Rebecca Rowntree on reintegrating into agency life

After several years freelancing in the ad industry, the creative director has joined Leo Burnett full-time. She talks to us about the perks and perils of freelancing, how she made herself invaluable, and why she chose to go permanent again

“You have those interviews – and I have had them before in other agencies – where you think, oh, wow, they’re so cool, they’re so great,” says creative director Rebecca Rowntree. Over the years, however, she has found that the reality isn’t always as rosy as it’s made out to be. “People will give a bit of a front during interviews, and so do they really mean it?”

There’s something uniquely infuriating about enduring a bruising recruitment process where you feel positive about what you’re going into, only to find much of it was a façade – whether the working culture or the work itself. It’s one of the many experiences Rowntree has picked up along the way as a freelancer in the ad industry, and one of the key factors in deciding where she would land when returning as a permanent member of staff.

“I could tell you stories – but I won’t – of the types of people that have been very deceptive. So yeah, I feel quite happy with where I’ve landed,” she says, three months into her role at Leo Burnett. “I spoke to loads and loads of different agencies and I was strict on my criteria, but it paid off.”

Top: Haein Kim animation in the Wombstories campaign film for Libresse. Agency: AMV BBDO; Above: launch of Adwoa Aboah’s Gurls Talk podcast sponsored by Nike. Agency: R/GA

The French creative director studied design for advertising at London College of Communication, and was adamant upon graduating that she would break past the “traditional world of advertising” and explore the then-nascent domain of social and digital. “I just felt that I really wanted to have ideas that really spoke to people and to popular culture, and sometimes I felt that TV was quite restricted,” she says.