Marketing Hall of Fame announces 2015 Inductees!

I am delighted to share the news of the 4 marketers are being inducted into the 2015 Marketing Hall of Fame

Ogilvy & Mather’s Shelly Lazarus, Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard, Nike’s Trevor Edwards and Prophet/UC Berkeley’s David Aaker Selected as AMA’s 2015 Marketing Hall of Fame® Inductees. In the words of Don Sexton,

“We established the Marketing Hall of Fame as a forum for the marketing community to recognize an extremely select group of our colleagues for the many brilliant ways they have advanced our profession,” said Don Sexton, NYAMA president and professor of marketing, Columbia Business School. “We are extremely proud to celebrate the contributions to marketing made by David Aaker, Yvon Chouinard, Trevor Edwards and Shelly Lazarus, who truly represent the pinnacle of leadership and innovation in the field.”

On May 21st we’ll be celebrating Brilliance in Marketing at the induction ceremony here in New York City! Sign up for your tickets now!

Last year we inducted Joe Tripod, Beth Comstock and Philip Kotler into the Marketing Hall of Fame.


Save The Date For the 2015 Marketing Hall of Fame Event!

You heard it here first (or second) that the newest inductees to the Marketing Hall of Fame will be formally inducted on May 21st, 2015 here in New York City.  Mark the date on your calendar — after all, you might be one of the 3 inductees.

Members of the 2015 Marketing Hall of Fame Academy are voting now on the top candidates. You can see all of the Academy members on the website


Our Rigid Western Ideas of Democracy

Mischief night is over….there’s nothing left of Halloween except for bags of stale candy…there is only on thing that can signify…It’s election day across America!

While you are heading out to the polls, consider the quote below from the NY Times on Sunday. It was in an article about the rebel areas in Ukraine holding their own “elections”.

Aleksandr A. Prokhanov, the editor in chief of the Russian nationalist newspaper Zavtra….said in an interview over the weekend that the Donetsk People’s Republic would not be bound by rigid Western ideas of democracy.

“There are elections when you choose between A and B, and then there are the more difficult ones when you choose between A and A,” he said. “You are a liberal, so you do not understand this. In the Russian consciousness, you can choose between A and A and A, and choosing between an infinite number of A’s is true freedom.”

Okay, I admit it, I’m a rigid Western liberal. Foolish me, thinking that choices between A and B are more difficult than choosing between A and A!

And remember, Vote Early and Vote Often!

The Story At The Center of The Brand: Annenberg Center Live

The simple challenge for The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Pennsylvania: convey the sheer excitement and magic of live performances.  Magic so powerful that it can change your life.

A performance can be a revelation.

In speaking to dozens of people for this project we heard over and over again about witnessing or participating in a performance changed their understanding of other people, changed their feelings, revealed a new way to be in the world, opened up their hearts, moved their life in a new direction.

It was electrifying to hear one woman’s story of witnessing Liv Ullman’s American debut in A Doll’s House at Annenberg before the show went to Broadway. As she talked about that night her expression shifted, her voice became stronger, her posture changed. Through the simple act of retelling her story the magic was returning, the immediacy of the moment, she was under the spell again. And she brought us under it too.

The Annenberg Center had it’s story.  Our role at Verse Group was to give it shape, to provide a strategic framework for all of the individual stories that can be told by each person in the audience, each performer, each person whose life was touched in one way or another by their experience at the Center.  It is more than a center of performances, more than a center of theaters, more than a center for events, meetings, gatherings. It is a center of excitement, a center of revelation, a center of magic. It is Annenberg Center Live.


Annenberg Center Live Brand Story

The team at Annenberg Center knew they need to do more than put the brand story into words and designs. Together we conducted hands-on workshops with the professionals and volunteers at Annenberg Center to define Excitement Annenberg-style.  Each and every person has an important role in delivering that excitement. They aren’t just putting on a good show. They are transforming lives.

Okay, one last story of the transformative power of performance, though this one took place about a year and half ago in New York City.

Can a single theater performance can save an innocent person from execution?

I was present at an extraordinary amateur performance, a staged reading, really, of “The Exonerated”, a play based on actual transcripts from 6 death row inmates who later were found innocent. What made this one evening so extraordinary was the fact that the amateur actors were in real life federal judges, prosectuors and defense attorneys performing in an off, off Broadway theater space for a group of their peers.  No famous actors. It was not directed by Bob Biloban (who directed the original New York and London productions). There was powerful magic on that small stage and in the audience as these legal professionals read from their scripts, a judge taking on the role of a exonerated man, a defense attorney as judge, a prosecutor in the role of a defendant being sentenced to death.

Go to Annenberg Center Live. See a performance. Make a donation. Make a difference in someone’s life.





Discover The Center of Excitement!

I am delighted to share with you the new, exciting, branding of Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts just in time for the exciting new 2014-2015 season.

Welcome to The Center of Excitement! Welcome to Annenberg Center Live!  


About two years ago I was having coffee with Naomi Grabel, an Annenberg Center board member and Jane Kamp director of development (Jane is now with the Pennsylvania Ballet) when they invited to me to help with rebranding the Annenberg Center. They had one simple challenge — help us let the world know about all of the great things happening live on these stages.  After all, Stephen Colbert was there. Jon Stewart broadcast from the Center. Liv Ullman made her American debut on these stages. Hugh Masekela, Diana Reeves, Jason Robards, from the Irish Gate performing Waiting for Godot to shows on their way to Broadway, these stages are where excitement starts.  On any night you might discover an unforgettable debut of groundbreaking new pieces or an exhilarating reinterpretation of a classic like Joseph Marcell in King Lear opening on September 24th.

So the Verse Group team set about creating a new expression for the center, co-creating with the managing director, the incomparable Michael Rose, with Dawn Frisby-Byers director of marketing and the rest of the wonderful staff and board members. In the new branding we seek to convey the powerful emotions, the exhilaration, the entrancement and the sheer boundless joy to be discovered in live performances!

So join me in celebrating the new Annenberg Center Live branding and the new 2014-2015 season!  




Agency Spy vs. Spy — or — Outsource Your Comments to Tannenbaum

Do you often find yourself spending too much time commenting on idle industry gossip when you could be doing something more interesting?

Well, now Agency Spy has recently posted a quick way for everyone to generate comments for any new post on Agency Spy – it is the automatic comment generator provided by AdAged.

Okay, for those who don’t know AdAged, I highly recommend it. I’ve been linking to it on my blog roll for a long time. Written by George Tannenbaum, a brilliant creative and the funniest person I’ve ever known.

And The Honorees Are…Comstock, Kotler & Tripodi

A big night in marketing this past Wednesday, when the 2014 Marketing Hall of Fame inducted 3 brilliant people — Beth Comstock of GE, Philip Kotler, distinguished professor at the Kellogg School of Management and Joe Tripodi of The Coca-Cola Company.


Philip Kotler, Beth Comstock and Joe Tripodi being honored at Marketing Hall of Fame

Philip Kotler, Beth Comstock and Joe Tripodi being honored at Marketing Hall of Fame

The house was sold-out, SRO. The guests were also major-league influential marketers. It was great to see a large number of younger people attending, no doubt drawn to the evening by the great talks, the wine, food, more talks, and then more wine and food. A tremendous thanks to J. Walter Thompson…oops, JWT, I mean, for hosting the event and supplying that wine & food.

Some notables spotted:

  • Bernd Schmitt of Columbia Business School and author of many books including All Business is Show Business. Columbia is our academic partner in this endeavor, so we are very pleased so many faculty were able to  join us. In fact, there were more than a few Columbia MBAs in the room.
  • David Rogers of the BRITE conference, digital guru and a co-author on several of Bernd’s books
  • Joseph Plummer, who was one of the original instigators of the very first Marketing Hall of Fame in the early 1990s
  • Alan Schulman of Sapient/NITRO
  • Shira Schatz, Director of product management and marketing at American Express
  • Claude Salzberger, president of MBLM
  • John Osborn, president of BBDO, a premier sponsor of the event
  • John Bernbach, president of Engine, who got a big shout-out from Joe Tripodi on the stage.

More name dropping, updates and photos in future posts, along with some observations about the talks given by the honorees. If you were there and want to share your impressions, please send them in!

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