David Oakley is president, and creative director at BooneOakley (booneoakley.com), the agency he co-founded with partner John Boone. The agency, based in Charlotte, NC, has done well since its inception in 2000. In a relatively short period of time, the agency has brought home a Webby, a Cannes Gold Lion, and multiple Clio and Addy awards. Under David’s leadership, BooneOakley has been named an Advertising Age “Southeast Small Agency of the Year,” and David and John were named a “Hot Creative Team” by Creativity magazine. The agency web site was honored in the Google Creative Canvas for 2010.
David started his advertising career as a copywriter at Young & Rubicam in New York, where he crafted campaigns for major brands including Certs, Dr. Pepper, and AT&T. From there, he went to TBWA/Chiat/Day to help develop the Absolut Vodka campaign—voted one of Ad Age’s “Top Twenty Ad Campaigns of the Twentieth Century.” After seven years in the Big Apple, David followed his Carolina roots to super-regional agency, Price McNabb, where he worked on several award-winning campaigns. In 1997, David and John Boone opened a satellite office of The Martin Agency in Charlotte. There, David served as associate creative director for Wrangler, Alltel, Kellogg’s, Saan, and the Charlotte Hornets.
The following excerpt is from my interview with David for Advertisers at Work.
Tuten: What led you to advertising as a profession? Did you grow up wanting to work in this field?
Oakley: Both of my parents were potters, which was great. It was a really creative background to have. I actually didn’t realize until I got in college that I’d had a very unusual upbringing, being the son of two craftspeople. It was really a great childhood. We traveled to craft shows up and down the Eastern seaboard when I was a kid. We would go to Florida or we’d go to Virginia Beach and we’d show our wares. But it was also a lot of work and growing up that way taught me that while I wanted to do something creative in my career, I did not want to be a craftsperson. I really didn’t want to be a potter. I saw my dad and my mom, and they always had mud all over them. They had clay all over them, you know, just from making pots. It’s a really hard business being a potter, and they worked really hard. I wanted to find a way to be creative and not be dirty all the time. That sounds like a really weird thing because I’m not exactly the cleanest person around, you know? I take a shower once every couple of months [laughter].