Worked in: London and New York
There is little question that Emma Cookson possesses the extraordinary ability to get to the heart of an issue, immediately assess the magnitude of any nascent trend, and express even the most complex situation in the clearest and most visual of terms. There are few better skills for marketing leadership, and Emma has found an appropriate home for the last two decades at creatively-driven, independent agency BBH (Bartle Bogle Hegarty). Although a BBH veteran, she never fails to understand that “thinking differently” is critical to navigating in today’s fast-paced world and delivering the kind of results that change perceptions.
Emma is not shy about urging 21st Century brands to innovate and risk standing out from the crowd if they wish to thrive and grow in today’s dizzying marketing world.
She believes that powerful brand communications combines the qualities of Relevance and Difference. However, she’s noticed that advertising around the world has over-prioritized Relevance, while failing to deliver sufficient Difference. She calls the result “Windtunnel Marketing” or advertising with all distinctiveness blown away, leaving a blur of brand-interchangeable imagery, copy and claims. Fortunately, Emma’s sharp mind and understanding of the power of differentiation allow her and the agency to sidestep all manner of windtunnel sameness.
Under her leadership, BBH NY has been voted as the AAAAs (American Association of Advertising Agencies) mid-sized Agency of the Year for an unprecedented four consecutive years from 2007-2010.
Dictionary definitions aside, how would you characterize innovation in the work you do? “When you’re in pursuit of fresh and different, my motto is ‘Go faster!’ Faster is simply better. Slow is endemic to international marketing, and slowness means reverting to the norm. Difference is fast.”
Emma Cookson started at the BBH London office in 1992. In 1999 BBH launched into the North American market and Emma left for the bright lights of New York City as the new office’s first Director of Strategic Planning and a member of its start-up management team. In 2002 she became BBH’s Global Head of Strategic Planning, responsible for the quality of the agency’s strategic output in BBH’s six offices around the world – before stepping into the BBH NY CEO role four years later, then her current position as Chairman of BBH New York.