2 Minutes With ... Kimberley Ragan, Head of Brand Experience at Colenso BBDO

Her creative journey from vampire novels to helping New Zealand's Covid fight

Kimberley Ragan is group creative director and head of brand experience at Colenso BBDO in Auckland, New Zealand.

After working at Colenso for six years early in her career, she spent several years in Los Angeles at TBWA\Chiat\Day and Saatchi & Saatchi. She returned to Auckland in 2014, first working at Special Group and then returning to Colenso in 2016.

Kim loves work that pushes boundaries, no matter what medium it appears in, and is passionate about helping brands become a meaningful part of people’s lives. She has staged an aerial dogfight, blown things up in the Mojave Desert, invented a sport, created the dog version of Snapchat, made a remote-controlled monster truck, and made a TV commercial with a budget of $150.

We spent two minutes with Kim to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations, and recent work she's admired.


Kim, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I was born in a tiny place called Blenheim in the South Island of New Zealand, but most of my formative years were in Whanganui, New Zealand. Since then I've been in Wellington, Auckland, Los Angeles, and currently I live on Waiheke Island, which is located in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf. It's paradise, honestly, and I'm very lucky to be there. 

What you wanted to be when you grew up.

I actually wanted to be an architect. I love buildings and how people interact with them. BUT to do an architecture degree, you have to be great at calculus and physics, which I definitely am not. So I went the design route.

How you discovered you were creative.

When I was 10, I wrote a novel. It was about vampires. I really should have kept at it because I could have beat the Twilight series by about 10 years. Fail.

A person you idolized creatively growing up.

Salvador Dalí. And also Stephen King. 

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

I took a creative advertising paper in my second year of university, just to make up credits. That paper somehow pulled me out of the design world and ignited my interest in advertising and copywriting.

The first concert you saw, and your favorite band or musician today.

The first concert of scale was Pearl Jam. And today, I don't know that I could call a favorite. I have pretty eclectic taste and will listen to everything and anything.

Your favorite visual artist.

Oh man. That's hard. At the moment I love Australian artist Caroline Walls. Also special mention to local NZ artist Mike Davison, who I genuinely want on the wall of my home.

Your favorite fictional character.

Homer Simpson. 

The best book you've read lately.

Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy. I have a 2-year-old.

Your favorite movie.

I love horror. Like LOVE it. So anything horror generally. But if I had to choose… probably the OG Exorcist.

Your favorite Instagram follow.

@shityoushouldcareabout

How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.

Covid has made me appreciate the place I live in—both geographically and also the quiet determination of the people who live here. I'm also attempting to achieve better balance—more working from home, and less sweating the things that are out of my control. 

Your favorite creative project you've ever worked on.

Probably Pedigree SelfieSTIX. Dogs plus tech—two of my favorite things coming together in a fun way!

Pedigree SelfieSTIX
A recent creative project you're proud of.

We recently smashed this Public Service Banger out in record time ahead of NZ's summer festivals. Being part of ensuring our country's Covid-19 success, so we can keep doing the things we love, is a pretty great feeling. Plus, people loved the shit out of it.

Unstoppable Summer: A Covid-19 Public Service Announcement
Someone else's creative project that inspired you years ago.

When I was at school I just loved Gondry's beautiful Levi's "Drug Store" work. I loved that they took the time to make a version which had a female protagonist, which, in that type of story, definitely wasn't the norm at that point in time.

Levi's | Drug Store (boy version)
Levi's | Drug Store (girl version)
Someone else's creative project that you admired lately.

"Womb Stories" by Bodyform. How good is that work???? And so relatable to every single woman. Plus, they pulled that off at the beginning of Covid! Amazing!!

Bodyform #wombstories
Your main strength as a creative person.

Probably my ability to adapt. I think being able to change and evolve—both with the work and as a person—as the world throws stuff at you makes for better creative output. And empathy. You have to care for the people around you. Otherwise, what's the point?

Your biggest weakness.

Self-doubt. I think women suffer from this more in this industry than men. We're so accustomed to being spoken over and overlooked that it can really knock your confidence and manifest as doubt. The older I get, I am getting better and better at standing behind what I think, but it's not always easy. 

One thing that always makes you happy.

My Kid. My dog. That's two things.

One thing that always makes you sad.

Humans. We can be so awful to each other and the planet.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.

Probably writing something. Hopefully something good that people would want to read.

2 Minutes With is our weekly interview series, publishing every Wednesday, where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards, editor of Muse by Clio, and host of the podcast Tagline. Previously, he was creative editor at Adweek.

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