Q&A with Rob McCormick, Vice President, Creative Director and Managing Director of &Barr

This week's Q&A is with Rob McCormick, Vice President, Creative Director and Managing Director of &Barr. Rob talks about the Maker culture, creating something greater than yourself and being Will Grier's conscience.


Q. Tell us a little about yourself and &Barr.
As a Bay Area resident for almost a decade, I find it fortunate to share my life with 4 of the best people in the universe. Three call me dad, the other refers to me as sweet heart. It would be a mistake to think that any success thus far would have been capable without them. I've run 35 miles in the woods of Florida, meditated for 10 days in the woods of Georgia and swam in the Amazon; so, I guess you could say that I'm attracted to Mother Nature. Oh, and I'm also a Vice President, Creative Director and huge fan of our industry, on most days. I work with the creative folks at &Barr and I've had the pleasure of working with a ton of really bright people throughout my career.

&Barr is the rebranding results of one of the 4A's oldest agencies: Fry Hammond Barr. Our 58 year old, full-service, agency has worked with clients in most industries and many of them for more than a decade. Maybe the best way to describe &Barr is:


Q. What do you do for inspiration?
Nothing! That's the thing with inspiration - it's everywhere. With a little awareness, you can be moved by anything. The world is a giving place. Sometimes you just need to slow down and pay attention.


Q. What is the all time most memorable moment of your career?
I'm not sure if this is the most memorable, but it popped in my mind first, so there's that. This moment is less about my career and more about a couple people I worked with. I have enjoyed so many of these memories throughout my career.

So, to be fair, it would help you to know that at one point in my career I was nicknamed B.D.A. (Big Dumb Animal) by Ron Boucher - affectionately, I'm sure. Truth be that I had a reputation for smashing food, among other things, left by coworkers on their desks. Ron captured me smashing my partner, Billy Custer's doughnut. Though this video doesn't reveal the length of footrace between Billy and I; Ron's laughter does help set the mood. https://www.dropbox.com/s/p4j9ju0rzcl4h5v/DonutSmash.MPG?dl=0 I believe it is the many little moments in ones career, that over time, outshine some of the bigger moments. Like great work, it takes special people to share in these moments with.


Q. What's your favorite project you've ever been involved with?
Do Nothing. Do Good. It's an app that encourages people to put their phones down to enjoy the world around them. Once activated, the app keeps a running tally of the time spent not using your phone. All downtime spent is collected, then, our agency volunteers in the community for the accrued amount of time. A simple idea that does good. I like that combo.

The rebrand of a 58-year-old advertising agency was a pretty rad project too.


Q. What does the next 10 years of advertising look like to you?
In a world that is better connected and moving at its fastest pace, there will be no room for advertising as we know it. But, as long as people roam this planet, there will always be a need to engage and influence them; so advertising is not dead, necessarily. Rather, it will continue to evolve, but at an increased rate. Agencies will need to evolve as well. In fact, many agencies are already making these changes. It's no secret that agencies have been forging new relationships for years. From distillers to manufactures, agencies are now moving from marketing of others' products to inventing, producing and marketing their own products. The timing of the Maker culture is aiding in this transition. It makes sense to me that businesses full of creative people should be making more than just ads.


Q. What's your favorite thing about working in the Tampa Bay area? What do you think Tampa Bay has to offer that other cities don't?
The people! It's the one thing that makes every city different and every agency too.


Q. If you weren't working in advertising, what would you be doing?
Walk on kicker for the Gators or maybe the conscience of Will Grier, motivational speaker for a co-ed adult kickball league, pose for sports trophies? Seriously, I'd just walk the Earth.


Q. What advice do you have for students/people just starting out in advertising?
Be original. Be fearless. Be humble.


Q. Where can people connect with you or learn more about &Barr?


Q. What's one misconception you would like to see cleared up the advertising scene in Tampa Bay?
At the moment, the creative class in the Bay Area is a little fragmented. We need to find ways to better work and play together. There is no reason we couldn't be a best in class market.


Q. What's your favorite part of your job?
Working with others to create something greater than I could have on my own.


Q. What's the hardest part of your job?
Time sheets. I'm kidding Mr. Barr, I love time sheets. Honestly, your job is only as hard as you make it.


Q. What do you do when you get stuck?
Stop thinking, switch gears and move in the opposite direction. Basically do anything, but what I am currently doing.


Q. If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
I'm not sure this is as much a pivotal point in my career as much as it was in my life, but I feel like the moment I started living in the moment, everything else fell into place.


Q. What's one thing you couldn't live without?
I'm a big fan of smiles. Laughing is pretty cool too.


Q. Before you go, is there one last piece of wisdom you can drop on us?
Every problem has a solution. The simplest one is always best. Don't get stuck in your own way - keep moving.


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