Capitol Communicator is running “Up Close and Personal” profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this profile we feature Jim Lansbury. Photography for the series is by award-winning Cade Martin, wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire and Sybil Street for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson, Janice Kinigopoulos and Lori Pressman for THE Artist Agency.
Jim, please provide us a short bio.
I’m Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of RP3 Agency in Bethesda, MD. Before that I was Creative Director at Arnold DC, and before that I held various ACD/Copywriter positions at agencies in LA, San Francisco and Baltimore. I’ve been fortunate to work on global brands like Lexus, EA Sports, Marriott and The Coca Cola Co., but I find it equally rewarding to help build strong local and regional brands like Children’s National Health System and Giant Food. I studied Economics and Marketing at Bucknell, and put together my copywriting portfolio at School of Visual Arts in New York. I grew up in Buffalo, NY, in a family of scientists and professors and somehow ended up going into advertising when no one was looking. In my spare time I’m a golf addict, softball dad, and bad skier.
Are you involved in any other organizations?
I’m very active in the 4A’s, and also enjoy judging various award shows and student competitions through AAF, the Effies, the Webbys, etc. Supporting the community is part of RP3’s DNA, so we donate our time and talent to numerous non-profits including the Washington Area Woman’s Foundation and Facing History and Ourselves. When you have kids in youth sports, you are, by definition, a volunteer, so I put a lot of energy there as well, and through them I’ve been introduced to some great non-profits like Springfield Challenger Baseball and Level the Playing Field.
What are you are most proud of?
Personally, my kids. They’re both incredibly creative, kind and self-motivated, and probably not destined for a career in advertising.
Professionally, there are certain campaigns that have won awards or gotten a lot of press. But I’m much more proud of the body of work and reputation we’ve built at RP3 over the past 10 years. That includes a lot of talented creative people who have worked for me and have gone on to do bigger and better things. I remember one of the first junior teams I hired. They left after a year or so to go to Crispin Porter Bogusky. It felt like my kids had just gotten into Harvard.
Who are your personal role models?
I’ve learned a little from every creative director, art director, film director, photographer, editor and technologist I’ve ever worked with. But one that stands out is the late Mike Hughes from the Martin Agency. I only met him once, right around the launch of RP3, and he was extremely generous with his time and advice. Especially since we were complete unknowns. But that meeting had a huge impact on me. Despite being in a small, off-the-radar market, he built that agency into a national powerhouse by doing great work and making the most of every opportunity – even obscure clients like fertilizers. He gave me the confidence that we could do the same with RP3.
Did he offer advice that helped you in your career?
I don’t recall exactly who told me this, but the gist was that as a creative person, you should never trust an agency that says they’ll start doing good work by hiring you. If the whole agency, including leadership, account people and clients, isn’t already committed to doing great work, you will fail. As I look back over my career, some of the opportunities I didn’t take as a result of this advice ended up being as important as the ones I did take.
Also, to remember it’s just advertising. We’re extremely lucky to make a living by being creative. It’s not life or death. Try to stay humble and have fun.
What professional advice do you have for others?
Be yourself. Trust your creative instincts and do work that you believe in. There are so many platforms and channels out there these days that your ideas will find an audience. If you try to chase trends or emulate others, you won’t be as fulfilled or as successful in the long run.
What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?
We have the family plan so I get sucked into my kids’ playlists… twenty one pilots, Jon Bellion, stuff like that. I’m currently reading Jeff Tweedy from Wilco’s autobiography, so I’m listening to a lot of his stuff dating back to Uncle Tupelo. I’m also into Rhett Miller from the Old 97’s new podcast. It’s aptly titled “Wheels Off: A Show About the Messy Reality of Creative Life,” and it’s fascinating to hear about the creative process among musicians and songwriters.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
All time? Slanted Door in San Francisco, back when it was just a hole in the wall in the Mission district. Liberty Tavern and Ser in Arlington, VA, are two neighborhood favorites.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
For the record, I am not related to Angela Lansbury.