The Player: Ron Askew fires things up for Coors and its agencies

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When he's not lighting fires under his ad agencies as chief marketing officer at Coors Brewing Co., Ron Askew is extinguishing 200-foot flames on the front lines of Colorado's wildfires.

A promotions whiz, Mr. Askew joined the country's No. 3 brewer last October. In less than a year, he's launched searches for secondary creative and promotions shops to support Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, Chicago, and Omnicom Group's Integer Group-the marketing services agency he started in 1993. Just days on the job, he pulled FCB ads in favor of Integer work until FCB gave him something he liked. He's helped guide the launch of Coors' alternative malt beverage-Vibe-and is trying to boost sales, especially for Coors Light, which recently supplanted Miller Lite as the country's No. 3 brew despite soft corporate sales. He also recently signed a sweeping and innovative marketing alliance with Walt Disney Co.'s Mirimax Films, which follows a deal with the National Football League.

"With marketing, you get to use science, art, math, writing, psychology and sociology, and you get to combine that with street smarts," he said. "You don't get bored."

Growing up, Mr. Askew wanted to be a painter or artist until college suggested otherwise. He took an aptitude test that advised he go into advertising, law or the clergy. The unifying factor was that he liked selling people on abstract concepts. He's been doing it since his junior year at Texas Tech, when he landed a summer internship at then Tracy Locke Partnership in Dallas. He spent two summers and seven years at TLP, now part of Omnicom, before migrating to PepsiCo's Frito-Lay where he spent nine years, the last 18 months as VP-marketing.

Friends with Coors President-CEO Leo Kiely, Mr. Askew and three partners in 1993 started Integer in Lakewood, Colo. Charter client Coors was its focus for its first 18 months before it solicited other clients. In eight years, it had grown from Coors' in-house agency to more than $600 million in billings, 15 offices and more than 750 employees that Omnicom bought in the late 1990s. Mr. Askew stayed on as CEO till joining Coors in October and replacing VP-Marketing Bill Weintraub.


"Ron has a vision where he is taking this brand," one Texas distributor said.

Mike Sweeney, Integer's group president, is an Askew fan. "He's thoughtful and cerebral, but don't misconstrue that as a lack of passion," Mr. Sweeney said of his old boss and current paymaster. "He's just incredibly bright and incredibly quick to pinpoint an insight within a discussion."

A native of Dallas, Mr. Askew has lived in Colorado since 1995. He has been fighting wildfires since May 2001-his way of giving back to the community. When a fire erupts, Mr. Askew and his two-man truck speed to the front lines to help protect homes and property from wildfires.

Fast Facts

Name: Ron Askew

Age: 48

Now: Chief Marketing Officer, Coors Brewing Co.

Challenge: Staying in touch with the culture of young adults, his biggest market

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