Back to Basics: Wisdom From Ron Anderson

By Matt Van Hoven Comment


Ron Anderson worked in the Minneapolis ad community before it was what we know it as today. When he spoke with the Wall Street Journal, he was EVP ECD/Midwest at Bozell & Jacobs. Below are excerpts from that interview.

On early days: “When I arrived (in Minnesota), I saw no good reason to stay. The winters can be brutal. And the creative work was primitive. But I fell in love with the state and the people. And I saw an incredible opportunity.”

Incredible indeed. Though Minnesota sprung up during Anderson’s time as a force to be reckoned with (in terms of creative, big clients not so much) it was once void of the industry. The interesting thing about it is that people, like Anderson, suffered through the terrible weather just to be part of the great community there. Sure, the addies were good &#151 but the phrase “Minnesota nice” can’t be claimed by any other state. There’s something to be said for the environment outside the office &#151 and in MN, even when it’s cold, you feel the warmth.

On creative education: “I’ve learned by reading: speeches, annuals, books, I’ve never worked for Bernbach, Ogilvy, Ally. But I’ve learned from reading their speeches.”

On Strategy and execution: “Advertising based on a sound strategy but executed poorly is as dull as another snowy day in January. Advertising executed brilliantly but based on weak strategy may be entertaining &#151 but it won’t work. So you have to do the whole job, not just half. Strong strategy. And strong execution. I don’t always succeed. But that’s always my goal.”

Common sense strikes again. The same simple thinking that made Carl Ally and David Ogilvy successful is evident in Anderson’s words. A particularly interesting segment of his career is explained below.

On trusting people: “My first job was as a board artist, one of ten in an in-house department. I fouled up, and the woman in charge called me into her office. I just knew I was going to be fired. But she put her arm around me and said, ‘Ronnie, there’s nothing you can screw up that we can’t fix up.’ I felt terrific. That was trust. I’ve never forgotten what it can mean to a young person.”

More: “Back to Basics: Wisdom From Ralph Ammirati