Capitol Communicator is running “Up Close and Personal” profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this profile, we feature Dave King. Photography for the series is by award-winning Cade Martin. Wardrobe, hair and makeup by Michelle Torres.
Dave, tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in Pittsburgh and woke up early most mornings to shovel snow off the driveway. Looking to get away from that, I attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and graduated with a degree in Visual Communications. I interned summers at the Pittsburgh Press creating ads. Afterwards, I attended West Virginia Wesleyan College to study marketing. I worked for Hansen & Associates in WV, then moved to Richmond to work as an Art Director at Peter Wong & Associates. I moved to Little Rock, AR, as a Senior Art Director with Stone Ward. From there it was back to Richmond at O’Keefe Marketing as Creative Supervisor. After five years, I left and opened The King Agency in Richmond. In 2018 we opened a second office in Virginia Beach, VA.
Are you involved in any other organizations?
Dogs, Dogs, Dogs. I love them to death and luckily everyone at the agency shares my obsession. So, it’s no surprise that our biggest agency support efforts go to helping FETCH a Cure raise money and awareness for cancer research and treatment in pets. We even have a 10-foot-tall painting of a yellow lab named Ozzie on the outside wall of our building to prove it. For marketing I’m also involved in the American Marketing Association (AMA), the Richmond Ad Club, and the Chambers in both Richmond and Hampton Roads. But let’s talk more about dogs!
What are the things you are most proud of?
Of course, number one would have to be my son who is way smarter than me and proves it every day! But also starting an ad agency that’s been able to do high concept work for small local clients while also getting to work on some of the best-known brands in the country too. All the while being able to keep the doors open through the ups and downs of the past 23 years. It takes a team of exceptionally talented, dedicated people to be able to say that. Thank you all.
Who are your personal role models?
I have to mention Forrest Gump because that’s an inside joke around the agency. But, I also have to add in Kelly O’Keefe of former O’Keefe Marketing who was a great friend and boss and gave me the chance to watch him and learn. Second is Kerry Feuerman, a Creative Director at The Martin Agency who interviewed me when I was starting out and told me that 90% of the work in my portfolio sucked. Then told me how to fix it.
Did these role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?
Shortly after opening The King Agency, Kelly O’Keefe told me to keep the agency small because agencies can become less fun as they get larger. Also, he let me in on the secret that not all of the work that you do will be award-winning all the time. And not ALL of the work The Martin Agency does is award-winning. He said to remember to make the best of opportunities as they come along. The rest of the work pays the bills so don’t take it personally.
What professional advice do you have for others?
I constantly tell young people who are wanting to get into advertising that getting that first job will be the hardest thing you do. Be persistent, you’re in a competitive market and you still have MUCH to learn that a four-year-college classroom can’t teach you. It probably won’t take three interviews to get a job. It will be more like 25. Or 50. But keep going and do anything to get that first job. Work your long hours for little pay and take on any learning opportunity that comes your way to become the best you can be. And remember you don’t have to be a jerk to be good.
What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?
Nickelback! HA. Also Panic at the Disco, Mountain Goats, Bowling for Soup, Pearl Jam, G&R, Blink-182, Billy Idol, George Michael, Elton John, The Replacements, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Jr., John Mulaney, Pete Holmes, Shane Torres, Tom Segura and Neil Brennan.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
Easy. Sidewalk Café in Richmond’s Fan District. The Greek Nachos will change your life.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
I enjoy unwinding by building and renovating houses. I’m as comfortable rewiring an electrical panel as I am working on a new television campaign. I grew up in Pittsburgh and would be OK never having to shovel snow again. I built my log cabin where I get to let my inner redneck out and ride ATVs, have bonfires, fish and drink beer. Did I mention I love dogs? I’m down to only two now and constantly have to resist the urge every weekend to bring home every dog in front of PetSmart.