Jim Lesser, President and CEO of BBDO San Francisco

Creative in Residence

The Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations has prided itself in providing the best resources and opportunities for their students, and the bar just got set higher with their newest addition. Jim Lesser, President and CEO of BBDO San Francisco, has been appointed as the first creative-in-residence for the Texas Creative program.

Wearing multiple hats, varying from President, CEO, Executive and Creative Director at BBDO, Lesser has created new business for the agency with huge names like Mattel, Mars and Wells Fargo. Starting off as a receptionist in New York, he understood great ideas could come from anywhere, and this belief aided in BBDO’s major success with Mattel and the Barbie revitalization.

When Barbie began to lose her touch with culture, the stocks and sales reflected it. BBDO realized rebranding was necessary and went back to the original roots of Barbie: girls can be anything they want to be. Paired with the body issues of the doll and its reflection on women in society, it could have been impossible to save Barbie’s reputation. However, Mattel saw a 30% increase in sales for the next quarter after the rebranding.

Now, Lesser is stepping into a new position at UT, giving students the chance to work with him. Students in the Texas Creative program apply for sequence-based portfolio classes that cultivate their creative process and present real world issues and brands for them to work with. With a vast alumni network and frequent visitors to the college, students are constantly inspired and find they have a leg up in the hiring process following graduation.

Although they are often exposed to successful media professionals, Lesser holds a different kind of weight. Interacting with such an influential individual who has a C-level seat in a successful advertising agency brings an insider perspective that solidifies the Stan Richards School as a top-ranked program.  

During his visit to Moody, Lesser worked one-on-one with student’s creative work, gave lectures and even visited in a more social setting at Spiderhouse with the students. The various settings students found him highlighted just how multifaceted he is and made his visit even more memorable.

Moody senior, Ramsey Campbell expressed, “It really encouraged us to have someone with your level of expertise and advice in our class looking at our campaigns. I think I can speak for my entire Portfolio 1 class when I say that we really appreciate all the advice and tips that [Lesser] gave during [his] visit...It was greatly inspiring to all of us, and we learned a great deal during [his] visit.”

Through the creative in residence program, the Stan Richards School Professor and Director JoAnn Sciarrino said she plans to bring in future leaders from advertising and public relations so students can learn from some of the best and most respected practitioners in the industry. To learn a little bit more on Jim Lesser’s role in the Texas Creative Sequence, check out this video.

Jochebed Fekadu