We had the good fortune of connecting with Aaron Henry and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aaron, what’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make?
It would easily be letting a person go. At our agency we have a core mantra and that is “To forge greatness wherever it lays.” That includes personnel, the creatives and talent behind what we do. This particular person was brought on to a demanding project in which they were ultimately under qualified to be on. Other team members, including myself, stayed up many late nights reversing and fixing work before client review. We had given training programs, worked side-by-side, and had mentors and senior team members available nearly around the clock. Unfortunately, we had to replace the individual. When made the decision we had done so knowing we had all gone above and beyond to lift this team member up. They unfortunately did not see it the same way and a relationship was lost. The team went on to finish the project under extremely tight deadlines, but ultimately ran a successful campaign and picked up an ADDY along the way.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
We shape deep relationships between brands and people, the ones that last a lifetime. We’re a full-service advertising agency with a vision of how brands and people can relate. We combine creativity with layers of meaning and produce compelling experiences that shape the relationships brands have with people. We explore the raw ingredients of a brand, we melt the brand’s vision with insight, and we pour molten creative into our strategic mold. Traditional, digital, or experiential — we create engaging campaigns to deepen the brand relationship throughout their lives, across their networks, and from one generation to the next. Our road to today has not been easy, but it has been exciting.
We started back in 2008 as a consultancy for agencies working with small businesses. Early on we hit several hurdles as we attempted to grow in this space. This resulted in us pivoting towards market demands of creative service. Ultimately, we became a full-service advertising agency, and ironically do a lot of consulting now. The biggest lesson we have learned is proper process.
As I learned in my background as a symphony musician, the creative world is not amorphous. There is proper structure and process that govern how to be creative in a way that captures attention, engages people on an emotional level, and motivates activism in the real world. And there is a way to take a core idea, refine it down to what makes it special, and then to protect it through the production process, seeing it come to life in the world, and witnessing popular culture move because of it. Knowing that process allows you to create amazing things. Mastering that process allowed our agency to grow into a more creative and more sophisticated level of execution.
The second biggest lesson we learned is that you have to be creative in your own way. You can’t mimic or copy your way through it. Authenticity starts where originality and process begin. You have to know who you are and how you approach anything creative, in business, or in life. For our agency we call it the 5-1-2 Framework. It is how we systematically create deep relationships between brands and people. The deeper and stronger those relationships the more growth a brand will see. Our ability to replicate success with our approach has propelled us in the advertising industry to now working with some big brands like Jägermeister, Forbes, Foursquare, Ad Age, Schulte Roofing, Texas A&M University, and others.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If traffic on the loop or beltway were not a thing I would say to stay at Hotel Zaza and start in the Museum district to get a creative fix. The next day we got to take in a Texans, Astros, or Rockets game, depending on the time of year. To get a little outdoor action, I think Buffalo Bayou, Memorial Park, or Hermann Park would be a nice run. Everyone tends do a little shopping when they’re here, so I would definitely recommend spending some time in The Galleria. Food in Houston could be an entire trip in itself. Some of my favorite spots would be Killen’s, Xochi, Brennan’s, and Oh My Gogi. Drink-wise, I would probably recommend that we hit up Monkey’s Tail, The Hay Merchant, Little Woodrow’s, or the Saint Arnold Brewery.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I owe all my success to my colleagues, coworkers, friends, family, and mentors. Each one of them has made an impact on me, supporting me along my journey with advice or just a friendly shoulder to lean on. David WIlborn, Cliff Jones, and the countless other directors and musicians that helped me prepare and during my musical career. Glenda Hoon Russell with The Status Foe, has encouraged me to be bolder and fearless as I continue down my path. Herman Harris with Ten4 Consulting is directly responsible for helping me start my professional journey post performance. Work colleagues like Dhiren, Jesus, Catherine, Daniel, and Griselda, all handle my demands and allow me to push at my pace. Special shoutout to Jesus who has personally dealt with my demands over the past few years. Kim Thompson, an amazing architect, who has taught me a lot about design and spaces. My mother, Jan, has always guided me with honesty and integrity. My father, Van, has always ensured that my path was always obtainable no matter how difficult. My two younger sisters, Rachel and Rebecca, have always been there to encourage and to some extent harass me (haha).
Sawyer Richburg Jeffrey Djasputra Eloise Ambursley Matthew LeJune