Don’t let the baby face fool you: Wes Williams is a veteran of the advertising industry.
A creative director and copy writer for Fondren’s The Ramey Agency, Williams has been inducted into their “double X” club. That’s twenty years at one of Mississippi’s most respected and notable ad agencies.
A Hattiesburg native, Williams is a graduate of Millsaps College. With an English degree in hand and an internship at the Godwin Group, he answered a Ramey classified just six months after graduation and has been there ever since.
He calls his first project a bit of a “hazing.” “It was an 80 page brochure on the certified retirement communities of Mississippi,” he laughs. “I learned a lot about the state and its appeal for the AARP set. And I learned to reduce my word count.”
For his first three years, Williams honed the craft of communication and a “less is more” approach. “There have been a couple of occasions where we created an ad with no words,” he remembers. “When all you need is a logo or image on a page, we ask, ‘How can you hone in on that point and get people to learn what you are talking about without realizing they read it?’”
His client list is a “Who’s Who” of Mississippi’s finest: C Spire Wireless, The Mississippi Catfish Institute, Bank Plus, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Millsaps College and Mississippi Tourism, of which he says he may be most proud. “We got to travel the state from one end to the other and celebrate Mississippi in the process,” he notes. The campaign, featuring Marty Stuart, Cassandra Wilson, and even Williams eating a “slug burger” in Holly Springs, was a team effort with the Mississippi Development Authority. “And it worked,” he quips.
Indeed, VisitMississippi.org was redesigned by Ramey and Melia Dicker, a Fondrenite who oversees digital communications for the state tourism office, said page views went from “dead last” — 2.5 per visit — to the top of the list. The 5.75 pages ‘views per visit’ has surpassed Las Vegas and New York, Dicker recently revealed to a state tourism conference.
Williams is quick to point out that this project, like all Ramey projects, was a team effort with the client. “No one here would take sole credit,” he says. “When we do what we do as best as we can do it, it’s with client input, working closely and having open communication to get (the message) out there in the most engaging and appropriate manner.”
After two decades, Williams says the time is lost on him. So much so, that when Bob Potesky, executive creative director and a partner at Ramey, began his speech to recognize the anniversary in a staff meeting, Williams was clueless. “I thought, ‘What in the hell is he talking about’ and then it hit me: crap! I’ve been here twenty years and I’m having fun!'” He calls it “the right place at the right time.” “With a lot of patient people who took time to help me learn things the right way.”
Williams lives in Broadmeadow with his wife, KC, daughter Lilly, son Jude and a little dog named Big Rita. He’s the guitarist for the band, Â¡Los Buddies! and, with fellow Fondrenites Ron Rodenmeyer and Josh Schooler, makes music videos under the banner of “Two Minutes Tops.”
His advice for all of those English degreed job seekers? “Writing is writing and thinking is thinking. Those skills, at their core, remain the same. Millsaps says, of their liberal arts degree, that you learn to think and that’s the most important thing. You can pick up the skill sets. Critical thinking, listening — if you can do that, you can do most anything.”
WATCH: Williams on the Fondren neighborhood