Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Digital Hero: Russell Buckley

Russell Buckley, the “godfather of mobile marketing”, is Partner at Kindred Capital. Previously, he worked with the UK Government to help the cream of UK tech companies get Series A funding in the Afterburner Programme. He was part of the founding management team of AdMob in 2006, which sold to Google for $750m in 2011.

Who is your digital hero?

Marc Lewis, founder and Dean of the School of Communication Arts in Brixton.

What has he done to win hero status in your eyes?

As a former successful agency Creative Director, Marc realised that there was no formal training available for people who aspired to get into advertising. This also led to a lack of diversity in agencies as they tended to employ people from similar middle class backgrounds.

Marc started the school from scratch – his first student intake had to build their own desks before they could start work. Marc also designed the year-long curriculum, loosely based on the Socratic Method, with personalised programmes and centred on working and responding to live client briefs, supervised by leading industry mentors. Many of these responses go on to win industry awards.

Key to the philosophy of the school is an active and generous scholarship programme, giving opportunity to many people who would otherwise slip through society’s cracks.

The result is a multi-award-winning school, highly prized graduates and an unprecedented success record of placing students into desirable jobs.

Marc is currently taking the school digital (in parallel to the physical school), making the unique experience available to students globally.

How has his heroism helped drive digital?

Marc has kicked off the careers of hundreds of students. Look at pretty much any award-winning campaign these days and the chances are that one of SCA’s graduates had a hand in its creation.

What’s the biggest challenge in digital that we need another hero to solve?

Although AR and VR are very separate media, with different applications and use cases, someone still needs to figure out how to take them mainstream.

What’s your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?

I suppose it was seeing the potential for mobile back in 1999, before most people in the industry did. I was part of the team that started ZagMe, a location-based marketing company back in 2000, which was quite ridiculously early, in hindsight.

However, plugging away at mobile for the next five years was certainly hard, when it felt like no one else “got it”. Then we started AdMob, which kicked off mobile advertising properly and it became the multi-billion dollar industry of today.

But I still remember talking to leading agencies as late as 2008 and being told that “no one is going to bother to advertise on those tiny screens and anyway, advertising is all about scale and the market must be too tiny to bother with”.