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Maybe you know what you sell but don’t know who you are. Maybe you have some idea who you are but aren’t sure what to do with it. Or maybe you’re that rare team whose every action is shaped by authentic purpose and values but are always looking for ways to take it to the next level.
It matters. It’s the cultural foundation that lets you attract, retain and energize the best people. Reduce the cost of customer acquisition. Manage less, scale smoothly and recover faster. Assess organic growth and acquisition opportunities. Even earn a premium valuation.
We can help.
Brad is Executive in Residence at Duke University’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, where he teaches “Customer Empathy & Brand Experience Design."
He has helped over fifty DTC, CPG and B2B brands accelerate their growth. Through that, he has seen the power of purpose – both when it’s working and when it’s missing.
He founded Cubist Martini to leverage that knowledge and the experience he gained as CEO of three advertising agencies celebrated for creative effectiveness, including McKinney and Leo Burnett USA.
With a degree in anthropology and an MBA in finance, Brad is a lifelong student of the relationship between culture and business. As a former D1 varsity athlete and competitive masters rower, he understands how to drive alignment around shared goals.
Brad discovered his purpose in high school when he accompanied a group of at-risk inner city Chicago teens to the Canadian Boundary Waters Wilderness Area to experience a world they otherwise never could have imagined.
Returning to their canoes after the first night in the wild, they left behind a mess. The counselor called them back and gently said, “We always leave the campsite better than we found it.”
Those words permanently rewired Brad’s view of the world. And taught him how much words matter.
At his first town hall meeting after joining McKinney in 2002, Brad shared this image of three overlapping squares. He simply said, “Here’s where we’re headed. Any questions?"
A long pause later, an art director finally called out, “No idea what this is about, but that looks like a cubist martini.”
With that the conversation began.
The grey square? Every agency in America. The green square? A subset who, like McKinney, competed on strategic smarts and creative excellence.
And the red square? A handful of green square agencies who weren’t satisfied doing great work. They were compelled to find powerful new ways to bring people and brands together.
The pimiento in the olive of the cubist martini, these agencies were favorites in pitches for the best clients. They attracted the best people. And they made more money.
Brad put his stake in the ground: “All we need to do is decide that’s who we want to be and be it. Starting now, we are a ‘red square’ agency.”
Propelled by purpose, McKinney quickly grew to national prominence. It was named to Advertising Age’s “A-List” in 2005, singled out as one of the eight best creative agencies in America, for business model transformations that made McKinney “uniquely suited to thrive in a digital world.”
During Brad’s leadership, with 105 winners and finalists at the Effie Awards, the preeminent recognition of communications effectiveness, McKinney was named “The Most Effective Independent Agency in the World” by Effie Worldwide and WARC.
All because of a modernist cocktail!