ASU alumnus builds advertising agency, creates iconic brands

By

Amanda Stoneman

Arizona State University alumnus Nick Lambesis pursued a master degree with one goal in mind: to teach humanities at the college level. But his path to success led him down a different route.

“My passion was education,” said Lambesis, who was a lecturer in the Department of English and other junior colleges in the Phoenix area for 12 years. “I had to put it on the back burner to make sure I could support my family.”

Lambesis received a bachelor’s degree in English literature along with two minors in humanities and business from the University of Minnesota. While he majored in literature as an undergraduate, the humanities moved him. He later pursued his first master’s degree in humanities at ASU.

“The ASU humanities master’s degree was an exciting program that encompassed comparative literature, philosophy, music, film and fine arts,” he said. “And they had a faculty to match. The bonus was their open mindedness as it related to our thesis topic.”

Inspired by the Greek writer and philosopher Nikos Kazantzakis, Lambesis found his place as a humanist. He was in the middle ground between philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Schopenhauer and the completely opposed Gautama Buddha.

“Kazantzakis was a brilliant mind and his worldview hovered in that rare but fascinating sweet spot,” said Lambesis. “He saw the good, the bad and the ugly of each and crafted his own philosophy, using literature as his vehicle.” 

When Lambesis graduated in 1972, the humanities programs were eliminated in the Phoenix junior college system. He immediately pursued his second master’s degree in English literature so he could teach English in college.

After teaching for 12 years and having four sons, Lambesis became a freelance writer and later joined the creative advertising market. Currently, he’s the chairman and founder of The Lambesis Agency, which creates iconic brands by establishing a deeper emotional and cultural connection with consumers.

“I get to take all the very same elements of the humanities and apply them to the creative development of a brand,” he said. “In the advertising/brand world, we call them strategy instead of philosophy, copywriting instead of literature and of course music, film and art.”

The creative methods pioneered by The Lambesis Agency to brand clients have led to many new developments in marketing. The work of the agency has been publicized extensively in trade publications, college textbooks and featured in the movies “What Women Want” and “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” In addition, it’s the only agency in the world to have four Coke brands: Dasani, FUZE, Gold Peak Tea and Honest Tea.

“I want to be a part of the vision and genius of Neal Lester,” said Lambesis. “I think he is taking the humanities in the direction it needs to go. We need the humanities to be, well, more human in a decent way. And all that creative stuff fits in but none of it matters if we’re not pulling it all together.”

Lambesis was named a 2016 CLAS Leader in honor of his professional success in the creative advertising industry. He was invited back to campus during homecoming to share his thoughts on the value of a liberal arts and sciences degree and induct the 2016 CLAS Student Leaders.

Lambesis encourages students and recent alumni to consider what they want to be remembered for after they’re gone. For himself, he said he wants his legacy to be that he made a difference in the lives of people: personally, professionally and in serving them.