Archive for the ‘Interview’ tag

LeBron James Changed My Life – by Elliot Gerard

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LeBron James changed my life.

Every year during the NBA playoffs, he takes a break from social media to 100% focus on the game with the aim of taking home another championship. His social media blackout has been officially coined “Zero Dark 30” and rather than tweet, he posts an image with the hashtag #StriveForGreatness.

Well…much to my total surprise, during the 2017 playoffs, he chose my work to grace his page the entire playoffs.

MKTG’s Elliot Gerard and John “Graph” Boyce’s piece chosen by LeBron during the 2017 NBA Finals

Right then and there, I knew that my life was about to change and I had to seize the moment and truly Strive or Greatness. And just like LeBron does, I would give every ounce of myself to make sure I could do so.

I was already somewhat established as an artist in the sports industry working with teams like the Knicks and media brands like ESPN. I knew I could do more though.

This was an opportunity to take the ball and run with it.

I reached out to organizations like Sports Illustrated, Turner Sports and most importantly The Cleveland Cavaliers and to see if they could be a part of this journey. There were many people that told me they were not interested or did not respond. But every time I would look at LeBron’s post, it fueled me to continue to strive for greatness.

The Cavaliers were the first to get back to me. After talking with their lead art director, Kevin Johnson on the phone, we were already coming up with the idea of creating a mural that helped recapture the energy of my image that LeBron had chosen.

I had created the original image in collaboration with a talented artist John “Graph” Boyce, so I made sure that he was a part of any project centered around the Zero Dark 30. Keeping the authenticity of the original piece in all artwork we created together for this campaign was key.

While each playoff round went by, the more nervous I got. However, as the Cavaliers looked more and more likely to reach their straight third trip to the Finals, and LeBron’s historic 7th straight trip, things started to come into place. With no budget for a PR team, I spent many late nights reaching out and finding ways to get interviews with podcasts, publications and blogs. Then slowly, we started booking projects for media outlets like FanSided and Bleacher Report, creating artwork celebrating LeBron’s historic run to the finals.

The major turning point came when the Cavaliers called me after winning Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals with the final approval on the project. We were asked to create a mural coined “Defend the Land” of the entire Cavaliers team interacting with the cityscape and literally defending the city of Cleveland. This larger-than-life piece would be displayed outside of The Q Arena (and in front of the entrance to the Cavaliers’ Fan Fast) for games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals.

I honestly couldn’t have dreamt of a bigger honor. And while it was hard for me to believe this string of events was real, it was time to get to work. Graph and I spent multiple all-nighters getting all the artwork ready, and wouldn’t rest until every piece had achieved greatness.

The mural at The Q (Quicken Loans Arena) — Home of the Cavs

Next up, it was wheels up to Cleveland for the mural unveiling. Besides personally needing to be there to see this moment in person, the Cavs organization made it even more special having me interviewed by local news outlets and making a big deal out of the piece. The most enjoyment I got, however, was watching the fans take pictures in front of the artwork get excited and inspired before the game.

Getting to “The Land” was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure… I was far from done though.

“Strive For Greatness” was now my philosophy. For so many years I was okay being unsatisfied with my day job and putting all my energy into my personal side sports art business. No more – I wanted to be a part of a winning culture, merge my passions with my career and be a leader in my industry.

MKTG was an agency I had freelanced for and they had always impressed me not only with their top-notch clients, but also with the excellent culture they displayed. I knew if the opportunity arose, MKTG was the company I could continue this journey with.

Before LeBron James chose my artwork, I would not have even thought to reach out and engage them to discuss joining the team. But I had the confidence I had always been seeking and know that my passion could add another dimension to the already great team I had worked with. A few months later, as I sit at my desk at MKTG as VP/Creative Director, I realize that the moment I learned that my work was chosen by someone I’ve always admired, that it was time to take a leap and change my life.

Thank you LeBron James. You opened my eyes and lit a fire within me. I will always continue to heed your words. The striving never ends and greatness always awaits.

Here’s to another Championship run!

–contributed by: Elliot Gerard, MKTG Westport

 

 

 

 

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Written by The Wolf
The Wolf

February 5th, 2018 at 11:16 am

About MKTG Chicago’s MK and “Obvi, We’re The Ladies”

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Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle of MKTG Chicago and founder of Obvi, We’re the Ladies!

 

We’re bringing back employee spotlights, and this month’s spotlight is on our very own Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle from MKTG Chicago. Check out her Q&A below to catch a glimpse into what makes Mary Kate..well…Mary Kate!

Name: Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle

Position: Project Manager

Office: Chicago

Hometown: Elk Grove Village, Illinois

How long have you been with MKTG?: 2 years

Blurb on the back of your business card: “We’ll give you 50 bucks if you can say Mary Kate’s last name 10 times fast. We have no idea what the name means, but knowing this girl it could mean anything from 1) a complex philosophical theory (she’s been keeping a journal since age 11), 2) A synonym for whistling (she’s very good at whistling), or 3) The sound of terrible table manners (drives her absolutely nuts). Either way, what a name, right?”

What are you passionate about outside of work? Outside of MKTG, my passion project is called “Obvi, We’re The Ladies.” It’s a website I started my senior year of college.

Why did you decide to start X? I was so hungry for some kind of awakening and purpose while in college. I became very interested in women’s issues and feminism, and wanted to get a better understanding of how being a woman affected my identity as a human being. The concept of the site started as an opportunity for me to document my journey to understand these things better. I was going to write about my experiences in the world as a young woman, and hopefully find some people who would connect with me on a personal level, and in turn we would learn that we weren’t alone. I wanted to talk about women’s issues in a way that wasn’t generalizing or preaching or patronizing or disparaging to others with differing opinions, I wanted to talk about the issues in a way that was personal. Quickly, as more women became interested and involved, I found the purpose I had been searching for in the site I created!

Who else is involved? – I have an amazing team working on Obvi, and we’re constantly growing. I have two of my oldest friends, a few of my college friends and a whole bunch of women that I met through social media contributing essays. It’s amazing. A small portion of our team assists with editing, social media, and other behind the scenes responsibilities, and I run the ship. Some of the Ladies are my best friends, and I’ve still never met them in person!

What are your plans to launch? On May 1, 2016 we are launching a video series that we have been working on it for what seems like forever, and finally have all of the resources we need to complete the project. It’s so exciting. The series will feature some of our Ladies as well as some friends from other Chicago women’s groups discussing feminism, womanhood, and societal beauty standards (to name a few topics). We want to provide a platform to help educate people who want to better understand some issues in a way that is palatable and entertaining. I can’t wait to share it.

What are you hoping to accomplish? – At Obvi, we believe that storytelling is activism. We share stories about things that may seem trivial to some, and things that are extremely serious, because regardless, that story matters to the Lady telling it. I hope that as time goes on, we can evolve the ways in which we share stories from written word and video to in-person programs and beyond.

 

To follow Mary Kate on her social channels, check out her handles below!

URL/social media handles:

Personal — @marykate_obvi (twitter/Insta)

Obvi — @obviweretheladies (insta); @TheLadiesObvi (twitter)

www.obviweretheladies.com

 

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