ANALYSIS: Profile - More than just a smile to Hopson’s success - There’s no denying Andy Hopson is smooth - but smooth in a good way. As president/COO of Publicis Dialog’s dollars 24 million US operations, he’s the integrat

It’s Memorial Day weekend in 1979, and a fresh-faced California farm boy is enjoying his first visit to the Big Apple. Set to graduate from Brigham Young University that December, the confident 23-year-old has dollars 20 in his pocket, a new baby back home and his whole life in front of him.

It’s Memorial Day weekend in 1979, and a fresh-faced California farm boy is enjoying his first visit to the Big Apple. Set to graduate from Brigham Young University that December, the confident 23-year-old has dollars 20 in his pocket, a new baby back home and his whole life in front of him.

It’s Memorial Day weekend in 1979, and a fresh-faced California

farm boy is enjoying his first visit to the Big Apple. Set to graduate

from Brigham Young University that December, the confident 23-year-old

has dollars 20 in his pocket, a new baby back home and his whole life in

front of him.



Spotting a game of three-card Monty near the Columbia campus where he’s

staying with a friend, he convinces the dealer to let him play for

dollars 10 - half his funds for the whole weekend. But the red card

eludes him, he loses the game, and spends the other ten-spot on peanut

butter and jelly, a loaf of bread and bananas. For the rest of the

weekend, he sits on a tile floor and eats PB&J sandwiches. ’I had a

great time that weekend,’ deadpans Andy Hopson.



Fortunately, Hopson’s subsequent sojourns east have been rather more

profitable.





Triple play



As president/COO of Publicis Dialog, he oversees a seven-office, dollars

24 million PR operation that more than doubled in size last year and is

making the industry big guns take notice. With three acquisitions last

year - Purdom PR in San Francisco, Selz/Seabolt in Chicago and

Lobsenz-Stevens in New York - Hopson has been quite busy integrating

offices, employees and clients into the Publicis Dialog network, created

two years ago when Paris-based Publicis acquired EvansGroup, where

Hopson had run the PR operations.



And his work is far from done, as Publicis Dialog chairman/CEO Jon

Johnson has promised another PR acquisition before the summer’s close.

That deal will bring Publicis closer to the dollars 100-million revenue

goal (PR, direct and sales promotion combined) that Johnson set back in

June 1998. ’We’re just under dollars 50 million now,’ Hopson says. ’I’d

like to be at dollars 100 million, with PR accounting for dollars 40-50

million of that, but you can be foolish about too-rapid growth.’ That

said, however, he notes that parent Publicis is quite keen on quickly

bolstering its US presence: ’There’s a lot of pressure to make up for

lost time.’



If anyone can handle the pressure, it’s Hopson. As soon as you meet him,

you’re immediately put at ease. Perhaps it’s the movie-star looks (he

could pass for a Baldwin brother, or at least a cousin) and the smile,

which makes you want to believe him no matter what he’s saying. Call him

what you want - suave, personable or persuasive - there’s no doubt that

Hopson is one smooth operator. ’He really charms you into his particular

point of view,’ says Steve Bryant, US chief creative officer. ’Yeah,

he’s a smooth character, but in a good way,’ adds Stacey Paynter,

president/COO of Publicis’ Seattle office. ’He’s very smooth and suave

in his presentation style,’ says Johnson. One starts to believe that

Hopson could win a new business pitch by dint of his smile alone.



Of course, in a profession known for slick, fast-talking hucksters, it’s

no surprise that Hopson shies away from the ’smooth’ label. ’ ’Smooth

character’ sounds a little bit deceitful,’ he says. ’I try to be honest

in the way I represent myself.’ Bob Bloom, Hopson’s boss as chairman/CEO

of Publicis, agrees: ’He looks like he might be smooth, but I think his

sincerity comes through.’ Art Stevens, who in Hopson has his first boss

in quite some time, perhaps sums it up best: ’He’s a sweet talker in the

sense of being able to press the right buttons with people, but sweet

talk is not something he spends a lot of time doing. You learn not to

waste his time.’





Sweet and vicious



Waste Hopson’s time, and watch his brilliant smile disappear. ’I do have

a temper,’ he says. What triggers it? ’I have no patience for laziness,

for people who don’t apply themselves, for politics and dishonesty.’ His

first job, as a press secretary on Capitol Hill, could be the source of

his disillusionment with all things political. ’The Congressman I worked

for (Dan Marriott) was not one of the best and brightest. He was elected

because the incumbent was picked up for soliciting a prostitute just

weeks before the primary. I learned a lot of things (in DC) that I never

want to be known for in my professional life.’



Instead, Hopson says he draws on lessons learned growing up as a Mormon

on his parents’ dairy farm in Anderson, CA, on the cusp of the

Sacramento Valley. From age 12 onward, he spent his summers and weekends

milking 125 cows twice a day in oppressive heat. Ever the entrepreneur,

Hopson even sold cow dung for dollars 25 a truckload the summer before

he got married.



’I guess I’ve been shoveling shit for a long time,’ he quips.



But Hopson was no angel growing up. He admits that he ’slipped in

through the back door at BYU,’ and spent the better part of his freshman

year on the ski slopes. He only got serious about his studies after

taking an introductory communications course. A two-year mission in

North Carolina at age 19 also built character and discipline (while

Hopson is no longer active in the church, his wife of 22 years is).



Hopson’s rural upbringing certainly came in handy when, after two stints

at Ogilvy & Mather and a brief PR gig in Hawaii - ’every career has to

have allowance of one misstep’ - he found himself at EvansGroup in 1993,

heading up the huge United Soybean Board account. He cut his teeth on

that account, and it remains ’my first love.’ Problem was, most people

had no love for soy in the early 1990s, but Hopson did a brilliant job

of using research to convince consumers that soy was tasty and

healthy.



In short time, Hopson rose to become president/COO of EvansGroup’s PR

operation, and when Publicis came courting in 1998, Bloom was

immediately impressed by his intensity. While Johnson has led the

acquisitions charge, Hopson is the man who brings it all together. ’He’s

the perfect kind of manager,’ Bryant says. ’He gives encouragement when

appropriate, correction when needed, and independence when people

deserve it.’



Does he miss client work? ’I’m less involved on an ongoing basis, but I

still get involved enough to be satisfied,’ Hopson says. So, what’s left

to achieve? Hopson asserts that he will run a marathon sometime in the

future. And he better get busy recruiting his son Adam, who’s off to BYU

this fall and has expressed an interest in PR (he also has a daughter,

20, and another teenage son). When asked how he would feel to have his

son follow in his footsteps, he responds, ’I’d be proud to follow in his

footsteps; he’s got much more natural talent than I do.’ If Adam is half

as smooth as his old man, look out.





ANDY HOPSON



President/COO, Publicis Dialog



1988: VP, Ogilvy & Mather, Seattle



1990: VP/marketing, The Economic Development Council of Seattle & King

County



1993: EvansGroup PR. Rises from EVP to COO/president



1998: President/COO of Publicis Dialog.



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