Rich Russo’s Bio in Six Lessons

In a nutshell 

I’m very proud of the breadth of my accomplishments. First and foremost, I’ve been the creative leader of ad agencies of every size, from one of the largest in the country to a mid-size regional success story. I was also an agency owner and have been on the receiving end of most industry awards, including a rare advertising Emmy and was voted one of Ad Age’s “100 Best and Brightest.” 

Recently, I wrote and produced a short-film called Extra Innings. The film was featured at The Beverly Hills Fine Arts Festival. In addition, I sit on the Board Of Directors and serve as advertising consultant for the Coalition For The Homeless. Please view our new campaign and the short film I created for Camp Homeward Bound on this site. 

In detail 

Currently, I am the Executive Creative Director and Managing Director of EuroRSCG/Adrenaline, a new mid-size agency which specializes in the areas of Health and Wellness and houses such brands as Excedrin, Benefiber, Nicotinell Worldwide and the Coalition For The Homeless in New York. 

Prior to the opening of Adrenaline, I was a Creative Director at EuroRSCG/Tonic one of the fastest growing and most effective Healthcare agency’s in the country. In addition to my many projects at Tonic, I was also very instrumental in such EuroRSCG new business wins as ExxonMobil, Verizon Business and the New York Stock Exchange. 

From 1999-2004, as Chief Creative Officer of FCB/NY, I led the Creative and Broadcast departments through a complete transformation that included reorganizing and redefining the creative process. Through all the change, perhaps because of it, our creative work improved and FCB more than doubled in size. New business wins included AT&T, Compaq, Samsung, Fisher Price, Qwest, IRS and American Standard. 

Lesson: Large ships can turn around. 
              It’s usually the engine room that’s the problem, not the size. 

In 1995, I moved 90 miles south to Philadelphia’s Tierney & Partners as Principal & Chief Creative Officer. The challenge was to reinvigorate a struggling agency in one of advertising’s toughest markets. Within 18 months, thanks to a great new team of leaders and a lot of smart, award-winning work, Tierney became one of “The East’s Biggest Gainers” as ranked by Adweek. By 1998, Tierney had more than tripled in size and established itself as a formidable creative player. 

Lesson: Improve the work. Challenge the people. Win. Repeat. 

From 1990-1994, I was an Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy & Mather/NY, where my clients included American Express, Duracell, Eastern Airlines, Smith Barney and Travel & Leisure. All but Smith Barney won various awards. The Eastern Airlines campaign entitled “100 Days” is the work I’m most proud of, for a host of reasons–the people, the idea, the collaboration and the mission. 

Lesson:  When you get to work for really sharp, collaborative professionals, 
                listen and learn. You’ll use pieces of it later. Against them, if you’re lucky. 

In 1987, Jerry Della Femina asked me to be the Executive Creative Director of his Los Angeles office. He entrusted me with his hottest office and with the “Joe Isuzu” campaign, one of Ad Age’s “Top 50 Campaigns of All Time.” That office had the best creative people I had ever met in one place. It was a privilege. 
Lesson: Everything we do has a chance of making history. 

At age 26, I was a principal partner in Plapler Russo,the agency that launched People Express Airlines. It was an experience I’ll take to my grave. Every day we were creating airline history and we knew it. Today some of our ads are displayed in the Smithsonian and I’m proud of that. 

Lesson: Same as above. 

Lastly but most important, I have one real hero. My father served on Iwo Jima, then became a mailman in Queens. He taught me about truth, respect and integrity. Those were the values he used to measure true success. I do my best to remember them. 

Lesson: Enough said.