LBB – in association with Remote Filming – asks Rasmus Smith Bech, ECD at BBC Creative, about what drives his work, which industry trends are affecting his team, and why he wants to create work that adds positivity to the world

The nature of production as the industry knows it is changing at lightning speed, ushered in by challenges around sustainability, diversity, budgets, the drive for more content at scale, and the like. To discuss all this and more, Remote Filming – the leading remote streaming service technology – is asking the industry’s experts about their best practices and the way they’re overcoming the challenges at hand in a brand new series for LBB. 

Anthony Barry, co-founder of Remote Filming says: “We’re all seeing the industry change and evolve before our very eyes. Some of the issues can certainly be solved with the help of technology while others will require the right people to band together and innovate. There’s a real power in partnerships across different interests and demographics; by learning from each other, we can make the changes we all want to see happen.”

Today, LBB caught up with Rasmus Smith Bech, BBC Creative’s executive creative director, who previously worked at places like Uncommon Creative Studio and Channel 4. He says the move to BBC Creative was a case of the “right timing” and he jumped at the opportunity to not only work for such an iconic name but to also create work that will “add something great to the world.” To date, Rasmus is proud of a number of projects that are helping young people learn (‘Don’t Learn Off Randoms’), and reminding the public why it’s important that the BBC exists (‘Trust Is Earned’).

Below, we spoke to Rasmus about why he never assumes that someone will care about an ad, how BBC Creative U is helping to address the lack of diversity in the industry, and why the right partnerships are key to creative success.

Trust is Earned

LBB> Rasmus, what first attracted you to the creative industry and how did you get your start? Were you creative from a young age?

Rasmus> Like most kids, I liked drawing growing up. This later turned into a love affair with graffiti. In fact, as a teenager, I was so into sketching letters and spray techniques that I ended up taking an evening course in graffiti at my local community centre. This may also be what sparked my interest with trying to steal people’s attention with my work. But it wasn’t until way later in my life that I realised you could work in advertising. At the age of 20-something, I had just moved back to Copenhagen after a less successful trip to Hollywood, working in feature films (a story for another time). I needed some money and luckily there was a job going as a runner in an advertising agency, fetching coffees for meetings etc. It was here where I got my first taste of the industry and some of the creatives encouraged me to apply for advertising school…so I did. They must have made a mistake, because I got in.

LBB> And how did you get your role at BBC Creative? What attracted you to the role?

Rasmus> Maybe it’s the times we live in, maybe it’s called getting older. But I’m not really interested in helping brands which I don’t think are adding anything great to the world. I’m not an astrologist, but I do think the stars aligned when BBC Creative came knocking. It was the right timing and when you get an opportunity to work with one of the most iconic brands, that daily pushes great stuff to the world, you don’t say no.

LBB> Before the BBC role, you were in a creative partnership with Jonas Roth. What is it like striking out on your own?

Rasmus> Jonas
 who? Joking. We are still very good friends. Jonas and I worked together for more than a decade. We’ve been on a fantastic road trip together, learning side by side and from each other. But our lives were starting to go down different paths, so it was only natural to pursue other things. When it comes to my new role at the BBC, I’ve felt very welcome and supported all around. So instead of just having one close collaboration partner as before, I now have many.

In your past work – like Channel 4’s ‘Complaints Welcome’ – you haven’t shied away from the spiky, the uncomfortable, and the tongue-in-cheek. How would you describe your creative style?

Rasmus> I try not to have a particular style. I think as a creative, you need to do what’s right for the brand and not to amuse yourself (…but great if you can do both at the same time, of course). I might not have a style, but I probably have a certain mindset when it comes to communication. I never assume that someone will care about an advert. I think we need to earn that trust and attention from the audience. This is why I often ask in a review, “Why would someone care about what we are doing?”

LBB> You’ve been in the industry for 13 years. What kind of challenges did you first face as a creative and do they compare to what you’re dealing with now?

Rasmus> When you are starting out as a creative, you might write every single word in a presentation, but not be in the meeting. Later in your career, you might be in all of the meetings, but won’t be able to write all of the words in the presentation.

LBB> Which industry trends do you find affect what you do most, i.e. sustainability, diversity, different platforms, demand for high volume of content, etc. How are you addressing these?

Rasmus> I think everything you have mentioned plays a big part of where the industry is heading. I try to be conscious of all of them and play my part. For example, I’m very proud of our BBC Creative U. It’s a 12-week free introduction course into the world of advertising and branding, available to ethnic minority candidates. Loads of colleagues from our department and across the industry offer up their time to help bring this course to life every year. The students’ commitment is equally energising and gives you great hope for the future.

LBB> What role does technology play, like remote streaming or AI for example, in helping to address the trends shaping the creative industry?

Rasmus> As with many other technological advantages, hopefully AI will democratise creativity even further, making it easier for more people to get involved with creating beautiful things.

LBB> What kind of role do the right creative partners play in addressing the challenges you and your team face?

Rasmus> The key is the people you work with. Whether it’s hiring, collaboration partners or clients – it’s about sharing a vision of success

LBB> Which of the work that you’ve done at BBC so far are your favourites, and why?

Rasmus>I’m really proud of all of our work, but especially the stuff that reminds everyone in the UK why it’s important that the BBC exists. Whether that’s showing the lengths the BBC goes to deliver impartial news (‘Trust is Earned’), our Bitesize work that reminds hard-working students not to believe everything they come across on the internet (‘Don’t Learn Off Randoms’), joining the screen debate to support parents and their kids (‘The Square Eyed Boy’) or simply giving our viewers a chance to become an extra in their favourite TV show (‘15 Seconds of Fame’).
Don’t Learn Off Randoms

LBB> Finally, what do you think is the key to creating work that cuts through the noise today?

Rasmus> Remember you are a consumer as well. Look at yourself and your advert in the mirror. Be honest if you are adding something great into the world or if you are just adding to the noise.