CV: Barbara Nokes Creative director, Grey

At 14, I wanted to leave both home and school, and I got a very strange job, filing the milk yields of cows at the English Guernsey Cattle Society. This turned out to be even more boring than school, as did my next eight jobs. But two years later, towards the end of the Sixties, I landed my first job in an advertising agency - as creative department secretary.

One day that winter all the copywriters in the department were away with 'flu so that when a traffic man came in wanting an ad, there was no one to do it. So I said I would write the ad, found an art director to do a layout, and sent it to the client, Mum Deodorant. They bought it, and, when they returned, the copywriters kindly asked me to start writing copy as well as typing theirs.

But I didn't get a firm grip on how interesting advertising could be until I met my now ex-husband, Roger Nokes. Roger encouraged me to meet the creative director of Doyle Dane Berbach. I did, and landed a job I stayed in for 10 years.

At DDB, I worked on a campaign for the Volkswagen Polo. At the time Ford was launching the almost identical Fiesta, so we found out when Ford was going into the newspapers, and went in ourselves with single-page black- and-white ads, with headlines like "Underneath it's still a Volkswagen", and "Making a car that looks like a Volkswagen is not the same as making a Volkswagen". And sales held up well, I'm glad to say.

My next agency was Boase Massimi Pollitt, where I moved to team up with Derrick Hass, an art director I'd worked with at DDB. But, after only a year, Derrick got itchy feet and wanted to return to CDP. I didn't, and was looking around when I saw in Campaign that Nigel Bogle was about to start an agency with John Hegarty and John Bartle. I only knew the Johns by reputation, but I'd been on an IPA [Institute of the Practitioners of Advertising] committee with Nigel and had been very impressed. If he was starting an agency, I wanted to work there. So, in 1982, I became one of the eight founding partners of Bartle Bogle Hegarty - and the copywriting partner of John Hegarty.

At BBH, probably the most famous piece of TV advertising we did was the laundrette ad for Levi's. In press, I'm particularly fond of a campaign for Dr White's san-pro that had headlines like "Have you ever wondered how men would carry on if they had periods?". I think that was the only campaign I've worked on where being a woman made a difference - in that sector men generally err on the side of flowers, or people rollerblading.

After 10 years, the last four of them spent as deputy creative director, I was approached by Bruce Haines in 1993 to become creative director of the Saatchi-owned agency CME-KHBB. But the agency didn't exactly flourish and eventually, after I'd left, it was folded into Saatchi and Saatchi.

My next move followed an approach from Paul Smith, executive creative director at Grey London. I wanted to do less admin and more actual creative work; Paul wanted someone to take creative responsibility for Boss fragrances, which are part of P&G Europe, and to help out in the London agency as and when needed. I've been here for 22 months.

The most important thing for me for the future is to continue to create advertising that is both radical and relevant. I aim never to patronise, but instead get under the skin and into the hearts and minds of the people I want to persuade about the brand that I'm advertising. I hope to add to the list of silver and gold Design and Art Directors awards I've won so far, and I hope never to join the ranks of people who believe their own publicity.

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