I'm trying to think what will surprise people the most about Bob Hoffman. And I'd have to say it's how pleasant the man is.
Don't get me wrong. I assumed that he would be nicer than the ranting blogger he comes off as on "The Ad Contrarian." (Almost every blogger is nicer in person than you would think by their most scathing words.) But Bob was truly welcoming and was one of the most caring individuals I've ever met in the business.
As soon as I arrived, he rushed out to see me. He invited me to his office with a smile and a handshake. He listened intently and shared enthusiastically. He was completely engaged. And when we moved to the restaurant next door for drinks, he footed the bill and made me feel completely at home.
And suddenly it hit me. After spending this time with him I understood that this demeanor he showed me was exactly why he blogged the way he did. He's not blowing off steam. He's not ranting for the sake of stirring up controversy. He does it because he cares. He cares a lot. He cares that this business is so volatile and doesn't need to be. He cares that clients don't appreciate agencies as partners anymore and treat them as vendors. He care about his people and aches about every layoff he's ever had to make. And he's tired of the same old cycle of agencies prostituting themselves to be the expert in every new tactical trend in order make the numbers, whether those trends make sense to the business or not.
We sat out on the patio at Houston's on the Embarcadero for about an hour and had a great talk about the state of the agency world. And in this time he shared with me both the struggles and highlights of his career. I got a glimpse of the accidental vision he had for an agency. And I saw that even after all this time he was a man willing to reinvent himself and his agency.
I'm thinking this gushing of mine will embarrass him a bit. But he needs to hear it. And so do the rest of you. You may not agree with every one of his opinions on The Ad Contrarian blog. (Heck, his own agency isn't exactly comfortable with it.) But don't misinterpret his intentions. This man has a vision for creating focused partnerships with clients. And he's definitely someone more of us should get to know.