pslondon - In conversation with Sam Harrington - 2023

Sam Harrington, Client Executive

15 September 2023

Shade ThompsonSocial & Content Marketing Manager

Sam is known for his warm personality, wit, and ability to bring a positive atmosphere to the office; and that’s just scratching the surface. Joining us as a Client Executive all the way from Australia, we sat down with Sam to get to know him further, and find out what has led him to psLondon…

Sam: I joined psLondon shortly after I moved from Australia, having previously worked in print production in Melbourne. My journey into advertising started a little before that however, when I graduated from my degree in Digital Communication.

Having journeyed across the world, I wanted to know if he fell into advertising, or if it was an industry he’s always wanted to be in.

Sam: Initially I gravitated toward music because it was what my friends were doing at the time. I completed a degree in music because I knew I wanted to do something creative, but I later worked out that it was never going to be the perfect career for me.

I then decided to do a degree in digital media, because I thought that industry would only continue to grow, and I could build a future if I had that skill set. Once I started the course, I discovered that all of my advertising-related subjects were by far the most engaging, and I moved across into studying an advertising major instead. The rest is history. 

Such an interesting background. I was intrigued about what compelled Sam to jump ship.

"Advertising can be a beautiful and wonderful piece of art in itself, but ultimately it serves a purpose."

Sam: The purpose in advertising is what I love about it; advertising can be a beautiful and wonderful piece of art in itself, but ultimately it serves a purpose, and it is that combination of function and form that I find so appealing.

Considering he’s taken a dive into music, and moved to advertising with a background in marketing and media, I asked him how he exercises his creative side and what he enjoys about it…

Sam: I think one of the best parts of my job is writing a tight, concise brief; a skill I am still learning and developing as I go, but something I have come to very much enjoy doing.

At times this means that you are being creative as you write, because you have to imagine what the output is in order to describe where the project should be headed. The brief is basically like the mirror image of the creative itself; everything that’s in the brief is in the final execution, and vice versa. So, I think writing a brief is a creative exercise.

Perfectly put! There is a creative side to all of us here at psLondon, across every part of the team. Sam is also known in the office for having an affiliation with boats and yacht racing - I was curious about how it all began…

"I’ve always loved getting friends out on the boat because it is an opportunity to show them a part of the world that non-sailors don't know exists - I want to encourage others to come and enjoy it with me."

Speaking of what Sam enjoys about this sport, it was interesting to hear why he was drawn to the life at sea…

Sam: The best part about yachting is sailing off the breeze, surfing the boat down an ocean swell when you’re far out of sight of land - it’s amazing how quickly you lose track of time out there. Your whole world exists on the boat, and you have to do the navigation, prepare the food, organise shifts for sleeping, keep racing the boat as fast as you can, make sure there are enough hands on deck for big manoeuvres - there is so much to consider, you don’t think about anything else for days on end. It almost feels like you're in a game, where you exist only to make it to the next port as fast as possible, preferably before anyone else.

Based on his role out at sea, I found that he had some interesting qualities, some of which were transferable to his position at psLondon…

"Like boat racing, I need an understanding of everyone else's role, to be able to do my job properly as a Client Executive."

Sam: My job on the boat was bowman, which means I prepare and rig all the sails, ready to be harnessed and used by everyone else. There are many roles needed to get a boat sailing, including hoisting the sails from the deck up to the top of the mast, trimming the sails, steering the boat, navigation, race tactics, etc … all of which were not my role, but I had to know about all of those positions in order to do my job well. I needed to know what our course was, how long until the next manoeuvre, what the weather forecast was, all so I could plan my workload and be ready when called upon for the next move.

I think this need for an understanding of all roles involved in order to do my job properly, is the same in advertising. I need to understand how everyone else in our business works and what the requirements of their job are, so I know to ask the right questions, obtain the right information, and get the brief right, in order to swiftly and effectively progress the project.

Sam does an excellent job at that, and has a flair for providing an uplifting atmosphere and making people smile and laugh. I wondered if this has always been innate in him…

"We all know that humans best retain information that is wrapped up in a narrative - that’s why it's important for campaigns to tell a story."

Sam: I don’t intentionally try to be funny, but it seems to happen a fair bit; having said that, I think if you should be one thing, it should be funny. I was reading somewhere a little while ago about the way humans retain information; we all know that humans best retain information that is wrapped up in a narrative - that’s why it's important for campaigns to tell a story.

But within that story, the information that is retained most easily are the bits that are funny, because laughing is such a guttural and emotive response; like crying, but we shouldn’t aim to make people cry, so laughter is the way to go.

Like most people, the stories I remember are the ones that are funny; think about a big night out, the bits you recall are always the funniest moments. When I’m on the boat, the moments on race day that get retold in the bar are when someone makes a mistake and gets smacked with a face full of seawater – because it’s funny! I do think there is a difference between humour and wit, but when done right, laughter is a great medicine.

I have to agree that laughter is the best medicine; on both a personal level and when creating brands and campaigns, it is a memorable form of marketing - which led me to my next question. If psLondon could work with any client, who would Sam’s ideal client be?

Sam: Toyota would be great; they’re such a dependable brand. In Australia, Toyota is known for being super reliable, with a bit of jovial nature thrown in as well. I think they’ve tapped into that free wandering spirit that so many Australians associate with, which is probably why they’re so successful there; they’ve wrapped their brand story up in our national identity.

And finally, I asked what advice Sam had for anyone that wants to be a Client Executive?

Sam: Be organised! Generally, you just need to be able to relate to everyone as a fellow human, and remember that clients aren’t scary - everyone just needs you to actively listen, and then be confident in your actions. Either the client knows what they want and they need your help to make it happen, or they don’t know what they want, and they need your advice and then help to make it happen. If you can remember that, you’ll be just fine.

Toyota as an ideal client is interesting. Sam probably doesn’t know that our founders used to work on Toyota, even winning a Marketing Society Gold Award for Marketing Effectiveness for them. We’d better get back in touch!

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