Born: Grange, Illinois- USA
Worked in: Boston, Palo Alto and I have also worked in Antibes, France and Calgary, Canada..
Name an innovative idea or business solution for which you are most proud.Two actually. When BMW launched the MINI Cooper brand in the U.S., I was responsible for proving that a site and the configuration of its parts could be as emotionally delightful as it is practical for people wanting to use the Web to help them choose their cars. The site brought more than 70 independent dealers into the fold to experience and share the brand voice with their customers. Here at McKinney, I am proud to have fostered the McKinney Ten Percent, a program that encourages its employees to follow their creative muse and devote 10% of their time on projects unrelated to client business. As a result, client work has been strengthened and their perceptions of McKinney as an innovative agency have grown. SPENT, an online game about homelessness born of the McKinney Ten Percent, has been played by millions of people worldwide. That most likely would not have happened if employees weren’t given the chance to innovate and play.
Why do people see you as an innovator? I have always been curious and have spent the best part of my career on the client service side, always working for a variety of clients in a broad range of industries. My background in both service and technology means people always have come to me with all kinds of crazy ideas, and I’ve loved the challenge. But crazy ideas aside, I have always put certain structures in place to allow McKinney to align itself around the innovation mantra of “more leading ideas faster.” In addition to the McKinney Ten Percent mentioned earlier, we have a structure called Bullpen, where individuals can share and build off of others’ ideas. We also have a venture arm where we are able to fund those ideas and turn them into real business opportunities. These things together are very rare for an advertising agency.
What role does innovation play in your marketing strategy today? We encourage our clients to go through an exercise called Innovation Planning. Through this exercise, we map what we feel are the 14 most interesting and powerful cultural and technological trends where our clients might want to take their businesses and their brands. After this process, innovation is translated into action. Certain existing initiatives have new ways of thinking already attached and skunkworks-like projects are automatically formed. For the McKinney brand, we continue to create tools that people use and are delighted by. For Super Bowl XLV, we created Twerrible Towel, which gave Steelers fans a way to show off their spirit and keep their beloved yellow towel twirling 24/7 via Twitter. We also created Crows Nest, a digest of the most-tweeted links among advertising and design professionals so nobody misses out on the conversation. Lastly, for an agency, its work is its brand.