Hugh Baillie | The Innovator 25 Asia Pacific 2018
Charting the future of public relations
Innovator 25 EMEA Hugh Baillie

Hugh Baillie  

President, X Practice

Weber Shandwick 
London

“What advice would I give to the PR industry around embracing innovation? Run at it instead of running away from it”

With extensive brand and advertising experience spanning BBH, Grey, Ogilvy & Mather and Saatchi & Saatchi, Hugh Baillie joined Weber Shandwick in January 2017 from the CEO role at digital agency FullSix. As president of the agency’s new X Practice across EMEA and APAC, he leads leading the firm’s strategic disciplines: analysts, content creators, creative technologists, planners, producers, social media strategists and technology specialists. Baillie’s rare perspective on the PR industry has given him a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities for brands. But it quickly became clear he’s not the “arrogant ad guy” in the agency: he’s known for listening, and being a measured thinker who has become a key driver of change in the global Weber Shandwick business.

How do you define innovation?
When I see something and say: "I wish I'd done that."

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
Weber Shandwick's Solve for X approach is already starting to help us significantly and positively impact our clients’ business.

Which brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
30 years of "Just Do It" and it's still pretty hard to see anyone bettering what Nike do.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
I led the pitch team that developed and launched the Keep Walking idea for Johnnie Walker. Six years in, Diageo's own econometric modelling suggested it was responsible for $1bn incremental sales revenue over that period. I'd say that's an innovative approach that worked.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
Peter Thiel. His book “Zero To One” is a pretty impressive read on genuine innovation.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Go for a run/swim, or gather a couple of colleagues together to help dig me out of it.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Run at it instead of running away from it.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
Trying to get this job.

Favorite book/movie/podcast/article that's not related to PR/marketing/business?
"From The Rookery End." A podcast for and by fans of Watford Football Club.