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Campbell Mithun’s Rudduck hopes to spur more digital innovation

Heath Rudduck
Courtesy of Campbell Mithun
Heath Rudduck

In Heath Rudduck’s native Australia, there’s a phrase that explains his approach to advertising: “Suck it and see.”

Translated, it means that you don’t know what you’ve got until you try it. Rudduck, the new chief creative officer at Campbell Mithun, preaches the joy of discovery and the need for a pioneering spirit in a business undergoing rapid change.

“Once upon a time, we sat around the campfire and told stories,” Rudduck said. “That was social media. Now, the campfire is bigger, but we’re still telling stories.”

Rudduck, with a reputation as a digital innovator in his homeland, arrives at Campbell Mithun as the historic giant of the Minneapolis ad industry moves aggressively to become more digital-centric.

Having lost its longtime No. 1 spot in the local rankings to Olson, Campbell Mithun last summer merged with the Minneapolis office of digital agency MRM Worldwide and installed MRM executive Rachael Marretas president of the larger entity. Rudduck’s hiring is meant as another spur toward digital innovation.

“This is the remote control of our lives,” said Rudduck, tossing his smartphone in a beefy hand. “Mobile is inherently personal. That number is mine.

“Watch what happens when a call or a text comes through for someone. It’s like they’re being poked in the eye. You can’t ignore it — because that message is for me.”

Rudduck cut his teeth in print — “with the grumpy old guy who whipped you if your kerning was wrong” — and he said that print and digital are combining to create an exciting new platform that marries the best of both.

“To me, the tablet media [e.g., iPads] are where the rubber has hit the road,” he said. “Now, there’s true convergence. That’s where the digital media are giving a tactile experience that can compete with print.”

Over the past decade, as innovation has exploded, it’s been fashionable to criticize the big legacy agencies for a lack of nimbleness. But Rudduck suggested it may be time to focus instead on the strengths of the legacy agencies.

“We’ve got incredible skill sets and a depth of knowledge and talent,” he said. “Another way of looking at legacy agencies is that they are agencies with history. And that history is an enormous strength.

“How we navigate the worlds of digital and social media comes back around to the strength of our legacy. We know the truth of a brand. And we know that people will respond to that truth, no matter in what channel we reach them.”

Rudduck will host a live, interactive Talkinar conversation about digital creativity on Feb. 16 at 1 p.m. CST. For more information, email talkinar [at] cmithun.com, including “send details” in the subject line.

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