You've reached the personal website of Tom Hespos.
Tom is the Founder and Chief Media Officer of Underscore Marketing, a digitally-focused agency headquartered in New York. Raised in Wading River on Long Island's East End, Tom developed his passion for media, content creation and - most of all - computer technology. Tom's first exposure to computers dates back to the early 1980s, where he took part in a pilot program that taught third- and fourth-graders to program in BASIC on Shoreham-Wading River High School's DEC mainframe. Learning his way around the system on the computer lab's VT100 terminals, he quickly graduated to micros, later learning to program in Fortran, Pascal and C.
After fooling for years with TRS-80s, Apple IIs and Commodore PETs, Tom's Dad invested in a Commodore 64 and the rest was history. It was with that machine that Tom first got his taste of real online services, trading tips for hacking C64 games on the original Compuserve bulletin boards.
High school brought many learning opportunities, and Tom continued to plug away at understanding computers, while delving into other areas like electronic journalism, digital music and music performance. These interests continued through his undergrad education at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, VA, where Tom majored in Journalism & Mass Communications while continuing to study music and computer science.
Tom graduated into a poor job market, but managed to keep things interesting by working together with neighbors and friends to establish The Sound Observer, an alternative newspaper in his home community on Long Island. Tom served as a co-founder and Executive Editor for the publication, which was run as a not-for-profit and bestowed scholarships on local students who wished to study journalism.
While working at the Observer, Tom had the opportunity to join Young & Rubicam, one of the most prestigious of the Madison Avenue advertising giants, and he took it. He served as an administrative assistant to the media group working on the U.S. Army Recruiting account, and worked on the recommendation for Army Recruiting's first website - the site that eventually became GoArmy.com. While managing large media expenditures in television, radio and print for the Army, Tom became intrigued by the opportunities digital media presented. He negotiated the Army's first web buys with the likes of OnRamp, Time Inc's Pathfinder and MTV.
That passion for digital media led him to an opportunity with K2 Design, one of the first public digital agencies. There, he designed and executed media plans for the likes of NYNEX, AOL, Schering-Plough, Bayer and Audio Book Club. Tom also started writing regular digital marketing columns for the likes of ClickZ and Mediapost, as well as speaking at events like Internet World, Ad-Tech and Thunder Lizard's Web Advertising conferences.
After several years at K2, Tom was recruited to lead the media department for Blue Marble ACG, the interactive arm of the MacManus Group (DMB&B, N.W. Ayer). There, he oversaw the digital media strategies and campaigns for several Procter & Gamble brands, Medscape, Ernst & Young, and Cadillac (General Motors). With Blue Marble's acquisition, Tom left the agency and started his own consulting business, working with clients in all industry sectors from technology (First Data Corporation) to Automotive (OpenAuto.com) to Publishing (RealMedia). Consulting for an agency led Tom to a full-time position as Chief Internet Strategist for Mezzina Brown & Partners, working on campaigns spanning financial services (Goldman Sachs) to spirits (J&B, Finlandia) to B2B (DuPont).
With the bursting of the dot com bubble, Tom found himself in the position to start his own agency in anticipation of an upturn in the economy and a renewed mandate to move more advertising and marketing dollars online. In 2002 he started Underscore Marketing with four other agency professionals and still works with the company today as its Chief Media Officer. Today, Underscore is an integrated agency focusing on the health and wellness space, working with clients from pharmaceuticals (Novo Nordisk International) to CPG (Twinings) and everything in between. While not working on digital media campaigns for his clients, Tom enjoys helping colleagues by contributing to various marketing-related books, like Joseph Turow's The Hyperlinked Society and The Daily You. He has also contributed to Joseph Jaffe's Join the Conversation and Life After the 30-Second Spot.
Tom lives in Holtsville, NY with his wife and children. He enjoys gardening, playing music, and being a dad.