Six Things You Didn't Know About Saatchi London's Rob Potts

Joint ECD Hasn't Always Made Smart Career Choices

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Rob Potts
Rob Potts

After a storied career working on memorable campaigns out of top U.K. shops Fallon and Mother, Rob Potts became executive creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi London in June 2014, alongside his partner Andy Jex. The pair took over the agency's creative reigns after Paul Silburn and Kate Stanners moved up to group roles.

During their tenure, the agency has turned out remarkable work, from the insanely funny "Pooface" for Pampers, to more thought-provoking ideas such as the campaign that put actor David Harewood in "whiteface" for Operation Black Vote.

Mr. Potts' colorful life extends beyond advertising, of course, as you'll see in this edition of Six Things.

1. Before he was an advertising creative, he was a stockbroker. Stockbroking was something of a traditional job for anyone growing up in Essex (South East England) in the 1980s who could count past 100. As a career choice, it wasn't one of his best ideas, however. "I studied math, economics and politics, took a job at NatWest Stockbrokers, transferred to The Stock Exchange floor and promptly got blown up by the IRA (Irish Republican Army) on my first day. I took it as a sign to try a different path."

2. Before he was a stockbroker, he was lead guitarist in the town of Aldershot's second most famous band. As part of The Budgies, Mr. Potts and his bandmates created a live act that involved the lead singer throwing birdseed into the crowd. They even had 'The Budgettes', a set of crazy female fans who followed them wherever they went -- plus they went on national TV and had offers to go on tour to support "real" bands. It wasn't enough for him though. "The Budgies called it a day when we graduated, but to this day there are certain streets in Farnham, Surrey that I have to avoid."

3. He served in the Territorial Army. A friend of his had read somewhere that you got an extra month off work, fully paid, if you joined the army reserves. "We signed up the next day at our nearest unit: 10th parachute regiment, which turned out to be a specialist reserve unit that was made up of ex- SAS and Falklands veterans." It got worse. "Two weeks later the Gulf War broke out and we got called up for immediate emergency training. One moment I was wearing Reebok classics in Romford high street, the next I was wearing camo and running around Salisbury Plain armed with an SA80 rifle." The high point of yet another ill-fated career choice was having his gun taken off him by an officer in front of the whole regiment after accidentally firing it into the air. It's safe to say that the defense of the realm has since been in more capable hands.

4. His first office was storied advertising creative John Webster's trophy room. Mr. Potts got his first job at BMP DDB London and worked out of a tiny closet opposite John Webster's office that was used to store his framed award certificates. He and his partner Mr. Jex could only fit in if they sat side by side. "I can distinctly remember banging my shin on his D&AD Black Pencil certificate and taking all the skin off my ankle. It was an honor."

5. He's a keen runner, racking up about 30 miles a week. Some people use that time to think about work. Mr. Potts uses it to think about nothing. He once got so fully in the zone that he dodged the barrier at Tower Bridge and got stranded as they started to lift it up. "I was on my sprint finish. Nothing stops my sprint finish."

6. He holds two world records. One's with Andy Jex for building the world's longest scalextric track -- 1,105.57 meters of standard two-lane track, made up of 2,683 straights and 724 curves. To put it into context, Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in England and Wales, is 1,085 meters.

The other was for the most dismissals in a single summer from Camp America, a summer camp program. Six. If you were sacked twice, you were supposed to be deported, but somehow Mr. Potts slipped through the system. He got that record all by himself.

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