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New Book Tells Hilarious Tales of One Man’s Successful Advertising Career
Ron Elgin may be one of the luckiest people who ever lived – and he knows it. He was fortunate to be surrounded by smart people with bright ideas, including his business partner, David Syferd, who first had the idea for them to start their own advertising agency. Huckster tells the story of that agency from womb to grave and the role Ron played in its success. Founded in 1981, for thirty years Elgin Syferd was the powerhouse marketing agency in the Pacific Northwest. Ron was also lucky or smart enough to marry “Pretty Bonnie” to keep him in line when he needed to, to hire people smarter than him, and to be smart enough not to hire jerks.
Luckily for us, Ron was also smart enough to write this book and write it well. He didn’t want to write a dry “How To” book, so he wrote this collection of stories about the history of his agency, filled with words of wisdom about how to run a business, and loads of great stories to tell. make anyone laugh regardless of any interest in advertising.
The story begins when Dave first suggested to Ron that they start an agency, saying, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a company that was always as good as me and you’re trying to be?” I suspect Ron is very good, but he won’t give himself credit for being so. Besides, putting his luck aside, it’s clear that he worked hard to make Elgin Syferd a success from the start. In fact, he worked hard from an early age. As he tells us:
“I grew up living in a low-income housing project in Seattle that probably played a big role in my lifelong thirst to be rich. As a child, I helped our family where I could by collecting and selling beer bottles to the neighbors”. yard, and finally, I graduated to killing rats at the Fisher Flour Mill for fifty cents apiece. I got my first hourly jobs while in high school. My two longest-lasting jobs were on the graveyard shift on the railroad as a yard clerk (aptly named “mudhoppers”). and after school at a gas station and oil change.”
From there, Ron went to college, interned at a successful advertising agency, had a stint in the service during the Vietnam War, returned to advertising, and finally founded Elgin Syferd, bringing a lot of experience with him, and with him. with a certain pride, a soft heart, and a great sense of humor.
The stories Ron shares about advertising are a rare mix of genuine entertainment and education. For example, I loved the story of the airplane commercial that he was convinced was right. The ad featured an image of a plane taking off and a plane landing; unfortunately, the client told him that the plane looked like it was going to crash. Not wanting to change it, Ron went to the airport to show the ad to the passengers and get their reactions. When he was done, a man threatened to kick his ass if he didn’t stop scaring people and Ron ended up being arrested by airport security. Lesson – never be too proud to listen to others.
I don’t want you to have the pleasure of laughing at Ron and many of his colleagues, but if you are looking to learn something by reading this book, Ron summarizes his stories with several key points, such as. “There are a million ways to solve a particular problem,” “Doing a good job is not enough to keep good clients. Constant care, contact, cultivation, and asking the right questions are important,” and “If an employee shows a reluctance to be replaced. in any part of the agency’s business, maybe it is time for the future of that person and the company to be reassessed.” Some of these lessons made sense, some were like lightbulbs that went off for Ron, and some were hard lessons from the mistakes he made.
Ron is serious about his business, but he’s not above finding humor in everything, and you’ll have to read this book to believe the customers and co-workers he often interacted with. One patron made a brain cancer shield for cell phones, and another decided to breastfeed her baby during the show. Then there was the woman dying of cancer who wanted to work for an ad agency, without letting on what her full agenda was, and you’ll never forget Ron’s client and friend who thought he was God. There were many good times at the golf course, sailing parties, and happy business trips where Ron or a colleague had one drink too many. I swear if I didn’t know better, I thought the writers of NBC’s The Office visited Ron’s agency to get things.
Through it all, Ron rarely got himself into trouble – except for his wife. In fact, Fair Bonnie sometimes got Ron into trouble, such as when she decided during a trip to the USSR to help buy illegal infant formula from Jewish mothers, which would have resulted in the couple being sent to the gulag. However, Ron continued to travel with him to China, Bangkok, Singapore, and the Kentucky Derby – all mentioned in the book, and all good.
Despite the humor, often self-deprecating, in these pages, I really appreciated Ron’s honesty about his business, the mistakes he made, what he learned, and the good spirit of being interested in the work and life he offers. Anyone in the business will be able to appreciate the stories and lessons. People involved in marketing or recruiting will especially enjoy this book – they will find it eye-opening and enlightening about how the world of marketing works. The Huckster would make the perfect gift for anyone entering the corporate world and anyone who loves a good story.
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