From finding inspiration in all corners of the industry and beyond to envisioning new ways for his team to work better (and happier), Mark Ralphs from Good Rebels is a restless leader and one that was able to develop the digital agency in Europe and beyond, setting new benchmarks for creativity.
Mark believes that anyone is capable of coming up with creative ideas, and his job is essentially to nurture that potential and make sure it reaches the best shape possible.
Today we are Getting to Know Mark Ralphs, Partner at Good Rebels, to learn more about his role in leading an ambitious (and rebellious!) digital strategy and creative agency.
Tell us a bit about your role! What is one typical day like?
I’m a partner at Good Rebels, a digital strategy and creative agency. We’re headquartered in Madrid, with hubs in Barcelona, Brighton and Mexico City.
What’s typical about my day is how untypical each one is. I have a freeform role that involves leading teams working across client strategy, creative campaigns and digital experience. Our clients are based across Europe and work in multiple sectors.
Creativity isn’t the sole preserve of creative or design teams. Everyone can have great ideas and my role is to nurture these and help make them happen, not just when applied to advertising creativity, but creativity in innovation, digital brand and experience too.
I’m obsessed with finding the ‘special sauce’- the value exchange that connects a brand with an audience, and where that exchange, that experience, is enhanced by digital. In the end, most people don’t care about most brands, you have to work hard to drive real engagement.
What was the biggest challenge in getting to your current position?
I’m committed to my team and to delivering great work. I set high standards and have strong personal values. These things, rather than overcoming this or that challenge, are what have helped move my career forward.
What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?
I’m a typical arts graduate (history), tried law school (boring), then publishing.
I fell into the digital agency world in 2000. I saw a job ad for a creative producer at a small agency in Brighton, which I knew well from clubbing at the Zap (I know this dates me), and I’ve never looked back.
What is your biggest career-related win? What is your biggest loss?
I prefer not to think in terms of wins or losses. Life has good and bad moments, and you often learn more from career adversity than success.
What’s your secret to remain inspired and motivated?
I feel fortunate to work in digital, the rate of innovation is incredible, and what technology can accomplish is awe-inspiring when compared to just a few years ago.
We’ve got to watch out for the negatives though; digital, and social media in particular, has a dark side.
Which individuals and / or agencies do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?
Let’s look outside of the industry for our heroes.
Has anyone else changed the world in the last 50 years like Tim Berners-Lee?
Barbara Hepworth, David Bowie, the Hartnoll brothers, and my mum and dad also get a mention.
How has COVID-19 affected you?
I caught COVID early on in the pandemic, it wasn’t pleasant but was nothing compared to the thousands whose health has been affected more seriously, or by the death of a loved one.
What is your biggest hope for 2021?
Sometimes working remotely has been a slog, at the same time I’m inspired by the thought of international and diverse people being able to collaborate to deliver inspiring work, from anywhere, for anyone. So location is no longer seen as a constraint.
We need to design new ways of working to make this happen. Ways that ensure we take a break from screens regularly, have time to think, and can collaborate brilliantly without being in the same room. A different future of work is possible, and maybe even essential to solving other big issues like climate change.
What is your one piece of advice to aspiring creative professionals?
How do you recharge away from the office?
Fine wine and cake.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
I don’t know who else would have me.
What’s your one big dream for the future of the industry?
That we free ourselves from the yoke of unpaid pitches run by those who care too much about cost, and not enough about the power of creativity and technology to solve business problems.
Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend?
I recently gave a talk at Good Rebels when I recommended essential reading for aspirational creatives and strategists:
I also recommend readers check out the Challenger Brand Project and the Do Lectures: