Ron Owens, president of Ron Owens & Associates, died at age 85 of a heart attack. Owens headed a Baltimore-based consultancy which specialized in business development, branding, diversity, equity & inclusion.
Owens was a Capitol Communicator contributor and, earlier this month, did an insightful post stating that advertising and public relations “are gradually ending their rivalry in the marketing communications family and joining hands.” (You can read Owen’s other posts by doing a search for “Ron Owens” on the Capitol Communicator website.
A seasoned marketing communications strategist, specializing in branding, advertising, diversity & inclusion, recruiting & retention and market development, Owen’s extensive experience included tenures at several of the world’s largest advertising agencies, a Fortune 500 company, service on many non-profit boards and nationally recognized consumer products and services. Owens joined the advertising industry following active-duty service as a Captain in the Army’s elite Special Forces (Green Beret) in Vietnam.
His entry into the advertising business began at NW Ayer Advertising where he was credited with the development, introduction and launch of the Army’s popular ad campaign and theme, “Be All That You Can Be”. Later, at Mingo Jones Advertising, he participated with McCann-Erickson in the introduction of the first light calorie beer, Lite Beer from Miller, with the popular “Great Taste, Less Filling”, and later, participated in the JWT development and launch the “We Do Chicken Right” ad campaign for KFC and re-branding of Uncle Ben’s Rice. At DDB Needham Worldwide, Owens participated in the introduction, development and launch of McDonald’s popular advertising campaign, “You Deserve a Break Today”, the “Happy Meal” and “Chicken McNuggets”.
Working with JWT while an account supervisor with UniWorld Advertising, Owens participated in the marketing, introduction and execution of 7UP’s “Uncola” and Burger King’s “Have it Your Way” ad campaigns. A two-year stint as Director, Worldwide Advertising & Public Relations at Pitney Bowes, a Fortune 500 Company, where he successfully introduced and launched several mailing systems products, was followed by working on Pepsi Cola with the Geographic Marketing Group and BBDO featuring Michael Jackson, as celebrity spokesperson, on the popular “Pepsi Generation” ad campaign.
Later, at Bozell Worldwide, Owens supervised the Verizon, Hyatt Regency Reston, WMATA and National Guard advertising accounts following which he co-founded and managed Laughlin, Marinaccio & Owens aka LMO Advertising, one of D.C.’s largest, independently owned and operated ad agency, where he was responsible for business development and the agency’s operations. Continued business development success and subsequent trade industry recognition for outstanding performance, results-driven creative, and increased client profitability and productivity, LMO was cited on several occasions by the Washington Business Journal as one of the area’s “Best Places to Work”. In his continuous pursuit of new challenges / opportunities and realizing the industry’s general lack of attention and focus to the significance an ever-increasing growth of ethnic markets, their economic impact, profit potential, and increase to an advertiser’s share of market, he formed a business development, marketing & advertising consultancy, Ron Owens & Associates, working with ad agencies and marketers alike to develop and engage those untapped consumer markets.
Later, Owens joined TMP Worldwide as VP, Diversity & Inclusion, where he established the agency’s D&I practice & profit center and contributed to the agency’s growth and profitability with new business “wins”, including AstraZeneca and the Xerox Corporation. Discouraged & frustrated by the general ambivalence and lukewarm acceptance of diversity & inclusion and segment marketing exacerbated by “lip service” from many ad agencies, advertisers and marketers alike and true to his boundless energy and entrepreneurial spirit, Ron re-established his successful marketing consultancy where he continues to make a more significant contribution in Diversity & Inclusion and multicultural marketing with greater success and effectiveness. Owens noted Siemens and BMW (both based in Munich, Germany) among his clients.
Further, Owens has served as the Lieutenant Governor of District II of the American Advertising Federation (AAF), Vice Chairman of Big Brothers Big Sisters of DC, Southern MD and Northern VA, and presently serves as a Director of the Better Business Bureau for Metropolitan Washington and Eastern PA, respectively. Formerly a Governor of the Mid-Atlantic Council of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), Owens served as President of the Ad Club of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., member of the Greater DC Board of Trade, DC Chamber of Commerce, Hospitality Sales and Marketing International, the Advertising Association of Baltimore and member of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). He also served as a frequent guest lecturer and speaker among which includes the University of Maryland, University of DC, University of Baltimore, GW, American, Howard, Trinity, Towson, Bowie, Coppin, and Morgan State Universities on many varied subjects, including career opportunities in advertising, market development, branding, social media, consulting, how to get the most out of your ad agency, multicultural advertising, and diversity & inclusion.
As a staunch, passionate advocate for the ad industry, Owens also participated in many College Career Recruitment and Networking Fairs. In cooperation with Howard University, LMO Advertising, under Owen’s direction and oversight, established the first historic formal partnership, as cited by Advertising Age, between an advertising agency and an institution of higher learning culminating with the assignment of one of LMO’s senior copywriters as an adjunct professor. Owens also served as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Arthritis Foundation, and the Eubie Blake Jazz and Cultural Center.
Besides being featured in Forbes and Jet magazines, Owens has written many advertising and marketing articles on industry “lessons-learned” and the “how to’s” of marketing communications, which have been published in the Washington & Baltimore Business Journals and several trade publications, including Advertising Age. In recognition of the advertising industry’s contribution to the economy of Metropolitan Washington, Owens is credited with participating in the groundwork for D.C..s first annual Advertising Week (ADWKDC), now in its 18th year. Besides being featured in several trade publications, and guest appearances on several local & network TV shows for his business acumen and tireless work ethic, Owens was well-known for his industry passion, enthusiasm and boundless energy for advertising and marketing communications for which he has no equal. His leadership ability, strategic thinking and focus, industry passion, consensus-building, and superb team-building skills have long been admired by his peers and associates alike.
An advocate for helping today’s youth realize their full potential, Owens worked tirelessly to reduce student truancy, discourage teen drug use, and increase the high school graduation rate among Baltimore’s black youth. Ron also contributed unselfishly of his time in helping business start-ups and young, ambitious entrepreneurs to get a foot-hold in the competitive world of business. Known for his expertise with non-profits, 501(c)(3) associations and organizations, Owens has provided and “armed” them with successful private enterprise business techniques and “lessons-learned”, which could be applied to their skill-set, including branding, fund-raising, grant-writing, social marketing, event planning, PR, direct marketing, promotion, networking, board development & management and basic business survival tactics and practices.
Among his many ad industry awards and recognition are the American Advertising Federation’s Pioneer Award for his significant contributions to the advertising industry and multicultural marketing & diversity & inclusion, the AAF’s prestigious Crystal Prism Award for outstanding leadership and promotion of the advertising industry in Metropolitan Washington D.C., the CINE Golden Eagle Award for outstanding film /video production and designation by The Washington Post and Washington Business Journal as one of D.C.’s modern day “Mad Men”.
A wake will be held on Tuesday, April 25, 2023, from 10:00 to 11:00 AM at the March Life Tribute Center – Randallstown (5616 Old Court Rd, Baltimore, MD 21244). A funeral service will be held on Tuesday, April 25, at 11:00 AM at the same location.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made by check to: Morgan State University Foundation, with “In memory of Ronald C. Owens”, in the memo; mail to MSU Foundation, PO Box 64261, Baltimore, MD 21264-4261. For online donations, visit www.givetomorgan.org.
ARTWORK: Mike Caplanis worked with Ron Owens at LMO.
Truly honored to have known Ron – a man who was always to kind, wise, giving, and enthusiastic. He inspired and mentored so many, and I know he will live in our hearts forever.
A truly great and genuine gentleman. He was a mentor and supporter of the Elevación journey from the beginning. I am humbled and proud to call him a friend. RIP Ron. God Bless
We all have those people in our lives who helped positively shape our future. Ron was that person in my life. He opened the door for me to start a new career in advertising after my military service and continued to care about my personal and professional progress for over 20 years. Always a gentleman, advocate, patriot, and professional, Ron was a role model. I will miss him and will continue to pay his generosity forward.
Ron shared with me Marthas Vineyard apparel store for fraternity items. God Bless his soul