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College Graduates Wanted

Rick Greene was fresh out of college when he landed his first job in the promo industry. That was 33 years ago, and he's never looked back.

The  interview did not start well. It was the early 1980s, and Rick Greene, a  graduate fresh out of college, answered a help-wanted ad for a job with an  advertising specialties firm, Walter Cribbins Co., in Los Angeles. When he  showed up for the interview, the hiring manager announced that she was intent  on hiring a woman for the new position. Greene was dejected. Before dismissing  him, though, the manager asked if he even knew what the ad specialties industry  was. Sure, the fresh graduate replied, pens and stuff with logos on them.  Growing up in Cleveland, his mom had been in the industry. Turned out the dozen  women interviewed for the job hadn’t known anything about the business. Greene  was hired on the spot.

A  boss sticking out their hand after a first interview and extorting,  “Congratulations, you’re hired!” What a feeling for a recent graduate! Sounds  like something straight out of an old black-and-white movie script, right? That  would suit Greene, western regional vice president of Counselor Top 40 firm HALO Branded Solutions (asi/356000) and a  lifelong fan of film, just fine.

From  an early age, Greene collected 8-millimeter movies of classics starring Abbot  and Costello, Mae West and the Three Stooges. He watched Charlie Chaplin on a  screen set up in his living room. These comic legends inspired Greene to enroll  in the Ohio State University as a film major.

When  his father, a photographer, moved to Southern California, Greene tagged along  and became a writing major at University of California, San Diego. He’d been  inspired to move to So Cal after spending the winter of 1978 with relatives who  lived in Los Angeles.

“That  winter was brutal,” he says. “In Ohio, you could take a breath and feel the  inside of your lungs start to crystalize. I went to Beverly Hills for a fresh  start and stayed with my aunt and uncle, who lived next door to actor Kurt  Douglas. Needless to say, I fell in love with Southern California.”

Greene  intended to take the new job and stay in the promotions industry for only a  short time, or, “until Disney or some studio called to hire me.” Soon enough,  he realized he was making more money than any of his counterparts working in  the film industry. He’s now been in the business for 33 years, on the  distributor side for all that time. He’s served on the board for the Specialty  Advertising Association of California, and was the 2009 president.

His  work with HALO, where he’s been for the last 11-plus years, encompasses  recruiting, sales management, large account presentations, creative brainstorming,  planning and facilitating events and writing.

The  writing is his forte. He penned a series of articles on a new approach to  branded marketing called: “Be Bold, Be Different, Be Memorable.”

He  also authored two fantasy fiction novels, Boofalo  (2004) and ’Shroom (2007). Both  feature a lead character that takes on magical powers and has adventures that  include time travel, excitement, intrigue and epic battles between good and  evil.

Greene’s  experiences with good and evil in the promotional products industry spans three  decades, and he takes a moment before summing up his experiences and advising  anybody interested in getting into this realm.

“Twenty  or thirty years ago, this was a different world than what we now live in,” he  says. “When I started, there weren’t the research tools that we have today. And  even five years ago things were so different. The economy is better now, so  everybody is positive again.

“My  advice is to take to heart the theme of be bold, be different, be memorable.  Apply that in how you go to market. Don’t be just another person who has crap  with logos on it. Be startlingly unique as a promotional partner. Find out what  you are passionate about and use that to stand out from the pack.”