"Growing up in ex-mining community in the Forest of Dean, there’s fuck all to do other than join a brass band, play rugby or join a male-voice choir," Polly Barnes reflects."So I did the first two."
In fact, she ended up doing all three, swapping band practice for dance (she studied at the Royal Ballet), and at high levels. She sings with the City of London choir and has played rugby for Gloucester; it is a sport she still loves.
This desire to perform, and her self-proclaimed abilities as a "scrapper", have stood her in good stead and underpinned her progress from an account executive at the obscure 3Sixty agency in Bristol to her current role at Creature.
Being something of an outsider, she is no respecter of industry norms and prevailing wisdoms. Of creative output, she says: "I don’t give a fuck where it goes or if it wins. I think the power of what we do is beyond ads. You need to do something that scares all of you." That said, she won a Cannes Lion last year for "Adidas NEO Snapchat".
Her main role now is working across all client relationships and shaping Creature’s client services department. "I’m doing it in my image, although it’s not all about me," she jokes.
What time Barnes finds outside work she largely devotes to Breast Cancer Now, a charity close to her; she lost her mother to the disease at an early age. Her contributions include organising an annual fundraising rugby tournament with her husband, international referee Wayne Barnes, as captain. Coaches have included England’s Eddie Jones and Wales’ Warren Gatland.
"It’s a lot of work, but so is everything, and we could all drop dead tomorrow, so I want to achieve as much as I can, contribute and make my children proud."
Polly Barnes is client services director at Creature