July 26, 2022

S2E6 - Cutting Your Brand Strategy and Campaign Development Process in Half with Andy Nathan

By Shane Madden and Whit Harwood

Founder and CEO of Fortnight Collective, Andy Nathan, joins us to share his hack on how to successfully cut your advertising progress time in half. Listen in as he discusses and shares his experiences on how to efficiently create and lead strategic and creative development of a brand while cutting through today's digital noise, all within 2 weeks.

Show Transcript

Shane Madden  (00:01):
Hi, all this is Shane Madden.

Whit Harwood (00:02):
And I'm Whit Harwood.

SM (00:03):
We're really excited to be back with season two of Off the Clock, the podcast brought to you by TPT Digital. TPT Digital is the full service vertically integrated digital marketing group of TransPerfect, the $1 billion language services and technology solutions market leader.

WH (00:17):
We're going talk to some of the industry's thought leaders, movers, and decision-makers to discuss all things digital throughout the course of the season. So let's get into it. 

SM (00:25):
Let's go. Hi, everyone, Shane Madden here from TPT Digital's podcast Off the Clock. Joining with us today is friend, colleague, esteemed partner Andy Nathan. Andy is founder and CEO of a Colorado-based agency called Fortnight Collective. Really excited to have Andy on the podcast. So Andy, thank you so much for coming on today.

Andy Nathan (00:49):
It’s great to be here. Thanks so much.

SM (00:51):
No problem. So let's get this thing started. So first things first, you have an illustrious storied career. So why don't you give us some context or background as to who you are, your experience, and how you ended up setting up the agency?

AN (01:05):
Absolutely. I don’t know about illustrious, but I have a career, but yeah, definitely. So, I mean, you know, for me right out of college, I started at Ogilvy & Mather. I've had a lot of like international big agency experience. I worked at Ogilvy & Mather in New York and also in London on IBM for almost seven years and worked at DDB where I, you know, helped lead the global Philips electronics account. And then, you know, probably some other big places in my career that really made a mark were DBH in New York, where I worked on a lot of things, everything from Miller Lite to Smirnoff to New York City Tourism, to Chiat\Day where I was the managing director in the New York office. And we had the likes of things like Absolut and Accenture and Vonage and for a time Skittles and Starburst, among others.

AN (01:52):
You know, I think ultimately for me, I had such great experiences from all those places, but just felt like there had to be a better way of working with clients. And to me, I think there was something about the agility and speed at times where we'd work with our clients that seemed like sort of a bit magic to me. You know, when you think about accelerated pitches or where you have a deadline that you don't anticipate, when, you know, when creative teams come together, it is sort of when they're at their best. And I just sort of bottled some of that up. Ultimately, you know, what I ended up doing is I moved to Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Boulder, Colorado. And you know, that was another amazing experience. It was sort of lightning in a bottle there. I mean, I worked on Microsoft, you know, worked on basically the response to “I'm a PC” for Microsoft Windows.

AN (02:37):
And I worked on something called Bolthouse Farms where we did “Baby Carrot:s Eat ‘Em Like Junk Food.” It was a really, you know, sort of award-winning campaign that got a lot of exposure and MetLife among others. But I just felt like there just had to be a better way of working. And so ultimately that's where I created Fortnight Collective and we are a full-service ad agency, but we pride ourselves on being a brand marketing accelerator. We sort of like half joke, but a lot of truth to it, which is, if you want to change the world, all you need is the right people and not enough time. And so we genuinely believe that fourth deadlines makes us better. So we're about 30 people. We're you know, our headquarters are in Boulder, you mentioned. We have outposts in New York and London. We work with everything from, you know, big blue chip brands like, you know, the Nestle's and the Expedia Groups of the world to, you know, amazing partners at Noodles & Company. But then also, you know, some smaller sort of private equity backed, founder-led brands. And to some startups, I mean, we've worked in the past. So brands like, you know, TB12 and Tom Brady's health and wellness brands, things like that.

SM (03:43):
Love it. So I I'm going to tee Whit up with the next question, but I guess you touched on something there, which is your tagline. If you want to change the world, all you need is the right people and not enough time. Think it's pretty great. So as a classic ad man, that's been from big agency, you know, all the way down to where you are now in terms of the size of the operation, would you agree that speed, agility, and just being able to be nimble and adaptive, that is key to business success in this ever expanding digital marketing world?

AN (04:12):
I think so. I mean, I definitely think that's where the world is going. I mean, obviously if you're a big…you know, and a lot of times I think a lot of, you know, big companies come to us because they crave more of that speed and agility and their big partners can't sort of match that, you know. We've heard in the past, like we've had new business, you know, meetings with big brands who've said to us, for us to sort of initiate a project with our agency of record, sometimes it takes up to two months just to kick it off. And, you know, those are the types of things that, you know, there's times…the reason we were called Fortnight and obviously it was, it was named that before the video game, it’s spelled differently.

AN (04:51):
But the original intent is that we do strategic and creative development all in two weeks. And it was sort of like, midweek there would, you know, or the midway point we would do something called the brand hack. And, you know, what's interesting about that is we got some feedback from some clients who are like, I love it, but it's just not fast enough. You know, for some people they crave to go even faster and so we do now these things called brand sprints, which are like three-to-five-day smaller, very similar process. And also something called the brand pinch, which is even a day or two. So to me, I think it's like mission critical to success in business. Not everyone can do it. But you know, I think we attract the types of clients who sort of crave, you know, that muscle memory.

WH (05:35):
So, Andy, let me pick your brain on something for a second, because I'm really curious about what that then looks like in the marketplace, right? Like I'm sure you're a fan of a lot of work that goes out there in addition to, you know, wanting to put out your own, the really high caliber products. What are some examples either of your own or people in the market that are doing this really well right now that clearly came together on a tight timeline?

AN (05:59):
I mean, I think in general, the market dynamics are changing and, you know, obviously things like increased competition. But you know, I think, the biggest thing to me is things like social media, e-commerce, word of mouth, you know, the days of just spending months, if not years, really sort of strategizing, you know, doing new product innovations or things like that are just sort of over. And, like a classic case in point is, I'm actually at my in-laws’ right now in the UK and, you know, Boris Johnson resigns. And before you know it, multiple brands including Burger King are doing ads the next day. I think you just need to sort of turn on a dime much faster. So I think, you know, use cases would be something happens in culture and therefore we respond to what's going on in culture.

AN (06:51):
Another use case could be, you know, a brand is sort of late to a certain sector or a certain product segment. And so they're like, you know, how would we, if we were going to come into this sector, how would we invent this brand? And what would the pathway for this brand be strategically, creatively? What would the name be? The positioning? Things like that. Those are the types of use cases. And then there's just sometimes where like clients come to us because they're, you know, they're working with another agency, they're not nailing it, and they've wasted a lot of time and they just need to go, you know? And so they come and it's like a, to use an English expression, like a belt and suspender approach. Like, you know, they might go down a path with the other agency, but the reality is, if they can, you know, experiment, see what could happen in two weeks or five days, let's do that.

AN (07:40):
And a lot of times we have a lot of success with that, where there are brands that are just responding to sort of like, cultural chatter, you know, whether it's, with politics. I mean, sometimes obviously it's things where it's very purpose built, where they want us to kind of speak to things going on, whether it's about vaccines, and you need an agency who's nimble and agile who can kind of turn on a dime. I mean, I think a lot of times you'll get a call and be like, you know, we need to turn something around in 24 hours or 36 hours.

SM (08:10):
Not to put you on the spot, but off the top of your head, are there any recent examples of brands or companies that have created really compelling marketing content on a dime, as you mentioned, that you said, wow, that's really powerful?

AN (08:28):
A good question. The one that sort of put it on the map to me was the Oreos “dunking in the dark.” You know, if you think back on that, that was the… and I'm sure, there was ones in the past, you know, that happened, but that was probably the first time. And I remember many years ago, you know, I was working on JC Penny and it was probably like 10 years ago. And I remember, there were certain points in like, you kind of know different phases of advertising when someone's like, we want a viral video or we want, you know, like this, and now it's kind of like, we want this TikTok thing. But the reality is, I remember when we worked on JC Penney, they're like, we want our dunking in the dark.

AN (09:09):
And I remember at the time, the Super Bowl was actually… and originally they were like, we don't. And then I think maybe like five days before, they're like, actually we do. And so we had to mobilize a team and basically it was, I think it was the Broncos in Seattle were playing in New York and it was going to be freezing. And I don’t know if you remember that and the reality is it also coincided with when the Winter Olympics were coming on and JC Penney was actually a sponsor and they used to, they were selling these, you know, Olympic mittens and certain proceeds would go to a charity. And so basically, you know, what we ended up coming up with for that was we did some garbled texts or garbled Twitter, you know, everyone was doing all this stuff and responding to ads and responding to things in the game.

AN (09:58):
And we just literally came up with these like tweets that just made absolutely no sense. And the reality is eventually after our ad, and every other brand was like, you know, you drunk, JC Penny? You know, like it was just everyone was chiming in. And then ultimately what we revealed is it was tweeting with mittens and it sort of then pushed to the Olympics sponsored mittens. But it was, you know, and I think a big thing that we tend to say is, you know, try not to chase culture, but look to shift it, you know, like when everyone else was doing one thing, we're like, how do we do something slightly different? But I'll, you know, let me think about that as you talk about others that recently have done a good job. I will also just say one other thing. It's really hard, much harder now. There's so much like, just like stuff out in the world, whether it's ads or just content like TikTok or social media. It's hard to break through anymore the way, you know, brands used to break through. I mean, that's the other thing. And normally when it happens, it's because you have a high profile celebrity or you have tons of money or you have access to something which, you know, it's a bit unfortunate, you know, so.

WH (11:06):
In that same vein, what's one trend that you're watching right now that you are looking to kind of ride into some form of success or breakthrough, be it, you know, something on TikTok or some emerging technology within e-commerce, what's cut your eye?

AN (11:23):
Yeah. I mean, I am sort of, you know, fascinated about TikTok and just like… I mean, some brands have cracked it and they've cracked it really well. Other brands just haven't or I think they're just sort of more intimidated by it. And it just, you know, I look at it through so many different lenses. I look at it through the lens of like, you know, brands in my orbit who are very intrigued and interested in it. I also look at it through my taste lenses and probably it's one of the best ways to sort of break through with a younger generation. I mean, not, you know, not like we do tons of ads targeting kids and teens, but even, you know, as they sort of grow up, I mean, it's just sort of a new, different form of media. Another one, you know, Snapchat. I mean, it's another one I think that we don't do a lot of work with. I know actually a lot of the younger creatives are so impeccably good at it. I think that's another one that's sort of interesting to me.

SM (12:20):
To that end. Do you have any exciting client engagements or any stuff in the hopper that you'd like to discuss?

AN (12:28):
You know, it's funny, I mean, I think one of the best… well, there's so many of them, it's hard to say, but like, we actually did a great campaign with Noodles & Company just recently, and mostly it was primarily like video and digital and it was all about the world's biggest fan and that was a lot of fun. And so that just launched, I guess, probably like a month ago. Interestingly, they're great clients of ours, actually were ex-clients somewhere else. And then they, you know, Stacey Pool is her name, the CMO, went to Noodles and sort of brought us over there right around the start of the pandemic. And so we've been doing, you know, AOR work with them ever since, and they're a really fun brand to work with. We also just recently won another ex-client of ours, who is at Steamboat Resorts.

AN (13:14):
And so we won that. And so we did some, a really fun shoot for that of integrated campaign. That's going to be launching over the next few months. So yeah, there's a lot of fun stuff. I mean, that's the nice thing also about, I mean, we do some AOR work, but we do a lot of project work stuff too. So like literally you could get a call tomorrow and you're sort of off to the races in a week’s time to be out in the marketplace in a couple weeks or a couple months.

SM (13:39):
Well, I guess it goes back to the whole premise of the foundation of your agency, which is speed and agility. Right. So I hear you. I love it, Andy. You're amazing. You're a legend. So for any listeners, can you just remind them the name of the agency, how to contact you?

AN (13:53):
Yeah, so I'm Andy Nathan, founder, CEO of Fortnight Collective. So it's spelled F O R T N I G H T. And my email is andy@fortnightcollective.com, or you can go to Fortnightcollective.com and love to hear from you. And yeah, it's exciting to talk to you guys. I really appreciate it.

SM (14:11):
Oh, I appreciate you. Thank you very much. And thanks everyone so much for listening again.

AN (14:15):
You bet.