Carter Murray is the incredibly affable, worldwide CEO of global advertising agency FCB.
He is responsible for more than 8,000 people, in 120 offices, across 80 countries. He spends his days travelling between those locations, visiting clients, fronting pitches, attending big industry events like the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and with his wife and two young twins in New York.
And somehow in-between all of that, he finds time to update his Instagram account. With great frequency.
It’s rare for such a high-powered executive to have such an active Instagram account: Sure many have Twitter or Facebook accounts that are heavily neutralized by corporate communications teams, but Instagram offers us a glimpse into the more personal, down-to-earth sides of Murray’s life.
We met up with Murray at FCB’s offices in London and asked why Instagram is so important to him. Essentially, it’s all down to getting closer to his staff and proving to his friends and family that, yes, he does still have a job.
Murray with Publicis Groupe chief executive Maurice Lévy.
“Instagram is a really good way of demythologizing the CEO, the CEO perceived as being in an ivory tower and nobody knows what they do. It’s about celebrating our agency, and our people,” Murray said.”And the really silly thing: It’s my personal account too — all my friends and family follow me, because nobody’s more shocked that I’m employed than them.”
Murray says he’ll usually update his Instagram account between three to five times a day. Given that he’s a high-earning chief executive, who gets to visit opulent locations, like dining at The Ivy in London, I asked whether he tries to keep those photos to a minimum.
“I try not to [post those kinds of photos.] The only photo I’ve ever posted where any of my friends gave me that kind of feedback was when I travelled with the twins and I had six suitcases — ‘That’s a bit spoilt’ [,they said.],” Murray told us.
We think there might actually be eight cases and bags there.
“Don’t you have those friends on Facebook who photograph their First Class tickets? That’s just really disgusting. I try not to do that. I use Instagram because I love photography. I don’t want to do Twitter as I’m a frustrated writer. I’ve got a half-written book and I’d be like Woody Allen if I had a Twitter account, every time I try to write I have 85 balls of paper next to the table,” he said.
We asked whether there was anything, from a professional point of view, that was strictly off-limits from Murray’s Instagram account.
“I have to be careful not to photograph clients because I don’t want them to think I have a favourite…and I don’t want people to see our new business clients, so I try to keep that minimal. There was one new business meeting where I was in a particular building and I took a photo but then thought: ‘If I Instagram this, everyone will know where I was,” Murray said.
Murray’s Ice Bucket Challenge.
Internally, staff seem to enjoy it.
“The reason people seem to like [my Instagram account] is because…I want people at the company to know that I care and also it’s a really nice way to celebrate our people. What they have told me they like is being able to see the different offices around the world. And I know my mum, my stepmother, my wife are watching it. It’s just fun, I don’t want it to overtake everything else I’m doing,” Murray said.
The FCB Brasil office.
He added: “But when I was going up through the ranks, getting these long corporate emails, signed off by corporate communications teams, for me that seems old fashioned. I think at least people get to see what I’m doing — but I do write long internal letters too, although I try to keep it to a minimum because otherwise people will get bored of them.”
Murray with comedian Nimrod Kamer at Cannes.
He responded: “My personal profile is something I struggle with. The truth is, it’s a balance. Nobody is bigger than the agency. Sometimes you do see CEOs and it’s all about them. People do want to know how you are leading the company, and clients like it if they see press: It gives a sense of pride, for clients and the holding company. And of course I enjoy it, I’ll post an article on Facebook if it’s a decent article, and it’s nice to get support from friends and family, I’m not going to lie, I enjoy it…But it’s hard to get the balance right: I do recognise it’s important to have a profile, but I worry that sometimes it’s too much…You have to be careful with it.”
Ultimately, he’d rather let FCB’s work do the talking — like its recent “This Girl Can” campaign for Sport England, which is receiving tons of plaudits in the advertising trade press and national media.
But, yes, Murray took a quick Instagram snap of our meeting too.
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