Confidence, Creativity & Catching Big Ideas - Andrew Robertson, CEO BBDO

I speak with President and CEO of BBDO, Andrew Robertson about what it takes to run an advertising agency.
Andrew Robertson has been President and Chief Executive Officer of BBDO Worldwide since June 2004, and has worked with major clients including AT&T, ExxonMobil, FedEx, Ford, GE, Mars Inc, PepsiCo, SAP and Visa.

It has been named Network of the Year at Cannes a record-setting seven times and the world's most awarded agency network according to The Gunn Report/World Advertising Research Center for thirteen years in a row. Since 2005, BBDO has been honoured as Global Agency of the Year in Ad Age, Adweek (three times) and Campaign (five times). BBDO Worldwide was also recognized as the Most Effective Network in the world by the Global Effies in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Andrew first came to BBDO in the UK in 1995, joining Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO where he subsequently served as Chief Executive. In 2001, he moved to BBDO North America to serve as President and CEO.

He began his advertising career at Ogilvy & Mather, London as a Media Planner. He switched to Account Management and was appointed to the Board of Ogilvy & Mather in 1986. In 1989, he joined J. Walter Thompson and in November 1990, was appointed Chief Executive of WCRS.

Andrew has a degree in Economics from City of London University. He currently serves on the Boards of Autism Speaks and Hope Funds for Cancer Research. He is a past Chairman of The Advertising Council.

What we covered in this episode:
  • Falling into advertising after starting out in civil engineering
  • Why Andrew learnt selling insurance and gambling through the night
  • The late night conversation that led Andrew to advertising
  • 18 years at the helm of a global adverting business
  • Why getting the people right is the most important task of any CEO
  • The importance of time spent with customers
  • Learning to love problems and embrace them as opportunities
  • Loving what your business creates
  • Where the trophies of ‘The most awarded network agency in the world’ are kept
  • Why ‘meaning it’ is the secret to staying on top of your creative game
  • Building a strong network bottom up with strong local creative agencies
  • Attracting a limited pool of truly exceptional people
  • Why emotion is the most effective thing you can do
  • The power of platform ideas
  • Don’t understand the value of craft
  • Calculating the downside risk to help you take the leaps that lead to upside
  • The pursuit of certainty leads to the norm
  • How the snickers creative idea was ‘caught’ in a line of copy
  • Why all great ideas are obvious after their invention
  • The power of a new way of seeing an old idea
  • Why Andrew’s favourite ad was one that delivered bad news
  • The benefits of sleeping with a homeless guy
  • It’s hard not to buy from someone who makes you smile
  • How confidence in the team beats the silver bullet when it comes to pitching
  • The expectation of agencies to deliver effortlessly seamless and connected communication at every tough point
  • Half my advertising is wasted but it’s gets a lot worse in digital
Confidence, Creativity & Catching Big Ideas - Andrew Robertson, CEO BBDO
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