Most people have heard of Bob Isherwood. ’Ah yes. He’s the
Aussie ... no, Pommie ... left Colletts to go to ... er ... now he’s the
worldwide thingummybob at Saatchis.’ And there it stops.
You see, although many of us remember the Hovis commercial in which a
postman befriends a runaway boy - and some of us know that Isherwood was
behind it - hardly anybody could tell you what he, and other worldwide
creative directors, actually do for a living. Except, that is, collect
Isherwood, with typical meticulousness, has already prepared a list.
Broadly speaking, the items on it fall into three groups. The first is
Toyota, a global account for which Isherwood obviously has a lot of
The second is a diverse bag of tricks covered by the term ’global
initiatives’, and the third is what all worldwide creative directors say
when asked about ’raising and maintaining standards’.
Isherwood talks about the need to have a ’real partnership’ with his
chief executive, Kevin Roberts (Isherwood was one of the people who
persuaded him to join Saatchi & Saatchi in the first place). There’s
also some chat about the kind of tools that networks use to encourage
creativity and promote their brand.
While he is explaining his role, there is time to step back and take
stock of the Isherwood persona. He definitely has something quite
powerful about him - one of those rare people who seem to make a vast
impact without taking up much space, or making much noise. He’s also the
only 56-year-old who could possibly get away with waxing his hair. In
In fact, he looks every inch the 90s creative director. Dressed in a
floppy-fit black and white number, and talking in calm,
Melbourne-meets-mid-Atlantic tones, you can visualise him in most of the
Which is just as well, since he spent the majority of last year on the
Now the proud owner of five acres and some horses just outside Sydney,
Isherwood was born and grew up in a tough suburb of Melbourne. School
was a painful, bully-filled grind (so much so that 30 years later he
turned down a job just because the office overlooked his old school), so
Isherwood quit education at the age of 13 and became, in his own words,
’the worst motor mechanic in the world’. Luckily for the development of
the internal combustion engine, however, after a few years he wangled
his way into art college at the suggestion of a mate who was a designer.
And thus set up in his chosen profession, the young Isherwood set sail
for the UK.
Ambitious but not really that clued-up, Isherwood arrived in London,
looked under ’A’ for advertising in the Yellow Pages, and found a job as
a graphic designer. This was followed by a stint at Young & Rubicam as
an art director, before the ambitious Isherwood came to the notice of
Tony Brignull. Brignull hired him and Isherwood was set on a path that
would see his name become synonymous with the heyday of Collett
So why leave? Well, in fact, he didn’t. Not for 12 years, anyway. CDP
became what Isherwood calls his ’spiritual home’ until he got the call
from his old country. I say call. One was literal - a telephone
conversation offering him a stake in the Campaign Palace, Australia’s
And the other was a desire to return to Australia, which, he says, had
changed out of all recognition while he’d been away.
From the Campaign Palace, Isherwood moved on to Saatchis in Sydney, and
from there went up the regional ranks until 1996 when he became the
network’s worldwide creative director, and now spends his
time ... er ... well ... he spends a lot of time on a plane.
Leaves school in Melbourne at 13 to become the ’worst motor mechanic in
Works as a graphic designer in London.
Moves to Young & Rubicam as an art director
Joins Tony Brignull at Collet Dickenson Pearce. Stays 12 years, and
produces famous work for Stella Artois and Hovis among others
Returns to Australia at the Campaign Palace in Sydney
Moves to Saatchis Sydney
Becomes chairman of Saatchis worldwide creative board
Becomes worldwide creative director of Saatchis.