A second-generation ad man, Bob Meyer opened his first agency at the ripe old age of 19. While many his age were staging college panty raids, Bob was handling the marketing for the world’s largest free-standing piano and organ dealer. After stints at another Milwaukee ad agency and WISN-TV (where he served as Promotions/Publicity Director, with a fully-stocked Madman-worthy bar in his office), Bob opened his second advertising agency – R. L. Meyer Advertising, Inc.
Soon the agency landed two large retail clients, Red Owl Foods and Jewel Foods from Minneapolis and Chicago respectively, and Bob’s experience with grocery clients began. As he soon discovered, unlike other accounts, advertising effectiveness for retail clients could be measured immediately. It was keen training that served Bob well for the remainder of his career.
Requiring more space, Bob bought the 1852 Pettibone Mansion, (now part of Marquette’s campus). In addition to winning major restoration and remodeling awards for the space, the agency also began winning awards for its creative work. But its creative reputation exploded soon after Bob acquired a creative boutique in Indianapolis and brought them into the Milwaukee fold.
Ultimately becoming Meyer & Wallis, the agency flourished under the leadership of Bob and Creative Director Tim Wallis. More major retail wins followed, including megastore Meijer, based in Grand Rapids, and Pick ‘n Save in Milwaukee. As well as many non-retail accounts. Regular appearances in national advertising publications and international award shows became the norm.
Bob was regarded as one of the country’s premier retail marketing experts, and was awarded the Milwaukee Ad Club’s Silver Medal award in 1993. Followed by the American Marketing Association’s Marketing Career Achievement Award in 1994.
With an eye for talent, Bob employed many people who went on to become advertising luminaries in the Milwaukee market and beyond. And despite all of his success, Bob’s real legacy is the culture he created in every agency he owned. His strict No-Asshole policy, “impromptoot” celebrations after winning business (or just for the hell of it) and legendary agency Christmas parties (including destination parties in Vegas, Florida, etc.) earned him a level of loyalty and respect that’s all too rare today.
Never one to sit idle, Bob is filling his retirement by golfing, writing two books (“almost completed, honest”) and trying to discover one last corner of the planet that he and his wife Effie have yet to visit.
The Wisconsin Advertising Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is held every year at the United Adworkers Milwaukee 99 Awards Show. For details and to purchase tickets to the show on October 12, 2017, please visit Adworkers.com.