The 2009 Creativity 50: Keith Butters, Robert Hodgin, Benjamin Palmer, Rick Webb and Bruce Winterton
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For Rick Webb, partner at Boston-headquartered digital agency The Barbarian Group, his company's success could be traced back to a bold decision he and his fellow partners made just a few years ago. "We wanted to empower anyone in the company to be a creative lead on a project," he says. "Anybody could be in charge of anything. It keeps things fresh and keeps us from having a house style, and it really gives you a vast number of people to apply to a project." The full shift toward a creative democracy has translated into a slew of innovative executions over the past year, earning TBG Creativity's 2008 Digital Company of the Year honors. The firm built Getty's inspiring "Moodstreams" site, the interactive "Waking up Hannah" story for Dove, Adobe's user-friendly Photoshop Express site and most notably, the CNN.com t-shirt application. "Ben [Palmer] and I were conceiving the idea for CNN Shirts for nine months before we even met CNN, but it was with them in mind," says Webb. "Having that actually happen and work so well, was definitely a wow moment." The Barbarians also launched Plainview, a software app that allows for full-screen presentation browsing on the Mac and made some notable key hires, like strategy lead Noah Brier.
Webb, on what distinguishes TBG from other digital shops: "We don't hire in the creative department from advertising. They come from anywhere, especially from the internet. You get here by proving your chops somewhere even if it's your portfolio site when you were 17 years old. Our ideas are not the most insanely groundbreaking things so much as they're really great commercial manifestations of currently happening trends. Hiring people from the internet culture more than the advertising culture is huge. I don't know a lot of other shops of scaleable size that do that."