The Story Behind Jacksonville’s ruckus Agency

Just as Y2K panic was subsiding, a wide-eyed Communications grad snagged her first job in advertising at an independent agency with a reputation for detail. She was like a fish to water — in a tank that had all the accessories. Instead of a treasure chest with plastic seaweed explored by Scuba Steve, this place had nearly 100 employees and all the departments: media planning and buying, account management, full-service creative, even an emerging e-division supporting the boom.

The young account coordinator would sail through her weekly duties making copies, stapling packets, picking up hundreds of VHS cassettes, and collating them into shipping envelopes decorated with Airborne Express labels she’d keyed and printed on the testy dot matrix. In between routing mail and making intranet updates while listening to hip-hop downloaded from Napster, she befriended a cast of collegial characters that became some of her earliest mentors. Taking her under their wing, they let the ambitious coordinator learn about their responsibilities and the roles they played in developing, producing, and accounting for client work. They would let her participate in their processes and even humor her late-night ideas.

In a few short years, the newly appointed assistant account executive got her biggest idea yet. One day, she would start her own agency. She’d take all the things she learned — the good, the bad, and the unfortunate — and create a place where good people could do good work for people with good intentions. And this altruistic haven would be known as “ruckus” — because as Busta Rhymes pointed out, “… that’s just how we love to do it, mutha …” {insert record scratch} — maybe this is not the place for that part of the story.

After stints with a global juggernaut and a return home to work for a much cozier female-led agency, the now “senior” account executive had found her home. A place teeming with empathy and brains, talent and heart. And, then that house got sold out from under her. She scanned the landscape but didn’t see a place that provided the same sense of home. So, she decided it was time to build her own.

Convincing others to join in creating this agency nirvana isn’t difficult. You know, it’s true what they say about a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens — it’s the only thing that’s ever changed the world. There’s more of us out there than you think: misfits, introverts, sentimentalists, and dreamers, all on board with a few simple rules:

  1. Treat others like you want to be treated.
  2. Make new friends but keep the old.
  3. If you fail to prepare, be prepared to fail.
  4. Impossible is nothing.

Just like its namesake Busta Rhymes, ruckus exists to make bangers. And, year after year, ruckus has produced solid hits: good work for — and with — good people. Proving you don’t have to be forceful to be a force for good.

Written by Susan Masucci, Founder & CEO (ruckus)