How To Start An Agency – A Q&A With Anselmo Ramos

Ad Nerds, Assemble: Anselmo is on Fishbowl

by Sai He, Copywriter


Anselmo Ramos is a man who needs no introduction. But I have a word count to hit, and his accolades run for days.

In the past decade alone, Anselmo has co-founded two agencies and spearheaded Grand Prix-winning campaigns like Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches, Burger King’s Google Home of the Whopper and Whopper Pride. In addition to a walk-in closet’s worth of shiny hardware, his fearless creativity has earned him spots atop the industry’s most coveted lists.

Not one to rest on his laurels, in 2017 Anselmo threw caution to the wind, leaving the WPP-owned DAVID to co-found GUT, an independent agency fast-becoming one of today’s hot shops.

Recently, Anselmo took to Fishbowl for an epic Q&A. Below are some highlights, including what it takes to start your own agency, how to sell brave work, and what GUT looks for when hiring creatives. Note to self: take notes.

Indie Go, Go, Go!

Unsurprisingly, many were curious about Anselmo’s decision to leave DAVID for indie pastures. Others inquired about what it takes to start an independent agency.




When asked what non-Anselmo’s could do to replicate his success, Anselmo reiterated the importance of building a reputation and maintaining it too: after two decades, he is still walking in stupid every day.

“And be patient. Everything takes longer than you think,” he adds.

Although there are no cheat codes to becoming Anselmo, I’ve recently started wearing more black shirts just in case. How has my reputation fared since? The jury’s still out.


Creating a Brave Space

Starting your agency isn’t for everyone. Still, we all want to attract brave clients and sell through boundary-breaking creative. Anselmo is uniquely qualified to speak to this; remember the time Burger King aired a TV spot that hacked millions of Google Home speakers?



One of the perks of going indie is being picky when pursuing clients. GUT dials this up to 11 with a unique approach Anselmo has coined the “Reverse RFP.”



While it’s important to want to do brave work, Anselmo reminds us it’s equally important to help clients see what’s in it for them, namely the potential to launch their careers into the stratosphere.

As an aside, I would love to launch into the stratosphere clients who refuse to do brave work. But that’s neither here nor there.

For Higher Potential, Hire Potential

An oft-repeated question was how to get hired at GUT. Anselmo’s answer may surprise you, but awards are just about the last thing his team considers. Instead, it’s all about the intangibles, baby.



So what qualifies as “ad nerdiness”? I have some harebrained thoughts:

  • Dressing as Jeff Goodby for Halloween.
  • Going to bed with The D&AD Copy Book under your pillow.
  • Borrowing from Apple’s “Here’s To The Crazy Ones” manifesto for your wedding vows.
  • Sending the GUT office some animal guts. Get it?

Don’t actually mention or do any of these. At best, you’ll be left on read. At worst, you’ll be on the receiving end of a restraining order.

Do, however, be creative in the ways you prove your ad nerdiness. Be as unexpected and unique as the work you want to make. I’m forgetting who said this, but “Think Different.”

Sai He, Copywriter

👉 See the Q&A with Anselmo Ramos on Fishbowl


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