Getting to Know Barb Ruser


Title: Senior Vice President, Creative Services
Here since: March 1997

Tell the world what you do at SKAR.
A lot of writing and producing, some special project management, some client relations and the occasional PR gig – but I don’t do windows or toilets.

Tell us how you got started in this business and try to make it interesting.
My first job out of college was as a layout artist doing business cards at a printing company. It was before computerized design, so we did it all by hand with waxed galleys, X-acto knives, rapidographs and pica poles. Most of the people who read this will have no idea what all of that means.

What is the favorite part of your job?
Collaboration, be it with SKARfaces, our partners/clients or with outside creative resources like sound engineers, film companies and photographers.

In your view, what makes a good ad?
The perfect marriage of compelling visuals and smart copy.

Name three things that really piss you off.
Unplanned expenses, mean people and stupid mistakes (especially my own).

You have worked in corporate marketing and at agencies. What are the pros and cons?
Corporate work comes with nice perks but lots of structure, whereas agency life has greater flexibility but less certainty. You also get to learn about a variety of businesses at an agency.

What makes an advertising agency successful?
An agency has to be able to reinvent itself from time to time. As the saying goes, “Evolve or die.” This really applies to any business.

When it comes to memorable vacations, where have you been and where would you like to go?
Most of my travel has been in the U.S. and Mexico. Been to some Caribbean islands, British Columbia a few times and Europe. I enjoy trips that include an activity like skiing or scuba diving and would love to dive more of the world’s premier sites – especially if they’re tropical.

You seem to have a smart fashion sense about you. What’s up with that?
I think it’s in my genes. I have a collection of apparel and accessories from my parents and grandparents, including my grandpa’s Devaney hat.

Tell us about your love of canines (dogs to the lay person).
I could go all scientific about how petting animals lowers blood pressure and releases endorphins, or get mushy about the unconditional love that shines in their big brown eyes, but the truth is that they are my surrogate children.

Tell us something interesting about yourself that most people don’t know.
Sorry, but I think a bit of mystery is more alluring. It’s like what my dad would say when he thought I was dressed too provocatively, “Leave something to the imagination, Barbara!”

Any hobbies?
I like to stay busy doing a variety of things, though I admittedly watch too much TV.

Explain in detail your most embarrassing moment in life.
Here’s one that can be published: Years ago I was in a stuffy meeting during which I tried to impress people by dropping a big word — and I got called out for using it incorrectly. Ouch.

What is your favorite childhood memory?
We lived on a feedlot with lots of land and endless stuff to do: swinging on ropes in the hayloft like Tarzan, imagining a flying machine from old equipment, creating obstacle courses, building forts — things like that. When nobody was around to play with, I’d pretend I was a teacher and the cattle were my pupils.

If you weren’t in advertising, where would you be?
I could see myself being a personal shopper. I love spending other people’s money. Some would argue that I just love spending money, period.