Q&A with Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO of Hawthorne Advertising

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Q&A with Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO of Hawthorne Advertising

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO of Hawthorne Advertising, fosters long-standing client relationships with the company’s expansive base of Fortune 500 brands to develop highly strategic and measurable advertising campaigns, designed to ignite immediate consumer response. From strategy, creative and production to media and analytics, Jessica is committed to premium quality and innovation throughout all agency disciplines. Jessica is a contributor for various industry publications and speaks on panels offering insights on key industry trends. She has published hundreds of articles with Forbes, AdAge, AdWeek, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, and many more. She has received many awards for her career accomplishments including the Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur Of The Year” in the Transformational Leader category, and Los Angeles Times B2B Publishing “CEO Leadership Award” Winner.

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

Prior to joining Hawthorne Advertising, Hawthorne-Castro was a successful TV literary agent with William Morris Endeavor (formerly Endeavor), one of Hollywood’s top, full-service talent agencies representing writers, directors and producers for television. Jessica is the Chapter Chair for YPO Los Angeles and on the YPO Pacific U.S Regional Executive Board and YPO Global Editorial Advisory Board. In addition, Jessica is on the Board of the ANA/Association of National Advertisers ECHO Awards, the L.A. Chamber of Commerce’s CEO Council and social justice Boards including Dignity Moves Homelessness Board and is a Climate Change Reality Ambassador.

MEDIA 7: In 2019, you received EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year award in the Transformational Leader category. What has your career path been like?
JESSICA HAWTHORNE-CASTRO: I’ve always held myself and my work to the highest standards. Whether it was graduating with both my undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and Loyola Marymount University’s MBA program with honors or working as one of the youngest women to be promoted to a full talent agent at Endeavor Agency (now WME/William Morris Endeavor). During the past 14 years at Hawthorne Advertising, I’ve set ambitious goals and worked to achieve them. I worked my way up from Account Executive at Hawthorne Advertising to the role of CEO, purchasing the company from its founder, my father Tim Hawthorne, in 2015. Since then, I’ve constantly worked to foster service-oriented relationships with all the agency’s clients, helping them to envision, create and execute powerful advertising campaigns that build and grow brands, and ignite consumers.

“Treat people with respect, kindness, diligence, and positive results for clients, colleagues, vendors, and anyone else you interact with.”

As the owner, Chairman, and CEO, I spearhead the agency’s focus on analytics and web attribution. Since I purchased the company, Hawthorne Advertising was named to the Inc. 5000 list and was certified as a Great Place to Work. Hawthorne Advertising is also a Certified Women-Owned Business by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. As Hawthorne Advertising reached its 35th anniversary this summer, I’ve worked to expand the agency’s reputation and client portfolio of Fortune 500 clients who are focused on performance marketing. Thanks to the agency’s long history in the space, it has built a focus on brand awareness alongside its development of some of the leading ROI analytics and web attribution methodologies in the industry. And as one of the few truly independent agencies of 35 years in tenure and a continued leader in performance marketing, I’m responsible for the successes of our clients and the satisfaction of my employees.

M7: Hawthorne Advertising is where art meets science. How do you transform data into effective marketing and advertising campaigns that drive consumer engagement for your clients?
JHC: Hawthorne uses data science and neuroscience to transform data into actionable and strategic campaign optimizations. We achieve this with our proprietary attribution, analytics, and reporting platforms. I’m proud to work with our data scientists, media experts, strategists, and creatives who surface insights from complex data sets that drive engagement at all points in the customer journey. Each of our clients has a unique business, so we build unique attribution models to align with their goals and signals of success. We deliver ROI for our clients by being laser-focused on campaign performance and real-time optimization across all channels.

M7: What makes Hawthorne Advertising stand out and secure its position at the forefront of the advertising and marketing industry?
JHC: Hawthorne’s success ties back to us being a pioneer in performance marketing and our storied history. This summer we celebrated 35 years of experience being on the ground level of the industry, knowing and understanding how to create a direct return on investment for every single dollar of our client’s campaigns. That’s how we’ve always approached it across all disciplines. That perspective informs our approach to both traditional and new channels across all forms of media, no matter what. With any channel we leverage, from TikTok to varied forms of media, we can use analytics and attribute an exact ROI to that effort. That perspective is at the roots of our DNA as performance marketers, and that’s what makes us stand out.

“Human interaction, and the varied definition of that these days in a hybridized in-person and virtual environment, is important for maintaining morale and ensuring our strong culture remains intact even during the challenges of the pandemic.”

M7: How have you integrated your experience as a television literary agent in Hollywood into strategic marketing plans with maximum returns?
JHC: It really comes down to the client and the customer experience. As an agent, I was directly representing writers, directors, and producers in television. The same qualities that made me successful in that role translated over to my success in advertising. Delivering a positive client experience is pivotal in both roles. I achieve this positive experience by adding a personal touch to everything we do at Hawthorne. This is important because it shows the client that you are invested in them and a partner in their success. It all comes down to the fundamental value of treating others the way you’d like to be treated. Treat people with respect, kindness, diligence, and positive results for clients, colleagues, vendors, and anyone else you interact with. Hawthorne’s culture is built around these concepts.

M7: What marketing channels do you use and which ones do you see as the most promising given your target customers?
JHC: Hawthorne is a full-service advertising agency, so we’re media agnostic. We build specific campaigns leveraging the channels that will best achieve our clients’ desired outcomes. Our process is to first determine the desired outcomes of our clients, including identifying their specific brand goals. Based on these goals, we create a custom-built campaign. These campaigns determine how the client will reach their target audience using curated media and creative strategies that will best deliver a response. Lastly, we report data and analytics to show the outcomes and ROI of the campaigns.

“The key moving forward will be to assess if people start seeing through influencer marketing and disregarding influencer’s content as a result. Time will tell.”

M7: How has Hawthorne Advertising addressed and overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 era?
JHC: First and foremost, providing a stable environment in an unstable world and economy is my absolute focus and goal every day. Hawthorne strives to enable clients and employees to move forward with a stable mindset and stable operations. This stability and consistency give teams the space to focus and do their best work. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve found new ways to connect with one another at the agency to ensure everyone is being recognized and heard. Communication is key to achieving this. For example, every Monday we have an all-staff meeting at which we discuss company news and initiatives so that everyone knows what’s going on within the business. Teams also conduct weekly meetings in which the team members can discuss the status of projects and ensure everyone is on the same page. To give employees a place to connect on a social level, we host a virtual happy hour every Wednesday night. We encourage employees to send invites for virtual coffee meetings to other team members, particularly those colleagues they may not work with directly. Human interaction, and the varied definition of that these days in a hybridized in-person and virtual environment, is important for maintaining morale and ensuring our strong culture remains intact even during the challenges of the pandemic.


Hawthorne, a creative, analytics and technology-driven advertising agency, specializes in strategic planning, creative development, production, media planning, buying and analytics, and campaign management for integrated marketing campaigns. With 35 years of proven excellence, the agency combines persuasive brand messaging with best-in-class analytic systems to create accountable, high performance advertising campaigns.

Hawthorne helps brands efficiently target their consumers, improve cost per acquisition, optimize the lifetime value of a brand’s customers, and even drive consumer response to key retail outlets or corporate locations. As a leading analytic and data driven, accountable brand advertising agency, Hawthorne specializes in integrated campaign solutions. The company offers a full suite of integrated solutions with creative, media, digital and mobile services. Hawthorne maintains brand integrity and metrics to efficiently and effectively optimize the results of its clients’ integrated media budgets via leading edge and proven data analytics. Hawthorne has developed successful award-winning campaigns for countless Fortune 500 brands.

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