Tom Hespos // Founder
Tom Hespos is the Founder of Underscore Marketing, whose vision for a solutions-based media company, a source of experts that could help change the modern face of digital media, and whose goals of working on medications and products that would put good in the world, helped make Underscore what it is today.
Tom founded Underscore in 2002 after seeing the need for a truly integrated media consultancy in the wake of the dot-com crash. Along the way to this successful launch, he created and sold several smaller digital ventures, including OLAF: The On Line Advertising Forum and The Internet Old Timers List. He has also written thousands of articles for marketing trade publications, including Advertising Age, ClickZ, iMedia, and Mediapost.
He earned his BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Washington & Lee University in Lexington, VA, which established the first formal journalism program in the country. Upon graduation, he founded The Sound Observer - a newspaper in his hometown that he ran together with neighbors and friends as a not-for-profit that established journalism scholarships for interested students in his community. However, it wasn’t long before Tom had the opportunity to sign on with Madison Avenue’s Young & Rubicam and become a classically-trained media planner and buyer.
During Tom’s stint at Y&R, the first web browsers launched, and he was quickly moved to a role where he could help shape the website recommendation for U.S. Army Recruiting, and he worked on the strategic and tactical recommendations that led the Army to launch the website that eventually became GoArmy.com. Before the medium was proven, and with no tangible budget to launch the website, Tom worked with the Army’s offline partners to bolster traffic to the site and help drive qualified prospects to speak to a recruiter. He even designed the Army’s first animated banner.
It wasn’t long, however, before digital’s allure attracted Tom to management-level positions at emerging digital agencies, including K2 Design and Blue Marble ACG (MacManus). This afforded him the opportunity to participate in several firsts, including the launch of Medscape and Bayer’s first Heart Health website. He also worked with several top-tier companies on health-related initiatives, including SmithKline Beecham and Procter & Gamble.
Ad technology and automation is a top interest of Tom’s, and his friends and colleagues in the digital communications industry alternately describe him as both a technologist and a marketer. He vetted and selected the technology behind Underscore’s programmatic ad buying platform, concepted the patient privacy protections built into Medscape’s first ad management system, and developed custom KPI tracking conventions for top digital marketers.
In Underscore, Tom helped build a truly integrated organization that leverages technology and automation while maintaining human control and oversight – an important balance that drives results for its clients.