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THIS WEEK'S TOP STORIES

Internet is advertising guru's latest creative outlet

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Jobie Dixon isn't bothered if people think he's a little crazy. It’s the price he pays for what he calls "leaping outta the bowl."

"I like adventure, I like doing things that are different and that is something that has made me enjoy life more," the DeBordieu resident said.

Dixon's creative way of thinking landed him a slot as host of a weekly Internet radio show on Voice America Business, in which he teaches others how to live creatively. He offers tips and exercises, and interviews famous guests about how innovation has helped them in their lives.

Guests on the show have included famous names such as business tycoons Steve Forbes and Debbi Fields, artist Arden Rose and author Anne Rivers Siddons.

Voice America is the world's largest producer of original Internet talk radio programming.

Titled "Innovate: Leap Outta the Bowl," the hour-long show airs live on Wednesdays and was inspired and named after a book Dixon wrote last year to share the process he used to become more innovative in business and at home.

"I learned how to rewire my brain to be creative," Dixon said. "I went from 49 percent to 99 percent in creativity in testing."

A former marketing and advertising executive, the process helped Dixon dream up what he calls "one of the most innovative and successful promotions in the history of the storied consumer products behemoth Proctor and Gamble."

His ground-breaking idea involved giving away live goldfish to supermarket shoppers who bought Proctor and Gamble products in the early 1970s. His bosses thought he was crazy and told him not to work on that idea on company time.

So Dixon worked on it at home.

"I engineered a way to hatch five million goldfish, ship them to supermarkets and set up the displays," Dixon said. "The consumer got a bowl and two fish they dipped out of a tank."

Dixon decided he wanted to work for Proctor and Gamble after someone told him it was the best company to work for if he wanted a career in marketing. Instead of going in for an interview, he brought in some promotions he thought they should run.

"They usually only hire Harvard MBAs, but they hired me, a little University of South Carolina guy," Dixon said. "Then they stuck me in the creative arena."

Dixon went on to work for Doyle Dane Bernbach, a Madison Avenue ad agency, and helped found the agency Pringle Dixon Pringle.

He has come up with hugely successful ideas for a number of top brands, including McDonald's, Pizza Hut, KFC, Holiday Inn, Disney and Coca-Cola.

In the mid-1970s, Dixon received a National Restaurant Association Award for coming up with the idea for kids’ meal packs that were introduced at a restaurant chain called Jack's. The idea was quickly picked up by other chains.

Dixon had no radio experience before he was approached last year by Voice America, but decided to give it a try and hosted his first show March 3. He calls in to Voice America from home, whether he's in DeBordieu or his apartment in Palm Beach, Fla., and his producers at Voice America take care of the rest.

On a local level, Dixon works with Mary Palmer of Murrells Inlet. She doesn't really have a title, she said, but does "a little of everything, and sometimes a lot of everything." That includes helping research and book guests for the show, promoting the show and Dixon's book, and coordinating materials that have to go to Voice America.

Palmer, a board member for the Murrells Inlet Community Theater, even served as the guest on a show in May, when she was acting in one of the theater group’s productions.

Palmer has a background in advertising and law, and she and Dixon teamed up after meeting at a local gathering.

"It was really just a coincidence," she said. But it was a fortuitous one. Her enthusiasm for the show is obvious.

"It's all been fantastic," she said. "The guests especially are just wonderful."

One of her favorites was Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields Bakeries.

"She was so down to earth and very inspiring, talking about her roots and her beginning," Palmer said.

Jenny Sanford, ex-wife of former Gov. Mark Sanford, was a guest on the show earlier this month and talked about her background as an investment banker and how she took on the job of campaign manager for her husband with no experience.

"She's such an interesting and strong individual," Palmer said. "There is a fragility about her, but she seems to have risen above it."

Palmer has been trying to schedule Mark Sanford for a future show.

Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine and CEO of Forbes Inc., was Dixon's favorite interview. He was on the show March 31.

"He was great. He's quite an innovative guy," Dixon said. "I had actually met him years ago when I was in Atlanta. His jet came and picked my wife and me up."

Dixon also knew Siddons from his past. He worked with the bestselling author of "Peachtree Road" when she was in advertising. In giving advice on how to be creative, Dixon recalled, she said essentially the same thing Forbes did: just do it.

Dixon continues to try and land his dream guest: Donald Trump.

"He wrote a nice letter back saying he was busy," Dixon said.

Dixon and Palmer are also trying to schedule author Pat Conroy, actress and political activist Jane Fonda, and "Elvis, if I can find him," Dixon said. He got that idea just this week after spotting "the King" at a party in Palm Beach.

Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," is also on Dixon's wish list.

"He's definitely out of the bowl," Dixon said.

"Innovate: Leap Outta the Bowl" airs live on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. at voiceamerica.com.

New and old shows can also be downloaded for free on iTunes.

To order Dixon's book, go to jobiedixon.com.

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