"Hutson was the first person to ever hand me a creative brief, a salary, and the age-old advice "write better". He saw how badly I wanted to be great in this business and showed me, both by example, encouragement and what it takes to get there. He possesses something that some creative directors seem to lose after a few years in the business—the desire to continue creating. I was lucky enough to work directly with him on a Sunoco TV campaign, during which I saw that he wasn't just a great mentor to me, but still a passionate art director."
-Caitlin Harris, Senior Copywriter at McCann
Hutson is the exact kind of Creative Director we would all hope to work with. I've done some of my best work working under Hutson and he has become an extremely influential mentor in my career. He is sharp, direct, honest and delivers top-notch creative. Hutson is always looking for innovative ways to come at an idea and challenges the status quo. He is a leader by nature and his high standards are ever present, refreshing and inspiring. He has a passion for well designed work and brought a higher aesthetic to the agency than when he was brought on. Only the best will do and thats the kind of leader I would go to bat for any day.
- Steve Salgado, Associate Creative Director at Upshot
"Inspirational, creative, kind, open-minded-all adjectives I can use to describe Hutson and yet all insufficient to capture the wonderful person and colleague he is. Hutson intuitively visualizes a good idea early on and is able to see it through to full bloom with patience and respect.
In the always frenetic, stressful and often unpleasant advertising environment, he is a rarity- a calm and encouraging presence, a creative rock to lean on. A creative rock that holds the creative team together and motivates its work into late nights and past the obvious solutions. A creative rock that comforts the client and seamlessly invites new business. A creative rock that can change a work environment from the humorless and ordinary to the truly engaging and stellar workplace that every agency, no every company, strives to be."
-Des Alexander, Freelance Creative Director
"Hutson's collaborative style of leadership is refreshing and energizing. His mantra of "good ideas can come from anywhere" has encouraged employees in other departments to contribute to campaign and new business planning whereas they never would have previously. This has fostered an environment that has truly made the work better-everyone has a sense of ownership and pride in what we do.
Some leaders use coercive power, reward power and legitimate power to motivate. But Hutson has referential power which, in my opinion, is the best type of power. Those around him respect and admire him. As a result, the team will go above and beyond to earn his approval."
-Darby Hughes, Brand Strategist at Quench and Pavone
Hutson is one of the best conceptual leaders I have ever worked for at any shop. Leading an entire agency to be more creative is no easy feat and changing the way an organization acts to become more integrated is something I will always be thankful for. Hutson leads by example, period.
-Greg Carney, Activation Director at Quench Agency
Hut's equanimity and special brand of zen fosters a great environment for creativity. He's great at protecting idea-generation from the hostile slings and arrows of agency politics.
-Paul Murray, Director of Digital Experiences at Quench Agency
Hutson is exactly the kind of guy you want at the helm of your creative team. He's got a great eye for good ideas versus cliches, and once you've convinced him of a concept and proven you've thought it through, he's in your corner. That means standing up for the work, defending his team, and making sure that the ultimate goal of making a great ad isn't bogged down in clutter, worry or second-guessing. He's a mover and a shaker like the best of them, and knows what it takes to produce great work. He's a great ally, a great mentor, and an all-around good guy.
-Will Wilson, Senior Copywriter at Upshot
"Hutson is not only an outstanding creative in his own right, but he's an inspiring manager and leader of creatives. The work that he stewards is not only original and on strategy, but it also delivers excellent results. The Neiman Group has produced numerous award-winning campaigns for our business that have directly driven demand. In fact, one particular campaign that ran in 2010 was so effective that our hospitality business ended up not being able to meet the demand—resulting in building additional accommodation capacity for our resort."
-Larry Lipson, Managing Director at The Resort at Paws Up
"I had the pleasure of working with Hutson on several accounts while at MARC USA. One highlight was delivering a unique integrated campaign for the Pittsburgh Zoo that broke attendance records and created so much buzz that it became the benchmark for campaigns moving forward. Hutson comes to the table with sleeves rolled up and poised to uncover great solutions that are on target. What he doesn't bring is ego, arrogance, "that's not my job" attitude. What he does bring...infectious excitement, true collaboration, out-of-the-box thinking, relevant integration and a can-do attitude.
-Gino Tomaro, Director of Business Development at LKH&S Advertising
"Hutson Kovanda doesn't just build brands. He builds agencies that brands want to work with. He starts by charting the territory with the eye of an eagle and the mind of a samurai. Ask anyone and they'll tell you, nothing is more dangerous than an eagle with a sword. They're wrong. An eagle with a sword, years of training and a creatively sharp blade combined with the experience to make just the right strategic cuts is far more dangerous. Compellingly dangerous. Enter the Tao of Hut.
Once Hutson has the lay of the land, he sets a course for beyond better. I have watched him build from the ground floor at two separate agencies. The results have been fantastically similar. Better people, better work, better culture, better clients and bigger budgets.
Over the course of my tenure working with Hut, I have continually been impressed and more importantly inspired by the vision and direction he brings. Hut possesses the rare ability to concisely articulate the perfect solution to any brief within minutes. The beauty of Hutson as a leader of creative though is that he doesn't. He trusts the people he leads to find the answer. He wants to be surprised by the fantastically unexpected. Hut also knows how to nudge you in just the right way so that what seemed like a lump of coal reveals the diamond beneath.
To make consistently great work that connects with people on a level beyond impulse you have to be willing to listen. I would pay-per-view to watch Hutson with clients. I've never seen his demeanor in anyone else. In a business littered with fevered egos it's rare to find someone who can listen intently instead of just thinking of what they are going to say next. Not surprisingly, people respond to that. Why? Because at the end of the day that's really what a client wants. To be heard, considered and guided in the direction that would be best for their brand. Hutson is assertive but not aggressive and always concise and considered. A rare bird indeed.
Further, Hutson possess a knowledge of the field that you can only attain through constant study. He has a great aesthetic sense and a never-say-quit attitude and could easily have been a writer. He could have been anything. Fortunately for you, he chose advertising. And we're all better for it."
-Seth Conley, Art Director at Mutt Industries
"Of course Hutson is an excellent art director, of course he does excellent work. He is a big-picture strategist by nature, but can juggle high-level thinking and little-tiny-type-nits, all at once. The guy is extremely smart and encourages great ideas, even while he understands the needs of conservative clients. He is never a divo, and is one of the most button-up creatives I've ever known. He has a keen and active interest in social and digital media. Hutson pays attention to everything that's going on in the business and the world, and it shows in his work.
-Terese Zeccardi, Creative Director at Digitas
"As a senior vice president at JWT, I had access to all the creative talent that the agency had to offer. There were many excellent writers and art directors there at the time. Very early on, when faced with a tough assignment that I knew needed an entirely fresh perspective, not just a nicer look, or a slightly more clever attitude, I included Hutson Kovanda on the team. I was impressed by the depth of his creative and strategic skills, especially his ability to listen, not to look like he was listening, but really listening. For a relatively young art director, he demonstrated an amazing range in his creative thinking, his executional abilities and his instinct for how things show be done, were all impressive. That concept, the concept of "how things should be done" applied to his creativity, his commitment to the work (Hutson actually made it fun for all of us to work very, very, very late on a major pitch or assignment because he was so driven, witty and just fun to be around), and how he treated others at the agency. In a short period of time, for me, it became very clear that he would become one of the brightest creative people I have ever worked with."
-Ernie Cox, Senior Creative Director at Krames StayWell