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Tastemakers 2014: Aaron Walton

Tastemakers 2014: Aaron Walton


The ad exec sees his agency as a 'communication company' and describes a brand campaign as 'an amazing canvas that we throw colors at to create a mosaic.'

Photography by Michael Sharkey

For seven years, Mad Men has captivated audiences with its meticulously rendered portrait of 1960s-era advertising and the various products that tell the story of an evolving America. Aaron Walton, 53, is continuing that tradition as something of a modern-day Don Draper, albeit without the constant scowl, double life, and skirt chasing. He laughs often, and recently married his partner of 28 years in Maui.

Early in his career, Walton emerged as a matchmaking whiz, pairing celebrities including Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston with top-shelf brands. In 2005, he and his colleague Corey Isaacson launched their own agency because "we wanted to get closer to the work, and we also wanted to reimagine how clients interact with agencies," he says. That meant disrupting the staid silos of traditional marketing and using a range of storytelling tools.

Walton Isaacson now has 180 employees in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Tokyo, and Miami, and its client list includes such varied brands as Caesars Entertainment, AXE Body Spray, and Jim Beam. Walton sees his agency as a "communication company" and describes a brand campaign as "an amazing canvas that we throw colors at to create a mosaic."

Recent and upcoming campaigns include the 365Black Awards for McDonald's, the signing of Team USA World Cup star Jermaine Jones, and several projects for Lexus, including a new season of the spoken-word and R&B show Verses and Flow and a fashion event aimed at Atlanta's black LGBT community. These are projects that reflect the diversity of Walton Isaacson's team, and continue to tell the story of our evolving country.

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