Many knew that Roman Hiebing was a best-selling author. A genuine ad guy who had learned his craft from Leo Burnett himself. Those who knew him best knew a larger than life entrepreneur with a booming voice and, not too far beneath the surface, a huge and caring heart.
Through his teaching of disciplined marketing planning, Roman both inspired and scared the hell out of hundreds of UW-Madison students. He made marketing feel very much like science, not just the art that they thought it was. He spoke of his craft in a way that made it feel powerful to wield and challenging to do well. He treated his students like employees of his agency, not just kids attending a class, and he gave freely of his advice, his experience, his stories and his dreaded red pen!
Those lucky enough to work at The Hiebing Group had a front row seat to a powerhouse marketing mind. Clients from Mercury Marine and AAA to Famous Footwear and the University of Wisconsin looked to him for guidance, and he delivered. He made it his business to understand both their opportunities and their challenges and to use the full power of marketing to their greatest advantage. He thought big, set his sights high and never shied away from tough conversations. By example, he taught those around him courage, integrity and commitment.
When he retired from Hiebing, the business he built and loved, he did so knowing that he had left behind a strong moral compass that could see the agency through good years or bad. “We before me” is a badge Hiebingites wear proudly, along with core values and traits like curiosity, passion, intelligence and integrity. He taught his team to surround themselves with people who give a damn, about the work and most definitely about each other—and then to share with each other—the work, the highs, the lows, the profits and the ownership of the agency. So while many have had the chance to respect and admire Roman the marketer, those of us who have been lucky enough to join the Hiebing tribe will also be forever grateful for the culture he built for us at 315 Wisconsin Avenue.
So raise your glass today if you, too, can look back and pinpoint the day this larger than life, passionate and truly lovely man made his indelible impact on your life. And if you never had the pleasure of meeting Roman but are part of the cultural and professional phenomenon known today as simply Hiebing, then raise your Brat-and-Brau mug high. From all of us, to you, dear Roman, we tearfully say goodbye, cheers, and from the bottom of our hearts—thank you.