Scott Morrison has had a unique career; starting at Saatchi and Saatchi, he moved to head up Nike at Wieden and Kennedy, before moving client side as Marketing Director at Levi’s, Activision and Diesel.
His creative consultancy, the Boom! works to Unblock, Unlock and Unleash creative, commercial and cultural impact in businesses.
He is also a co-author of the Amazon best-selling ‘Creative Superpowers’ book and a co-founder of the remote working platform, ThinkSprint.
Who is your marketing hero?
It’s never easy to really work out who your heroes are and, more importantly, why they are. However, for me, this was easier than most. It’s Karen Blackett, Country Manager at WPP CEO of Group M.
What has she done to win hero status in your eyes?
Karen is a leader who is totally rooted and grounded in who she is and has an incredible ability and capacity to inject a passion and energy in people around her and inspire them to do things they never thought possible.
I first met Karen at a Powerlist event back in 2008. She had started a conversation with my mum (lots of people do) and they were talking away like two old friends. She made a real impression on me that night as she had this incredible way of making everyone feel part of the conversation.
When I started the Boom! back in 2014, Karen was one of the first people to take me to lunch, share the most valuable of insights and information and then to take a chance on me by bringing me into MediaCom for some of my earliest work.
And it was there that I was introduced to the powerful ‘people first’ culture that has been synonymous with MediaCom – the whole business was fully behind a culture that brought the best out of people, focussed on their development and let them fly.
These are the core principles with which I ran my teams but the scale and ambition that I saw from Karen was a different level.
Karen’s perspective on life, leadership and business is truly fascinating. She is at the very top of her game and yet, when you meet with her, however long its been, it feels like she’s focussed on that moment with you. This is what true leaders do without thinking about it.
And for me, Karen is a true leader and hero.
What’s the biggest issue we need another hero to solve?
Connection and reconnection.
I believe that we, as humans, have never been less meaningfully connected than right now. And I mean physically, mentally, naturally and emotionally. It’s something we’ve been focussing on at the Boom!
Whilst we’re connected in the ether with ‘friends’ we’ve never met or ‘contacts’ we’ve never shaken the hand of, these are quite often vanity connections.
We’ve lost sight of what ‘work’ actually means and how much of our lives it consumes. We’ve lost touch with our local communities and see empty high streets, unfamiliar faces and locked doors. We’ve lost our connection with nature and the planet and it’s causing huge shifts in our ways of living.
And mentally, we’re losing the connections with ourselves – too distracted, not centred, unable to communicate effectively. We need to truly understand what is getting in the way of us connecting and Unblock it.
Then, Unlock the learnings from the great work goes on in pockets. There are so many heroes out there doing amazing stuff to help small groups and individuals that we need amplify.
Finally, we need heroes to help Unleash big action – bigger organisations that can really create the groundswell that help us all connect more viscerally to ourselves, our relationships, our organisations and our wider world.
What’s your most heroic personal achievement in the industry so far?
It always comes back to people for me.
One thing I’m proudest of is that I was able to take my mum to the Powerlist events I mentioned earlier when I was named one of the UK’s 50 most influential BAME leaders in business.
I will never forget the smile on her face when she saw who else was on the list. It feels, in a small way, like you’re repaying the faith that your childhood heroes, your parents, had in you.
However, I’ll always remember many years ago, a team member who was having some personal difficulties asked for help. It was a brave thing to do and required some long term working through.
They made great progress and, eventually, were ready to fly and go to their next, much bigger role. As they left, I received a small note in which the line ‘if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here’ stood out.
At first, I thought they were referring to the new role. However, they later revealed that it had a much deeper meaning. I cried.
I think that being heroic isn’t something you set out to do or you’d ever claim.
But right now, we need our heroes more than ever.