The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Sacrifice Is Love …

Before I start, I need to warn you this post is long.

It may be the longest post I’ve ever written, so there’s a TL;DR at the very end.

Anyway, this post is about my Mum. And my wife.

Two amazing people who provided the foundation that allowed their husbands to go all over the place.

I’ve written about how my Dad had a bunch of radically different careers.

Not degrees of change, whole fucking protractors worth.

And while my career has been more ‘stable’, in so much it has pretty much revolved around the same industry … the fact I’ve been able to live and work literally all around the World is as much down to my wife as it is to any opportunity I have been given.

Put simply, none of what Dad or I have done could happen if Mum or Jill hadn’t enabled it.

And enabled is the perfect word … because this is more than just ‘supporting’ someone’s quest for adventure.

They actively enabled it to happen by choosing a path that offered them – and the family – a greater level of stability and consistency so their partner could follow the path of curiosity.

What an amazing act of generosity and love.

It is something I have been aware of for a long time …

And while Jill has loved the adventure we have been on, it has come at some personal sacrifice.

She is far from her family.

She built her career as much around the environment she was in as the interest she had in a particular area.

And while she did brilliantly with all of it – especially with her cake design business in Shanghai – I am perfectly aware she could well have gone on to even more amazing things if we had just stayed in one place rather than moved all around the World.

She has never complained about this.

She has always embraced the journey and the countries we have lived in.

But the reality is I took her away from her family supposedly for a year, which turned into 16.

Or said another way, she has shown me a level of love and support that I find hard to fathom.

So now it’s time to pay things back a little. Kinda.

You see when I got made redundant, I was inundated with generosity.

Some of it was words of support.

Some of it was offers of projects.

Some of it was even offers of jobs – albeit all overseas in America, Europe, Asia and Australasia.

Frankly, it was overwhelming and wonderful.

And while all the gigs were amazing opportunities, our first reaction was to say no.

Part of it was because of the wonderful family home we had just bought. Part of it was our desire to set down real roots for the first time. And part of it was because two famous rock bands, a wonderfully eccentric Chinese billionaire, an amazing German home appliances brand and the World’s most notorious/desired video game company stupidly asked me to work with them on long-term creative projects, meaning I could continue to earn a good living in the country my family now considered home.

Hell, in the last 9 weeks I’ve done presentations to the boards of TikTok, Rockstar, a fashion superstar and a Silicon Valley VC while also helping some mates on 2 pitches … one in Australia, one in Italy … and we won both of them!!!

As weird as it is to say, unemployment – for me – has been amazing.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know what I’m saying is the definition of privileged-as-fuck.

I absolutely acknowledge I’m in an extremely fortunate position and, if I’m being honest, I’ve found that hard to reconcile with, given how many people – many my mates – are having a hard time right now. To help deal with that, I’ve been finding ways to bring some of them into the projects I’m on because not only do I want to share the good fortune I’m experiencing, they all make me – and the work I do – so much better.

But it also revealed something I had forgotten.

As much as I love the work I’m doing and who I’m doing it for, I love it more when I’m doing it with a team. If I’m being honest, I suck when I’m on my own and given the personal projects I’m doing will never demand 8 hours a day – let alone 5 days a week – there’s a lot of ‘on my own’ time, I have to deal with.

I know, that sounds like the dream doesn’t it?

And it is. But while I absolutely love spending so much time with my family and adore working with Rock Stars and eccentric billionaires, I also love – and probably need – to collaborate with other creative people on other creative things … which led us back to the ‘real’ jobs people were talking to me about.

Frankly they all offered something unique, interesting and valuable to my career, my family and our overall future.

And, importantly, they all involved working with interesting, passionate, creative people.

Plus – in theory – I could still deal with the crazy ideas and needs of rock stars and billionaires.

So Jill and I discussed them again.

Some were pretty easy to decide …

Not because the job or the companies were bad – they were all wonderful – but they were based in the US and frankly, given all that’s going on there right now, that’s not somewhere we wanted to go back to at this time.

But there was one opportunity that caught Jill’s attention.

Not just because of the job, but because of the place.

Jill knew I was already excited by it because the company involved was one I had revered and raved about for years. In fact I had almost joined them a few years ago, but Mum had just died so I was in the wrong frame of mind to make any big changes in my life.

So why did this place catch Jill’s attention?

Because, in simple terms, it was nearer to her Mum, who lives in Australia.

You see while she talks to her daily, it’s obviously not nearly the same as seeing her a bunch of times a year.

I totally understood this, not just because I had been in a similar situation with my parents … but because now we were so close to my beloved best mate Paul and his epic wife Shelly, I felt an even deeper connection with them, simply because we got to hang out a shit load more than we had for the past 25 years.

And so this got us talking.

As I said, I absolutely adored the company. And I loved Jill could be closer to her Mum. And we loved the idea Otis could spend his primary school years in an environment that is safe, natural, liberal, creative and culturally diverse. Plus I loved I could do something that would – in a super small way – repay Jill for all the love, consideration and sacrifice she had given to allow me to keep us moving forward … not to mention I loved that I would have a whole new list of people I could make Facebook friends.

[OK, not that last bit, more like a whole new list of people I could be an instagram terrorist to]

Are you wondering what the fuck I’m going on about?

Well this is my very convoluted way of saying Jill, Otis, Rosie and I are all moving to Auckland in New Zealand, and I‘m pathetically happy to announce I’ll be the head of strategy for one of the most wonderful agencies in the World – in fact, one of the Cannes agencies of the decade – the utterly brilliant, beautifully ridiculous, infectiously creative … Colenso.

I have loved this agency for so long.

They’ve consistently made work that I’ve not just been insanely jealous of, but I’ve not seen anywhere else.

From creating a radio station for dogs … to stopping speeding by letting kids design the speed dial in the family car … to making drinking a beer the most romantic thing you can do on Valentine’s Day – or an alternative fuel for cars – they’re imaginative, audacious and wonderfully bonkers.

While saying ‘no’ to them 5 years ago was the right decision because of my state of mind after Mum died, I always felt I’d missed out on an opportunity that could be very special for me, so to be offered a second chance is … well, put it this way, it’s something I’ll always be eternally grateful to their idiocy for making happen.

Frankly, when I got made redundant, I never imagined something like this could happen … but, as I said at the time, the last time this happened to me, it led to one of the most creatively rewarding times of my life and in my post, I wondered out loud if lightning could strike twice.

Amazingly, it seems it can … but that’s the best thing about life, because if you’re open to everything, anything can happen.

That said, being in England has been amazing, far more than I imagined or hoped.

I don’t mind admitting when we came back I had a sense of trepidation.

Part of it was because I never thought we’d live in England again, part of it was because I didn’t want it to signify ‘the end’ of the adventure [and yet so many people thought it did] and part of it was that I felt guilt coming home after Mum and Dad died … because if I was going to do that, what didn’t I do it when they were both still here.

But as we spent more and more time in England, those concerns were replaced by feelings of belonging and connection that I thought I’d lost the ability to feel or experience, regardless where we lived … so while the UK may a complete basket-case of a nation, it’s my basket-case and I can take that newly formed sense of connection with me wherever we go.

But what about our new home?

The one I’d written so much about when we got it?

The one we moved into SEVENTEEN DAYS AGO!

Well, the fact of the matter is we’re in it and we love it and we don’t want to lose it … so while we will taking a detour via a wonderful adventure in New Zealand, I can categorically say we will be back living in it at some point. Don’t know when – we never make plans about timing – but we just know we will one day.

You see the reality is the house was always more to us than just an asset.

We wanted somewhere where we could settle … a place where our roots could grow and become established and entwined. It’s why I took the decision to sell Mum’s home, not just because it helped us be able to afford it, but because it was the sort of place Mum would want for us.

A family home rather than a house my family lived in.

I look forward to continuing to enjoy that until we go.

I look forward to continuing to enjoy that when we eventually come back.

But when do we go?

Well, that’s an interesting question with COVID … but hopefully in the first part of 2021.

If you asked me if we would ever live in New Zealand in the first half of 2020, I would have laughed and said no … and then added., “not unless Colenso offer me a job again”. But here we are, about to do just that … and I have to admit we are all hugely excited about it.

Not just for the reasons I’ve mentioned, but because living in another country and culture is an amazing privilege and we’re excited that the journey we’ve been on for the last 25+ years, still has a few more chapters to be written.

[That said, our cat is not happy as this this will be her SIXTH country in 13 years]

I’m so grateful to Colenso for giving me – and my family – this opportunity.

I’m so grateful to Jill for thinking of me even when this is supposed to be more about her.

I’m so grateful to R/GA for giving me – and my family – this experience in England and, by making me redundant, opening the door to exciting and rewarding things I never imagined could happen.

I’m also so grateful to all the people who have been so kind with their generosity and support while I’ve been in England, especially when I was made redundant. There’s loads and I’ll write a post about them when we leave but quickly, a massive thanks to …

My old planning gang at R/GA. Nils, Lucy and the incredible team at Uncommon. Matt Tanter. The Brixton Finishing School. John Dodds. Joel Keene. Emma Clark. Jonathan Nwauzu. Phil Jacobson. Judd Caraway. Caroline Seifert. The delightful nightmares Mike and Sam. Claire Pickens. David Tiltman. Munraj Singh. Kay and the team at SMILE-ing Boys Project. Michael Roberts. Karrelle. Louise Jack. Nick Ellis. Paul C. Nick Hirst. Richard Greene. Jed Hallam. Ms Bloodworth [although technically she is now in PDX]. Trudie McNicholl. Omar at The London Business School. Larissa. Sam Clohesy. Hanan. Giles Edwards. Asher. Tom Roach. Tarik at On Road. Sara Tate. Stefano. My beloved Mr Weigel. Ally McKenzi. Vince Aidoo. Neil Perkin. Graeme Douglas. Nick Owen. Nic Owen. Sam Brookes. Dave Alberts. Ayo and Group Think.

There’s tons I’ve missed but as I said, I’ll write a proper thing about them closer to the time we go [even though I appreciate this is turning into a Ms World acceptance speech] but I would be wrong if I didn’t give a mention to my oldest, dearest friend – Paul – and his wonderful wife Shelly, who made – and are making – this chapter better than I dared imagine.

I can’t really put into words how wonderful it has been being close to them again. While it had been 25 years since we were in the same country, it never felt like it – though being so close definitely made things even better. [The photo above, taken in our new garden when they came to visit, is one I’ll always treasure]

The one really sad thing about going is not seeing them as much as we have been able to over the past 2 years … but I keep reminding myself we’ll be back and I know when that happens, it will be exactly like it has been – wonderful and silly – because that’s exactly what happened when we came back after a quarter of a bloody century.

I know this has been a super long post. Like, Gwyneth Paltrow Oscar-speech long.

And I know most of you won’t have read most of it.

Or you just skipped to the TL;DR at the bottom.

But that’s OK, because it’s not for you, it’s for me.

And for Otis. For when he’s older. So he can properly understand the reasons behind his childhood, family adventures.

However even I’m getting over it so with that I’ll leave you with this …

Once upon a time, Dan Wieden asked me if I would ever live in Portland.

My response resulted in him saying, “I should fire your ass” and repeating it every single time he saw me from there on in.

I never had anything against Portland.

It’s an absolutely lovely place, but for me – especially as I was living in Shanghai at the time – I felt it was too small, too quiet, too natural and just too nice.

Well, we’re going to find out who was right.

I’m pretty sure we’ll find Dan was. As usual.


Bought a house in England but moving to NZ.
Off to play at the wonderful Colenso and let my wife be closer to her Mum.

47 Comments so far
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I went straight to the tldr. Read it. Then read the whole thing to make some sense from it all. That’s your evil genius at work.

Comment by Bazza

He always gets you in the end.

Comment by Pete

So predictable.

Comment by Rob

Anyone who doubts how good you are just needs to see how many brilliant agencies you’ve convinced to pay you a kings random to work for them. If you can do that, you can make make brands hire your agency and make people like your clients. That’s your evil genius too.

Comment by Bazza

That would be a very Rob Campbell approach.

Comment by Pete

It reads like he’s keeping his “other” clients as well, which just double down on his planning manipulation ability.

Comment by Bazza


Comment by George

Yes. I’m a glutton for punishment. But not as much as they all are. Hahaha.

Comment by Rob

Understatement of 2020.

Comment by Bazza

Maybe I should enter that as an Effies case study. I might even do it … it would be hilarious.

Comment by Rob

bernie madoff could learn some how to fuck with people from campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

There are people on the FBI’s most wanted that move around less than you. What a fantastic adventure you guys live. It’s inspiring to see and I know you’ll continue to be brilliant and successful. Happy for you but not as happy as Colenso and Jill’s Mum must be.

Comment by Pete

Yes … it’s been quite the journey.

A life I never imagined, expected or deserved.

To keep being able to do it and join a place as special as Colenso – which I genuinely put on par with Wieden – is utterly amazing.

Let’s hope I don’t fuck it up. Ha.

Comment by Rob

The first sentence of your comment says it all. He’s a monster. Jill’s a saint. What brilliant role models for Otis.

Comment by DH

Robert. This is incredible. Congratulations and well done.

Comment by Lee Hill

Wonderful news for wonderful reasons. So happy for you all. Big hugs.

Comment by Jemma King

He’s moving countries faster faster these days. Save this, you can use it again when he announces they’re moving to the moon for a few years.

Comment by Bazza

What will this be? His 4th in 4 years? Jill is the most patient person in the World. She deserves this move to be closer to her Mum. Hopefully it will last more than a year.

Comment by George

The 4 in 4 years is a bit misleading because you’re counting leaving China [after 7 years] and moving to NZ [after 1 minute] … so really it will be our 3rd country in 4 years. Oh … that doesn’t sound very good either does it. Damn you George.

Comment by Rob

That’s a power marriage. Nice one. Kia kaha.

Comment by Nick

Right back at you Nick.

Comment by Rob

I am inspired at your ability to make such big moves. What a life you lead. This may be one of the best moves of all. So happy for you all though I wish you were closer to us.

Comment by Mary Bryant

Come visit Mary. It is your turn after all.

Comment by Rob

It’s official. So excited for you all. NZ sounds the smartest decision anyone in the world could make right now. You are all legends and heroes.

Comment by George

Otis is going to have a killer mashup accent. Nice one.

Comment by Billy Whizz

You know it.

Comment by Rob

Many congratulations to you and your lovely family. Especially your wife, who gave me some good boy points with my own wife with that great duvet cover trick you posted the other day.

Whenever I see a planner with a career that I massively admire, I always think it’s a shame I can’t really see their greatest hits. If it’s a creative, I can see their best ads in their book. I wish there was somewhere I could read your best strategic presentations and briefs. Of course I understand all that stuff is probably proprietary and top secret, but it’s a shame all the same.

Comment by Ciaran James Murphy (@ciaranmurphyads)

Tips on how not to do it?

Comment by Bazza

You are in mischievous mood today Baz.

I think Rob has posted a lot of his presentations over the years but they may be talks rather than strategy decks. Having had the pleasure of working with Rob for a number of years, he always told his strategists to value the work created rather than the decks they wrote, which may be why he doesn’t post them.

Comment by Pete

Thanks for all deciding how I should answer … hahaha.

Ciaran, thank you for the nice words. You’re mad, but I appreciate them. As Pete said, I hate planners showing decks instead of the work that came out of them – because ultimately the work is the truth and says more about how well their argument worked.

But if there’s some stuff you want to see, let me know, If you promise not to pass it to all and sundry [and when you see them, I am pretty sure you will realise they’re not worth doing that] I may be able to send some.

Comment by Rob


Comment by John

You win.

Comment by Rob


Comment by DH

cant you fucking read?

Comment by andy@cynic

colenso are the shit. but now i discover theyre not as fucking smart as i thought they were. like fucking uncle dan. what the fuck does campbell have over the bosses of the best?
congrats campbell, despite you constantly coming out of disaster covered in gold, i think this is a match made in fucking heaven. and youve finally done something nice for jill.

Comment by andy@cynic

My mafia roots have served my career better than any supposed talent I have.

Comment by Rob

It’s served you better than the mafia.

Comment by DH

You are a crazy beautiful inspiring family.

Comment by Katerina


Comment by John

One is crazy. The rest are beautiful and inspiring.

Comment by Pete

He wins the lottery of life every day and gets others to buy him the ticket. Good job his face is like a smashed watermelon or I’d kill myself.

Comment by Billy Whizz

[…] Billy Whizz on Sacrifice Is Love … […]

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Rob, Truly inspiring for me to see how far one east midlander can go. Good luck duckie, Tim

Comment by Tim Whirledge

Hey Rob, long time lurker, I’ve followed your moves from W+K to Deutch to R/GA and now to Colenso. Colenso are so incredibly lucky to have you, jesus.

But wanted to underscore how lucky Otis is to get a chance to go to school in New Zealand and live a low stress life for a chapter. Having moved from NYC to Australia at the start of this year, I’ve noticed my little boy is thriving in a more collectivist society, where children hold a different place in society, and play is seen as the most important work of a child. I reckon you’ll notice the same. Best of luck!

Comment by Hayley Parker

[…] minds of procurement departments and enjoy the joy of being offered a job at one of my absolutely favourite agencies in the whole wide World, Colenso … which all combined to ensured life felt it was still rushing forward even though so much of […]

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[…] people who are recognised as being the best in their field so to be in this position … and to have Colenso to look forward to in addition … feels like winning the […]

Pingback by Finally, I Give You A Way To Shut Me Up … | The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

[…] that I get to do this while working at one of my favourite companies in the World – the brilliant Colenso – is, frankly, […]

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