When we pitched Walgreens it was clearly a very well known brand, but a brand without direction or purpose. The iconic “At The Corner of Happy Healthy” campaign changed all that. It gave the company a clear role in the mind of consumers. And a clear mission within its own hallways. It was also my own personal immersion into how to run a retail behemoth of an account. Overnight, I went from running 13 small to mid-size accounts, to one mega-sized monster. Along the way I helped define Walgreens with anthemic brand spots. I showed them that actions speak louder than words in modern marketing with the Effie winning “Get a Shot Give a Shot” and “See What they See” international charitable initiatives. And I helped launch their new private store brands and loyalty program, Balance Rewards.
Walgreens - 1901 Anthem
See What They See
Walgreens - Cookies For Santa
Back before Chipotle hit a few speed bumps by making a few folks sick, there was something that always made their CMO sick. Ad Agencies. He hated them. And he said so. Vociferously. They didn’t have one. And he didn’t want one. But he begrudgingly agreed to a pitch because their rapid growth was stretching their internal resources thin. Somehow, over the course of two meetings and a dozen concepts, I helped win him over. We went on to launch irreverent and popular social and digital pushes like the 8-bit game “Taste Invaders” and the “Chipot-name Generator”, as well as bold and cheeky traffic driving print and outdoor boards. The work proved so high impact and successful, we were recruited to advertise the test-launch of their Asian restaurant concept, ShopHouse.
Chipotle: Taste Invaders
Chipotle "Burrito Seed"
There are few memories better than sitting across the conference table from legendary Southwest CEO Herb Kelleher as he chain smoked, drank whiskey, and cackled with delight buying spot after spot. With his maverick flair and shoot from the hip approvals, we made campaigns like “Must Be Football Season” and “Wanna Get Away” part of the cultural zeitgeist. We introduced new routes and new booking technologies. And we made a lot of people laugh. Including ourselves.
It’s hard to believe it, but not so many years ago, AT&T had all but ceased to exist as a consumer brand. It had a strictly B to B presence. Until my client, Southwestern Bell CEO Ed Whitaker, decided to change all that. In a bold move, he led the acquisition of AT&T and it’s relaunch as a consumer brand, spending $1 Billion on advertising in just one year. And I was lucky enough to sit at the helm and help make it happen. Then the very next year Ed merged AT&T with Cingular and spent another $1 Billion, and we rode that wave together too. We did brand work. We did retail work. We sold a lot of data plans and phones. Oh yeah, and I nearly got beheaded by a helicopter in Argentina (remind me to tell you that story.)
Working with Facebook is unlike anything else. When we first visited their headquarters (a self-contained city within a city with every imaginable service) our client explained that working at Facebook was kinda weird. I thought he was perhaps referring to the 24 hour free gourmet gelato stand. But he clarified “every single person who works here was the smartest and highest achieving person in their high school. Then they were the smartest and highest achieving person in their college. Then they got here. Here, they’re just average.” Living by the motto “Move Fast and Break Things” we partnered with this army of Type-A tech evangelists and overachievers and worked hand-in-hand with their in-house creative studio to a launch a pilot program allowing consumers to order food through Facebook.
Order Food with Facebook: Apartment
Facebook Sheperd's Pie
Facebook Potato Latkes
An AARP card showing up in someone’s mailbox is treated with the same delight as the Grim Reaper popping by for tea. It is a ubiquitous cultural moment to which everyone has the same reaction “ugh…I’m officially old.” But the fact is AARP does a lot of good, and truly gives people the tools to make the most of life’s second chapter. To spread this message, we partnered with Betty White to tell people to “get over it”, we created optimistic and inspiring messages about dreaming of what’s next, and even partnered with their bi-partisan political arm to highlight the need for health care reform for all Americans.
When I Grow Up
They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. After getting a behind the scenes look at one of the world’s largest casino empires, and hearing some of their stories, I can see why. But the madness and mayhem of that city is part of its charm. And the anything’s possible aura is part of the allure. A truth we brought to life with Caesars first TV campaign in over a decade. Once again, success begat success, and I was soon running their Horseshoe Casino brand as well, in addition to promoting film festivals and other casino sponsorships.
Caesars Palace: Delivery
Caesars: Tribeca Film Fest
Horseshoe: The Journey
Horseshoe: Cleveland Opening
El Pollo Loco
If you’ve ever been to LA, you’ve probably driven past a few hundred El Pollo Locos. They’re everywhere. They’ve been a part of the fabric of the city dating back to 1981. They’re iconic. But El Pollo Loco didn’t realize that. And it showed in their advertising, pushing chicken with the same old fast food marketing tropes everyone used. We pitched and won the business on the promise to change that. And that’s exactly what we did. We created El Pollo Loco’s first brand spots ever, definitively owning their LA heritage. We partnered with David Gelb, director of the Netflix series Chef’s Table, to completely transform the look, feel, and crave-ability of their footage. We updated their social presence by owning their proud hispanic roots like never before, whether that be with playful Dia de Los Muertos mariachis or more thoughtful work like our our World Cup video. We even ran a month long series of full page ads in the Los Angeles Times.
El Pollo Loco: La La Land
El Pollo Loco: Grillmaster
El Pollo Loco: Brilliant
El Pollo Loco: Abuela
El Pollo Loco "Border Futbol"
El Pollo Loco "Salsa"
El Pollo Loco "Respect the Chicken"
El Pollo Loco "Eating Low Cal"
Other Major Brands
The US Olympic Committee. Pacifico Beer. 7-11. BMW. ACE Hardware. The US Airforce. I’ve had the honor of working on a lot of major brands. With each one you learn something new. How to work in different categories and crack different challenges. How to convince different clients and inspire different teams. It’s always a puzzle. And always a joy. And that’s one of the things I love about this business.
Lennox: Harness the Power of the Sun
BMW: German Gas
Department of Energy and Ad Council: Cliff
Department of Energy and The Ad Council:Oven
I got my first taste of the beer category working on Spaten in San Francisco. They bought great work. And gave us great beer. And I was hooked. Next I pitched and won the Pacifico and Victoria accounts, repositioning Pacifico as both a place and a state of mind with the digital first “State of Pacifico” Campaign. I even went so far as to try my hand at owning a brewery, designing the packaging, flavor profiles, and tap room stage for South Austin Brewery. Though advertising a brewery and owning a brewery, it turns out, are very different things. It’s a long story, but I’ll be happy to elaborate in the interview.
Pacifico | Case Study
We are an industry of creative souls. And I believe we all need a creative outlet (or two or three) that’s purely our own. I grew up soaked in the 8 track recordings of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, so I guess it’s no surprise that one of the ways I get my creative ya-ya’s out is as an outlaw country singer-songwriter. I’ve got a few albums on iTunes. And a few more on the way. Strangely, they seem to do best with critics in Scandinavia and Belgium. I’m not sure if that says something about them or about me, but I’ll take it.
I’ve always been a bit of a sap. And having kids of my own only made it worse. So, naturally, this resulted in me creating some children’s books (you can find them on Amazon if you’re curious.) “The Other Fairies” is pure, joyous, Shel Silverstein-esque potty humor. “The Boy with No Heart” is more bleak and existential. Because if there is anything the children of the world need, it’s bleak existentialism.