business

Creative Minds: Rob Morrison

creative-minds:-rob-morrison
Welcome to Creative Minds, in which we get to know APAC creatives through their answers to 11 questions. The first three are required, but the subject chooses the rest from a list of nearly 40 that we compiled, from serious to silly. Want to be featured? Contact us and we’ll send you the question list. (Why 11 questions? Because any old Q&A format can ask 10 questions. But this one goes to 11.)

Name: Rob Morrison

Origin: Cootamundra (a small town in rural Australia)

Places lived/worked: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Vancouver (Canada), Cheltenham (UK)

Pronouns: He/him (“But just call me Rob”)

CV:

  • Morrison Creative (Sydney), owner and creative director (2019-present)
  • Ogilvy (Brisbane), acting ECD (2018)
  • Ogilvy (Sydney), creative director (2012-2018)
  • Belgiovane Williams Mackay (Sydney), creative director (2008-2011)
  • George Patterson Y&R (Sydney), creative director, (2007-2008)
  • The Campaign Palace (Sydney), integrated creative director (2006)
  • Wunderman (Sydney), national creative director (2003-2005)
  • George Patterson Bates (Melbourne), creative director (2001-2003)
  • George Patterson Bates (Sydney), creative director (1996-2001)
  • Brann Direct (Cheltenham UK), senior copywriter (1994-1995)
  • John Friesen’s Direct Mail Store (Vancouver), copywriter (1992-1993)
  • Police Credit Union (Sydney), marketing officer (1991-1992)
  • OTC (Sydney), marketing officer graduate (1989-1990)

1. How did you end up being a creative?

I wrote to every agency in Sydney when I graduated from university—desperate to work in adland. Unfortunately, the economy (and the industry) had just taken a massive hit. Agencies were shedding people, not hiring. So, I took the first marketing job I was offered—at an international telco. In the two years I was there I did Award School (a creative right-of-passage in Australia). When I switched to a Credit Union marketing department I had the chance to build a portfolio. Eighteen months later I backpacked my way to Vancouver, where I met John Friesen—a creative director who taught me how to drive sales, not just write clever ads. By the time I got to Brann in the UK, I felt like I could legitimately call myself a creative.

2. What’s your favourite piece of work in your portfolio?

It’s like choosing a favourite child. Every piece of work I’ve ever done contains a little piece of me (actually, some have large pieces). If I have to choose just one, it would be ‘Outthink Melanoma’ for IBM. It was the finale of five years on the IBM business, where we’d chipped away at doing better and better work. The project itself nearly died a dozen times—including the night we launched. Plus, as a melanoma survivor, I literally had skin in the game (pun intended).

3. What’s your favourite piece of work created by someone else?

I was asked this question by an ADMA Creative School student a few years ago. As head tutor I’d showed the class hundreds of amazing examples. I think they were expecting my answer to be a big-budget TVC or a through-the-line campaign. But my answer was radio—specifically Bud Light’s ‘Real Men of Genius’. Over 200 spots over five years. All beautifully written. All perfectly produced. And 100% tied to the genius of having low-calorie beer that tastes good.

I could have picked 50, but here’s my top 5:

4. What’s your guilty pleasure?

I’m obsessed by my football team—Exhibit #1 is the above photo. In 1999, my South Sydney Rabbitohs were illegally ejected from the National Rugby League competition. In response, 80,000 of us marched on Town Hall, raised funds for the lawyers and generally kept the dream alive. It took two years, but we got them back. In 2014, they won the trophy. Much to my wife’s chagrin, my diary is still arranged around Rabbitohs games.

5. What’s on your bucket list?

I still want to live and work in Asia. I’ve worked in Europe, North America and here in Australia—it’s the only place left on my list. The plan was to look for the right opportunity in 2020 but clearly, Covid interfered. I find the work and the cultural differences and the people fascinating.

6. What/who are your key creative influences?

I’m still fascinated by people. All people. Why do they do what they do? What makes them choose one product over another? One brand over another? Why do they read, watch and engage with some content and not others? I love trying to walk in their shoes and help solve what’s troubling them.

7. What kind of student were you?

Bizarrely, I was the maths and science kid. I liked subjects with a right and wrong answer and struggled with the more ‘opinion-laced’, humanities subjects. I often joke my year 10 English teacher would be horrified that my job involved stringing sentences together. My creative outlet was acting—I performed in over a dozen plays.

8. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

I leapt out of a plane wearing a WWII parachute. A bunch of my university mates challenged each other to do a parachute jump but, being poor students, we found the cheapest option available. I’ll never forget one of my friends landing in a herd of cows that had wandered into the drop-zone. Fun but dumb.

9. Do you have a catchphrase?

When I first joined Ogilvy, I wrote a thought-leadership piece on B2B advertising. At the time, Australian B2B was dominated by rational-led, copy-heavy, dullness. It was a massive missed opportunity. Truth is, consumers don’t switch personality when they finish work. They’re the same people. Exactly the same. So why do we treat them differently? My article headline was often quoted back at me: “Business people are people too.” That’s as close as I’ve been to a catchphrase.

10. Tell us about a charity or cause you think needs more attention.

There’s an underfunded and underappreciated Australian charity which I just love. They train school kids to help other children in the playground. The aim is to spot anyone sitting by themselves, who might be struggling or lonely or just disconnected. The trained kids wear a yellow wrist band printed with the name of the charity. Five little words that could save a little life: You Can Sit With Me.

11. Do you have any recurring dreams?

I have a weird metabolism which means, whenever I’m sick, I suffer dangerously high fevers—which is when my recurring dream arrives. In it, I’m walking through a field, picking daisies on a beautiful sunny day. Each time I pick a flower a boulder rumbles to the surface to replace the daisy. Sometimes the boulder is tiny. Sometimes it’s massive. I’m overwhelmed by the fear I’m destroying the beautiful field, yet I can’t stop picking flowers. Then I wake up. Clearly, I’ve got issues.

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