Getting To Know Barb Ruser

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

Explain what you do at Smith Kroeger.
I do a lot of creative concepting and collaboration, writing, research and TV/video production. I recently became certified as a federal General Services Administration vendor so that I can help develop new business leads within government agencies.

What kind of skills or experience do you need to be successful at what you do?
Our business is about influencing people, so it’s not unusual that three of my top five strengths (per “StrengthsFinders” by Gallup) fall into this category. The other two are relationship-building and strategic skills. I guess I was born to be in marketing/advertising.

What do you like about working at Smith Kroeger?
Smith Kroeger’s culture suits me well. I’ve been afforded a lot of independence to create over the years, and that shows our values of trust and respect aren’t just words on a poster. Plus, we believe in having fun.

If you had a ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I have to pick one place? Impossible! I’ll just go with what came to mind first: the Fiji Islands. I’m a water girl, would love to scuba dive there and want to stay in an overwater bungalow before I die.

You seem to know a lot about fashion. What’s up with that?
I think it’s in my genes, passed down through my father’s side. I’ve always considered my attire to be a form of creative expression; however, I’ve learned that fashion is fickle but style is timeless.

What do you do in your spare time?
Hang out with my friends, my honey and/or my dogs and watch too much TV. In reverse order, to be honest.

Name a moment when you laughed so hard you almost peed yourself.
Never ask a woman of a certain age questions about peeing herself.

Why did you get into marketing?
Because I wasn’t good at chemical engineering. Also refer to question No. 2.

What changes have you seen since starting out in this business?
Technology is the obvious answer, but something less evident and certainly significant is that our profession is a leading example of the emergence of female-owned businesses – and SKAR with Joleen David at the helm is a case in point.

Name one thing that scares the crap out of you.
Snakes, so it’s a good thing Smith Kroeger fixed that slithery problem. At least I hope so. Did you know that female snakes return to lay eggs in the same spot where they themselves were hatched? So if you hear what was known as “the snake scream” in the halls of Smith Kroeger, don’t be surprised.

Name one of your favorite ad campaigns of all time.
Volkswagen’s “Think Small.”

If you didn’t work in advertising, what would you be doing?
In my fantasy life, I’d be a travel writer. In my real life, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

What movie could you watch 100 times?
“Almost Famous” or “Young Frankenstein.” Did I mention, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”? But I probably have seen the “Godfather” movies a hundred times.

What would be your advice to college students looking for a career in advertising?
Do as many professional internships as you can instead of being a lifeguard like me.

Try to think of something interesting about yourself that people might actually want to know.
As much as I love acquiring things, I also love giving them away (so put in your requests now).