Dan Hughes

Dan Hughes, founder and President of OPTIMideas, has more than 40 years of marketing and advertising experience.

Dan’s background includes work on Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Toyota, and other major national automotive accounts.  He also has automotive aftermarket experience with AC Delco, Champion, Dunlop, MoPar, Motorcraft, and Rockwell; and retailing experience with dealer organizations for Goodyear, Ford, and Chrysler.

In addition to his extensive automotive background, Dan has experience in package goods, banking, B2B, and health care.  Most recently his health care clients have included West Branch Regional Medical Center, Ellis Hospital (Schenectady, NY), Eastside OBGYN, and Renaissance Plastic Surgery.

Dan has worked at some of the world’s major agencies, including Campbell-Ewald, McCann-Erickson, BBDO, and Young and Rubicam; as well as Kenyon and Eckhardt, where he was Creative Director on the Chrysler Dealer business, and JWT, where he was Creative Director on Goodyear. He also served as in-house Creative Director at Carhartt.

Dan has been a major contributor to such notable advertising campaigns as “Have you driven a Ford…lately?”, “Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?”,  “Dunlop.  Point of Departure.”,  And Goodyear’s “Serious Freedom.”  To name just a few.

Many of Dan’s campaigns — both regional and national — have been award winners.  In fact, he has won the Effie for his clients six times!  Dan considers this the highest possible distinction because the Effie is based on the measurable effectiveness of advertising in the marketplace.

Dan believes in branding that is rooted in understanding everything you can about how the market consumes messages, develops preferences, and commits to final purchasing decisions.  He has founded OPTIMideas on this philosophy.

Dan attended the Kendall School of Design where he continues to advise and guest lecture.  He received Kendall’s first Outstanding Graduate Award. He has three son’s Winston, 26, Spencer, 24 and Hunter, 22.


Mike Wilberding

Mike Wilberding is a founding partner and director of brand research and strategy for OPTIMideas.  In that capacity, he is responsible for the research, strategic, and marketing counsel to the firm’s clients.

The majority of Mike’s career was spent with three of the world’s leading advertising agencies:  Young & Rubicam, McCann Erickson, and Ogilvy & Mather –  working primarily on large complex client assignments,  including: American Express, Buick, CocaCola, Ford Motor Company, GMC Truck, McDonald’s, and UPS.  In those capacities, he lived and worked in Detroit and New York, as well as in Europe and South America.

Through the late 1990s Mike’s professional interests lead him to recognize and pursue a focus on reputation as the center of business and primary driver of the brand.  “Reputation,” he believes, “will become the primary focus of competition in an information-rich marketplace, simply because reputation is read and believed by the market as being the most honest and reliable measure of competitive superiority.”

In recent years, Mike has worked primarily with reputation-based businesses, with primary concentrations in healthcare, financial services, and complex engineering and manufacturing businesses.

Mike completed undergraduate studies at Michigan State University and did post-graduate work at the University of Detroit Graduate School of Business, the University of Chicago Graduate Business School; and completed the Ford Global Marketing Program at the Fuqua Graduate School of Business at Duke University.

Mike is published in marketing and brand management and has participated as a guest lecturer at Wayne State University Graduate School of Business, at Michigan State University, and as part of the architectural design program at Lawrence Technical University.

With his wife, Colleen, Mike has a son, Michael, and daughter, Alex.  Outside of work, their time is occupied almost entirely with either Michael’s or Allie’s school and sports activities, in skiing and sailing, or in the life long pursuit of a single digit handicap in golf.


Sean Neall

Sean Neall has more than 30 years of experience in marketing and brand strategy as well as all aspects of integrated marketing communications.

Sean’s background includes 15 years at WPP Group’s JWT and Ogilvy agencies managing international clients. He served as President of JWT’s Detroit office, and global director of the agency’s work for Ford Motor Company, WPP’s largest client. Prior to his role as President in Detroit, Sean was Director of Client Services for Ford’s operations throughout Europe for Ogilvy.

Sean’s international background also includes the position of Global Marketing Director and European Managing Director for Detroit-based Urban Science International — a high-tech retail consultancy.

Most recently, Sean was Director of Brand Strategy and Marketing at St. John Health System, based in Warren, Michigan. During his tenure he created synergies across St. John’s hospitals, ambulatory care centers, and physician networks. He also created marketing partnerships with three new communications and CRM providers, and brought all tactical departments, advertising, public relations, website development, call centers, and internal communications under one corporate umbrella. Also, from a structural standpoint, Sean developed an internal “account executive” network to improve communication with and input from all internal constituencies.

Sean holds undergraduate degrees from Oberlin College and Conservatory, was the recipient of a prestigious Rockefeller fellowship grant underwriting study at Yale Law School, and did his post-graduate MBA study at the University of Michigan.

Sean currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and is a member of its strategic steering, marketing, and youth programming committees.


Dick Howting

Dick Howting has been creating ads and commercials for more than 35 years. At McCann-Erickson, BBDO, Leo Burnett, and JWT he has worked on national advertising for such clients as Buick, GMC Truck, Kellogg, Nestle, Dodge, Schlitz, Pepsi, and Ford. He has also created advertising for many Detroit-area clients including Manufacturers Bank, The Detroit News, Don Thomas Sports, Metro Detroit Ford Dealers, and others.

Dick served as Creative Director of Dodge national advertising at BBDO and, a few years later, at JWT, was named the Executive Creative Director on all Ford car and truck national advertising.  At JWT, he also served as an Executive Vice President and a member of JWT’s worldwide board of directors.

Dick’s work on Ford eventually led to his being named Global Creative Director over all of JWT’s Ford Motor Company business including Ford Division in the United States, Jaguar in Europe, and Mazda throughout Asia-Pacific.

Over the past several years, Dick has worked with OPTIMideas on a variety of clients – national accounts such as Airfoil Public Relations and Carhartt workwear, Urban Science in Europe, and local, Michigan businesses such as Westbrook Medical and Summit Sports.

As a writer and creative director, Dick has been responsible for creating more than 400 commercials and twice as many print ads for local and national advertisers.  He has also worked a wide array of radio, outdoor, catalog, and internet assignments. He has presented and sold advertising campaigns to everyone from local business owners to the chairman of the Ford Motor Company.

Dick attended the University of Detroit where he graduated with a B.A. in history, Magna Cum Laude.  He is the winner of the annual Detroit Historic Memorial Award for American History Scholarship.


John Hammond

John Hammond is a founding partner of OPTIMideas with 30 years of experience in marketing and advertising.  John spent much of his career at Campbell-Ewald and later, BBDO Detroit where he most recently served as agency president.

John’s background includes such clients as Chevrolet, GMAC, Standard Federal, Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep. His marketing and communication services for these clients reflect the broad range of his skills: market research, merchandising, strategic planning, event marketing, integrated marketing, database marketing, as well as all-media advertising for local, regional, and national markets.

While President of BBDO Detroit, John played an instrumental role in Daimler-Chrysler awarding BBDO all of the Chrysler business — the largest contract ever awarded to a single advertising agency.

John is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a BA in sociology and an MS in engineering.  He brings a high level of management skill and total communications experience to OPTIMideas.