability. It would be amazing if the marketing and the advertising community commit to ideas, budgets and craft in every media, not just in film.
More and more young people are web savvy and want to work on the internet or on more entrepreneurial ventures. Has that affected the quality of people advertising has been getting?
Like everything else, if advertising agencies don’t evolve, they will die. As long as you exploit new media and the opportunities they bring, you will get exciting talent, keen to do that kind of work.
Do you think brands whose advertising wins awards, do well in the market?
Around the world, the most successful brands are also the most awarded. We have not yet completely reached that level of bravery here. I believe, the day we have the courage to put our best, (not our safest) work out in the market, is the day the new creative revolution will begin in India. This vision needs to be shared by marketers and agency folk alike for it to be more than just talk.
What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals?
1) If you’re creative in any way, be curious. Don’t just surf the net,
observe the world around you. You can lift the best ideas from life.
2) When you think you know everything about creativity, you might as well quit and start prawn farming.
3) John Bartle famously said that the enemies of creativity are
It will happen.
4) Forget about the results (awards, promotions, attention, fame) have fun with the work.
What is your dream project?
One where I sleep and am paid for my neural activity.
Mac or PC?
Mac. Born and bred, from Bandra men.
Who would you like to take out for dinner?
My wife and kids.
What’s on your iPod?
Don’t have one anymore. I listen to a lot of different music on my iPhone.
What’s your Twitter Handle?