Capitol Communicator is running “Up Close and Personal” profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this profile we feature Dave Saunders. Photography for the series is by Cade Martin, wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire and Sybil Street for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson, Janice Kinigopoulos and Lori Pressman for THE Artist Agency.
Dave, please provide us a short bio and your current title.
My current title depends on who’s asking. Officially, I’m President of madison+main in Richmond, but my business card says Chief Idea Officer. I own the agency, so I figured I could call my self whatever I wanted. Before starting M+M back in 2005, I had stints with Media General, The LA Times and several big agencies in Los Angeles, where I worked my way up from contract copywriter to creative director to managing director. I’m happy to be back in Virginia for the past 15 years, two blocks away from VCU, where it all began. #GoRams! In my distant past, I was a also a comedian, car salesman, radio DJ and a“soda jerk”.
Are you involved in any other organizations?
I’ve been in Rotary for more than 15 years; had several stints on my church council; and I also sit on many non-profit boards including Chamber of Commerce, Lucy Corr Foundation, HCB2 (hitting cancer below the belt) and MS Society.
What are the things you are most proud of?
I’d say that I’m most proud of my kids: Hattie, 19, a music major at James Madison University; and Jack, 16, a cadet at Fork Union Military Academy, who plays basketball and football.
Professionally, I would say that I am most proud of being named Ad Person of The Year by my peers at Richmond Ad Club, as well as our agency’s International Advertising Association (IAA) Award. There were only 13 awards presented globally and our little agency was competing against the world’s biggest brands.
Who are your personal role models?
Herb S. Chase, Jr., who died in 2013, was a friend and former boss who really taught me a lot about the ad game. He was well past retirement age when I met him, but he loved working every day. He had perfectly coiffed hair and crisp, white monogrammed shirts. He stood straight and talked straight, like the former Marine officer he was. He loved talking about any topic, but was reluctant to share stories about his time “island-hopping” in the Pacific during World War II.
Did Herb offer advice that helped you in your career?
They say managing business is easy and that managing people is not. Herb taught me how to bring out the best in the people I work with.
What professional advice do you have for others?
Take risks and don’t be afraid to fail. It’s the only way you learn and win.
What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?
Mostly crooners, like Sinatra, Dean Martin, Louis Prima and Tony Bennett; but I love some 80s when it’s time to get my groove on.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
The original Arnie Morton’s in Chicago made me a fan for life, but I spend a lot of time at Morton’s Richmond.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
I was diagnosed with colon cancer last year, because of a routine colonoscopy we caught it early and I’m 100% cancer free. It’s my new mission in life to help spread the word about the importance of screening and early detection.