EVERYONE HAS A PODCAST THESE DAYS AND WE DIDN’T WANT TO MISS OUT. BUT RATHER THAN HAVE A CREATIVE AGENCY JUST TALK ABOUT THE WORK, WE WANTED TO TALK ABOUT WHAT DRIVES US AND OUR WORK – DIFFERENCE, THE BLACK SHEEP AND ZAGGING. MARA DETTMANN HAS BEEN PULLING IT TOGETHER AND INTRODUCES IT HERE

“Being a black sheep enabled me to challenge myself in every single aspect of my life.”

Muay Thai World Champion Ruqsana Begum

Believing in the ‘power of difference to make a difference’. Zagging ‘when the world zigs’. 

For 37 years, BBH has celebrated (fetishized, some might say) going against the norm. It’s what made our seminal ad seminal…

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And shaped our logo.

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While we pride ourselves on being black sheep and spend much of our time hunting for “zags”, we spend less time thinking about what difference actually means. After all, the pace of the advertising industry often makes introspection a luxury.

Of course there’s the science behind why difference matters, about how the human brain will latch onto anything unexpected (cue “Turtles are not as smart as mammals such as socks or dogs”). 

But there’s a deeper level. What is this difference that makes things stand out, visually or even emotionally? Why do we celebrate some differences but reject (or even deride) others? Is there anything that unites all things that are different, and does that relate or support the idea of difference? 

After much debate, we settled on one common denominator:

Difference breaks rules.

And we liked this realization so much that we wanted to do something with it. We thought of a host of ways to bring the rule-breaking aspect of difference to life. Like looking at ads old and new and seeing which play with (and subvert) expectations and which are utterly conventional. 

But as good as introspection is, we also need extrospection. After all, there are plenty of places online and offline to discuss all aspects of advertising.

So we went another way: we decided to find other black sheep. People who got to where they are by being different. 

And we didn’t just want to write about them – we wanted to talk to them. Challenge them, examine what shaped them, and have a debate.

So we made a podcast.

You’ll know some of their names. You won’t know others.

They’re all from different walks of life.

But they all broke rules – set by their families, set by society, or even set by themselves.

So we asked them to talk about the top 3 rules they broke. What were the repercussions? Was the rule-breaking an active decision or something they couldn’t help? Has being a black sheep been an advantage or a constant struggle? And what’s the one rule they’d stick by?

Our first black sheep is Ruqsana Begum.

Ruqsana is the British and World female Muay Thai champion and captain of Britain’s Muay Thai Team. She’s also the only Muslim woman to be a national champion in her sport. 

Torn between the traditional expectations and values of Bengladeshi Muslim women and her love for kickboxing, Ruqsana talks about how she felt she was “leading a double life”. She struggled to see herself in the range of “boxes” society offers and, in true black sheep fashion, rejects the idea of having to “find your tribe”.

But we don’t want to give too much away. It’s much better to hear all this straight from Ruqsana.

Ruqsana, like our other guests, was interviewed by Daniella Isaacs, a writer and performer who is (of course) a bit of a black sheep herself. 

We’ll be sharing them over the next 10 weeks. You can find it under “BBH Presents: Black Sheep” on your favorite podcast player, or listen to Ruqsana here – but most importantly, keep on (or start to, or resume) zagging.