As Bullhorn was becoming known as the off-beat advertising shop on the other side of the tracks, Brad Flowers chose this little trapezoidal building in a historically sketchy area of town because it was a bike-able halfway point between he and Griffin VanMeter’s houses.
Since then the NoLi area, as they’ve deemed it, has become a beacon for all hip Lexingtonians. Bullhorn is well known for their work on grassroots projects like Kentucky for Kentucky and NoLi, including the pop-up Night Market. They are known in the industry for their strategic branding efforts for places like County Club, Fayette Alliance and also for cleaning house at last year’s American Advertising Awards.
The breadth of their work from elegant-modern to grungy and tattooed will excite anyone who knows the strife of turning a seemingly complex identity into something so beautifully simple and clean, as they do.
As partner, Brad’s everyday tasks vary from operations to strategy to editing. AAF Lexington sat down with Brad to recount his path to Bullhorn and his experiences in advertising.
What WAS your first concert?
Carmen, a melodramatic Christian rock opera. It was terrifying.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Michael Jordan. He did what no one else could do and made it look like a piece of cake.
I had to reassess as a junior because I stopped growing.
How’d you arrive in Lexington?
My wife is from here. I love it. It’s where my people are.
How did you and Griffin Van Meter become work partners?
We first met over bikes. We put on one of the most epic underground bike events in history: Bikes, Bourbon and Hobo Barrels. There was booze, fire, stripper cages and lots of bicycles. We knew there was chemistry. We were unsatisfied with our platonic relationship. We discussed a romantic fling, but I was already married. So, a business venture was the next best thing.
Is the bromance still burning after all these years?
How did you arrive at Bullhorn as a name?
It mostly means Bullshit.
How’d you pick this location (804 N Limestone St, corner of Loudon Ave)?
It’s a bike-able halfway point between my house and Griffin’s house.
What’s the most influential ad you’ve seen that just made you say WOW?
The Nike ad series “Find Your Greatness” where Nike sold ideas instead shoes—the ads based on the real and not the ideal where the people in the campaign made the decision to go out the door. The ad campaign showed real people making hard choices and showed them doing amazing things.
What’s your epic fail in advertising?
When we (Bullhorn) first opened, we tried to do everything and we couldn’t be the best. So we found our focus on branding and it’s what we do well. Articulating purpose—Tell why an organization exists and why they do it.
What would you like to do in Lexington with advertising?
Change the perceptions of the backwoods, backwater stereotypes and make it (central Kentucky) a design location where authentic, interesting things are happening.
One last question—what’re you drinking?
Coffee. I have a beverage cycle—coffee, water, bourbon.
Read more from Brad on the Bullhorn blog series ‘Business Time’ at bullhorncreative.com.
Photography: Shaun Ring