Aaron WALTON

Partner | WALTON ISAACSON

A past Black Enterprise and Ad Age Agency of the Year, Walton Isaacson was ranked one of the Inc. 5000 fastest growing private companies in the U.S.  in 2014. This year Walton Isaacson was named Southern California’s Minority “Supplier of the Year” for an unprecedented five times in six years for their work with Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. – Lexus Division.

Walton began his career in marketing with PepsiCo where he was quickly promoted to brand management for the Pepsi and Mountain Dew brands and then Entertainment Marketing Manager for PepsiCo and developed the entertainment marketing strategy for the entire company. After his stint at PepsiCo, Walton started his own company, Aaron Walton Entertainment (AWE), which he sold in 2001 to Omnicom’s DAS division.  Walton is a Board Advisor for the HollyRod Foundation, which is dedicated to providing compassionate care to those living with Autism and Parkinson’s disease. He also sits on the boards of the award-winning Tectonic Theater Project and The Marcus Graham Project. 

questionnaire

What was your very first job?  

I started as a Research Analyst at Pepsi Cola during the height of Cola Wars in the 1980s.  I was quickly promoted as brand manager for Mountain Dew before traveling throughout the world representing Pepsi as the major sponsor of Michael Jackson’s iconic “Bad” tour. 

Please describe, in your own words, what your job is and what work it entails: 

As Co-Founder of Walton Isaacson,  I lead an advertising agency that goes well beyond the conventional agency model. Working with Cory Isaacson, my primary responsibilities include overseeing the creation of advertising, promotion, social media and special events for clients;  providing a thoroughgoing analysis of the relationship that brands have with specific consumers (i.e., Black, Hispanic and LGBTQ);  developing the agency leadership team; expanding the client roaster; reviewing the creative; and managing agency profitability.  An example of what we’ve done that’s beyond the traditional agency model is to produce and create “Verses & Flow,” which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award (see question five below).  

How did you discover that the creative world was right for you? Was there a time in your life that you credit to this discovery? What was there train of events that brought you to where you are today? 

While I thought it was really important to give myself a solid business management foundation, I’ve always wanted to be part of the creative story telling process.  When I was little, my grandmother took me to see You’re A Good Man,Charlie Brown on stage and that immediately sealed the deal of my interest in working in around the creative arts.  Now that I stop and think about it, three of my favorite TV shows when I was little were Bewitched, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show.  All of them involved people running around and creating something fun and interesting, whether it was Darrin Stephens creating ads, Mary producing the news or Rob, Buddy and Sally sitting around the writers room.  I immediately connect with very creative people (as in the Jackson tour) and find a way to contribute to the process that nurtures their talent and gets the best out of everyone involved.  

In your constantly growing and expanding industry, how do you find inspiration to keep your work fresh, innovative and relevant?    

I continue to make it a point to find and cultivate friends who challenge each other to remain relevant.  Together, we encourage each other  to take in that extra piece of theatre or museum exhibit or look for that new musical  artist who will become tremendously influential.   These uber creative people are at the top of their professions in fashion, entertainment and design.  Since 2012,  I’ve had both the honor and pleasure of modeling twice a year on the Paris runway and in Japan for Rynshu, the haute couture Japanese designer. Being part of these brilliant, meticulously staged shows and traveling to Paris always invigorates my spirit and invariably leads to ideas that make my own work better.  

If you had to pick one piece of work or project that you are most proud of, more for the creative work and innovation it required, rather than its recognition or industry “success,” what would it be?  

It would have to be “Verses and Flow,” television series which features spoken-word and musical performances from poets and R&B singers that are anchored in contemporary cultural, political and social topics.   We produced the series for TVOne with Lexus because everything else out there lacked the cultural relevance that we felt was necessary for Lexus to truly connect with black consumers.  “Verses and Flow” has given a leg up to many talented artists and we were thrilled that a client furnished program was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Variety – Series or Special.  

jury

SVP Global Creative Director | SIMON
Founder, Creative Director | SLANG INC.
Global Design Director | COTY PRESTIGE
Exec. Creative Director | PERIERA & O'DELL
VP Group Creative Director | DIGITASLBI
Chief Strategic Officer | VICE MEDIA
EVP Exec. Creative Director | BBDO
Creative Director | CONDE NAST
Creative Director | HEARST DIGITAL MEDIA
Creative Director | CARHARTT
Creative Director | ARITZIA
Creative Director | REFINERY29
Creative Director | GREY BEAUTY
Chief Engagement Officer | SAMSUNG
Director of Branded Content | MACY'S
VP Group CD | YOUNG & RUBICAM
Dir. of Creative Operations | DROGA5
Assoc. Creative Director | ARNOLD WW
Managing Director, CCO | HAVAS LIFE
ECD, Managing Partner | SID LEE
Exec. Creative Director | MCGARRYBOWEN
VP Brand Design | SYFY
SVP Creative Director | DDB (AVEENO)
Exec. Creative Director | ANTHROPOLOGIE
SVP Global Creative Director | CREME LA MER
Global Digital Creative Director | KIEHL'S
Sr. Dir of Creative Production | NIKE
Exec. Dir., Creative Studio | NARS COSMETCS
SVP Executive Producer | MCCANN
Exec. Creative Director | SELECT WORLD
Chief Creative Officer | THE FADER
VP CD | AUTHENTIC BRANDS GROUP
Exec. Dir. of Production | DAVID YURMAN
CCO | AVRETT FREE GINSBERG
Head of Visual Design | AMAZON
Exec. Creative Director | SPRING STUDIOS
Exec. Creative Director | ARNOLD WW
Chairman | SCHOOL OF VISUAL ARTS
Creative Director | VAYNER MEDIA
Global Head of Design | CITIBANK
Creative Director | TJ MAXX
VP Brand Marketing | CHOBANI
Sr. Manager, Interactive | TIMBERLAND
VP CD | HUDSON'S BAY, LORD&TAYLOR
Sr. Creative Director | UNDER ARMOUR
Chief Creative Officer | JACK MORTON
Creative Director | R/GA
ECD | FALLON NEW YORK
VP Creative Director | PUBLICIS
Exec. Creative Director | JWT
Exec. Creative Director | NICKELODEON
Assoc. Creative Director | R/GA
VP Global Creative | MICHAEL KORS
Head of Brand Design | WARBY PARKER
VP Brand CD | VH1
Creative Director
ECD, Global Product & Innovation | HUGE
VP Creative Marketing | XCEL BRANDS
SVP, Group Creative Director | MOMENTUM
Founder | MEKANISM
Creative Director
VP CD of Experiential Design | EDELMAN
Sr. Art Director | DROGA5
Digital Creative Director | NBCUNIVERSAL
Creative Director | SHOWTIME NETWORKS
Creative Innovation Lead | GOOGLE ZOO
Creative Director | AEROSOLES
Director of Innovation | MEDIACOM
Creative Director | NFL
Chief Creative Officer & Co-Founder | SID LEE
Group Creative Director | MOTHER NEW YORK
VP Global Creative | ESTEE LAUDER / ADF
SVP Brand Creative | KATE SPADE
Chief Creative Officer | CARROT- VICE AGENCY
VP Creative Services | ALICE+OLIVIA
Design Dir., Global Brand Design | CONVERSE
Design Director | 360I
Chief Creative Officer | HUDSON ROUGE
Owner + Artistic Director | EPI
Sr. Art Director | BARON & BARON
Head of Global Creative Design | JO MALONE
Creative Services | HARRY WINSTON
Group CD | THE MARTIN AGENCY
ACD | THE CREATIVE GROUP, CONDE NAST
Dir. of Digital and Print Prod. | KENNETH COLE
Partner | THE PUB
Exec Creative Director | TIFFANY & CO
Creative Director | SHOPBOP
Artistic Director | EQUINOX
Founder, Creative Director | AIR PARIS
ACD | BERGDORF GOODMAN
SVP ECD | LAIRD + PARTNERS
Creative | AMAZON FASHION JAPAN
SVP, Creative Director | ARNOLD WW
Art Director | PAPER
Group Creative Director | RAZORFISH
Photo Director | T MAGAZINE
Creative Director | EXPRESS
Co-Founder, CD | JOHANNES LEONARDO
Creative Director | BARTON F. GRAF
Partner | WALTON ISAACSON
Sr. Social Media Strategist | ADIDAS
VP Creative Director | MCCANN
Chief Production Officer | DDB
Founder | NR2154
Creative Director | APPLE
Chief Creative Officer | SAPIENTRAZORFISH
VP Creative | MAYBELLINE
VP Group CD | MCCANN ERICKSON