There are creative leaders, and then there are forces of nature.
Few in our industry have made their presence known – and impact felt – like Gary Mueller.
High-energy, passionate, relentless and often impossibly optimistic in a brutal business, Gary is one of the most creative and respected leaders in Wisconsin advertising history.
With a humble start at business-to-business shops like the Brady Company and Bader-Rutter, Gary landed a job as a copywriter at Birdsall Voss, where he quickly advanced to creative director at just 27 years old. Under his creative leadership, BVK grew from a small, 25-person boutique agency to become a $250 million, nationally recognized creative force, and one of the country’s 25 largest privately held agencies.
Quite possibly the most awarded creative in Milwaukee history, Gary has covered walls and strained shelves with local award domination and prestigious national recognition, including a Cannes Lion, One Show pencil, CA honors, CLIOs, OBIE Awards and more. His winning formula: simple, provocative thinking and emotional impact – with some well-placed humor or shocking twist often landing the knockout punch.
Co-founder and first President of the United Adworkers, a national model for successful ad clubs, Gary has made his biggest impact on the nonprofit world. Seeing a desperate need to bring attention to underserved causes locally and nationally, he founded the country’s first, all-volunteer nonprofit ad agency, Serve. Tackling stubborn crises like infant mortality, domestic abuse, teen pregnancy, sex trafficking, foster care and many others, Gary led powerful public service campaigns that moved the needle. While sparking important and often uncomfortable conversations.
From a prevention campaign that dropped Milwaukee’s teen pregnancy rate by 65%, to a 400% increase in foster parent inquiries, Gary and his team’s convention-shattering work have been lauded locally and nationally (including the City of Milwaukee naming a day after him). Since 2002, he and his Serve volunteers have donated over $17 million in time and resources to give back to the community.
That heart of gold and sense of responsibility have also fed Gary’s desire to mentor the next generation of ad students. He has spoken to more than 50 classes and at numerous college ad club events. Always quick to say yes to opportunities for giving back, Gary has nurtured hundreds of aspiring ad students and BVK creatives with his considerable wisdom and insights.
Famous for clapping and singing while walking through the halls of BVK, Gary brings an infectious, half-coach, half-cheerleader energy to his job. It’s that passion to bring out everyone’s best that has made Gary Mueller indisputably one of Milwaukee’s all-time best.