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Employee Spotlight

Leading by Example: Dale Bump

Haley Robinson, Senior Copywriter

December 8, 2022

The year is coming to a close, and so is our leadership series. To round us out, we’re speaking to Dale Bump, our Executive Vice President of Brand Strategy. Dale has been with Hothouse since the beginning and his passion for foresight and brand innovation has kept us on our toes since day one. Hear how he stumbled into the industry and what excites him about the future of brands.

Haley Robinson (Senior Copywriter at Hothouse): Thanks for chatting with me Dale. I know you started your career as a designer. Were you always destined for a creative role?

DB: Believe it or not, it was a fluke. I only went to art school because they visited my high school. Even when I went to art school, I was a declared architecture major. I realized I wasn’t cut out for it and fell in love quickly with design. What I really loved and wanted to be was a publication designer. I had grown up in the era of sophisticated magazine design. I was drawn to layout and was heavily influenced by magazines like Interview, Ray Gun, Vogue, Rolling Stone, and Wired.

HR: So you stumbled into design, but how did you find advertising?
I jumped around a lot to learn as much as I could to advance my career. I started in publication design for a fashion music magazine in Savannah while finishing my degree, then I got a job in Atlanta. Three years later I went to work for a marketing agency, and eventually ended up at an advertising agency (JWT), where a very talented Creative Director took me under her wing and that got me hooked.

HR: How did you find Hothouse? 

DB: I met Jon [Katinsky, President of Hothouse] through my wife. He was thinking of forming his own agency. I had already created my own design firm and needed clients, so I offered Jon my branding design expertise to help him launch Hothouse. We started sharing space and seven years later I joined Hothouse permanently.

HR: How did you position evolve from design to strategy? 

DB: Hothouse was evolving — good agencies have to. Our main clients were in the entertainment industry, and it was going through a period of upheaval (thanks to streaming). We knew we had to diversify and that meant winning more clients. As a creative director, I grew frustrated with either bad briefs or not having the right conversations with the CMO. It was time to create a more significant seat at the table through a new brand strategy position. It allowed us to challenge traditional thinking, write our own briefs and create better, stronger, more lasting relationships.

HR: What do you love about your role? 

DB: It honestly just suits me. I like to challenge convention. I like looking for the cracks in the pavement (and there are plenty). I don’t like drinking the Kool-Aid and don’t think its beneficial for brands. It’s the combination of all these things that allows me to push our agency and our clients to develop a clarity of voice and intention and have a truer vision for where they should go.

HR: What excites you about our new Now to Next mission?

DB: [Now to Next] maps to the reality of where brands are in a powerful way. While it is critical to act fast in this market, that will only get you so far. You have to be intentional about looking ahead.

HR: What is your favorite thing about Hothouse?

DB: Maybe its cliché, but it’s always been about the people. Nobody would pick working at an agency if it weren’t for the people. You go to battle together and become a forged-through-fire team.

HR: What is your leadership style? 

DB: I’m a big fan of servant leadership. I’ve always tried to make sure my team is in a good position to succeed. I’m super protective of them and that can come out in a lot of different ways. Do we have the right brief? Do we have the right time? If I can serve the people and the team, then it helps everyone do their job well.

HR: What do you do in your free time?

DB: I love to cook gourmet food – I almost went to Culinary Institute of America instead of design school. I got really good during Covid. When people were trying to make bread and I was perfecting my braised short rib with Massaman curry from scratch.

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