HomePerson of TodayTrevor Robinson, OBE

Trevor Robinson, OBE

Executive creative director of QuietStorm Trevor Robinson established the company in 1995, creating the UK’s first joint creative and production agency. Robinson says that his choice of profession reflected a “fear of ending up doing what everyone else was doing”, despite a careers adviser early on suggesting he get a job on the buses instead. His company’s clients now include the NBCInternational, Trinity Mirror and HARIBO. In 2007 Robinson founded Create Not Hate, a project targeting young people who may never otherwise be exposed to the creative industries due to their background. 


1. What was your biggest career break?

Getting my foot in the door as a creative at ad agency Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury (HHCL). It was with them that I started to make my name in the industry, creating for Tango the “You’ve Been Tangoed Slap” campaign, and working on accounts including Pot Noodle and Martini.

Prior to that I’d spent a year and a half on the dole and doing odd jobs, including being a court artist and designing book covers. 

2. Have you had a notable mentor – and if so what was it about them that was so inspiring?

When looking for my big break into the agency world I used to meet up with and write ads through the night with Tom Carty and Walter Campbell, both famous in later life for creating the Guinness Surfer campaign. It was during these sessions that I learnt from Tom the importance of a strong work ethic, and to make every piece of work the best it can be in case it’s your last. From Walter I learnt about successfully directing ads – the importance of finding that bit of improvisation (magic) beyond the agreed storyboard that makes the ad come to life. 

3. What one piece of advice would you give to the 20-year-old you?

Stick to the one thing that makes you happy and motivates you to jump out of bed every morning. With me it’s being creative – coming up with disruptive creative ideas that drive commercial growth for my clients. 

4. What qualities to do you look for in new recruits?

Enthusiasm, pride, diligence and drive; particularly in being happy to go the extra mile when required to get the job done. Also, I’d always advise new recruits not to just slot in, but do something exceptional and make themselves invaluable.

5. Whom do you admire in business and why?

David Abbott who set up and ran ad agency Abbott Mead Vickers. Although I never worked with him he seeked out excellence. He was also a gentleman who would treat you the way he would want to be treated – with respect. His legacy is still strong in the industry since he passed away a couple of years ago.

6. What does the future of your industry look like?

There is a danger that the ad, and also wider marketing industry, could be losing sight of the importance of creativity, because of all the excitement around new media routes and technologies coming on stream. The industry needs to go back to basics and look at how to deliver stand out emotional connections with consumers. This means delivering big disruptive creative ideas that resonate. Marketers will only be successful using new technologies and media routes if they are communicating a big creative idea.

7. If you weren’t in advertising, what would you have done instead?

It would have to be something creative. Maybe an artist, animator, or even fashion designer. 

8. What is your biggest extravagance?

My Aston Martin DB7. I only get to use it at weekends. 

9. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party and why? (you can invite three people – they must be alive)

Barack Obama – intelligent, likeable and stylish. I think the whole world will miss him as President. Emma Stone– the actress, who’s in the latest hit movie La La Land– seems to be a lovely person to be around and chat to. And finally the rapper Drake. He seems very human for a rapper with his lyrics about real emotions, such as being alone. I’m sure he has some interesting things to say about life.

10. What do you do to relax away from work?

Disappearing into the world of my kids at weekends is a great way to put thoughts of work to one side. Also, going for a drive with my eclectic mix of music, watching obscure movies and loads of TV series boxsets such as Narcos, The Wire and Waking the Dead all help.

11. If you could change one thing about Britain today, what would it be?

Reforming the prison system. I had a tough background and witnessed intelligent people I knew getting locked up. I’d look to change the system to be more about rehabilitation to encourage those who have done wrong to make a valuable contribution to society, and improve their lives, rather than be a drain on precious resources and regularly re-offend.

12. What would your last meal be? (please choose a starter, a main course and a pudding)

Starters are not common in Caribbean cuisine (my heritage) – we dive straight into the main meal. Main course: Jerk chicken or stew with plantain rice and peas. Pudding: Apple crumble with custard and a little cinnamon.

Debrett's Person of Today

No comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

All the latest news, discussions, events and offers from Debrett’s and receive £10 off your first purchase