Marketing Innovator Aaron Walton Talks Today’s Advertising, Embracing Diversity and More

If you think the Dos Equis guy is the most interesting man in the world, then you haven’t met Aaron Walton. He is one of the principles of the groundbreaking full service advertising agency Walton Isaacson, with offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Miami and Tokyo. He is one of America’s most admired executives in the Advertising, Brand Marketing and Entertainment industries. Aaron stopped by the Wave studios for a fascinating discussion of trends in marketing and media and Walton Isaacson’s mission to be the planet’s most interesting agency.

Education was the key to Aaron’s early successes. He grew up in Boston and attended Babson College. He was always passionate about diversity and how different cultures working together can accomplish anything. At the time that he started his career in advertising and marketing, artists and brands were coming together to create marketing partnerships and Aaron was involved in one of the most famous of these partnerships working with Michael Jackson and Pepsi.

Aaron told us the story of how Walton Isaacson came to be, from joining forces with Cory Isaacson to connecting with Magic Johnson with the goal of becoming the world’s most interesting agency. The two partners were from different backgrounds and cultures with different skill sets but with the common belief that good ideas come from a lot of different places.

We talked about how the advertising business has changed in the 11 years they have been in business. Aaron says his agency is not color blind but rather what he calls “color comfortable”. He believes in embracing our differences instead of fearing them. Aaron also says it was the influence of television shows like Bewitched and Madmen that fueled his interest in marketing.

When you talk to Aaron you understand some of the principles that have made him successful. He believes that we have to embrace differences because authenticity is necessary. It’s not just about diversity, it’s about creating contact that’s meaningful for all consumers. He stressed making sure that the insights are right so that the work resonates for various consumer groups.

We also discussed binge watching and DVR usage and how they affect both media and the advertising industry. Social media has also changed the game because it’s efficient, it’s effective, it’s immediate and it has given consumers the power to have their voices heard.

We talked about the role of creativity in making commercials. The Super Bowl gets the attention of non-sports fans who tune in just to see the ads. The trend of the future is branded content, where brand messages are seamlessly embedded into entertainment vehicles. Walton-Isaacson has had tremendous success at developing branded content with clients like Essence and McDonald’s.

Part of Walton Isaacson’s agency DNA is giving back. Their own mentors inspired them to mentor others in the advertising industry as their business has grown. Projects like Icon Man, their work with the HollyRod Foundation and the Turn Ignorance Around Campaign, demonstrate their belief in paying it forward so that great things will happen for us all.


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