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the divining rod For the Lengo people of Guadalcanal, direction is no question. From the age of four, all Lengo know which way they are facing at all times; landward, seaward, upcoast or down. They rely on intuition. Research can lead the way to understanding. Understanding can open the door to insight. But none of it matters without the intuition to know where to start digging. You can’t assign it a number or award it a rank, but it is at the core of any great strategy, business solution, or product innovation. Informed intuition is the most powerful tool we have. I like to think of my intuition as divinely informed.

vann madison


Jack Morton Worldwide Creative Strategist, Freelance  Los Angeles, CA //As an intern, I researched, developed and presented pitches in response to RFPs for Nike, Intel, HP, EA and the Magic Johnson Foundation. I developed strategies based on consumer and brand insights, and briefed the creative team, worked with them in ideating concepts and executions, and then crafted presentation decks to ensure the activations and experiences pitched were deeply rooted in strategy. //In my freelance capacity, I’ve worked with GM on redesigning aspects of their Detroit offices that bring their executives closer to their workforce, create physical representations of their brand values and vision for the future, and bring their mission to life in elements of the workspaces they use everyday.

New Leaf Community Markets Grocery Buyer  Santa Cruz, CA

Ellwood Thomson’s Local Market Produce Manager   Richmond, VA

//Managed an inventory of thousands of products, tailoring a department that not only mirrors the buying trends of the Santa Cruz community, but helps to dictate them.

// Spearheaded a thriving local initiative at Ellwood Thompson’s, prompting a companywide shift in focus from Natural to Local.

//Developed trusting relationships with brokers, vendors and manufacturers to assure mutual, lasting success. Worked with product reps and brand managers to create brand awareness at the point of sale, securing customer loyalty.

//Created a community atmosphere where customers have the ability to decrease food miles and increase their sense of security and familiarity with the food they feed their families and the people who grow it.

education VCU Brandcenter Masters Candidate Creative Brand Management //Developed and presented 19 full campaigns to date //Won first piece of business presented to a live client //AICP Director’s Scholarship //Got mad funky at the talent show

tool kit

this I can do

//Simmons+MRI consumer profiling //BRData, FileMakerPro, POS software //iWorks and some AdobeCS //Omnigraffle and planogram software //the voice of a gilded angel

//inspiring creative briefs //creative insight mining //insightful financial analysis //engaging surveys+discuss. guides //360˚ strategic and media planning

experiences In no particular order//spent a few weeks living in a redwood in Humboldt County//appeared on a TV quiz show//watched my daughter take her first steps//worked on Fen-Phen claimant’s trust//hitch hiked around the Pacific Northwest for half a year//caught my son with my own hands as he entered the world//climbed a mountain outside Santiago on NYE//won a George Mason Award for Journalism//made $170 in a night playing the mandolin on Water St. in Vancouver//unknowingly spent the night out with my hero Jimmy Smith’s guitarist at the Fat Black Pussycat//drove across the country 7 times//took a midnight gondola ride through Venice//born in 1981

content Burt’s Bees Creative Brief and Brand Story


rchase Cushman Scooters Product Innovation and Relaunch

[work] #


Coty Brand Building and Product Innovation

Williams-Sonoma Case Study



Zales Screener and Disscussion Guide

The Ritz-Carlton Case Study

The Ritz-Carlton


[ case study ]

challenge Elevate anticipatory service to an art form while attracting and engaging young affluents. Young affluents are cut from a different cloth than their aging peers. Getting them to play together is tough. We found a way to break the ice.

# # The Ritz-Carlton


aspiring global elites



Jesse is a 27-year-old video game programmer. Purchase Stay Takeaw

This is the first high-net worth generation to be predominately selfmade. They signify a power shift from aristocracy to meritocracy. While proud of their achievements, they do not see themselves as wealthy. They see The Ritz-Carlton as an institution deeply rooted in old-money and nobility.

He splits his time between San Francisco and New York, but he just returned from a 6 month stay in Beijing. He prides himself on his ideas, his taste in Japanese pop music, and his place in the global conversation. He’ll wear a 3-pack V-neck white tee with a $1400 Hermes windbreaker. He restricts his media to tiny bites of mashable news and links. If you wake up on his couch after a night of drinking, he’ll bring you a Kyoto coffee and a laptop.

“The circles we move in are defined by interests and activities rather than geography: Beijing has a lot more in common with New York, London, or Mumbai. You see the same people, you eat in the same restaurants, you stay in the same hotels.”

the new face of wealth

“I think Iʼd be more comfortable with my co-workers in China than I would with the people in a hotel like that.”

# # The Ritz-Carlton



culture shock Members of the global elite comprise their own culture. The Ritz-Carlton are global leaders in cultural learning. To speak to next generation affluents, they need to see them as a new culture. Young affluents at The Ritz-Carlton are a new culture in a strange land.

Weʼll anticipate their culture shock, mitigate

it with humor, and elevate and acclimate them into the culture of The Ritz-Carlton, while never letting them





our message

You donʼt need to be royalty to be treated like a king.

forget to wash up for dinner.

“His sense of humor begins to exert itself. Instead of criticizing, he jokes about the people and even cracks jokes about his own difficulties. He is now on the way to recovery.” Calervo Oldberg, culture shock theorist

# # The Ritz-Carlton








Our microsite deconstructs the stuffy, oldworld perception of The Ritz-Carlton始s guests and culture, exaggerating the stereotypes and exposing their absurdity. Visitors are asked a series of absurdly rich questions, then given the opportunity to generate their own old-money name, crest, and family history. Whether booking a stay or not, visitors to the microsite will be able to share their new rich persona and crest on Facebook and Twitter.

# # The Ritz-Carlton

xperience Purchase Visitors will then be able to create and purchase glamorous merchandise embossed and emblazoned with their new family seal. Once directed to The Ritz-Carlton始s main site, visitors will be able to book stays and services.

Our goal is to change the perception of The Ritz-Carlton among young affluents long before they始re even thinking about a hotel stay.





# # The Ritz-Carlton





the help



Because even our butlers need butlers. For young affluents, truly artful service can be uncomfortable and overwhelming. We始ll make sure our new guests feel like they deserve the best service in the world. Their booking confirmation email will link them to our app, The Help. This will give us access to their calendar, profile and location. With push notifications we始ll be able to greet them at the door, schedule meetings, or even remind them to bring an umbrella. Once their stay begins, they始ll be able to customize their experience by ordering services remotely, even off-site. They can request a surprise bit of luxury to give them a sample of the unexpected service only The Ritz-Carlton can offer. And all these interactions will be recorded in the existing Mystique database to help our Ladies and Gentlemen better cater their needs next time.

# # The Ritz-Carlton



Gilt Groupe

A provocative digital solution deserves an equally provocative digital launch. The Ritz-Carlton does not discount, but over 60% of young affluents are shopping on luxury sites like Gilt Groupe. Instead of offering discounted stays, we始ll post outrageously rich merchandise that links to our microsite. We始ll also offer actual goods in the vein of our Custom Swag.





Burt’s Bees


[ creative brief ]


himpulse buy Challenge: drive impulse sales by men We’re looking for a last minute basket ring with no basket. We know that purchases in hardware and auto-part stores often involve a bit more dialogue, which means a bit more waiting in line. We’ll capitalize on this idle time by providing a healthy nugget of skin care advice, batter dipped in entertainment. We can turn what most brands see as a flash in the pan touchpoint into a lasting impression.

Burt’s Bees The Manliness Alphabet Ends with B

The Brand Today: NaturallySimple

Burt’s Bees strives to offer “earth friendly natural personal care for The Greater Good.” They’ve managed to lead the natural beauty and body care market without ever being overtly feminine. Their products provide simple, natural healing care without focusing on gender specific beauty. While they offer lines for women, men, and babies, a substantial portion of their revenue comes from impulse sales of their basic products, often in unique retail spaces. The image of Burt, a mountain man with a bushy beard, has come to symbolize natural, healthy personal care, and a return to simple values and lifestyle.

The Challenge: Welcome Back to Manhood

[ Strategy: Convince men that Do-ItYourself includes repairing your self. We put the MAN in Mandatories √The most engaging, entertaining POS displays these guys have ever seen. Give them something to do. √Focus on Hand Salve, Sunscreen, Lipbalm. √Print ads in magazines like DIY, Woodworking, MAKE √Leverage the perception of Burt as THE Heroic Artisan. √Remember, for our target, natural is less about the environment and more about a return to simple living.

1. Insinuate Burt’s Bees basics into the DIY product set and the Did-It-Myself mindset. 2. Drive impulse sales of Burt’s Bees basics by men.

The Audience: HeroicArtisans 24-39//40-75K HHI//married or LTR//some college+//prefers traditional media//gets outdoors whenever possible Retrosexuals: These men have responded to metrosexuality by refusing to be fussy about their looks. They appreciate the rugged, independent masculinity of a bygone era. They probably aren’t blue collar, but look to this segment for style cues (think trucker hats and Ben Davis pants). They aren’t construction workers, but they play one on TV. DIY-DIY-ers: Born from the need to create, the DIY movement spans from music production to knitting to home renovation. It’s about taking pride in the craft and in the finished product. Its also about necessity. Hard times mean doing it at home; cooking, haircuts, changing your oil, refinishing a desk. While they pride themselves in taking charge of man-tasks, they refuse to buy their own body care products. We’ll show them that real men make decisions about how they take care of themselves. Source: Simmons Spring 2010 Adult Full Study

building a new tool shed

√24 6’ 2x4s √12 4’x8’ sheets of plywood √1 box framing nails √1 pack shingles √1 tube Burt’s Sunscreen √1 tin Burt’s Hand Salve


Burt’s Bees Brand Story: We wanted to excite our creatives about Burt’s Bees’ values and message, so we wrote a song. A song about a bee.


to listen, click this link, let-me-tell-you-something-burt


A little ‘bout Burt’s Bees

Naw, he come across his own brand of Texas Tea in the honey from a funny little bee.

Hello. I am a bee. In 1984, I was living in a hive in Maine. With a guy named Burt. I flew around his beard and gave him honey and wax. He sold it out of the back of his truck. Then one day he met Roxanne. She was living in a shack without water or electricity. She was an artist and she had a good recipe for lip balm and success. Now, the lip balm was cookin’ like a pound of hot bacon. They was plum dumbfounded by the money they was makin’. Burt said, “Listen, Honey it’ll be alright; you don’t have to sell you’re body to the night.”

Let me tell you ‘bout the birds and the bees, “Who’s bees?” Burt’s Bees! And a little bit of history. Stick with me and you’ll be surprised to see, there’s a lot you can learn from a bee.

Roxanne got to feelin’ that her brand had wings, so she packed up the bees, and Burt, and some things. North Carolina was the place to be, so they opened up their own factory.

Come and listen to a story ‘bout a man named Burt, Didn’t make his fortune from a shootin’ in the dirt.

Before long, Burt’s face was in every woman’s purse, Not just on lip balm, but on all kinds of stuff.

[ Shampoo and conditioner, Cologne and shaving cream And lotion and diaper cream. The magic was the package. It became synonymous with natural, healthy living. People saw Burt’s face, and saw me. They saw a pure product they could trust. And one day in 1999, Burt left to go back to Maine, But his face remained, With his values and vision for the company. Burt mighta’ left, but his heart’s still there, burstin’ even bigger than his ample facial hair. The folks down in Durham keep his dream alive ‘cause they still got love for the hive. Dedicated to the Greater Good, Burt’s Bees is giving back to the community and the environment. Practicing what they preach, they take care of me and my friends. They build Habitat houses in Durham, and playgrounds for kids. They take care of my habitat, too, because it’s not only Burt that needs me, But flowers, and trees, and the animals that eat them. Because in 2007, a disease struck me and my friends. And Burt was there to help again, To keep me from disappearing.


Some folks said Burt had got too big for his britches, flying ‘round in private jets and sittin’ in on sales pitches. Well, you can take a hippie out of Bangor, Maine, but you can’t make a hippie change a thang. Now Clorox owns Burt’s Bees, but nothing has changed. Burt’s idea is still there And his face is everywhere. Committed to community, they help everybody. The company is the hive, And the employees Spread like bees, Taking Burt’s Bees everywhere And speaking about The Greater Good to everyone. Thinking back to Maine, it’s been a long story. 26 years of success, sweet like honey. Honey was what made Burt big and his bees happy. That’s all from me and let’s hear the music for one more time. That’s a little ‘bout Burt and his bees, “Who’s bees?” Burt’s Bees! they was a little bitty company, but with right story, I’m sure you’ll agree, you can do an awful lot with a bee.


[ discussion guide ] a brand in danger In 2010, Zales was included on 24/7 Wall Street’s list of companies doomed to fail in the coming year. I took a look at the jewelry landscape to mine insights on growth potential and untapped targets.




What can Zales adopt from the boutique model that will set it oooooo oooooo apart from other major retailers? oooooooo oooooooo

[market share]

Sources: Mintel

mining the company Deep inside the Zales website, I uncovered a peculiarity. In 2003, Zales helped initiate the Kimberley Process (KPCS) to certify the sourcing of diamonds. But they aren’t telling anyone. “Conflict diamonds” are a rabid talking point and purchase barrier. Boutiques, with little to lose, are adding to the conversation. Zales has to weigh the negatives of shedding light on the darkest part of the jewelry biz against touting its place as the industry leader in sustainability and fair trade. I developed a screener and discussion guide to assemble a focus group of potential Zales shoppers and gift recipients. I found unique ways to spark a conversation about provenance and sourcing, even corporate responsibility and business ethics. Sources:,


[ brand building]


product innovation

] Reformation Mass||Robert Hargrave

Challenge: bring Coty back to the leading edge of fragrance Coty has 3 principle values: excellence, innovation and entrepreneurship. With designer brands and celebrity partnerships, Coty has built a beauty empire. But appealing to the masses often means retreating from creativity. We’ll use innovation to reclaim the throne of excellence.

Coty Fragrance Mavens

the COTY award

These These are are the the people people who who define define the the trends trends in in fragrance fragrance innovation. innovation.

The Coty Award inspire innovation Challenge: bring helped Coty back to the leading in American fashion. We’ll do the same edge of fragrance for beauty in art.

They They spend spend thousands thousands on on the the rarest rarest scents. scents. Sex Sex and and gender gender have have no no place place in in fragrance fragrance for for them. them. They They experience experience perfume perfume the the way way others others experience experience fine fine art. art.

Strategy Elevate are These Coty’s the fragrance people who to high define art the by trends inthem making fragrance synonymous. innovation. They spend thousands on the scents. Sexand andart . We’ll use works of art as rarest our inspiration events as our launch sites, starting at the pinnacle.

Coty has 3 principle values: excellence, innovation and his entrepreneurship. Withpackaging, designer Fracois brands Coty and With couture bottles and celebrity partnerships, Coty has built a beauty was “the first to make perfume appeal to the eye as empire. to the masses often means well as But the appealing nose.” Around the same time, his retreating from were creativity. use opposite innovation to contemporaries doing We’ll quite the in the reclaim theModern throne ofart excellence. art scene. has rejected beauty in search of truth. Coty believes the truth can still be beautiful. This is a controversial position, especially for a fragrance house. We know Fragrance Mavens keep close tabs on the art world and international events. This launch will cause a media stir that will differentiate Coty from even the most avant-grade boutique brands.

Coty the event These are the people who define the trends in fragrance innovation.

The Biennale in Venice assembles the best art in the world. We’ll comb it for the truly beautiful. They spend thousands on the rarest scents. Sex and gender have no place in fragrance for them. They Dave Hickey, an “art-world flamethrower” who shares our passion for beauty, will choose our winner in June, and we’ll work experience perfume the way experience art. furiously to present the award, and others unveil Biennale by Coty,fine at the finale event November 27.



the fragrance These are the people who define the trends in fragrance Our famed perfumers will craft a scent and bottle that embodies the emotional force innovation. of the chosen work.

They spend thousands on the rarest scents. Sex andit.gender haveCoty no place in fragrance Not only will Fragrance Mavens buy Biennale, they’ll talk about Reintroducing to the fragrance elite for They experience the way others experience fine art. isn’tthem. just about selling bottles, itsperfume about restoring a reputation., which will increase our stature in the eyes of future celebrity and designer clients, which will, of course, sell more bottles.

the impressions We’ll keep the PR engine in motion through this Biennale and beyond

unveiling BIENNALE by COTY


We’ll leak our concept before opening day, publicize in art magazines and blogs, catolog the entire process, and feed critic response. And as other international Biennales come and go, Coty will be there, synonymous with the art and beauty that is its inspiration.







[ relaunch ]


energize Challenge: reintroduce the original green mobile Can a two stroke scooter revolutionize the way we think about the future? Why not? Cushman scooters were a green solution when TV was black and white. We’ll bring them into this decade by positioning them in the next.

Cushman the brand today

emission-free island

As part Textron (Cessna and Bell Helicopter), Cushman manufactures small engine electric golf carts and load movers. Our electric scooter will be a welcome addition to a green solution line-up.

In the summer, Mackinac Island in Lake Michigan explodes with 15,000+ tourists a day. But through the off-season, this motor vehicle-free oasis maintains a community of only 500. For a month, we’ll outfit them all with Cushman scooters, personnel carriers and load movers. All powered by hydrogen. We’ll supply the infrastructure, and document their daily lives. Its a utopian idea, but the electric scooter prospect will see the possibilities of an emission-free future they can help create today.

communication strategy Put Cushman on top of the green conversation. While economy is our target’s real motivation, they are very green aware and connected. We’ll engineer PR events that propel Cushman to the top their news feeds.

ZipCar gives mass-transit commuters a way to get out of the city without owning a car. We’ll partner with them to give the same folks a greener way to get around in town while test-driving the Cushman.


[ ]

[ case study ] foodie revolution Challenge: turn the next generation of food enthusiasts into WS brand loyalists From its inception, Williams-Sonoma has positioned itself as an “aspirational store.” They have a loyal customer base of formerly aspirational, currently successful Boomers who have grown with the brand. And these folks don’t want to change a thing. The rise of food porn, the glamorization of young chefs, and the DIY movement have created a new generation of aspiring “foodies” and homemakers. How do we keep them engaged without changing the current user experience?

Williams-Sonoma targets Perfect Nesters They are building a home: furniture, art, fixtures. These purchases are often made a piece at a time; completing a set (lamps, end-tables, flatware) makes life feel more complete. Many are starting this process at more holistic stores, like Crate&Barrel, or trendier looking kitchenware retailers, like Sur La Table. Why start growing your kitchen at IKEA when you know you’ll be finishing it at WilliamsSonoma anyway?

Culinary Rebels Although not professionally trained, these “chefs” want to cook like they are. They constantly check sites and blogs for cooking tips, religiously watch shows like Top Chef, Iron Chef and No Reservations. The problem is, these shows introduce incredible new foods and techniques without getting into the specifics of preparation and cooking. These folks want the best tools to make the food that excites them, but they’re not sure what those tools are. Let’s remind them that Williams-Sonoma is where unique cooks go to make unique culinary masterpieces.

[profiles] Nesters [24-39] [married or LTR] [HHI 45-90K+] [My kitchen is the most important room in my house]

Rebels [24-34] [single] [HHI 35-70K] [I often try new recipes and cook for friends]


34 to 39

Peak ages for kitchen and cooking interest Time is of the essence. The data showed that, after the age of 39, positive responses and strong agreement to our profile statements plummeted.

Barrier: Williams-Sonoma is my Mom’s store. And I’m not my Mom. Yet. We need to ensure that we can make this new generation of Williams-Sonoma shoppers at home and inspired while their food interest is at its peak. Source: Simmons Spring 2010 Adult Full Study

Williams-Sonoma strategy They’re grown-ups now. Show them it’s ok to have a grown-up kitchen. Competitors, like Crate&Barrel and IKEA, without the added baggage of legacy equity, are able to cater to a younger, still refined, target at every touchpoint. We needed to find ways to do this under the radar. Williams-Sonoma is known for its catalogs, but now that 30% of its business occurs online, its catalogs have slimmed down to “versioned” editions that highlight a season or theme. We introduced catalogs specifically tailored to our target’s interests. For the Perfect Nesters, we offer all the components necessary to start a classic kitchen, along with tips on what to buy first. For the Culinary Rebels, we have all the nitrogen dewars and butane torches they need to make even the most avant-garde dishes, and the most homespun.

versioned catalogs

Williams-Sonoma digital strategy

An idle smart phone is the devil’s playground. Let’s keep them busy in-store and beyond. Our app welcomes the target as soon as they enter the store. Relevant displays contain QR codes that offer tips, recipes, tutorial videos on how to use the product, along with similar items found in-store and online. This provides a layer of touchpoints unseen by the naked eye, while s t o p p i n g s h o p p e r s f ro m p r i c e comparing online. Think about it like Frodo, in Lord of the Rings, when he puts the ring on, only full of the best culinary products and advice available, and no Ring Wraiths.

future kitchen The Future Kitchen, as part of their online profile, will allow shoppers to buy the most important parts of a set first, while seeing a visual representation of what their completed dream kitchen will look like. We’ll keep them on track by providing incentives to make that dream a reality.

Williams-Sonoma farmers markets W illiams-Sonoma is known for in-store cooking demonstrations. We’ll take these out of store and put them directly where our target is shopping. Chefs will cook from that day’s local offerings, provide informal instruction, and reassure shoppers that Williams-Sonoma shares they’re values of sustainability and community.

One of our most important goals is to ensure that, at any touchpoint, no matter where our target is on their path from discovery to evangelism, they have the ability to engage with the brand on that level, while being inspired to advance. We are turning today’s aspiring foodies into tomorrow’s best home chefs and domestic entertainers. Aw, they grow up so fast, don’t they?

















Thank You


A sample of my work from my first year at Brandcenter. If you'd like to see more case studies, please email at Thank...


A sample of my work from my first year at Brandcenter. If you'd like to see more case studies, please email at Thank...