PRESENTATION: Marketing for Tomorrow, Starting Today
BIO: Leadership. Innovation. Collaboration. Growth.
Ron Bess built his career on these four pillars, resulting in notable success for his clients and his agencies.
Ron is a brand builder and an agency builder. He has turned around ailing agencies, made good agencies better, led record growth on well-known brands and introduced new products that became category leaders.
He is an innovative agency architect who believes in the power of collaboration. He consistently finds a way to bring together top talent from across disciplines to form cohesive teams. He has moved beyond the “integrated” model of the past to a more cohesive and collaborative “unified” approach, which he has shown can be the model for the future.
Ron got his start at Foote Cone & Belding in Chicago working on CPG brands. He then joined what is now DDB Chicago and, at a very young age, led clients like McDonalds, Anheuser-Busch and General Mills during a time of the best share growth in their histories. He then started his own agency, Bayer Bess Vanderwarker, which became the fastest growing new agency in Chicago and AdWeek’s Agency of the Year. Bayer Bess attracted clients including Quaker, Campbell’s, AT&T, and Motorola. It built the Gatorade brand from its infancy into a multi-billion new category with advertising that had athletes of every age wanting to
“Be Like Mike”.
Ron sold his agency to FCB and soon became President of FCB Worldwide. He quickly led the Chicago office to the best growth year in its history and AdWeek’s Agency of the Year. Then he led FCB into new growth opportunities with acquisitions in digital, promotion and PR. Next he moved to New York as Global CEO of the Y&R Group of Diversified Agencies which included category-leading companies Burson-Marstellar (PR), Landor (Brand Consulting), Sudler & Hennessey (Healthcare Strategy) among others.
Ron returned to Chicago to be CEO of Havas Chicago and President of North America for the Havas Global Network. Ron led Chicago from the brink of extinction to dramatic growth using his unified business model that put advertising, digital, direct, media and data under one management team and one culture. His unified model led to a series of significant new business wins vs. competitors who were pure play vertical leaders. Havas Chicago became the Havas Agency of the Year and the Havas Network’s model for the future. As President of North America he reorganized the region for the digital age and consolidated 20+ operating units into 6 more unified and collaborative companies. Double-digit growth closely followed that change.
Today Ron is a Consultant to several young agencies where his experience helps CEOs with their strategic planning. He is known for his problem-solving philosophy: “Face it. Figure It Out. Fix It”.
In addition, Ron is Chairman of the Chicago Agency Community Board of the 4As, a group he created by bringing together a cross section of 25 advertising, media, digital, public relations and marketing services agencies. The goal of the organization is to make Chicago a preferred destination for top young talent.
Ron has undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Business from the University of Illinois, where he was also captain of the football team.