‘I love to create’: Beyond the Brief featuring Jon Arnold, Bohan

Jon Arnold, SVP/ECD, Bohan

As a native son of Coolville, Ohio that grew up reading his older brother’s One Show annuals, SVP/ECD Jon Arnold of Nashville’s Bohan may know a little bit about what makes “cool” advertising.

For over 2 decades, he’s been a cold-blooded creative with work from agencies like TBWA/Chiat Day in St. Louis and Mullen Lowe to Core, where he united (professionally) with his older brother, Mark. Big brother left his impact early—Jon had been reading industry annuals from an early age, but it took a 1987 Nike Air spot to seal his career fate.

The brands he’s touched in his career range from massive (NFL, Ford Motor Company, Miller Brewing) to local (O’Charley’s Restaurants, Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Epiphone Guitars). He’s received recognition in Communication Arts, the National Addys, and Print magazine, among others. Expect Arnold and the rest of his stellar agency to continue making its mark in the Music City.

This was a life Arnold’s dreamed from an early age, and he’s fulfilled it in the coolest of ways, through leadership, an eye for creativity, award-winning work, and living beyond the brief.

What was your proudest career moment?

I had a newspaper client that allowed us to do great branding for them. We won Athena awards two years in a row and even some of the grizzled newspaper staff writers liked the ads. But that’s not what I’m most proud of. It’s the day she fired us. She had partnered with us for almost three years and had fought the good fight of great work. The pressure she was receiving from her bosses was going to make her ask us to do work she knew was not worthy of what had come before it. She couldn’t stomach it.

If you won the lottery, would you still work in advertising?

Absolutely. I come to work because I love the people and I love to create. Oh, and the breakfast bar.

The moment you knew you wanted to be in advertising.

My brother (who is 12 years older than me) is also in the business, so I’ve known since I was a young kid.

He was showing me One Show and CA annuals in elementary school. I never thought about being anything else. And I got to learn early on what great advertising looked like. That is a blessing I don’t take lightly.

What’s your favorite thing about your hometown? What (in)tangible thing have you taken from there?

Value of hard work. Oh, and if I hadn’t grown up in Coolville, Ohio, I couldn’t have named my portfolio THECOOLVILLE.

What life advice do you give others?

If you’re not going to pass, stay out of the passing lane.

If your life and career were a biopic, who’d narrate it? Who’d be on the soundtrack?

(The late) Don Rickles. Old Crow Medicine Show.

To celebrate its 100th Anniversary, the 4A’s has partnered with us at The Drum to pull back the curtain and look at an industry full of problem solvers, creative types and analytical minds. But what keeps them going once the briefs are written, the campaigns executed, and the pitches won (or lost)? We’re interviewing 100 people at 4A’s member agencies — across all disciplines, levels, regions, and agency types — to get a glimpse into what drives them at work and what fuels them in life.

See the industry pros we're featuring here.

To pitch someone from a 4A's member agency for Beyond the Brief, please complete this linked form.

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Bennett Bennett

Bennett D. Bennett is a staff writer at The Drum covering agencies, the media landscape, creativity and innovation. An NYC native, MAIP alum and City College of New York grad, Bennett previously was an award-winning copywriter at BBDO New York and lends his unique perspective and voice to The Drum's editorial staff. Previously a member of the Adcolor Advisory Board, he currently sits on the AAF's Mosaic Next-Generation Leadership Council and the 4As Steering Committee.

All by Bennett