Mark Tutssel is the executive chairman at Leo Burnett. Early on, he learned to watch people to understand them and the value of their attention. On this episode of Starting Out, Tutssel talks about the cruel yet kind decision of an agency executive in Bristol, England, that led him to London and a lesson he learned in a cab.
I took a summer vacation job where I was a lifeguard for eight years. You spend your time with the purpose of protecting people, but you spend a lot of time watching people. I got fascinated by people and their behavior. It was hysterical to watch — how a family congregates, a couple’s first date, the guys who want to show off and such.
My cousin was a designer in London. I went to London, and I thought I wanted to be a designer. My cousin introduced me to his friends and people in the industry. One day, we were having drinks with him and a few other people, and I was introduced to a friend of his who was an art director at JWT, and he worked on the Kit Kat account. He invited me over to look at the world of advertising. I went in, and I realized this is what I wanted to do.
I went to art college after that. There was a competition for placement at an agency under Saatchi & Saatchi in Bristol. I applied, and I won. So I moved to Bristol, and put my heart and soul into it. Then, we won the biggest account in 10 years, and it was my work. They offered me a job. This person came to me and said, “Close the door. You’re not going to take the job here. If you want to be in this business, you need to go to London. I will do everything in my power to make sure you’re not going to get this job. I am going to be cruel to be kind. It’s easy and comfortable to stay here.” At the time, I thought it was strange, but it was incredibly kind. I had no idea the opportunities and the array of accounts to work on in London.
Very early in my career, we had won [an industry award]. We were in a black cab going home, and we were sitting in the back clutching our awards. The taxi driver looked in the mirror [and asked], “What’s the game you boys in?” We said we’re in advertising. “Oh, advertising, yeah. Give us punters something to look at, I suppose?” That’s the first time it dawned upon me that we have no divine right to people’s attention. People are not interested in what we do. We intrude in their lives, and we have a duty to reward them for the time they spend with us.
I believe in creativity without borders. I remember going to Chicago for the very first time, and someone knocked on my door. They asked, “If I have an idea, can I show it to you?” I said, “Of course — you’re a writer; I’m the director.” He goes, “Wow, that’s amazing. There’s a hierarchy.” And I said, “No, that’s gone.” I love to see ideas and let people shine.
When I was in school, we played sports. We were stronger together. If you apply this to the job, it’s about curation, collaboration. You pick the right players for the right positions. When I first started, my philosophy was to lead by example. I’m not a manager. I’m more of a player-coach. I need to work, create work, influence clients, etc. That team mentality came from sports. I don’t care what level you are. Everyone is capable of having an idea.
Why health care network Tia wants to reach women through OOH, social media
Aside from boosting brand awareness, Tia is approaching its marketing with a mission: inspire women to encourage systemic change regarding how they are treated in health care and combat medical gaslighting.
Lime’s new ad campaign puts efficiency on par with sustainability
Lime's latest campaign in Berlin and Washington, D.C. and San Francisco continues the company's focus on local markets.
Why Netflix, Paramount+ and other streaming services are borrowing from gaming IP as the media wars heat up
Consumers’ rabid interest in gaming IP has effects beyond streaming numbers. The popularity of game-inspired shows can flow back into the games themselves, as shown by the sharp increase in Cyberpunk 2077 activity following the release of “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” in September.
SponsoredHow FAST channels are redefining primetime opportunities for advertisers
Sponsored by Vevo With the competition from content providers continuing to build, the traditional primetime TV slots are no longer guaranteeing the mass audiences they once did. Television viewership is evolving, and the primetime window of 8–11 p.m. is less broadly reflective of younger audiences’ content consumption habits. In 2022, attracting TV viewers is a […]
Why companies like iHeartMedia, NBCU rely on homegrown IP to build metaverse engagements
The success of recent brand activations is evidence that media and entertainment brands are the companies best equipped to build metaverse spaces that can dodge online skepticism, thanks to their wealth of owned IP.
How sunglasses brand Quay retooled its advertising to be less reliant on performance marketing following iOS changes
Prior to the iOS changes, Quay was spending the majority of its ad dollars on performance marketing tactics and influencer marketing.