Archive for the ‘Experience’ Category

Wells Fargo Mobile Food Banks

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Food is the cornerstone of the holidays, but for 1 in 7 Americans, this means relying on food banks for support. This holiday season, Wells Fargo will use the power of their 6,000+ branches and 265,000+ team members to help collect the food so many people rely on. As part of the overall effort, Wells Fargo has created a mobile food bank to travel the country this holiday season, raise awareness and collect non-perishable donations at events in four regions and 16 different markets until December 30th. This is a large nation-wide initiative with national and local media efforts, as well as a partnership with United Way and local food banks to do the most good in each market on the tour.


You can catch a Mobile Food Banks in Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland, Denver, Minneapolis, Des Moines, St. Louis, Dallas, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. between now and December 28, 2017.

Check it out on Good Morning America here!

Click here for more info on the Wells Fargo Food Banks

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Written by Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle
Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle

November 28th, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Posted in Experience

MKTG Westport Partners with Stepping Stones Museum in Norwalk for Red Cross Blood Drive

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Westport MKTG partnered up with  Stepping Stones Museum in Norwalk to join them in their first Red Cross Blood Drive. Did you know that donating just one pint of blood can save up to three people’s lives? The combined effort collected 26 units of blood which can save 78 lives. If you are thinking about donating blood, get out and do it. The event was a success and we look forward to co-sponsoring a bigger event with our friends  next June.

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Written by Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle
Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle

November 17th, 2017 at 11:22 am

Posted in Experience

Series Launch! Five Questions With…Markus Sheldon

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Markus’ first selfie taken nine years ago..before selfies were a thing. #innovator

We are thrilled to kick off our first edition of “Five Questions With…” with MKTG NY’s Markus Sheldon who is our VP of Innovation. This series will share a deep dive into what makes the Humans of MKTG tick and help make up this great family. Enjoy!

What’s a typical day/week like for you at MKTG New York (who do you interact with, what keeps you busy)

Thankfully I can say that in my role, the word “typical” is rarely something that comes to mind when thinking of the daily grind. No two days/weeks are quite the same and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I could be leading a pitch presentation Monday morning knowing that after the presentation I have to fly west for innovation workshops with clients Tuesday. All the while, requests are coming through; new client briefs, working with the creative team to formulate new ideas, or in some cases leading the charge on proactive pitches. At the end of the day, everything has to get done, so a lot of my week is also about managing priorities and expectations to make sure that what needs to most attention gets it, and nothing falls through the cracks.

I also get to interact with our Dentsu Aegis sister-agencies, strategic partners and a short-list of vendors to develop solutions. Internally, I find myself partnering with anyone who is in need of solutions that involve technology or those that I’ve worked with on past projects who just want to pick my brain for a POV. Coincidentally, the conversations often start with technology, but lead to a conclusion that it isn’t the entire answer. Sometimes it’s an hour-long conversation, sometimes it calls for me taking the lead on a longer tail discovery effort. It always calls for problem solving, empathy, un-divided attention, and a willingness to acknowledge when I don’t know the answer, all while understanding what it will take to find it.

In your five+ years here at MKTG, how have you seen what you do affect the trajectory of MKTG’s business (you can be high level here or give examples)

I’ve seen a pretty massive shift in the agency from where it was 5+ years ago. In my humble opinion, I think we’ve never had as much momentum producing technology-led solutions as we do now. I’ve noticed an evolution in our day to day behavior, our conversations, and our level of strategic thinking around innovation and technology. It is what gets me excited every time I take the 6:37AM train in to get to the office, and what keeps me motivated every time I head to the airport on a Sunday night for Monday meetings. Credit is due to the general pervasiveness of technology in society today, but the genuine interest of my fellow MKTGers, and a recognition of what innovative technology can bring to the forefront has brought us to where we are today.

I’ve never been bullish on the idea that driving further awareness and adoption of an innovation mindset is going to happen by writing decks and presenting slides. I’d rather we show the world we have an innovation mindset through the experiences we create, as opposed to telling them that we are innovative. To that end, we’ve been doing just that. Over the last couple of years, we brought to life a few campaigns that involved pretty complex technology solutions that solved real problems.

We launched the award-winning Gatorade Fuel Lab and the lifestyle-gem that was Smirnoff House. Both harnessed technology to immerse guests into the experience but also to make each more dynamic, more memorable, and more measurable for clients.

We capitalized on forming new partnerships with Brandzooka and Cinebody to support a big experience for Tropicana early this year, who challenged us to deliver an event that is “experienced by few, seen by many”. This resulted in a new formulaic approach to capturing and distributing compelling content at the speed of social, something that I believe represents a huge opportunity for us.

We then pitched and won a game-changer project with Beats by Dre, offering the agency the ability to define, develop, and own a business intelligence platform. It represented a new beginning for the agency, where we own an equitable product that will be able to support a wide range of business needs in the future.

All said, I still believe that we’ve only just begun to establish our identity as it relates to innovation and technology. To that end, I’m focused on formalizing the discipline in partnership with our leadership, while proving our value with the output.

What excites you about your work?

I get most excited when we collectively identify an opportunity to go into uncharted territory and capitalize on it. I’m a firm believer that it is impossible to innovate without challenging the status quo, without feeling a bit uneasy, so any time we step out of our own shoes, read what the brief doesn’t say and think differently is when my mind gets giddy like getting a full-size Snickers bar at Halloween. I want MKTG to be known for delivering positive firsts, so any time we begin to move into new areas I get pretty stoked.

Independent of that, I get excited knowing that what we are doing is providing a positive impact for the agency, clients and consumers who engage with our experiences.

What has been the most meaningful advancement(s) you have seen that has moved/can move our business forward?

Like I was saying earlier, over the last couple of years there has been a pretty massive shift in both interest and day-to-day dialogue around innovation, technology, and solutions that live in the digital space. I’ve seen a very positive shift in both our capability to think integrated and our ability to deliver on the promise through the output. I see a lot more integrated strategies that combine technology, culture, and content to drive a closer connection between brands and humans, which gets me very excited about the coming year. We’ve seen a lot of positive momentum on the accounts where we push the limits of our experiential purview, delivering ideas that extend through the line. We’ve also seen a drastic expansion in the staff that can support delivering innovative solutions, and every office bringing ideas to the table that will bring the agency to new heights. Ultimately, the most meaningful advancement has been the people, the mindset, and the focus. Everything is a bi-product of that.

Do you have a morning routine? If so, what is it?

You’ll have to check back with me again come February, as there will be a baby boy blowing up my days. I’ll focus on highlighting my morning routine when I am in town, as my travel mornings tend to be a bit more streamlined due to a much simpler commute.

My wife and I both wake up between 5:30 and 6AM, sometimes earlier for me if we have a pitch that morning and I want to get in early. We get ready together, chatting throughout our preparations about the upcoming day. We collab on making coffee, letting the dogs out and feeding them, prepping any left-overs or bagging aussie bites (from Costco, they are amazing). We then usually head down the hill together to ride the train in from Highland Avenue. There are times where we have to head in at different times, so when that happens I walk down the hill to the station, which gives me a nice (but distant) view of downtown along the way. When walking down the hill I tend to get into a meditative mindset where I focus on appreciating the fresh morning air, contemplating the day, and most importantly getting a smile going.

When we ride together, we’ll sit together in the quiet car every once in a while, whispering back and forth to the chagrin of fellow passengers (even though whispering isn’t illegal). Most often we’ll sit separately, because the train is pretty full by the time it hits our station. She gets off at Newark Broad Street and then I head into Hoboken. When she exits we always say goodbye and tell each other, “I love you.”, whether we sit together or not. I know that may seem sappy, but it is something that I learned from my grandpa who passed away when I was in my late twenties. Every morning and every night, he’d tell my grandma, his wife of over 60 years, that he loved her. While he never explained it to me directly, it meant much more than the words to me – It was more about making sure that neither person start the day or goes to bed angry. It isn’t always easy to do this when I travel like I do, but I always find a way to tell her so she knows I am thinking about her.

Now back to that routine….

I tend to let my ride in adjust to what inspires me that morning. I’ll mix things up; listening to a Spotify daily mix, scanning my Flipboard and Medium to catch the latest in tech/innovation trends and stories from the previous day, listening to podcasts, reading a book, or playing a mobile game or two. I am definitely a creature of habit with where I sit on the NJT train, where I stand on the platform and within the PATH train, and the path I take in walking through and out of the Oculus and up Church street to head into the office. It isn’t that I am against breaking the pattern, because I sometimes stop along the way to grab pastries or even an extra coffee for the day, but I like the consistency of the process, and being deliberate about my way in.

When I arrive I always greet the guys downstairs, use my wallet to tap the elevator buttons, and I always follow the same general process when I get to my desk. After that, everything changes. Like I said before, no two days are the same, that is, aside from the bookends.

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Written by Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle
Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle

November 2nd, 2017 at 11:30 am

Posted in Experience

Brands Should Be ‘Fearless’ In Sponsorship Marketing

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Brands with smaller budgets need to be “fearless” when it comes to sponsorship marketing, Colin O’Toole, marketing manager for the Cadbury Premier League Partnership, has said.

He added that businesses also need to put their trust in the agencies they work with and make sure they are fully behind the strategy.

O’Toole was speaking on a panel held by MKTG today called The experience economy: driving business value through sponsorship and shared experiences.

He said: “We have a lot of smaller brands and they don’t have the budget that Cadbury has [such as Green & Blacks]. You need to focus on what you are trying to do, so on one metric and [be brilliant on that].

“Be fearless about what you’re trying to do. If you don’t take a risk you’re going to get lost, but there’s a fine line between fearlessness and stupidity. You’ve got to trust agencies that they will do their job and give you the best advice and then you have to back them.”

O’Toole explained that the campaigns that Cadbury’s has been able to deliver successfully are ones that the brand has “pushed the boat out a little” but has remained within its values.


Read the rest of the article here

Article written by Gurjit Degun


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Written by Paige McConney
Paige McConney

October 13th, 2017 at 10:42 am

MKTG Milan Brings Timberland and Marracash Together For A “Concert in the Sky”

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To support Timberland’s launch of the new FLYROAM sneakerboots, MKTG sought to produce a unique, integrated event that would function seamlessly online and onsite. On October 3, Timberland was really aiming high, so that its consumers, having purchased and challenged the odds in a contest, were able to take part in the first ‘Concert In The Sky’ where they would enjoy with the Milan rapper Marracash, on a suspended platform 40 meters high.

Over 2,000 people gathered at Porta Genoa’s Gateway to witness a never-before-seen happening. The event sparked viral stories, videos, and selfies on social media. The King of Milanese Rap moved smoothly inside the flying platform and put on a fantastic  show that spectators on the ground were able to watch on screens over the stage, where Marracash later finished his performance.

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Written by Paige McConney
Paige McConney

October 12th, 2017 at 10:15 am

Media Agencies MKTG, Posterscope and PSI launch fundraising initiative for local soup kitchen on World Mental Health Day

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Today’s is World Mental Health Day and MKTG UK is taking action. Read below to learn more about the great work they’re doing in their local neighborhood and consider donating HERE.


World Mental Health Day (Tuesday 10th October) has seen the launch of a crowdfunding campaign by MKTG, Posterscope and PSI, who aim to raise £30,000 through crowd-funding site Chuffed, to hire a full-time mental health professional, based at the Whitfield St Soup Kitchen.

There are approximately 1600 soup kitchens in London. Between them, they have one goal: to help the 180,000 people officially designated as homeless in our capital city (data from Shelter).

The Whitfield Soup Kitchen is one of the many organisations helping to overcome the issue of homelessness in one of the richest cities in the world.

But there’s a problem

Although the reasons for homelessness are varied, one significant contributory factor is mental illness, which many of the guests at Whitfield St suffer from, to some extent.

Being homeless adds an extra obstacle to accessing the already reduced funding for mental health services, and if left untreated, may guarantee that they remain homeless. Homelessness also reduces the likelihood of being seen by a regular, mental health professional.

Here’s what we’re doing about it

Knowing this, media agencies MKTG, Posterscope and PSI are endeavouring to create the first ‘no appointment needed’, no obligation, mental health drop-in centre, actually located inside the Soup Kitchen. Not only will the agencies hire a mental health professional (link worker) to be present at the kitchen for 2–3 days a week across a two-year period, but they will also fund the building of a small, private consultation room, to give the homeless a secure environment with someone they trust to share their issues. If successful it is hoped this will provide a model for other soup kitchens.

Advisors at Mental Health Charity Mind said:

“The support available to homeless people for mental health are sometimes complex to navigate, and people often stop engaging with the support offered. The provision of a link worker will help support people to be aware of options and where to get help with practical and social needs.”

The agencies’ aim is for a professional link worker to build dialogue, trust and relationships, with the regulars to and accelerate their path back to health.

You can donate on Chuffed here.

You can read this original post here.

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Written by Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle
Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle

October 9th, 2017 at 10:04 pm

Posted in Experience

MKTG Westport: Toiletries for Troops Initiative

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All year long the MKTGers of Westport, CT collect toiletries from our business trips, homes, and dollar stores to donate to A Project from the Heart, a local organization in Fairfield, CT that sends packages to our troops overseas. Our troops are always in need of these small items while living away from home. We feel it is important to give back to the troops to say thank you for all they do. Below are letters that A Project from the Heart has received from troops expressing their gratitude for the packages. This definitely makes us smile!



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Written by Paige McConney
Paige McConney

October 9th, 2017 at 10:59 am

Toyota Racing and Team USA

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MKTG has united two of TOYOTA’s major sponsorships in a never-been-done-before manner.

Before heading off to PyeongChang for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Team USA will make a few pit stops for TOYOTA along the way. In a concentrated effort ideated, developed and executed by MKTG, TOYOTA is leveraging its Olympic/Paralympic partnerships AND NASCAR assets to bring Team USA athletes to the race track. At four races during the NASCAR Monster Energy Nascar Cup Series Playoffs, Team USA athletes will serve as the Honorary Pace Car Driver and lead the field of race cars from behind the wheel of the 2018 TOYOTA Camry.

A robust and ambitious content capture plan was implemented, where every moment of each Team USA athlete’s race day experience was captured by an MKTG crew. Each Team USA athlete experienced TOYOTA’s at-track touch points, including personal interactions with TOYOTA Racing’s top-tier NASCAR drivers. A fully-integrated social media campaign was designed, including TOYOTA-owned channels (TOYOTA Racing, TOYOTA USA & Team TOYOTA) and partner channels (NASCAR, Tracks, Drivers and U.S. Speedskating), which included both organic and paid content.

As the Official Pace Car, the 2018 TOYOTA Camry, featured U.S. Olympic, U.S. Paralympic, and Team USA branding, further reinforcing TOYOTA’s commitment to both its motorsports and Olympic/Paralympic partnerships. With two Team USA-paced races already complete, MKTG will look to augment this unique program at upcoming race weekends. So be on the lookout!

The TOYOTA NASCAR & Olympic/Paralympic pace car program schedule:

• Chicagoland (9/16 – 9/17): US. Olympian and Team TOYOTA athlete Sugar Todd served as the honorary pace car driver for the NASCAR MENCS race at Chicagoland Speedway. Sugar Todd also took part in a content capture opportunity with Erik Jones, driver of the #77 TOYOTA Camry.

• Dover (9/30 – 10/1): US. Paralympian, and Team TOYOTA athlete Hannah McFadden served as the Honorary Pace Car Driver for the NASCAR MENCS race at Dover International Speedway. Hannah McFadden also took part in a content capture opportunity with Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 TOYOTA Camry.

• Charlotte (10/7 – 10/8): US. Olympian and Olympic gold medalist Hannah Kearney will serve as the Honorary Pace Car Driver for the NASCAR MENCS race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Hannah Kearney will also take part in a content capture opportunity with Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 TOYOTA Camry.

• Kansas (10/21 – 10/22): US. Olympian and Olympic silver medalist Brian Hansen will serve as the Honorary Pace Car Driver for the NASCAR MENCS race at Kansas Speedway. Brian Hansen will also take part in a content capture opportunity with Daniel Suarez, driver of the #19 TOYOTA Camry.

Contributed by Lauren Hoffman and team, MKTG Charlotte
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Written by Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle
Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle

October 2nd, 2017 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Experience

A Day In The Life : Alex Torrey

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Alex celebrating his first week in the MKTG Chicago Office

This month we are featuring A Day In The Life of Alex Torrey. Alex sits in the VP of Strategy and based in Chicago. He joined the team this summer and his main responsibility is simply making sure the team brings their best, smartest thinking to the table in everything they do. Sounds easy right?

Alex moved to Chicago from Athens, GA after working for the CIA (yes, really) and for himself as Co-Founder of Umano, a socially-conscious clothing brand. Read on and learn about his experience at the CIA, as an entrepreneur, and what ‘decision fatigue’ is, in our interview with Alex.


MK: What time do you wake up in the morning on a typical workday?

Alex: I wake up early. I wake up at 5:30. I’m a morning runner, I go for a short little jog. Chicago is a beautiful place for morning jogs.


Do you run on the lake?

I do, I run on the lake or the river. I don’t have a route. I’m very spontaneous, I don’t have a plan, so depending on how I’m feeling I either say Is today a lake day? or Is today a river day? and then I go from there.


What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

My alarm clock is NPR, so I’ll usually lay there for a minute or two listening to NPR. Then I have a glass of water and I pee. Not always in that order.


So you use an actual alarm clock?

I use an old-time analog radio with the little scrolly-wheel thing. If I ever bump my alarm clock it’s all messed up and I have to find the right radio station again. Yeah, like an actual alarm clock.


Is there a reason for that?

That’s a good question. I don’t know. There’s something very comforting about the alarm clock, like the snooze slap. You actually hit something bigger than your phone. Then literally the first thing you touch is not your phone, which is also nice. The last thing I touch is, well, I double-check my alarm. So the last thing and the first thing that I touch in a day is not my phone.


That is really nice. What would you say you can’t properly start your day without?



Even on the weekends?

[hesitates] This is like literally the first thing? Because I also have to have a cup of coffee. Without NPR, running, and coffee, and I sound like an 80-year-old man. But NPR, running, and coffee are the three constants for a weekday/weekend that I couldn’t start my day without.


So how do you commute to work, do you enjoy your commute?

I do. And I am embarrassed to say that my commute is a four-minute walk. I live 3-4 blocks from the office so it’s quite lovely, quite quick. Sometimes it takes longer to wait for the elevator than to actually make the walk.


When you’re at work do you wear your headphones at your desk?



Do you listen to anything at work?

No, that’s why I sometimes do the office DJ thing. Because I like having ambient noise, so when my office door is open I can hear the music outside and I open my window and hear the street, hear the train go by.


I totally agree, the train sound is great. Though, I wouldn’t want to be any closer to it. So, what’s your go-to jam right now?

I don’t know if my day has a playlist. Because I don’t think my day follows one story arc. So, sometimes the suspense is right off the bat or whatever that big climax is, the conflict and climax. Sometimes it’s later in the day. I’m really digging the new Foster the People album; it’s surprisingly good. It’s been out for a little bit but I just never got around to it. I love Discover Weekly. Discovery Weekly is a big thing. It’s not a daily thing, but it’s a Monday thing. I have to check out my Discovery Weekly and see what’s on there. Then they do that other curated thing…


The Daily Mixes! Those are my favorite!

Yes, the Daily Mixes are great. And, one of my daily mixes, I don’t know why, is this super hard hip-hop, just aggressive rap. I don’t know why, I guess I listen to it more than I think I do or their algorithm is a little wonky. But it’s good if you’re in that mood.


What are your favorite podcasts?

This is not a podcast, but what I just watched a series recently and feel like I need to include it here. I just watched The Defiant Ones, the HBO series. I don’t usually do ‘series’ of things. I’m not a Netflixer or a Huluer. So it was a really big thing for me that I actually watched the whole four episodes. I was like Wow! I actually watched four episodes of something.

In terms of podcasts, I love Ted Talks. The Ted radio hour on NPR as well. There’s just something about them. That little sound effect at the beginning of Ted Talks, you know that psychology experiment where they rang the bell and fed the dogs, I’m pretty sure I salivate when I hear that Ted Talk sound. Because I’m so conditioned to think Ooh, something really great is about to happen and I’m about to learn something!

Then it’s about discovering. I’m not a loyal listener, I don’t have a podcast that I listen to religiously. I love searching random things like Hey! I want to learn more about why people love the food they love. And lo and behold, there’s a podcast about people loving food!


I think it’s funny that you say you’re not a loyal podcast listener, but you wear all black every day! I was meaning to ask you about this before.

What about wearing all black every day means I would listen to the same podcasts? [he kids]


Well, to me, the uniform suggests being a creature of habit!

Can I talk to you for a minute about decision fatigue?


Yeah [I eagerly respond]

Decision fatigue is a real thing. The human brain can only make a certain number of decisions and then it’s done. Then you go to sleep, reset, and get your decisions again. So what really important people do, and I just simply try to copy cat and emulate…


Like Steve Jobs!

Yes, like Steve Jobs, very much so. Also like former President Barack Obama. There was a great article on Fast Company about Barack Obama talking about how he tries to conserve his decisions. He doesn’t pick-out his wardrobe, he doesn’t pick-out any meal, he doesn’t pick-out any workouts. Obviously, he’s the President of the United States, so he has people to do that for him and I do not. Therefore, to simplify and save my decision making, so I can bring my best brainpower to work every day, I don’t pick anything. I hang my t-shirts. Clean shirts go on the right, the next shirt I wear goes on the left and I literally reach in every morning to the left side and grab whatever the next shirt is, next black t-shirt. Doesn’t matter! It’s beautiful. You don’t have to think about it. I use the same cycle for pants. New clean pants go on the right, the next pair I wear goes on the left. I actually don’t have a cycle for shoes, I actually have to look down and grab whatever pair is closest to me usually. So yeah, it’s all about decision fatigue. I can be really indecisive in general. So, for little things, I’m the worst. Like if I’m going to dinner with a friend, I am the worst human on the face of planet because they ask, “Where do you want to go?” I say “ Doesn’t matter”. It’s genuine, like I really don’t care. If I have preference, or something I don’t like I will voice it like a normal human. But genuinely it doesn’t matter.


Have you always dressed in all black? Or is this new?

Well, running a t-shirt company gets you a lot of t-shirts in your wardrobe. So all of a sudden, I had a lot of t-shirts that I really liked. So, because of Umano I started wearing only t-shirts, mainly t-shirts. And at Umano, the last couple years, we only did white, black and gray. So between the white, black, and gray I started getting more and more black tees. The next thing I know my closet’s full of black tees. The all-black thing has been going on for a couple years, but not very long.


Oh my god. I have to rethink everything.

[we talk for a minute about how grateful we are that we don’t have to wear suits to work]

So anyways, all black, it works!


I’m freaking out.

You should try it! And if you want to get really nerdy and geek out for a second about the human brain. There’s a game, surprise element of my system. To see what shirt am I going to get today, and I’m like, Oh, I got a plain one! or I got one with a design! Or I got a crew neck. Those are really the only options, plain, design, crew neck, v-neck, pocket, no pocket. They’re all black, but those are the only options. And I don’t know what I’m going to get, it’s actually a little endorphin rush. That’s a crazy thing about people. I don’t know what shirt’s coming and I grab it and I’m surprised.


What are the top five apps that you can’t live without on your phone?

Well, I’m not technologically inclined. I’d say Nike+ because I run with that. But I can live without it. I did for many years. So actually I would say these are the 5 apps that I would miss the most or that I use the most, but I really believe that I could live without them. I’d have to say, Text message or iMessage, Nike+, Medium, Business Insider, and probably Instagram.


Are there any restaurants or spots near your office that make your day?

I do like the after-work beer at Green Door. It’s cool to be so close to such a great drinking institution of America. It’s cool to swing by Green Door to grab a beer, and it’s literally next-door. It’s also great to bring lunch but go eat it by the park.


What after-work activity seals off your day?

Drinking that beer, usually. I’m not good at working out in the evenings. That’s part of why I’m a morning runner. There usually is a good little post-work beer, making dinner or meeting friends for dinner. And then I chill. I’m trying to read more physical books, so I read.


I’m inclined to ask about being on Shark Tank, because my last A Day In The Life subject, Drew, was also on Shark Tank! But I also kind of want you to talk about the CIA. Are you allowed to talk about the CIA?

I can, a little bit. All the un-classified things.


Anything is good. In my made-up version of your life, the all-black clothes thing was part of you having worked for the CIA.

Those were the suit days!


Yeah, as soon as you mentioned suits I realized you wouldn’t probably wear a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers to work at the CIA, haha. When you talk about not being technologically inclined, is that a result of working for the CIA?

Well, I guess I would say I’m not gadget inclined if that makes sense. I do like technology, but I’m definitely not gadget inclined. Which completely de-funks any idea you had about a secret agent or spy with all his gizmos and gadgets because I’m not a gadget guy, never have been, even in the CIA. I did, no joke, get to use a pen with a secret camera on it. I got to use it once, and that’s the only gadget I ever used.


I’ve seen that gadget before, I’m pretty sure it was in Spy Kids or an episode of Alias!

So I worked for the CIA, and did that for about four years. Spent a year in Afghanistan, got to do some really cool things like fly under the cover of darkness of the Afghan desert in a helicopter while bad guys shot rockets at us. It was a very cool experience and I have a tremendous amount of pride in that. I also have a huge, huge amount of appreciation for people who still do that stuff being, out in that type of environment, in a war zone. It was really cool. I got to brief the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense. I was involved in the POTUS visit, when President Obama visited Afghanistan. It was a surprise visit, for security reasons, but his advanced team was at station so we got to participate in that and get front row seats to the logistics of bringing the President of the United States to a war zone.

Then I quit that to go home, screen print t-shirts out of my parent’s garage and then sell the t-shirts. People didn’t believe me, they thought it was a cover story, that I was going deeper undercover because it was crazy. But I wasn’t, it was true. I legitimately quit. Long story short, CIA is an amazing place, a phenomenal experience, I describe it as 99% perfect. Not even 99% good, 99% perfect. The only thing that could have pulled me away was that I was a 25-year-old punk-ass and I wanted to find what was 100% perfect. Which is crazy, because when you have 99% why would you be so focused on that last percent? I thought the only way I would get the last percentage point was to start my own thing. For me, in particular, it was social entrepreneurship.

I started this company with my brother, called Umano, Italian for ‘mankind’. The concept was to showcase a kid’s drawing as a work of art. So the clothing was the canvas and wanted to connect the consumer to the story behind the art and really get to show a kid’s drawing as a work of art. There’s a raw confidence in a kid’s drawing, and we wanted to use our brand to showcase that. With every product purchased we would donate a backpack filled with art supplies. We would go on “giving trips” to give the backpacks and that’s where we would get the drawings, through our giving partners. So the team, going boots-on-the-ground, to give the backpacks on giving trips, gather the drawings, the virtuous cycle would restart. Really it was about that story of the giving trip and connecting the consumer to that story.


It was awesome, we did it for about 4-5 years. We were on Shark Tank. Mark Cuban is super tall, with a super long face. John Kerry too. Super tall men with super long faces. The camera does not do the lengths of their faces justice. Anyways, we were on Shark Tank, we got a deal from Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner. It was an awesome experience. They’re actually very nice, even Mr. Wonderful. The whole process, as you can imagine, is a massive production.

It was great, we did a couple other pitch competitions. We’d raised a seed fund from other venture capitalists and we were sold in Bloomingdales. It was great!

Social entrepreneurship is about making the greatest impact possible. True social entrepreneurship is when the cause is the reason you exist, it’s in your DNA, it’s why you’re there. So you attach a business engine to a cause and it’s powerful. I set out for  explosive growth. I wanted to be venture funded, with that hockey stick growth, and be the next Warby Parker kind of thing. But it was clear that we weren’t going to hit the high of explosive growth, and I decided to say, Well, that’s what I was looking to do. I am not looking for a four-day work week or to start a lifestyle business or play golf. I don’t play golf. So I went to look for what else was out there. Then, MKTG Chicago came along.


If you can’t tell, it’s hard to talk to Alex for an hour, because you leave with about three more hours worth of questions. It’s okay though, I’ve been busy thinking about decision fatigue and all of the other ways I can cut small decisions from my daily life. Anyone else?

You can follow Alex on Instagram @alexxtorrey


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Written by Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle
Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle

October 2nd, 2017 at 4:28 pm

Snapchat Campus Takeover

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Snapchat’s Discovery feature is providing brands a unique space to garner awareness and engage consumers in branded content. Snapchat has been gaining the popularity of millennials since its original launch in 2011, but one of its most recent additions, Discover, is an extension of Snap’s Stories feature. By utilizing this feature, brands can string together multiple videos, text and images in order to advertise and covey messaging. The feature has attracted major brands and publishers such as MTV, The New York Times and the NFL. True to Snapchat’s fashion, these Discover pages have a limited window of engagement before they disappear which creates a sense of urgency for consumers to explore content.


Recently, Snapchat has opened its Discover feature to less established media companies: College newspapers. This American initiative is titled “Campus Publisher Stories” which started simultaneously with the “back-to-school” season featuring The Daily Californian at U.C. Berkeley, The Battalion at Texas A&M University, The Daily Orange at Syracuse University and The Badger Herald at the University of Wisconsin in Madison as beginning partners. The stories will only be visible every Friday to Sunday within the campus and student living perimeters. MKTG breaks down three key takeaways for sponsors on this new product roll-out from Snapchat.


The Campus Publisher Stories allow room for sponsored ad space. Brands that have a hard time breaking through advertising clutter and reaching the college millennial demographic now have a new hyper-localized platform to do so.

Read the rest of the article here

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Written by Paige McConney
Paige McConney

October 2nd, 2017 at 11:18 am