35 years a copywriter…teacher…executive…speaker…mentor…creative director…author…connector.
While growing up in Milwaukee’s Washington Heights neighborhood, Dave gorged himself on a steady diet of work by the masters, like Don Martin, Sergio Aragonés and anyone else associated with Mad Magazine. Hence, every ad can be folded in half to form a witty and subversive message.
That exposure to the magazine’s “Usual Gang of Idiots” likely influenced Dave early on as he penned his very first TV commercial in the 5th grade for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. (Seriously.) His last spot was likely for clients like Wahl Clippers, Napoleon Grills, American Express, UPS, Kimberly-Clark, Miller Brewing, Harley-Davidson, CDW or Hyatt Resorts.
Much of Dave’s success is due to his connections inside and outside the industry. He relates to so many people, and as a result, likes to connect them with other amazing, gifted and talented people. Forget six degrees of separation, he seems to believe in zero degrees of separation. If you introduce yourself, be forewarned, because you may soon find he’s introducing you to four or five others. Hermits and loners don’t stand a chance.
Dave’s wild ride has taken him halfway around the globe as a copywriter at Ogilvy & Mather, Hawaii, and into the entrepreneur world as a partner in his own agency, Kohnke Hanneken – a firm that won virtually every major national award a shop could win. Dave, along with partners Rich Kohnke and Denise Kohnke even received a coveted international profile in Communication Arts, an honor bestowed only on a select few ad agencies worldwide.
Shiny accolades found on the shelf include: One Show pencils, Clio statues, Cannes Lions, Effie Golds, and more.
As a natural-born storyteller, Dave recently had a novel of historical fiction published titled, “The Home Front.” It’s a mile-removed from a typical 30-second TV script, but like all great ads, it is painted on a beautiful backdrop and introduces us to still more amazing characters who have taken up residence inside Dave’s wild imagination.
After closing his chapter as an agency Creative Director in June of 2022, Dave began teaching full-time as a Professional in Residence at Marquette University. Having won the Diederich College of Communication’s “Adjunct Teacher of the Year” award several years earlier, it was only a matter of time that he would find his way back into the classroom. Like most great creative directors, Dave has always been teaching, always been inspiring and always been striving to get the best work out of people – whether they are fellow creative types or students looking to build the best portfolio possible.
When not grading papers and trying to influence the advertising superstars of tomorrow, Dave dedicates his free time as a board member for the ALS Association of Wisconsin and Islands of Brilliance, respectively, and he is working on his next novel.