My Event World - Leigh Debbage

Leigh Debbage, creative director at agency Premier, spoke to Event about teaching Prince Harry chess, touring a 'dead' T. Rex across London, and banning floating things down the Thames.

Premier's Leigh Debbage works with brands to create eye-catching stunts
Premier's Leigh Debbage works with brands to create eye-catching stunts

I got into the event industry because… I started out in pure film publicity, running talent schedules, junkets and spending way too much time holding clipboards, but it was only ever the stunts and big activations that excited me. 

The feeling of dreaming up an idea from nothing and seeing it come to life across mass media is what gives me a spring in my step every morning. 

I have worked here since… at Premier since 2010, in this role since 2013.

I was attracted to this particular role because my specialisation had always been home entertainment PR and I had various opportunities to work in-house, but Premier offered me an exciting role as a creative director, heading up the stunts side of the business, working across our exciting client base. 

My role is basically to help come up with ideas that are ridiculous, bold and original enough to grab the attention of our increasingly cynical and de-sensitised media. I like a challenge.

Not many people know that I taught Prince Harry chess.

The best event I’ve been involved was... The most exciting, dramatic and eventful stunt was probably when we hauled a ‘dead’ T. Rex across London - and beyond - for National Geographic's new T. Rex Autopsy programme. 

The thrill of realising we were trending on social media and the talk of every traffic report before we’d even hit central London was such a buzz and the subsequent press coverage was something we were very proud of for a relatively low budget stunt.

If I could do it all over again I would do it all over again… And remember to take the time out to enjoy it! It’s easy to get consumed in the moment of a PR stunt and stress about too many elements without stepping back to reflect how unique, fun and downright silly our job is.

The one thing I can’t stand is clients who ask to do another (insert name of successful stunt) for one tenth of the budget.

Outside of work I spend my time playing tennis, travelling and taking photos. Much like in work I’m always looking for the money shot, be it from my Canon 5D lens or tennis racquet.

If money were no object I would do all the big publicity stunts I do, but just for the hell of it without having to worry about client messaging – because I love the creativity and attention-grabbing.

If I could switch places with anyone else in the industry it would be... Weird for my wife to come home to a strange event manager.

If I ruled the event industry I would ban themed vending machines, floating things down the Thames, stunts at Potters’ Fields Park and the phrase ‘game changer’.

More: My Event World - Allan McLaughlin

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