THE INNOVATORS

These eight changemakers are unparalleled in their contributions to their industries — and they're out while they're doing it.

BY Advocate Contributors

August 10 2011 4:00 AM ET

AARON WALTON XLRG (COURTESY) | ADVOCATE.COMAaron Walton
50 • Los Angeles
Marketing & Advertising

Aron Walton thrives on ingenuity. The renowned marketing genius behind Walton Isaacson made a name for himself pairing major pop culture figures with iconic brands, like Michael Jackson with Pepsi and Led Zeppelin with Cadillac, resulting in explosively popular campaigns. Now Walton, business partner Cory Isaacson, silent partner Magic Johnson, and their team of 80 brand professionals are showing major corporations how to reach underserved communities, including African-American and LGBT consumers.

When introducing a product, Walton doesn’t rely on the traditional marketing strategies of gigantic firms. Instead of employing, for example, a copywriter with specialty knowledge in niche areas, Walton Isaacson’s best copywriters work on every campaign aimed at all consumer groups, but with appropriately targeted messages.

“We tell clients, ‘Give us your biggest problem,’” he says. “We have people from different backgrounds and skill sets, and they are going to come up with something much stronger than going to one specific group that specializes in one thing.”

In the past few years, Walton Isaacson has worked with a variety of big-name brands from alcohol (Courvoisier and Avión) to household products (Whirlpool and Maytag). Whether intentional or not, there’s a lot of gay appeal in the firm’s work: His Dove Hair Care campaign, for example, featured Glee’s Lea Michele promoting Dove while singing The Sound of Music’s “My Favorite Things.”

The Lexus CT rollout, he said, was “great, because that was a campaign that was very inclusive.” It reached African-American, Hispanic, LGBT, and general markets — across TV, print, Web, and Lexus live lounge events that fused music, fashion, and culture.

Walton says when he and Cory Isaacson began devising their business plan, they didn’t mull over financials. “We decided on people. We knew that we were going to have to create an environment of culturally diverse people with varying skill sets. We believed that if we found the right people, they would feel more rewarded with the work.”

It cuts both ways. “This isn’t the type of work you do just because you want a job," he says. "You have to be exceptionally passionate about the business.” —Michelle Garcia 

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