Creative Hall of Fame

Mike Hughes

Inducted: 2010


The Truth About Mike Hughes

Mike Hughes is not what he seems.

To the world, he is a rare and talented writer and an even more skilled creative director, an icon of advertising. I've known the man for thirty-two years now and I love him dearly, but as he prepares to receive this singular and noble honor, there are things that must be said.

Mike's name isn't Mike.
It's James. James is a perfectly good name. Let's start there.

Mike's writing is awful.
My first impression of him came from his handwriting, which is like that of a five year old. Mike left The Martin Agency for a few years. I arrived about a week after he left and was handed a pile of his notes and God-awful scribbles for a brochure he had started that I was going to finish. As I looked over his notes, I remember thinking to myself, "What's wrong with this guy? Why does he suddenly start writing sentences vertically? By the way, there are some interesting ideas here."

Mike has a big head.
It's physically imposing. His shoulders are immensely broad to provide adequate support for this head. He doesn't stand, he looms. His mother, a charming and lovely woman, thinks he is handsome. She is unique in this respect. We'll leave it at that. A year or so after I met Mike's handwriting, I met him in person. He was the creative director of a competing agency and our two agencies were collaborating on a campaign for the United Way. We were on a shoot for a television commercial Mike had written. He was in charge and had recruited this beautiful young woman to appear as volunteer talent. As she stood there and he loomed, someone mentioned to me that they were very much in love and were, in fact, engaged. I remember thinking to myself, "What the hell does a woman like that see in this guy? How did he get to be a creative director at his age? By the way, it's a damn good commercial."

Mike has no talent.
What he has is more regularly referred to as genius. Not a word to be taken lightly. If it was Edison who identified the ingredients of the elixir we call by that name, it was Hughes who perfected the chemistry: 30 percent inspiration and 170 percent perspiration. The inspiration comes from an astounding diet of current events, literature, business news, film, music, commentary and soft drinks. While I've only rarely seen him literally perspire, his work hours are legendary.

Of course, what happens during those hours is what separates Mike from the drudges. He listens more intently than most people are willing to listen. He requires himself to be more inventive in solving problems than most people require themselves to be. He allows himself less comfort and complacency than most people allow themselves. And he periodically shows us all how it's done by writing breathtaking copy. All this creates a phenomenon that physicists might call bending time. The longer his hours, the faster the world spins for the rest of us. It's disconcerting, but exhilarating.

Mike intimidates people.
He talks about the kind of advertising he wants them to do. He tells them he wants them to change the world. He insists that they think bigger than they're able to think. Then, as they sit there unnerved, he tells them what he finds remarkable about them and their work and how knocked out he is by their talent. He admires the things they can do that he can't do. They leave scared and proud, off to find a wall to walk through for him.

Mike has no taste.
The other four senses are fine, but his taste buds appear not to function: the only explanation for his preternatural ability to swallow a large plate of food with such stunning speed. When you inquire about the meal, he says it was great. He can't possibly know that.

Mike doesn't get it.
He has no idea what impact he has on people. When people are with him, they laugh more, learn more, feel more hopeful. They want to be with him and they want to be like him. When he gets notes of admiration from people, he always seems a little surprised. When he's asked to talk about the effect he has on people, it's as though a fish has been asked to describe water.

Mike isn't nice.
He's called that a lot. "He's such a nice man." "Nice" is a pale, diminutive shorthand we often use to describe someone whose character we only glimpse in casual encounters. On the surface we see only courtesy, attentiveness, appreciation. Those things are nice. But when you get to know Mike well, you stop calling him a nice man. You call him a good man, a loyal man, a loving man. The kind of extraordinary man you will meet once or twice in your life.

I've known Mike Hughes for thirty-two years. "Nice" is the last word I'd ever use to describe him.



John Adams
Chairman, Chief Executive Officer
The Martin Agency



Peter Frampton Agency: The Martin Agency / Richmond Client: GEICO Category: Consumer Radio / Single Year: 2008
Cavem Airport Agency: The Martin Agency / Richmond Client: GEICO Category: Consumer Television / :30/:25 - Single Year: 2007
Burt Bacharach Agency: The Martin Agency / Richmond Client: GEICO Category: Consumer Television / :30/:25 - Single Year: 2007
Movie Guy Agency: The Martin Agency / Richmond Client: GEICO Category: Consumer Television / :30/:25 - Single Year: 2007
Onion #2 Agency: The Martin Agency / Richmond Client: The Onion Category: Small Space - Print / Black and White: Less than a Page - Campaign Year: 2006
Complaints Agency: The Martin Agency / Richmond Client: The Onion Category: Small Space - Print / Black and White: Less than a Page - Single Year: 2006
Survivor Agency: The Martin Agency / Richmond Client: CBS Category: Small Space - Print / Color: Less than a Page - Campaign Year: 2006
Caveman Insult Agency: The Martin Agency / Richmond Client: GEICO Category: Consumer Television / Consumer Television :20 and Under: Single Year: 2005
Where do you see yourself? Agency: The Martin Agency / Richmond Client: Dick Gerdes Category: Collateral Advertising / Collateral: Self-Promotion Year: 2005
Hollywood Kisses Agency: The Martin Agency / Richmond Client: Turner Classic Movies Category: Consumer Magazine / Magazine B/W Full Page or Spread: Campaign Year: 2004
How to Create a Newspaper Ad: Luke Sullivan, Mike Hughes, Lee Clow Agency: The Martin Agency / Richmond Client: Newspaper Association of America Category: Newspaper / Newspaper Over 600 Lines: Campaign Year: 2003
Yahoo Scratch Agency: Martin Agency, The/ Martin Interactive / New York Client: Saralee Corp./Hanes Tagless Tee Category: Banners / Banner - Single Year: 2003
Jacques Lowe Tribute Agency: The Martin Agency / Richmond Client: John F. Kennedy Library Foundation Category: Public Service/Political / Public Service/Political Newspaper or Magazine: Single Year: 2003
Agency: The Martin Agency / Richmond Client: TV Land Category: Newspaper / Newspaper 600 Lines or Less: Campaign Year: 2001
Agency: The Martin Agency / Richmond Client: Virginia Holocaust Museum Category: Public Service/Political / Public Service/Political: Outdoor and Posters Year: 2000
Agency: The Martin Agency / Richmond Client: TV Land Category: Trade / Trade B/W or Color Any Size: Campaign Year: 2000

2008 Advertising Merit Award

The Martin Agency / Richmond

GEICO

Peter Frampton

Consumer Radio / Single

08343R

2007 Advertising Merit Award

The Martin Agency / Richmond

GEICO

Cavem Airport

Consumer Television / :30/:25 - Single

07435T

2007 Advertising Merit Award

The Martin Agency / Richmond

GEICO

Burt Bacharach

Consumer Television / :30/:25 - Single

07436T

2007 Advertising Merit Award

The Martin Agency / Richmond

GEICO

Movie Guy

Consumer Television / :30/:25 - Single

07437T

2006 Advertising Silver Pencil

The Martin Agency / Richmond

The Onion

Onion #2

Small Space - Print / Black and White: Less than a Page - Campaign

06016A

2006 Advertising Silver Pencil

The Martin Agency / Richmond

The Onion

Complaints

Small Space - Print / Black and White: Less than a Page - Single

06014A

2006 Advertising Merit Award

The Martin Agency / Richmond

CBS

Survivor

Small Space - Print / Color: Less than a Page - Campaign

06125A

2005 Advertising Silver Pencil

The Martin Agency / Richmond

GEICO

Caveman Insult

Consumer Television / Consumer Television :20 and Under: Single

05022T

2005 Advertising Silver Pencil

The Martin Agency / Richmond

Dick Gerdes

Where do you see yourself?

Collateral Advertising / Collateral: Self-Promotion

05038A

2004 Advertising Merit Award

The Martin Agency / Richmond

Turner Classic Movies

Hollywood Kisses

Consumer Magazine / Magazine B/W Full Page or Spread: Campaign

04201A

2003 Advertising Bronze Pencil

The Martin Agency / Richmond

Newspaper Association of America

How to Create a Newspaper Ad: Luke Sullivan, Mike Hughes, Lee Clow

Newspaper / Newspaper Over 600 Lines: Campaign

03007A

2003 Interactive Merit Award

Martin Agency, The/ Martin Interactive / New York

Saralee Corp./Hanes Tagless Tee

Yahoo Scratch

Banners / Banner - Single

03075N

2003 Advertising Merit Award

The Martin Agency / Richmond

John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

Jacques Lowe Tribute

Public Service/Political / Public Service/Political Newspaper or Magazine: Single

03337A

2001 Advertising Merit Award

The Martin Agency / Richmond

TV Land

Newspaper / Newspaper 600 Lines or Less: Campaign

010150A

2000 Advertising Gold Pencil

The Martin Agency / Richmond

Virginia Holocaust Museum

Public Service/Political / Public Service/Political: Outdoor and Posters

00_0061A

2000 Advertising Merit Award

The Martin Agency / Richmond

TV Land

Trade / Trade B/W or Color Any Size: Campaign

00_0395A

 

 

 

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