Ad Chat-- Kim Rushton

She's been mentioned by name in another Ad Chat but this time we go in-depth with the talented Kim Rushton, a SVP Group Planning Director at BBDO. In addition to having launched the third most successful product behind iPad and Xbox that year, leading teams responsible for various Hyatt brands, Rushton also spends her spare time being actively involved with The Oceanic Preservation Society , The Humane Society of the US and WildAid.

1. What’s your favorite funny story about yourself?
To the horror of the Discovery Channel crew hosting me in Costa Rica, I picked up a wild boa constrictor at reception (thinking it was a Disneyesque, living prop) and carried it everywhere, snuggled around my arm/neck, until I got to my room and asked about its owner. It’s funny because no one said anything until I asked where I should “take it back” and suddenly they were aghast. It was the sweetest snake.

2. Who is your favorite mentor and why?
I’ve had awesome karma when it comes to mentors. I’m enormously grateful for Richard Swaab and Mike Smith of AMV/BBDO, Simon Mainwaring of We First and John Grant of St. Luke’s/Co-Opportunity fame. They’re great examples of epic talent amplified by the power of kindness and generosity.

3. What’s the biggest misconception about a strategist?
The idea we can’t find our way to client meetings without an account person. ☺

4. Has the role of a strategist changed since you first got into the business?
No. Our job has always been to craft a compelling brand idea that will change people’s behavior and transform a client’s business. It’s on us to create and inspire fascinating narratives to bring that idea to life through every facet of the brand experience - far beyond what most people think of as advertising. Now we have platforms which enable different (and sometimes more meaningful) interactions and provide oceans of real time, behavioral data to show what people are doing. The thing is, brilliant planning has always been based on a keen understanding the “why’s” that are driving those “what’s” - the universal drivers of human behavior. Those don’t change. So, in that sense, the role of a strategist hasn’t changed much. Understanding that stuff and understanding the bigger cultural drivers is more critical than ever today - and way more fun.

5. Where do you see the industry heading? Where should the industry be heading?
The “industry” isn’t collectively heading in any single direction. Overall, I see a marketplace primed to reward experimentation and evolution. I think that’s exciting. In the words of General Eric Shinseki, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”

6. Tom’s and Patagonia have built their brands and generated profit based on social change and sustainability. Are there any lesser-known brands that are walking the walk?
Sure lots of them. Lib Tech snowboards in the US and Innocent Drinks in the UK pop to mind first. Another big brand deserving some props for sustainability is Fed Ex. Fred Smith gets it; he has some of the cleanest intentions I’ve seen and has made sustainability a top priority. The brand is all the more admirable because they have been so modest and avoided “green-washing.”

7. If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be?
Overall, I’d like to see every aspect of the business held to more noble standards.

8. What inspires you to keep doing this?
Cupcakes…lots and lots of cupcakes.

9. What’s one piece of advice you whish someone would have told you when you were starting out?
Intention is everything.

See previous ad chats -
Åsk "Dabitch" Wäppling - main adland muse.
Dave Trott creative mischief chief
Arnie DiGeorge Executive Creative Director of RR Partners
Andy Kinsella Innovation Director at Glue Isobar
Koert Bakker of Victor & Spoils
Evan Brown, Sr. Copywriter at TBWA\Chiat\Day
Dena Walker, Digital Strategist at Irish International in Dublin, Ireland
Bernie Watt, copywriter at Make, in Sydney, Australia
Ron Smrczek, Executive Creative Director of TAXI Europe
Vincent Vella, Creative Director - Grey Paris, Euro RSCG and Publicis.
Gideon Amichay, Creative Chairman of Shalmor Avnon Amichay Y&R Tel Aviv
Richard Tseng, Freelance Copywriter at CP+B
Claudiu Florea, Managing Partner - Wunderkid, Romania
Snorre Martinsen of Saatchi & Saatchi Oslo
Laura Jordan Bambach, Executive Creative Director LBi
Simon White from Rapp, London
Richard Gorodecky of Amsterdam Worldwide
Ray Page of Tribal DDB
Adam Pierno of Off Madison Ave.
Edward Boches of Mullen
Dirk Singer of Rabbit, UK
Gareth Kay of Goodby, Silverstein and Partners
Tim Brunelle of Hello Viking
Rob Schwartz of TBWA\Chiat\Day

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Dabitch's picture

"It was the sweetest snake" -he he he he. Until it hugs you to death. ;)

Adam Devine's picture

I worked with Kim many moons ago at StrawberryFrog, and I'm not even a little bit surprised to see her star rising. She was and is one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, creative and fearless strategists in the business. How she manages to be so impactful philanthropically and so prolific professionally should be a case study.

Evan Brown's picture

Agreed. I worked with her at BBDO on the Peace Corps and she's been hands down the smartest strategist I've ever worked with. She really kind of puts a lot of other people to shame.

AnonymousCoward's picture

Strategy is so underrated. Thank you for this.