Rachel Barnes

Rachel Barnes

UK editor


Contact me
  • (020) 8267 4790
  • rachelmrbarnes
  • Haymarket Brand Media, 174 Hammersmith Road, London, W6 7JP, United Kingdom
My Character:
  • Good egg
  • Powerful
Work email


What's your big ambition for the year ahead?

Simplify my life, cut through the noise and complexity to see what's important and what will drive us forward meaningfully. In 2017 I was the duck: calm (ish) on the surface but paddling like fury underneath. At least I wasn't the frog…

Your mission: make advertising a desirable career for young people. What do you do?

Maybe this is boring but end the long-hours culture, increase flexible working, have a strong moral compass at the heart of the business, a diverse leadership team, a workforce demographic that represents society, plus encourage people to bring their passions to work. I know everyone talks about this but, in reality, we are far from truly achieving it. A melting pot of ideas, opinions, talents, backgrounds and culture – within one business – would be fab. I'm not convinced any company can really boast of this at present.

Which industry leader has most impressed you with their ability to transform a business?

Paul Polman of Unilever. I interviewed him a few years ago and he was so impressive. His strategy to reposition every aspect of the company around sustainability was bold, remarkable and ahead of the curve. He's been outspoken on short-termism (he's against quarterly reporting) and Polman's championing of long-term thinking is empowering his teams to prioritise building brands over hitting targets by cutting costs. If one of the world's biggest companies is willing to take this approach, with all the risks it entails, then surely there's a lesson there for every business.

What's your most annoying professional trait?

Forgetting random ideas and people's names unless I write them down quickly – a terrible problem for a journalist (your darkest secrets are probably safe if you catch me without a notepad). And it's getting worse!

And what's your most embarrassing personal habit?

Making notes on the back of my hand like a student. I definitely do worse things but, hopefully, you'll never know what they are.

You've invented yourself an AI assistant. What's the first thing you'd ask it to do?

Take over my email account and send polite replies to all those people I fail to get back to every day. Then it could just serve me up important emails that I need to see at set points in the day. To be honest, Google probably already does this but my email is a no-go zone. Then it can make me a coffee to my exacting standards.

Which app would you redownload first after a digital detox?

Feed Baby – I use it to track how long my daughter sleeps. It serves almost no purpose now that she's 18 months old, but it still gives me little fist-pump moments when I see she's slept 12 hours.

What's your side-hustle?


What's your fantasy Campaign headline?

Campaign's sale to WPPubliCom nets Barnes and team £110m.

What's the soundtrack to your life?

There were three in the bed and the little one said roll over, roll Old McDonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O, and on that farm he had a Justin's House, it's the place you want to play in, everyone's welcome at the grand old Duke of York, he had 10,000 go-go-go-go Go Jetters, go-go-go-go all around the world... On loop.

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