The Columns

Creative Hall of Famer

— by on January 20th, 2011

“Life is measured only superficially by heartbeats, breaths and brainwaves. Life is doing. It’s learning and it’s engaging and it’s thinking.”

So said Washington and Lee alumnus Mike Hughes in a fascinating piece that ran on the front of the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Metro Business section earlier this month. Here is a link to the article in full, and it’s definitely worth the trip.

A 1970 graduate of W&L, where he majored in English, Mike is president and creative director of Richmond’s Martin Agency. And even a caveman knows how successful the Martin Agency has been in advertising circles these past few years. As the T-D piece noted: “Since last January, Martin has added Cool Whip, Morgan Stanley, Tylenol and ESPN3.com to its roster of clients that already included Pizza Hut, Geico and Wal-Mart. To accommodate the growth, Martin has added more than 200 employees in the past year.”

Unsurprisingly, Mike has received his fair share of accolades for the success. Last year he was inducted into the One Club’s Creative Hall of Fame, which is to advertising what Canton is to professional football and Cooperstown is to baseball. In addition, Mike had a building named for him at Virginia Commonwealth University, Creative magazine listed him among its 50 most influential creative thinkers, and Adweek named Martin its Agency of the Year. All in all, a pretty good year.

Even as Mike and the Martin Agency have been flying high with geckos, cavemen and that little piggy, Maxwell, who goes “Whee” all the way home, he has been battling lung cancer for more than a decade. During a speech to VCU’s commencement last month, he told the graduates that when he got his diagnosis 15 years ago, he was told there was an 85 percent chance that he would be dead within five years. He added: “Don’t get me wrong. I’m not some new-age guy who’s finally learned how to smell the roses. I know my prognosis. And so I’m just doing the things I want to do.”