Industry Profile: Colenso BBDO creative director Kimberley Ragan

5 November 2019

Our Industry Profile takes a look at some of the professionals working across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles and companies across the buzzing industry.

This week we speak to Colenso BBDO creative director Kimberley Ragan.

Time in current role:
I’ve been a CD at Colenso for three years.

How would you describe what the company does?
We solve problems with crazy solutions.

What do you do day-to-day?
I drink a lot of tea. Like a lot. But aside from that, most of my day is spent trying to nurture great ideas, to help get them out into the world.

Define your job in one word:
Nope. Not possible.

I got into advertising because:
I don’t want to sound like a sell-out, but honestly it was because I wanted to be creative and get paid a decent salary to do it. Perhaps why do I STAY in advertising is a better question? The answer to that would be about the diverse stuff I get to do every day. Every day I come to work, I genuinely don’t know what’s going to happen, what we’re going to come up with, what problem we’re going to solve, what we’re going to sell, and what the world is going to think about whatever it is. That, to me, is exciting.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?
Evolving at the same pace as the world. Staying relevant is a challenge for any agency and every person working within it. It is even more challenging as a woman. The only advice I can give people is to read, watch and listen to everything you possibly can.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?
Diversity. It is so lame I even have to write that still, but yeah, it’s still an issue.

Previous industry related experience:
Well, I started my career here at Colenso. After six years I had a go at working in the US at Saatchi and Chiat\Day. Then I moved back to Special Group in Auckland, before winding up at Colenso again. You could say I’m a big fan of what we do here and the people I get to hang out with every day.

Notable campaigns you have worked on:
Probably my most well-known campaign is the work we did for Pedigree SelfieStix. But my favourite campaign is some work we did ages ago for a TV show called The Pacific. We got to blow shit up. Nuff said.

Who has been a great mentor to you and why?
I don’t think I can say I’ve had one mentor, as it changes so much depending on what stage I’m at in my career. I have been so lucky to work with some truly amazing people, and I greedily take on board any advice any of them have to offer, no matter which department they’re in. Currently, I definitely get most of my mentoring and inspo from Levi Slavin. Then there’s also Dan Wright, Nick Worthington, and way back ages ago, Rich Maddocks and Brent Smart. My creative partner Maria Devereux is a massive source of strength and inspiration for me, too. I’d also like to add that this industry is exceptionally tough for women, and you cannot get through without strong female leadership to follow. This woman for me is Angela Watson, who has taught me to always speak up, always question, and always keep fighting.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?
Be resilient. An optimist. Be open-minded. Be an activist. Also, once you get into an agency, don’t be a dick. You can get everything you want out of life without stepping on people.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:
Writing. I don’t know if I’d be writing anything anyone wanted to read, but I’d be writing a book, a magazine, an article, a movie, a TV Show, or maybe just some crap on Reddit.

My mantra is:
Add value to the world, no matter how small. Also, don’t be a dick (see above).

My favourite advert is:
I don’t have one, because I believe the work we see gets better every year. However, I do find myself quite often singing the jingle from a 90s Sanitarium Peanut Butter ad to my kid, so I reckon that must mean it was a goodie. Here it is for anyone born after 1995.

Music and TV streaming habits. What do you subscribe to?
I wish I had some weird obscure thing to answer this question with, but Netflix, Neon, Spotify are my life. Also, I sometimes watch normal free-to-air TV. I know!

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
I was once an aspiring pianist. SHUT UP, I WILL NOT PLAY YOU ANYTHING.

In five years' time I'll be:
Five years wiser and hopefully still as happy as I am today.

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