Bill Hillsman, the founder and driving force behind North Woods Advertising, is the creator of some of the most successful and attention-getting marketing campaigns of the past few decades. His commercial advertising work for clients like the nation's largest enclosed shopping center, Mall of America, and America's fastest-growing cereal company, Malt-o-Meal, have generated impressive results on comparatively small budgets.
His political work for the late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone's 1990 campaign won the Grand EFFIE - awarded by the American Marketing Association for the most effective marketing and advertising in the nation - and changed political advertising in the process.
And his work for Jesse Ventura's gubernatorial campaign in 1998 received even more accolades and is generally considered to be the biggest upset in American political history.
Bill was named a Resident Fellow at Harvard's Institute of Politics in the spring of 2002. That fall, he served in Washington as Director of Communications for interim U.S. Senator Dean Barkley (I-MN).
In 2003, Bill created critically acclaimed television advertisements that propelled political neophyte John Hickenlooper to mayor of Denver. In fact, the successful communications campaign enabled Hickenlooper to run up the largest margin of victory ever in Denver's mayoral election. Bill also worked on Arianna Huffington's independent campaign for governor during the California recall election of 2003.
In 2004, Bill supervised and integrated all marketing communications for the successful launch of the national Air America Radio network. He also helped launch the nonpartisan Iraq veteran's organization Operation Truth, and founded the organization Independent Voters of America. In 2006, Bill helped elect the youngest mayor in Washington D.C.'s history, Adrian Fenty; and worked for Massachusetts independent gubernatorial candidate Christy Mihos and Texas independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman. He helped engineer political unknown Ned Lamont's upset of the three-term Democratic incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primary - pioneering the approach that Democrats all around the country would use to take back the House and Senate.
His powerful ad for the VoteVets independent expenditure group contributed to narrow election victories by Senators Jim Webb in Virginia, Claire McCaskill in Missouri, and Jon Tester in Montana, as well as Bob Casey's victory over Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania.
In 2008, Hillsman's positioning and advertising for Democrat Alan Grayson helped him to a major upset in the Republican 8th Congressional District around Orlando, Florida. North Woods' work for Democratic senatorial candidate Jim Slattery in Kansas and the company's anti-Sarah Palin ad for the National Nurses' Organizing Committee were among the best known non-presidential campaign ads in the 2008 election cycle.
Bill's commentary on marketing, advertising, and politics has appeared on the editorial pages of The New York Times, NBC's "Today" show, National Public Radio, CNN, C-SPAN, The Nation, George, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), Japanese and German television, and in well-known blogs such as The Huffington Post and Daily Kos.
Advertising Age named Hillsman to The Marketing 100, their annual selection of the 100 best marketing people in America. He has also been named one of Minnesota's "100 Most Influential People" and one of the "100 Smartest People In Minnesota" by Minnesota Law & Politics, as well as one of "100 Minnesotans To Watch" and one of Minnesota's 75 "Best Brains" by Minneapolis-St. Paul magazine.
His work for clients such as Mall of America, Ralph Nader for President, Twin Cities Public Television, the Minnesota Timberwolves NBA team, Republic Airlines, Arctic Cat snowmobiles, the Minnesota AIDS Consortium, the Air Line Pilots Association, U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone, Mayor Sharon Sayles-Belton, Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, and Governor Jesse Ventura have become textbook cases in marketing communications and advertising.
Most recently, he has been profiled on ABC's "Nightline" and in The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor, PR Week, Salon, Slate (which dubbed him "the world's greatest political adman"), and Brill's Content, which named him to the "Influence List 2000," fifty high-impact people (including Oprah Winfrey, the late Tim Russert, J.K. Rowling, and Katie Couric) who shape our world by influencing our media and our culture.
Bill's book, Run The Other Way: Fixing theTwo-Party System, One Campaign at a Time, was published in 2004 by The Free Press/Simon & Schuster.