There! It's in there!

We believe branding is headed for difficult days

In many ways branding as a discipline has been on auto-pilot for years. Yet the people with whom branders wish to engage have evolved.

We are seeing the change play out on small screens everywhere.

But the device is only the outward enabler of an inner realignment

of cultural priorities.To our own and the discipline's chagrin, it is clear that the vaunted emotional connection between a brand and its audience is weakening slowly but surely (and maybe not so slowly).

Our conclusion:

to the people branders need to reach, branding,

as traditionally understood, does not matter any more.


Today Every Brand Must Have A Point-Of-View

On The World, Its Place In It, And Why Anybody Should Care

In our engaged, empowered, connected, and transparent world,

your internal culture--what you believe in, what you stand for, your point-of-view about the world and your place in it--has become

your most valuable asset. Your culture IS your brand.

Why? Because your audiences have a point-of-view on the world,

their place in it, and they expect everyone to care.


Right side vs. left side

Ours is a creative process that begins with you and ends with you. We consume everything there is to know about you from your web presence to your advertising to your annual report to your pr releases and onsite interviews. We treat this as our input upon which to have an idea about you. Our deliverables are ideas--persuasive, motivating, energizing ideas. Not a 172-page Powerpoint deck.

Personal is powerful

You. Not you the company. You the person. From an evolved branding  standpoint, you are a "you", not an "it".  And this simple insight makes all the difference and explains why our idea of primary research is creative listening to you. We need to get to know you if we hope for your audiences to get to know you.


Market Research is a Distraction

We do not put much weight on what the market thinks of you (though in our process we endeavor to find out for a baseline to measure against). The market cannot tell you who you are, only who it thinks you are.

The  CEO of a Fortune 500 company said, "After 150 years, I finally know what my company does."

TD WATERHOUSE (now TD Ameritrade)

Jackie Chan does not want

to be interrupted.

Before it was the darling of Wall Street, TD Waterhouse's entire marketing effort was

a 1/4 page ad, every day on the same page, of The Wall Street Journal: "Save 70% on stock trades." Then internet trading arrived. Suddenly hundreds of millions of dollars were being spent to lure you and me online. The marketing director looked at us, his agency, and said: "We need to become a brand NOW!" These spots were the first in the category to feature high profile celebrities in the online trading category. In 2 years, the firm went from little-known direct marketer to a top trading brand.....

Phil Jackson wants to

make a trade

Martin Shorts

Renee Russo has a dream

Geena Davis takes

her best shot

....and then 9/11 happened. Suddenly, extravagant budgets for light-hearted branding seemed somehow out of place. Investors cooled off quickly. Seriousness and trustworthiness were the new currency of branding. Who better to capture the internal culture of a straight-talking, non-nickel-and-diming organization like TD Waterhouse than America's most trusted TV prosecutor ?  

(And just this year, Sam Waterson and TD Waterhouse were the correct answer to a question on Jeopardy. From internal culture to popular culture.)


For years, Amica had been a traditional, quiet, but well-regarded insurance company. New leadership believed the firm was not getting credit for its extraordinary devotion to service. A new brand campaign was needed to express outwardly the unique culture  the company had built internally.


Horizon had been making steady progress toward its goal of a more personal, more caring culture and now felt the time was right to let the market know about it. Its innovative systems and use of data to help consumers "do healthcare right" needed a breakthrough brand idea to cut through the clutter of healthcare advertising. The first three spots were :15 sec teasers which ran 2 weeks before the launch ad.


Launch spot


Wall Street had never understood the strategy behind McGraw Hill's acquisitions. What business had an educational publisher owning S&P, and JD Power, and the rest. A pure conglomerate play. Which angered Terry McGraw. He believed in the individual companies' McGraw-Hill-ness and needed a brand campaign to express the unique culture that could be home to seemingly unconnected entities.

brand tv



After 9/11, the recruiting commands of the military services were being tasked with high quotas. As the smallest branch of the services, the Coast Guard recruiting command knew it could not compete on budgets with the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. But it very definitely could compete on heroism and patriotism. It just needed a brand spot that captured its essential and unique mission.


Even the most distinguished institutions can be overtaken by competition. Memorial Sloan Kettering found itself in the odd position of underdog against the raft of new cancer centers opening at hospitals outside New York City. Cancer care was becoming a battleground. One result was that Memorial Sloan Kettering was seeing more and more patients wanting a second opinion. By which time, they were often beyond help.  Their lament--"If only they'd come to us as soon as they were diagnosed"--became one of the most well respected healthcare campaigns of the past decade.

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