“Always ask for more to do”: Beyond the Brief featuring Richard Ward, 22squared

22squared chairman and CEO Richard Ward

How does a small, independent agency find a way to maneuver in an industry filled with behemoths? If you ask 22squared chairman and CEO Richard Ward, it’s all about having a start-up mindset.

Ward started his career at FCB’s San Francisco office back over 40 years ago, an 18-year trek that culminated in him becoming executive vice president, managing director. Perfect timing: the dot-com age was just beginning and looking for people with advertising experience. In 1995, he switched to the digital world and joined Infoseek as their director of global advertising. Then, after 6 years as a vice president at AOL, he moved over to auction site eBay.

About 20 years of ad agency experience and 10 years of experience in the digital space — all very critical for 22squared, a 90-year old independent agency that keeps it’s mindset similar to startup culture. It’s this “fiercely independent” mindset that attracts clients like Publix, Toyota, Costa Rica Tourism, and The Home Depot, makes talent from unconventional backgrounds feel welcome (just ask featured copywriter Madeline Adams), and garners praise as one of the top small agencies in the industry.

This, along with a growing amount of Effies, Ward’s expertise and leadership are central to it all, and the industry’s rewarded him in kind: the 4As just named him as one of their 100 People Who Make Advertising Great and the AMA recognized him as their Marketer of the Year.

When you’re looking to get your agency ready for the next 100 years, you bring in someone with the chops to take on the future. This is hallmark to what’s made Ward live beyond the brief.

What makes you excited about going to work every day?

At this point in my career, I get so much joy out of being a teacher to my colleagues and employees. It’s something that I’m extremely passionate about, and is so rewarding. But I also get excited about seeing 22squared truly live out the vision we had 11 years ago - becoming a national powerhouse, creating a global connection, and leading innovation in the digital space.

The moment you knew you wanted to be in advertising.

I attended The University of Oregon (Ed. note: GO DUCKS!!!), which has one of the top five best journalism programs in the country. And even though I was a business major, I took a lot of classes within the school of journalism. There was a department head named Willis Winter, who was very well connected to the ad industry on the West Coast and allowed for there to be a constant presence on campus of world-class advertising agencies. With every visit, I fell in love. And by the time I was a junior, I knew that this was what I was going to do.

What is a guilty pleasure/vice you can’t go without?

Rap music, especially Tupac. Gets me through the day.

How do you practice self-care?

Online shopping. I'm an introvert, so it's perfect. Clears my head.

What life advice do you give others?

Always ask for more to do. Volunteer. Get involved. When you show initiative, you open the door for opportunities to experience things that may be outside of your comfort zone or that you may not normally get exposure to. Take the risk!

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.

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.

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