60 Seconds With

“In the mess lies the magic” – 60 seconds with Ken Robertson, CEO, The Tenth Man

By Business & Finance
02 April 2024

Ken Robertson is CEO of the Tenth Man and former Paddy Power advertising director. In March 2024, The Tenth Man announced a further international expansion with the opening of its UK office in London. Its roster of international clients includes industry giants such as Guinness, Redbull, Jameson, Fanatics, AIG, and Superbet.

What was your first job?

Working in a record shop at Dublin Airport.

What pushed you to pursue a career in this field?

My second job was as a marketing intern in Xtra-vision (for readers under a certain age – this was basically the Netflix of the 1990s). In this role I found myself at the intersection of marketing and entertainment which made it abundantly clear to me that the first and most important role of any good marketing campaign is to entertain your audience. Fun first, sell second.

What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

Depends on your definition of ‘Great’. During my 18-years with Paddy Power I wrote the most complained-about advertising campaign in British advertising history (you can look that one up). I set in motion a chain of events that led to Denis Rodman hosting a basketball match in North Korea for Kim Jong Un’s 30th birthday. I also narrowly avoided spending a night in an Italian prison for taking bets on the next Pope in St Peter’s Square the same year as recruiting Professor Stephen Hawking for a Paddy Power World Cup advertising campaign. All of that stuff was amazing but to be truthful, setting up The Tenth Man and six years later seeing the incredible team and business we have created together is the clear winner.

Career wise, would you do anything differently?

Not one thing.

In one sentence, how would you define success?

I’ll give you that in one word – Happiness

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

In the mess lies the magic

How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

Have a clear vision supported by a sensible strategy so everyone is properly aligned. Having a common goal means we’re all in the trenches together. It’s like a big family here – albeit at times a pretty dysfunctional one.

How do you handle adversity?

Accepting that you can’t win every time and being sufficiently equipped to handle the times when you lose. I’ve learned that by treating winning and losing the same, life becomes a lot easier.

How do you relax?

Cycling with my kids, Netflix with my wife, and a small bit of summer sea swimming.

What is your favourite (non-business) book?

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.

What are your aspirations for the future of the business?

We’ve enjoyed strong double digit growth each year since launching The Tenth Man in 2018 but it feels like we’re close to hitting a ceiling in terms of what Dublin can offer so international expansion is our main focus for the next 24 months, starting with London where we’ve recently opened an office in Farringdon and New York will likely follow in Q1 2025. Our long term goal is to be Top 10 global creative agency by 2030.


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