You are here

Alum Honored for Groundbreaking Ad Campaigns

Story by
Nancy Joseph

When Jim Riswold (BA, philosophy, communication, history, 1983) was inducted into The One Club Creative Hall of Fame in January 2013, he joined an impressive group of past honorees, from advertising legend David Oglivy to design and branding genius Steve Jobs. Honorees are selected for outstanding contributions to the field of advertising.

Jim Riswold

Riswold certainly fits that description. Throughout his professional career at Wieden+Kennedy advertising agency, he created numerous cutting-edge ad campaigns, including many for Nike. Among Riswold's most memorable works were "Bo Knows" featuring Bo Jackson, a slew of great spots featuring Michael Jordan, the inspired teaming of Jordan and Spike Lee in the Spike and Mike commercials, "Hare Jordan" featuring Bugs Bunny, "I am Not a Role Model" starring Charles Barkley, Lou Reed selling Hondas, and "I am Tiger Woods."

In an interview in The One Club's online magazine a few years ago, Riswold commented on his use of pop culture in his advertising work. "I always tried to take an element of something that I was interested in, and mix it with something else to create a hybrid that was different," explained Riswold. "You know like, what would happen if you put these opposites in a pot together and shook it up and took it out? That's what I tried to do. A lot of it is instinct; no amount of research would have told you, 'If you put Bo Jackson with Bo Diddly, the kids are gonna love it.' Or if you said you were going to use Bugs Bunny, people would say, 'That's old.' But the idea is, you use it to create something new. And I think that becomes a stronger form of communication because you're creating popular culture, rather than just taking it."

In the same interview, Riswold gave a nod to his liberal arts education and his three majors. "I think the best advertising comes from a combination of solving the problem at hand, but solving it by coming at it through a door that nobody else would have thought of," said Riswold. "And so that eclectic background, as you call it, probably does help, it affects the way you look at the world, makes you see things a little differently."

After being diagnosed with leukemia in 2000 and surviving for five years, Riswold quit advertising to become a full-time contemporary artist, going from "a career of selling people things they don't need to making things that people don't want," as he told AdWeek in 2008. Riswold recently returned to Wieden+Kennedy, where he now heads the agency’s experiential ad school, W+K 12.