Top Marketer Awards
The Advertising Federation of Minnesota/Ad2 was founded in 1906 and is one of the first advertising clubs established in the U.S. under the American Advertising Federation, our parent club based in Washington, D.C. Our primary goal as a club is to protect and enhance the integrity of advertising and to promote advertising in Minnesota.
The state of marketing in our region seems to be largely dependent on where you find yourself on the technology adoption curve as digital and interactive have proven to be all the rage. Those firms that were early adopters of or have invested in digital and interactive are thriving.
Thank you to the qualified judges who compiled this list of Minnesota Business’s Top Marketers. After reviewing hundreds of nominations, our panel of judges selected 11 of our state’s best marketers, each of whom are
well-known Twin Cities executives whose expertise stands out in the marketplace
– Dan Jacobson
Originally founded as a spinoff of a traditional ad agency in 1990, FAME helps build successful, unforgettable brands for renowned retailers including Target, Kohl’s, Best Buy and Time Warner Cable. Combining retail instincts with innovative creative, FAME specializes in graphic design, retail environments and production and promotion to craft captivating experiences that build brands and businesses.
In 2010, FAME was named TBWA’s fastest growing agency and is currently ranked among the top 20 agencies in the Twin Cities. FAME president and 25-year marketing veteran Lynne Robertson leads her talented team to inspire and influence consumers’ shopping decisions with innovative design and thoughtful strategy that position brands to get noticed. Driven by trend analysis, brand essence, shopper expectations and experience, FAME’s maximum visual impact design consistently charms and captivates consumers.
Today, consumers shop with caution, new habits, tools and expectations. FAME plans to continually explore these factors to keep in step with shifting consumer shopping patterns and provide valuable insights to clients.
FAME also values giving back to the community and is involved with a variety of organizations. Every year, the agency selects a nonprofit organization to support with no-cost strategic planning, design and promotion services. This year, FAME is working with Campfire USA’s Camp Tanadoona in Chanhassen.
Founded by “Famous” Dave Anderson, Famous Dave’s is known for its award-winning, slow-cooked barbecue. But Famous Dave’s isn’t just devoted to excellence in the kitchen—their marketing team takes the same customer-focused approach, delivering a quality brand experience both inside and outside the restaurant.
Famous Dave’s is always looking for the newest ways to connect with its guests. Knowing that the greatest marketing happens inside the restaurant, the marketing team often partners with training and operations departments to elevate and improve the guest experience. Recently Famous Dave’s focused on blending traditional marketing tools with newer social media tools, and has successfully integrated their marketing efforts into a variety of environments, including television, online, social media and directly within the restaurants.
The marketing team also took their campaigns beyond the restaurant. Last summer, the Famous Dave’s competition barbecue team went on the road to meet barbecue enthusiasts and hear their stories. They also created special events like “Dave’s Day” to celebrate their famous cuisine and new products like the “Ribzilla” beef ribs and barbecue brisket burgers.
Famous Dave’s vice president of marketing and research and development Aric Nissen says that marketers need to stay on top of the multitude of media vehicles that are available, in order to stay on top in the industry. Traditional marketing alone won’t be effective and marketers need to create a well-thought out plan of action, using a blend of traditional and non-traditional tools.
Clients turn to Fast Horse when they need a dose of creativity to help motivate engagement with their brands. The integrated marketing agency offers a full range of traditional and non-traditional marketing services—including everything from strategic brand planning and media relations, to social media marketing, special events and graphic design.
Founded in 2001 by president and creative director Jorg Pierach, Fast Horse works with clients on local, national and global levels. Their seasoned leadership team includes big agency backgrounds and work for some of the world’s best-known brands.
The Fast Horse team is motivated by the philosophy that big ideas trump big budgets—an approach they bring to life for all of their clients. For Fast Horse, it’s not the size of the marketing budget, but the amount of creative capital that ultimately determines consumer brand engagement and marketplace momentum.
Fast Horse knows that content is king in today’s marketing world. At the heart of their work is an understanding that every brand has a story. The team turns those stories into content, using paid, owned and earned media to reach target audiences with the right content in the right context.
Fast Horse takes pride in their contributions to the local community. Since the beginning, Fast Horse has made it a priority to support a number of causes. They’ve donated nearly $500,000 in pro bono professional services to 15 local nonprofit organizations, including CaringBridge, The Walker Art Center and Milkweed Editions.
At the age of 26—after beginning his career in politics—Blois Olson started New School Communications, and currently serves as a senior counsel for public affairs and media with Tunheim Partners. With a breadth of experience in politics and media, Olson has become a leading innovator in media and marketing content strategy. Olson also founded the Morning Take e-newsletter, a social media campaign that reaches thousands of political, public affairs and civic-related leaders every morning.
This year, Olson started Fluence, an agency offering high-level counsel in content marketing, online and social media strategy, public affairs and crisis management. Olson plans to use his experience working in and with the media, along with his knowledge of online and social media, to advise clients in building successful campaigns.
Olson is known for his strategically edgy approach, often seeking out new opportunities in the marketplace for his clients. He says he has found tremendous opportunity in video, infographics and other engaging content that can be distributed directly to target audiences. Finding new distribution strategies and measurements for these platforms is critical to Olson’s campaigns.
Olson says media and marketing are in a constant race to keep up with each other. He predicts that the lines of the creative industry between the speed of the marketplace, the accessibility of content and rapidly growing technology will continue to blur, making measurement and distribution across all platforms increasingly important.
FRWD is a digital marketing firm focused on building client capability. Experiencing the evolution of media consumption over the past decade, FRWD is dedicated to challenging the legacy model and building their clients’ internal capabilities through talent recruiting, digital media strategy and management, media systems integration and creative development and production. Not only do they implement great media strategy, they work closely with their clients to identify the skill sets and technologies that best meet current and future needs of digital media.
With more than 15 years experience, founder and managing partner John Grudnowski started FRWD in 2009. Since its beginnings, FRWD has been known for a more comprehensive approach to helping companies make the best digital marketing investments, completing more than 850 digital and mobile programs for some of the nation’s top businesses. FRWD combines top media talent with today’s best technology tools and platforms, developing strategy and acquiring talent for clients to create sustainable campaigns and drive continual improvement.
Thanks to their 90 team member staff, FRWD continues earning its reputation as a pioneer in localized marketing, always looking forward and finding new ways to engage their clients’ consumers now and in the years ahead.
KeyStone Search integrates its marketing efforts into every aspect of what they do. The full-service retained search firm places people in executive-level positions while emphasizing the cultural fit. But instead of just trying to sell their services, KeyStone makes it a goal to offer value to anyone, whether they are a potential client, candidate or someone looking for information about executive search and cultural fit within companies.
Lars Leafblad joined the KeyStone in 2007. This past year, Leafblad launched BePollen.com as an expansion of Pollen, a civic connection project also founded by Leafblad. Pollen is a digital community comprised of more than 4,000 civic-minded connectors from several hundred companies, startups, nonprofits, foundations and public agencies. The network provides a platform for people to share ideas, career and civic engagement opportunities, along with peer-to-peer recognition to create positive impact and professional growth for its members. Since its inception Pollen has grown into one of the most significant and influential business networks in the Twin Cities.
Leafblad’s unique digital networking and community-building exhibited in the Pollen campaign highlights KeyStone’s core values of concern for others and forward-thinking. Along with the creation and launch of Pollen, Leafblad works in all phases of KeyStone’s business, conducting search operations and business development activity.
Little & Company
Little & Company believes that design is the solution to a host of challenges ranging from employee engagement to product development to customer relations. In their campaigns, they use design to solve problems, create emotional connections, impact communities and achieve business goals.
President and chief creative officer Joe Cecere is a professional designer with 20 years experience. He has been instrumental in the successful transformation of Little & Company from being graphic design-focused, to focusing on driving business results through internal and external solutions, growth and strengthening brands.
Little & Company sees design as more than simply something nice to look at—rather, it’s an essential link to solving problems, shaping ideas and processes and expanding boundaries to offer solutions that haven’t been seen before.
Cecere and his team are motivated by their clients’ ever-changing challenges as well as using design to meet the needs of a specific audience. Little & Company has built long-term relationships with its clients, providing strategic support to help solve business problems. The agency works with companies like Target, Wells Fargo, Polaris and Microsoft, to launch, grow, strengthen and bring their brands to life through strategic thinking and design.
Since its inception in 1978, the Minnesota Zoo has not only been a tourist destination, but a trusted resource for environmental learning and a home for critical conservation programs. But behind the exhibits of the Minnesota Zoo is a talented marketing team dedicated to creating immersive, memorable guest experiences.
With more than 15 years of direct marketing experience, director of marketing Bill Von Bank heads the Minnesota Zoo’s marketing team. Von Bank strives to create impact with strong creative ideas like last year’s “Do The Waddle” campaign for the opening of the 3M Penguins of the African Coast exhibit. Von Bank says he is motivated by the challenge of bringing a concept to life and always learns from the process.
The Minnesota Zoo marketing team believes that collaboration is key to a successful campaign. And this is exactly how they approach their marketing efforts, often working with other agencies to create their award-winning campaigns. The zoo’s marketing team collaborated with Clarity Coverdale Fury to create “Do The Waddle,” which included an original song and music video created by local musicians, a television spot filmed at the zoo, multiple radio spots, social media outreach and a dedicated website for the opening of the exhibit.
In addition to the great success of the campaign, the zoo received national recognition from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions in 2011 for their multi-faceted work.
Longtime agency Preston Kelly believes in the power of iconic ideas to help build a brand and business. The agency specializes in developing integrated marketing and advertising communications for a roster of clients including OfficeMax, HealthPartners and Mall of America. Preston Kelly is nationally recognized for its media planning and buying expertise with award-winning TV, radio and digital campaigns.
President Chuck Kelly and executive vice president and creative director Chris Preston like to think of Preston Kelly as a 62-year-old startup. Running the agency for the past 12 years, the marketing duo believes that an iconic idea can change how consumers and employees feel about a brand. It can help engage, focus and gain alignment with internal audiences and connect external audiences to the brand with an authentic, emotional response.
One of the agency’s recent successes was The Scream Collector, which put Nickelodeon Universe on the map for teens and their parents. Kids of all ages came to dress up like the Scream Collector and have their screams captured at the park. Preston Kelly’s creative and media strategies worked together to give the character a voice, and created a call-to-action that resonated with teens and made them want to return. In May, the agency won an Effie from the American Marketing Association for their innovative and successful campaign.
space150 prides itself on being a new kind of digital agency. From day one, founder Billy Jurewicz wanted an agency model where creative people, engineers and developers worked seamlessly side-by-side. Today, the space150 team still believes this wholeheartedly, knowing it’s the way to do amazing work that stretches creativity and tests the possibilities of technology.
Jurewicz started space150 in 2000 after leaving his position at another ad agency, believing that the digital medium was going to be huge. Since then, space150 has continued to grow and was even named Best Small Agency—Midwest in 2011 by industry expert Advertising Age.
With offices in Minneapolis, Brooklyn, N.Y., and Venice Beach, Calif., space150 is one of the country’s leading digital agencies, specializing in designing entire digital and technology experiences for consumers and brands. space150 offers end-to-end online and real world digital strategies that incorporate social media platforms, campaigns, apps, gaming and immersive experiences. Recently, the agency created a campaign for 77kids by American Eagle which invited kids shopping in the store to upload themselves into a rock video that played on giant screens outside the store in Times Square.
space150 believes in investing in the future of the industry and encourages agency staff to get involved with Twin Cities ad, arts and communication schools and programs.
Marketing veteran and entrepreneur Julie Gilbert started WOLF in 2004 when she realized the large influence women had on household spending power. Gilbert found that the voices of these women weren’t being heard, and there was no engagement or interaction process to bring their fresh ideas to life. So Gilbert created a methodology and structure of innovation teams—including customers and employees—that spanned the globe. She connected these teams with key executive business leaders who could implement top-of-the-line ideas, cutting across new business development in products, services, training, marketing, call center, web design, store design, hiring and other key business elements to meet customer needs.
Gilbert has cultivated a powerful and authentic network of customers and employees who are thinking about how to make their businesses better, engaging customers in more than 53 countries. Today, WOLF is engaged with clients including Major League Baseball, Nintendo and Motorola.
WOLF continues to prove that the unheard voices have the insight to propel companies toward sustainable business and cultural growth by building employee engagement and inspiring and mobilizing customers. WOLF’s approach and results continue to be widely recognized on national and international levels.
See all of the winners in our Digital Edition!