10 Questions Advertising

10 questions with... Derek Walker, founder of Brown and Browner Advertising


By Stephen Lepitak, -

January 26, 2019 | 5 min read

In an attempt to showcase the personalities of the people behind the media and marketing sector, The Drum speaks to individuals who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what insights and life experience they can offer the rest of us.

derek walker

Derek Walker

This week's 10 Questions are put to the founder of Brown and Browner Advertising, Derek Walker.

What was your first ever job?

Putting tar on a roof. I decided to tell my parents that I didn’t need a college education at the end of my 8th grade year of school. So, my father got me a job tarring the roof of a new grocery store in Columbia, South Carolina, in the summer.

After two days of work, I came home and informed my parents that I would be attending college.

Which industry buzzword annoys you most?

All, every single one.

Who do you find most interesting to follow on social media?

Bryan Voliton’s Raising Unmanageables on Facebook.

Lee Clow's Beard on Twitter.

No one on LinkedIn, but I am open to suggestions.

Can I add a podcasts? Mixed Company Podcast.

Highlight of your career (so far?)

It is a tie. I made NFL players cry after watching my campaign for the Susan G Komen Foundation. And I got to meet some nice Secret Service agents when I presented my campaign for the NAACP at their national conference, and we happened to use a photo with a young John Lewis in it.

One of the people in the presentation went and got the then-senator John Lewis to show him our work. He loved the campaign, but we had to get past his security detail to speak to him.

What piece of tech can you not live without?

I’m old school. I love having a laptop available. I’m old – I need a larger screen to work off of.

Who or what did you have posters of on your bedroom wall as a teenager?

A 'Doctor J' poster. We won’t talk about what other posters were on my wall – it was a different time. All I can say is there has never been a tourism poster like 'The Jamaica'.

And I actually hung comic books in plastic bags on my wall.

In advertising, what needs to change soon?

How long do you have?

1. The attitude that creative is secondary to strategy. We have forgotten that the product we produce is creative solutions driven by strategy but at the end of the day, it is the creative that gets the client noticed.

2. The belief that agencies are vendors. Clients cannot treat everything about an agency like we are vendors and they want us to perform like consultants.

3. The monetary value placed on an idea and the process to produce creative. Right now, clients are getting a lot more than they are paying for. It is time to shift to a performance-based pay model.

4. Diversity and inclusion. It is long past time that we handle this the way I know we can.

What is (in your opinion) the greatest film/album/book?

Film: Blazing Saddles

Album: Songs in the Key of Life – Stevie Wonder

Book: The Bible (the understanding of human nature and storytelling in it are without equal).

Which industry event can you not afford to miss each year and why?

None. I run a small agency remember? If I could afford it, Cannes Lions would be my first choice. Can we start a Gofundme page for a brother?

What's the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

I once as a junior copywriter sat in a meeting about a project speaking to minority parents, and I didn’t say what I was thinking and knew. Paul Counsell, then chief executive of Cramer-Krasselt told me in the meeting that if I didn’t tell the room what I knew, he would fire me.

He then went on to tell me to never hide who I am because although my experiences are different, it doesn’t mean they are not as valuable as everyone else in the room.

“Never hold your tongue again,” was his advice. And it has served me well.

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