On December 31, 2019, after 40 years in the advertising business, AcrobatAnt Creative Director and co-founder Danny Sadler will officially retire. It will be a bittersweet event. While we are obviously happy that Danny will have more time for, say, enjoying his family and taking his car to the mechanic, we will miss having the old buzzard . . . that is, this elegant gentleman around every day.
The making of an Ant.
Perry, Oklahoma, is famous for two things: the hometown of Danny Sadler and headquarters of The Charles Machine Works, Inc., the company that has been producing Ditch Witch underground construction equipment since 1949. Danny’s dad worked in the Ditch Witch offices, and was one of the company’s first employees. Two of Danny’s brothers, Lenny and Tony, followed their father into the business, on the dealership side. Danny worked at the Ditch Witch plant two summers and on Christmas breaks—enough to realize he didn’t want to fashion a career there.
Instead, he went to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, about 25 minutes down the road from Perry, and enrolled in the architecture program. After a year, he felt uncertain about his academic future so he took an aptitude test. The result: Danny was best suited to be a funeral director. This vocation, oddly enough, didn’t excite and inspire him, so he chose the second career recommendation: advertising.
He switched majors, and sophomore year he began studying advertising and public relations, eventually graduating in 1975. It was then time for the young man to strike out on his own, so he headed west, to Colorado, to pursue untold wealth and prestige as a newspaper ad salesman. After a few years, Danny got tired of that eyesore of a state, with its big ugly rocks poking out of the ground, and returned to smooth and velvety Oklahoma, Earth’s Chosen Land. He followed the smell of crude oil to Tulsa and landed a job at an agency he doesn’t care to remember, then went to work for Davis & Nauser as, believe it or not, a writer.
Yes, the great designer Danny Sadler began his ad career as a copywriter. At Davis & Nauser, however, he made the move to graphic design because, in his words, “I was a terrible writer.” Around this time, he also transitioned to married man, meeting Meredith Wilcox on a blind date and eventually proposing in the most romantic way imaginable: “Hey, you wanna just get married?” And, 37 years later, they are still blissfully and ecstatically bonded in matrimony.
Danny’s career followed the conventional route, i.e., working for others—Hinkle Crawford Davies, Brown Bloyed & Associates, The Richards Group in Dallas, Ackerman McQueen—until he decided enough was enough. He had a young family and a rusty 1968 Volkswagen convertible to support, and he wasn’t going to put his fate in the hands of anyone else again. He could control his own destiny, and it was simply a matter of working 150 hours a week.
Thus began Fireant, which led to Halo, which morphed into XOR, which begat Seurat, Fair Isaac and, finally, AcrobatAnt, where he has guided the creative department since 2008.
Danny sums up his career this way: “It just kind of happened, took on a life of its own. There was no major plan. Everything just fell into place. I remember my dad saying the same thing about his career at Ditch Witch: One day you’re working with ten people, then it’s a hundred, and then a thousand.”
Danny’s being modest, of course. He made it happen by being an extremely tenacious, talented, creative and generous soul. Along the way, he helped countless others create great careers for themselves. Everyone who has worked with Danny, with the exception of a few jerks, feels fortunate to have crossed his path.
We wish him many, many years of good health and happiness in his retirement. His plans are to spend every minute possible with his beautiful family—Meredith; children Meg, Will and Sam; and four grandkids—and volunteering at his parish, the Church of Saint Mary.
Tributes from the Ants:
In my almost 40 years in this nutty biz, I’ve worked with creative directors who drove Porsches and embodied the definition of narcissist. I’ve worked with creative directors who abused all kinds of illegal things and were certifiably looney-tunes. Danny Sadler is the antithesis of all those. He is the most chill, unpretentious, down-to-earth (oh yeah, and really excellent creative) dude you’d ever want to work with.
— David Downing, AcrobatAnt partner
One word comes to mind when I think of Danny: Joy. He is without doubt the most joyful person I have ever met, in the truest sense of the word. All that he does exudes joy, love, kindness, and good humor. I am assuming this will only increase as he steps into this next wonderful phase of life—a pity to all of us who will miss his calming presence greatly!
— Sally Baca, account coordinator
Danny is the best boss I’ve ever had. In fact, it’s more like you’re working with your buddy than a boss.
— Bryan Cooper, associate creative director,
Danny has always been a kind soul and a wonderful teacher. I am grateful that he saw potential in me and gave me a chance to come aboard. I can only pray that one day I get to retire as gracefully and as good-looking as Danny. Thank you, Danny.
— Dell Chambers, art director
I don’t think Danny will ever realize the huge impact he’s made on AcrobatAnt. He is so talented and detail-oriented, but also just a good human being. He’s been a big part of the culture of the agency, and people are going to really miss him. I’m grateful to have worked alongside him, and acknowledge that it just won’t be the same without him.
— Audrey Chambers, account supervisor
I consider myself lucky to have started my advertising career under Danny’s leadership. Besides teaching me the importance of kerning and white space, he has shown me that actions speak louder than words. Through his example, he has demonstrated how to mentor new employees and make a positive impact on anyone and everyone. Danny has built a great agency and I’m fortunate to have worked for him and alongside him for 22 years. I know the Ant farm won’t be the same without him, but I truly hope to honor his legacy by continuing to build an agency that he is proud of.
— Angela Harless, AcrobatAnt partner
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