My Mother used to tell the story of my fourth Christmas as the moment she could confirm that I was different. Most four-year olds on Christmas are in need of an IV drip of Ritalin. I was not that child. I did rip the wrapping paper and bow off my first present as you’re supposed to, but when I found books inside, I did not throw them aside and go on to my next present; no, I insisted on reading all three books before opening my second present. My siblings refer to it as the most boring Christmas ever.
As I grew older my hobbies expanded from reading to writing, beer drinking, smoking and photography. Luckily, these were a perfect fit for the advertising business where I have found a home for twenty-five years, most as an agency owner.
I’ve done work for two Fortune 500 companies, but it’s a couple of campaigns for smaller clients that I remember most fondly:
- Slogan for a pizza delivery service: “Pizza Boli’s…there’s no topping us!
You gotta love that slogan. They obviously did since they used it for ten years after I resigned the account.
- The one-liner campaign for a well-known caterer in Baltimore:
- “If you own a Michael Bolton CD call another caterer.”
- “Yes, you inhaled.” (A Bill Clinton reference)
- “Catering even your Mother-in-law will love.”
My thought was that every caterer in town ran pictures of pretty food and said they were the best blah, blah, blah. This caterer was already known for innovative cuisine and food styling, so we went for a laugh. The client agreed and it worked.
Being the self-employed owner of an advertising agency allowed me to gain a depth of knowledge that would not have been possible if I had been solely a media buyer or copywriter. I have worn all the hats.
Account executive, media buyer, copywriter, promotions director, producer, SEO manager, and even art director on a few occasions…I’ve looked at the business landscape through each of these eyes.
In 2008, not afraid of being a cliché’, I sold my house and business in Baltimore, drove across the country for six weeks and landed in L.A. with no job and no place to live. I eventually secured both, although one took considerably longer than the other.
These experiences have made me better. A better writer, a better marketer, heck, a better person. I carry with me a quiet reserve that knows that I can get the job done.
I have a “big-picture” outlook that can only be acquired through decades of experience marketing in a variety of industries; wearing a variety of hats.
There’s another story my mother used to tell.
Driving my expectant Mother to the hospital, my Father stops at “Little Tavern”, a local burger joint in Baltimore, for a burger. Politely, he asks my Mother if she wants anything. “No dear. I’m in labor.” My Father proceeds to buy a couple of cheeseburgers and eat them while driving to the hospital. That was my life just before I entered it.
There’s a world before and after us. The key to a great marketer is to loving the one you’re in.