John Montgomery thinks Big, at his creative agency and in life
Written by Carolanne Roberts
John Montgomery, founder and president of Big Communications
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.
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.
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.
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+.
American Ad Federation Birmingham Chapter Silver Medal, 2011; Ad Age Small Agency of the Year, 2013, among many.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.”