Rik Haslam is currently the Senior Vice President Executive Creative Director at RAPP, a world-leading customer experience agency driven by data, inspired by culture and enabled by technology. Haslam has spent over seven years at RAPP, where he was most recently Chief Creative Officer of RAPP’s UK office. The Makegood recently spoke with Haslam about his new position.
The Makegood: Congratulations on your new position as SVP, Executive Creative Director at RAPP. You’ve been at RAPP for over seven years now. What will the primary responsibilities in your new role be, and how will this differ from the previous role you held at RAPP?
My primary responsibility is to work across the entire organization to ensure that delivering exceptional creative thinking to our clients is the number one priority in everything we do. I see a big part of the job of an Executive Creative Director as creating a company culture that puts an emphasis on imagination, fun, openness and genuine teamwork. It’s not easy in our often frenetic industry and our ever-changing world, but I believe amazing ideas only happen when every part of an agency feels free to focus on amazing ideas and ensuring that these ideas are executed with a determination to put perfection before everything else.
The difference in my new role is scale and geography. The New York office is the network’s headquarters so there’s an even greater requirement to succeed here. Because New York is the flagship office, it’s even more important that we do the best work and set the gold standard. The scale of clients, the range of work, the pace of change, and the complexity of the market, among other things, are different and force new ways of thinking and behaving.
The Makegood: What are you most excited about in regards to your move to RAPP’s New York office? How will your experience from previous positions help advance the work RAPP is already doing?
It’s helping make the New York office a beacon of creativity in our network, which is most exciting to me. But also, RAPP’s offering here in the U.S. is very exciting, as I don’t see many agencies with the capabilities, heritage, talent and strategic rigor needed to help reshape the totality of people’s experiences of brands both from a communication and a service design perspective.
It is also rare that an agency brings data and creativity together effectively and with imagination, which. RAPP does incredibly well across the board.
Also, throughout my career, I’ve been most interested in helping brands think in new ways about how they can deliver better experiences to customers and partners. RAPP is at the very cutting-edge of doing just this so I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside some of the most inspirational talent I’ve met. We’re building something incredible here, and it’s very satisfying to be part of that.
The Makegood: How will your experience from the United Kingdom contribute to the perspective you bring to the New York office? What do you feel sets RAPP apart from other agencies?
When I joined RAPP in the U.K., it was a successful but fairly traditional direct and digital agency, with the ambition to add more value to people’s experiences of brands. Having helped the agency achieve that ambition for clients like Bacardi, Dulux, Eurostar, Novartis, Philips and Virgin Media, I know what it takes to lead a creative agency full of a diverse range of multidisciplinary talents.
It has also been a personal mission of mine not just to talk collaboration, but to actually lead by example and build the actual processes, structures and ways of working that enable truly effective collaboration. I believe those skills will also be valuable here in the New York office and for our clients too.
In terms of what sets RAPP apart, there are two very simple answers to that question. First, it’s the people—talented, straight-up, smart individuals who enjoy each other’s company and set egos aside. Secondly, it’s our proposition in the marketplace—nobody else comes close to our ability to re-shape the entirety of a brand experience through creativity, data and technology.
The Makegood: What were some of the most exciting experiences you have had throughout your career? What have some of your favorite projects been, and why?
One of my favorite projects was way back in the early years of digital when I launched Europe’s first integrated content platform for Boots and ITV. Boots is a major well-being business, and ITV is the U.K.’s largest independent television network. Together, we launched a branded television channel, a website and a monthly magazine with all content fully integrated and produced by a single team. It was an industry first and a very ambitious project. I love the chutzpah of doing things that have never been done before.
More recently, I worked with Dulux to create five documentary films around the world that told the stories of five individuals whose lives had been fundamentally changed by a particular color. The work we produced was outstanding and incredibly authentic. More than that though, the individuals I met through that experience changed me for the better and helped me see the world in new and interesting ways. None of us can afford ever to stop learning.
The Makegood: As RAPP continues to grow and build a reputation as a leader in creativity, how will you keep up with this constantly growing company and industry?
There is only one answer to a question like that: curiosity. Of course one has to be smart, but being voraciously curious is the difference between those who thrive and those who fail. For me, curiosity is about being open to new experiences, being excited about the world and being eager to seek out and explore new ideas.
Fill an agency with people like that and you stand a good chance of success.
The Makegood: Thank you, Rik.