I sometimes kick myself that it took me so long to meet one of today’s most accomplished copywriters and creative directors, especially since he lives in the Triangle.
(Lead Guitar, Baldwin& and Brand Master, Ponysaurus Brewing Co.)
First off, let’s define inspiration.
Might be something like, owning one of the world’s leading independent agencies.
Or maybe it’s, owning a brewery and naming it after a mythical creature that combines a horse and a dinosaur.
It is most certainly being someone who is both of those.
David Baldwin is the founder of Baldwin&, a downtown Raleigh based agency. They were named Ad Age’s Small Agency of the Year, received the Four A’s O’Toole Award for best body of work from a small agency and were named one of the world’s leading independent agencies by Campaign Magazine. Their clients include: Burt’s Bees, Cree, GUD, BMW, Kingsford, the Umstead, GearWrench and of course Ponysaurus Brewing.
Before creating his own agency, David worked at Hal Riney & Partners, was a partner at McKinney and even served as Chairman of the prestigious One Club in New York City.
Most importantly to me, David was an executive producer of the 2011 Emmy award winning documentary Art & Copy. That movie had profound effect on me. It features many of the folks I’ve already featured in this series. If you are at all interested in creative, advertising or marketing, you must watch it.
In addition to all of this, the thing I find most inspiring about David Baldwin is the way he runs his business. This is how Baldwin& describes itself on LinkedIn:
We want to do great, provocative things that have an effect on the world.
Have fun doing it!
Have a great quality of Life outside of work.
Run a great business.
In that order.
When I read those words, I hear David’s words. It’s probably because I imagine he wrote it, but it’s also because it’s the message I’ve heard him push numerous times: the work over the money.
For instance, in an Ad Week article in 2012, this example was given:
Not long ago, a client rang up the agency, offering a chance to take over a piece of a large telecom account without a pitch. What would have been a no-brainer for most shops gave Baldwin& pause. As the shop’s founder, longtime copywriter and former One Club Chairman David Baldwin said: “We had a quick founder’s meeting and asked, “Does this sound fun at all?’ And when nobody said they felt like it would be a great fit, we just walked away.”
That’s incredibly inspiring!
Who wouldn’t want to work for a management team who brings in new business based on fun and fit, not just financials.
And that actually segues nicely into the creation of Ponysaurus, which is always on tap at Baldwin&. The story goes, David and team really wanted to add a craft brewery to the client roster. With our bustling NC brewing economy, there were lots of options. None really fit the Baldwin& culture. But when they met Keil Jansen, who was helping to lead Durham’s home brew scene, something just clicked. Together they decided to help bring Keil’s beer out of the garage and onto the market, thus creating the perfect client instead of settling for a poor fit.
And if you’ve ever tasted Ponysaurus, the beer is just as good as the incredible branding and packaging their team has created.
It is that pride in the work that inspires me. Sure, David’s career is absolutely astonishing, but he has somehow found a way to not get complacent. He continues to strive to create meaningful work that has an effect on the world, not just work to keep the lights on. And with the proliferation of ads we see everyday, it is refreshing to now someone out there is still trying. Hal Riney would be proud.
Thanks, David for taking the time to meet with me several months ago. It meant a lot. Know you’ve inspired me to push and take pride in the work that comes from me and my team.