Special/Signature Issues » Top 40 Under 40

Mike Lear, 39

Vice President and Associate Creative Director
The Martin Agency


Mike Lear had a simple but complicated problem. How could he come up with an instantly recognizable ad promoting cash savings offered by Geico car insurance?

The vice president at the Martin Agency brainstormed. His idea, somehow, was Kash, the googly-eyed stack of dollar bills who's “kind of silly but mysterious and interesting,” Lear says. The campaign was a ringing success after its launch in December.

An Ohio native, Lear worked in a number of big ad markets such as Dallas, Atlanta and Miami before coming to Richmond five years ago. Mentors helped him along the way, he says. One in particular was Luke Sullivan, a prominent Atlanta ad man who “showed me how to be a good boss and give back,” Lear says.

So when he's not winning awards at every national ad show, Lear tries to give back by lecturing at Virginia Commonwealth University's BrandCenter and working to motivate the next generation of creatives.

He says that he and his family love Richmond and are here to stay. The area has few comparisons for quality schools, affordable housing and little traffic, he notes.

A mountain biker and runner, Lear also volunteers some of his weekend time cleaning up the bike paths along the James River. It's worth the investment, he says: “Where else can you take a break from work, grab your mountain bike and be at a trail head in just six minutes for an hour's ride before returning to the job?”

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