April 11, 2016 08:00 ET

GSD&M Co-Founder Roy Spence Inducted to 2016 Class of the Advertising Hall of Fame

Passionate, Fearless Leader Becomes First Austenite and Second Texan to Receive the Honor

AUSTIN, TX--(Marketwired - April 11, 2016) - GSD&M is pleased to announce today that Co-Founder and Chairman Roy Spence will be inducted into the American Advertising Federation (AAF)'s 67th Annual Advertising Hall of Fame®. The Advertising Hall of Fame recognizes the most accomplished and legendary figures in advertising, bringing together the industry to celebrate in one of the biggest nights in advertising. With this honor, Spence becomes the first inductee from Austin and the second-ever from Texas.

Spence co-founded his eponymous agency in 1971 with partners Judy Trabulsi, Steve Gurasich and Tim McClure. This group of University of Texas graduates had passion and determination to finagle their way into big pitches -- taking on big-name competition and coming out on top -- and setting the stage for the years to come with campaigns such as the iconic "Don't Mess With Texas" for the Texas Department of Transportation.

Roy was instrumental in giving GSD&M its hands-on, restless approach to business. He is also the one who brought in long-time client partners like Southwest Airlines, Walmart, AT&T and Charles Schwab, and led his team to create memorable and ageless work.

"Over the years, GSD&M developed the reputation as an agency you didn't want to pitch against. With 'Reverend Roy' in the room, the magic flowed and it was an electric feeling. You were buying whatever he was selling," remarked Duff Stewart, CEO of GSD&M. "I'm honored to now call Roy a trusted friend and confidant, an inspiring leader and an amazing mentor. The lessons I have learned from him are comparable to getting an MBA and a PhD in life sciences -- all rolled into one."

Some of Spence's stand-out accomplishments:

  • He learned retail at the knee of Sam Walton and was a trusted confidant in helping Walmart grow from a small rural retailer to one of the largest companies in the world.
  • He was hired by Southwest Airlines' Founder Herb Kelleher's, which would eventually turn into a 34-year journey that saw Southwest go from a regional carrier to the largest domestic airline by passengers boarded. Memorable work like "Ding! You're now free to move about the country," became a rally cry for Southwest's unique core purpose.
  • He led AT&T through its rebirth of the long-distance category and nurtured relationships with finesse that led the agency to win Dreamworks.
  • He proved to BMW that an Austin creative powerhouse could sell luxury automobiles to customers worldwide.

In addition to impressive, purposeful client work, Spence is a man of the community. Locally in Austin, he co-founded the Purpose Institute in 2007, a program that still stands to help companies discover, articulate and activate their core purpose. Spence has also leveraged the agency's resources to make a difference on a national level, playing an integral role in powerful campaigns urging the country to come together to help after Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami that hit in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. In the wake of 9/11, Spence brought together President Clinton and President Bush 41 and 43 together for the "I am an American" spot that helped steer a nation away from discrimination and hate and channel its anger into a celebration of our diversity.

The induction ceremony and gala dinner will be held tonight in the Grand Ballroom of New York's historic Waldorf-Astoria hotel. For more information on the Advertising Hall of Fame, visit

About GSD&M
Founded in 1971, GSD&M is an advertising agency headquartered in Austin, Texas that believes when you pay the price to understand the problem and apply that insight to solve courageously, the reward is ideas that make a difference. With a restless culture and purpose as a guiding force, GSD&M builds brands with a fully integrated creative, media and analytics approach. For more information, visit

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