How it All Started
I get asked all the time, “What’s the story behind Muse Advertising?” I think it all started back in 2015 when my wife Kate suggested we catch a Shinedown concert in the Woodlands Texas. I hadn’t heard of them but she seemed into it. Much to my surprise, they were awesome. I was shocked how well they covered a Lynyrd Skynyrd classic, “Simple Man.” In my opinion, one of the greatest songs of all time. She must have caught a weird look on my face because she asked why I seemed upset. I told her I was fine and to ask me later.
She brought it up on the ride home. I assured her that I wasn’t upset. The song reminded me of the last concert I saw live, in Florida. Lynyrd Skynyrd closed the show with that song which led me to my decision to retire. That night I realized how much I missed the creative process and working with amazing artists every day. She asked me what I planned to do about it. At the time I hadn’t considered it, but it got me thinking.
A year later, I heard ACDC was coming to Houston, and it made me think of Shooter. Last I knew he was in New York somewhere. I tracked him down in Brooklyn and told him we should catch the show. He agreed. It was at that show when Brian Johnson busted into “Back in Black,” the thought occurred to me that I should mention starting an agency.
After a good buzz and a better show, he asked me, “Do you ever wear anything but black?”
I told him that it was funny he mentioned it because I was thinking how cool it would be to start our own band. He knew instantly that I was referring to starting an advertising agency, not a garage band.
Shooter thought it was an awesome idea. He suggested reaching out to Sully, who had been bitching about how bored he was because he hadn’t landed anywhere yet when they ran into each other in Boston a few months ago. Shooter gave Sully a call, putting the phone on speaker he said, “I’m in Texas with Da Vinci, and we are kicking around the idea of putting a shop together. Are you in?”
“How soon are we talking? Because I’m in Dublin taking care of my mom right now.” Sully asked.
I said “As soon as you can man. Handle your business. We’ll see who else is available in the meantime.”
Before I knew it, three years had gone by. Out of the blue, I get a call from Sully.
“Sorry it took so long, but we lost mom.”
I felt awful and offered my condolences.
“I’m in New York with Shooter. Metallica’s coming to Nashville. Do you want to meet up there?” Sully asked.
I got the date and time from him. “I’ll bring Kate and we’ll get a room for the night. She will want to go to the show and she’ll want to shop, so we can hang out the next day and catch up.”
It was at the show, during the song “Fuel” that it felt like everything came together for me. I had assembled an amazing creative team, and I knew that it was real at that moment.
After the show, Kate went back to the room to give us our boys’ night out. We ended up running into our good buddy Jack Daniels at The Bluebird Café. We began to discuss what it would take to launch an agency. It quickly occurred to us that we had everything we needed except one major component, a writer. So I suggested, “Let’s throw out names of great writers.” To see who we all had in mind for the gig. It had not occurred to me as quickly as it did for them, that we already had a writer and I married her. The only thing to discuss was how to tell her.
“Well I have not exactly disclosed my plans to her,” I said.
“We need to call Jose for liquid encouragement.” Sully grabbed the attention of the bartender and ordered a round of Jameson and Cuervo chasers.
Three shots later, Sully says “If we are going to ask her, now would be a good time.”
Shooter asked, “How are we going to get her here?”
“The easy way is I can call her, tell her we’re drunk and need a ride,” I suggested.
“Or…” Sully interrupted. “We could tell her we got arrested and need her to bail us out. That would work better.”
“Yeah… Let’s not piss her off before we ask her.” Shooter replied.
“That would be a good idea,” I said. “Before I call her, let’s agree that if she says yes, she is our choice.”
There was a unanimous yes in response.
Shortly after, Kate showed up to compliments and a chair being pulled out. Suspicious, she looked right at me. “What are you up to?” she asked.
“Honey, the boys and I decided we are going to start our own ad agency,” I said.
She exhaled a sigh of relief. “Oh, that’s not so bad. That’s a good idea, you guys always did great work together.” She said. “Why did you need to call me down here to tell me? What are you pitching me?”
Edward placed his hands on Kate’s forearm. “We want you to be our boss. Well, we really don’t but history tells us you will end up there anyway. What we really want is for you to be our copywriter.”
Kate looked at me and asked. “Is this your idea?”
“No, it was our idea,” Sully said, pointing at himself and Shooter. “We have worked with many good writers, and we want you! We actually pitched it to Da Vinci.”
“So what do you say Mum?” Shooter asked.
She stands up shaking her head. “You have not learned anything. You are supposed to buy a lady a drink before propositioning her.”
We toasted to our new enterprise. The first thing we decided was who to work with. I remember saying, “I want to do something bold that would separate us from everybody.”
Shooter suggested, “What if we gave small business owners the same quality of work the big corporations get, regardless of their budget.”
It was when Sully said, “A million dollar idea doesn’t have to cost a million dollars.”
I knew that this was going to be awesome. It turns out a lot of people agree with me.