And Then This Happened . . .

Written by Carolanne Roberts

John Montgomery, founder and president of Big Communications

john 2

BORN & RAISED 

“I’m a West-Side boy, the only man in my family not to work at U.S. Steel. A graduate of Midfield High School.” UAB to study public relations came next.

QUICK START john 2

Clubhouse boy for Birmingham Barons, age 14. Birmingham Bulls front office with announcer/PR director Eli Gold, age 15. Then to legendary concert promoters Gary Weinberger/Tony Ruffino (first gig: security at a Def Leppard concert). At ad firm Barry Huey Bullock and Cook, age 18, managed the City Stages festival promotions for years.

TAKING CHARGE

Started Big Communications in 1995, age 27. “I worked from my loft on Morris Avenue — and just went after it.”

SCOPE OF WORK

Digital, content marketing, creative, media, public relations, and video.

CHAPTER TWO

Growth starting around 2007 with addition of Ford Wiles, chief creative officer and main partner, and Mark Ervin, chief brand officer. Total team now: 70+.

AWARDS   

American Ad Federation Birmingham Chapter Silver Medal, 2011; Ad Age Small Agency of the Year, 2013, among many.

BIG STEP     

“The Ad Age award was a coming out party for us with national brands.” As a result, Valvoline found Big, launching an almost three-years-and-counting relationship. “It’s been good for our collective brains, and they’re nice human beings.”

SHARING    

On start-up team for Black & White magazine; has donated support to National Veteran’s Day Parade, Vulcan Park, Birmingham Museum of Art, Sidewalk Film Festival, Sloss Fest and others. Big created the names REV and ZYP.

JOHN’S BIRMINGHAM    

Second Avenue (home of Big), Feast & Forest, El Barrio (“Big’s cafeteria”), and Chez Fon Fon with its bocce court (“my favorite table in Birmingham”). Also music venues Iron City, Saturn and The Nick.

ESCAPE    

His Straight Creek Farm in Dekalb County with wife, Leigh Anne, and young sons, Hans and John. “I seem like a city slicker, but on weekends, I’m not.”

WHAT WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT JOHN “I’m a big Francophile. If I disappear, I’ll be beside the pool at La Columbe d’Or in Saint-Paul de Vence, my favorite place on earth.”