BBH London nabs Tony Cullingham to lead revamped Barn incubator course

Cullingham is the former programme leader of The Watford Advertising Course.

Tony Cullingham (left) and BBH London ECD Helen Rhodes, one of his former students
Tony Cullingham (left) and BBH London ECD Helen Rhodes, one of his former students

Bartle Bogle Hegarty London has appointed the former leader of The Watford Advertising Course, Tony Cullingham, to lead the revamp of its creative placement programme, The Barn.

BBH London executive creative director Helen Rhodes, a former Watford student, has initiated the refreshed creative incubator course at the agency. Running for 11 years, The Barn previously trained three creative teams, three times a year.

It will now be open full-time for 10 months and will give eight people the opportunity to launch their careers in the industry. It will be free to attend and candidates will be paid. 

Billed as a gateway opportunity for a career in advertising, the course is designed to remove traditional barriers, opening it up to more people from different backgrounds.

The course begins in November with Cullingham at the helm alongside guest mentors from his network.

In a similar vein to Watford, which was a portfolio ad school, the module will help individuals and teams to develop their portfolios during the final module. 

After the first "Boot camp" semester, the group will work on BBH brands, including live briefs.

The course is open for applications on BBH's website. 

BBH has also partnered organisations including Hidden, Media Trust and Creative Mentorship Network, which have an extensive network of young people looking for opportunities in the creative industries.

A selection process based on interviews and creative tasks will be devised to choose the candidates, with a focus on ethnic, gender and socio-economic diversity.

“I've gone from running the best ad school in the UK to running a better one at BBH. The creative lambs at BBH Barn will have the oldest shepherd in town. I can't wait to take them to green pastures,” Cullingham said of his new venture. 

Rhodes said: “Tony is one of the most respected figures in our industry, who has been fuelling our creative departments for years.

"The opportunity to partner with him to refresh Barn and expand the pool of brilliant, diverse talent entering our industry today is not only really exciting but also essential. As a former student of Tony, I know what learning from him is like and I’m so pleased other students will be able to experience it.” 

The appointment arrives in the wake of the news that The Watford Advertising Course is to close its doors, after a steadily declining number of applicants.

Earlier this month, Cullingham took to his social channels to announce his resignation from the famous course, as well as the post-graduate diploma in copywriting. 

“It’s clear that I am in the wrong place,” he wrote, signing off his notice with his regretful new title – ex-programme leader – divulging: “I need to be where the students are.” It turns out, the students are at BBH London.