After two sold-out events in June, we are bringing the megaclass back to NYCBUY TICKETS
“It’s taken me one and a half hours to write 35 words that poke the brain in a way in which Mark would approve. And he’ll still find a way to make this more pointy.”
Rob Mustoe, Managing Director, McCann Birmingham
“After we were done, I realized that my strategy eye was closed and then I realized how bad all my past strategies were and I resent Mark for that. But I love him for all the great strategies I’ve done since. Sorry, it’s complicated but we still talk. I would recommend it to my Enemy to make sure that they push me to better.”
Harry Bee, CCO Havas
“I’ve never seen a room of zillennials not look at their phones for two hours.”
Maura Tuohy, Global Head of Social Content & Experience Marketing, Mozilla/Firefox
“Almost as funny as a comedian.”
I recently asked Mark to serve as a faculty leader for the strategy track at The SoDA Academy. This event brings together senior-level practice leaders from the digital agency community for two days of intensive knowledge sharing, best practices, and collaboration. It’s a rare opportunity for peers to learn from one another under the guidance of experienced and highly-regarded faculty leaders. These sessions are neither academic nor rote in their approach. We seek to challenge conventions, provoke curiosity and inspire our attendees to act on the ideas emanating from their experience at The Academy. For faculty leaders, it takes a rare combination of expertise, creative energy, humble authority and an engaging point-of-view to make these sessions tick. Mark was an absolute superstar and our hyper-critical attendees called his sessions “awesome” and “enlightening.” I admire Mark’s approach to strategic planning and his uncanny ability to get people outside of their constrained brainspace to dream up something that’s honest, bold, inspirational and worthy of our full attention. I’m a big fan.
Tom Beck - Executive Director :: SoDA
“Following the training session (which I found incredibly helpful) I had started to work with a friendly client who was trusting and who I thought would be a great candidate to try out some stuff with. It was basically a great opportunity to throw some ideas into the mix and see if they would bite.
The client had come over to our offices for a series of meetings, and to make lunch a bit more interactive I had prepared a value add deck of cool campaign ideas to present during lunch that they could potentially do if they had some guts and bought into it.Long and the short of it, they loved the campaign ideas and got me to present it back at the company marketing and sales annual kick off events. This has now led to a $615k campaign where they are using nearly all of my ideas.
I’d also like to add that it really helped me to find my own style of putting presentations together, which has really helped me get better and more confident in my way of presenting. The lateral thinking ladder exercise and the scrapping first 10 ideas worked best for me in getting to something interesting.”
Charlie Boon, Strategist, Omobono, UK
•Problems •Insights •Ideas •Briefs • Propositions • Blueprints • Comms Frameworks • Strategy Punchlines
1. Ideas & lateral thinking
2. Problems & insights
3. Strategy statements
4. Strategy shapes
5. The Comms Planning Compass
6. Comms Frameworks
8. Diplomacy Training
9. Live Action Strategy
10. Your Psychology
Julian Cole cut his teeth at Naked Communications learning the craft of comms planning. He created a knack for taking great ideas and making them come to life in innovative ways. He went on to lead the Comms Planning teams at BBDO and BBH in New York, both agencies often overlooked as ‘just a TV agency’.
His team helped create award-winning work for PlayStation, Bacardi, Footlocker, Mountain Dew, GE, Snickers, M&Ms, Lowes, Interscope Records, Boost Mobile, Bombay Sapphire, and the Sandy Hook Foundation. This resulted in the agencies winning the Webby Agency of the Year for three of the last seven years, also picking up more Integrated Cannes Lions than Film Lions during this period.
He also runs the Planning Dirty Newsletter which goes out to 11K+ planners, producing popular content like - Brand Actions Library, Planners Template, Day 1 Advice for Head of Planning, and Cheatsheet for Data Sources.
At Mighty Jungle in New York, Mark helps executives, marketers, and agencies get out of their heads and into the wild using a combination of training, strategy, and writing. He’s done this with The Economist, Decoded, Mozilla, Poo-Pourri, Dreampad, McCann, Havas, TBWA/ Media Arts Lab, and more.
In a prior life, Mark ran strategy teams at McCann, Leo Burnett, and Big Spaceship, judged the Jay Chiat Awards and the Webbys, and sat on the Australian Account Planning Group (APG) committee. He’s written for Vice, Quartz, Wharton’s Future of Advertising program, and he’s spoken at TEDx, AIGA How Design, Google Firestarters, the IPA, and the Cannes Festival of Creativity.You can find him causing mischief on
Twitter and Instagram @markpollard, and his strategy podcast Sweathead on iTunes. His book “Strategy Is Your Words” will be available later in 2019.
What are ideas? How do they work? Where do they come from? And how do I have them?
What’s the difference? How do I find them? How do I write them? Is it just me - or is this part difficult?
How do I write a strategy my team will pay attention to? Also, a strategy that the public will pay attention to?
How can I capture the most important bits of my thinking in a simple way?
How do I start to map all the different messages and pieces for this campaign together? What are my options?
How do I create a framework that puts everyone on the same page in terms of the different messages and targets we have to create?
How do I make sure that all the work the agency is creating actually comes to life? How do I make it easy for everyone to see all the different things we are doing for this campaign?
How do I navigate the internal and external politics that exist within an agency so that my strategy thinking is heard and appreciated?
Julian and Mark will tackle a strategy challenge live and in public.
A brief discussion about what we have heard from hundreds of strategy folk around the world about the challenges they face and when they feel optimal.
I can’t make it to New York. Will you put this event online as a livestream or for us to watch later?
Not at this stage. We want to focus on making one good, intimate, life-affirming event in the flesh. The online experience of these events is difficult to make worthwhile. We are open to ideas but we will keep things simple for this event.
I can’t make it to New York. Will you do this event near me - like, in London, Portland, São Paulo, Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Toronto?
We are open to this. If we can get ten people committed then it makes it easier for us to plan an event. Email or DM us if you’re interested. Our focus right now is this one event.
Do you offer group discounts?
We do not. But groups of 5 will receive a separate group Q&A session with both Julian and Mark within one month of the event.
Can I come if I'm not yet a full-time strategist?
Of course. We have run training sessions with people in college and all the way up to C-Level, with agencies and marketing teams, at large conferences and at intimate local industry events. There are always techniques that people can apply. And, if someone knows everything, they'll at least get to practice what they know.
How advanced is this material?
This is hard to answer. We’ve heard people describe some of the material as “brilliant basics.” We’ve had senior people introduce us to their teams by saying the material is great for everyone else yet they stay and take notes. And, in our work judging awards or working with agencies, there are usually some concepts we’ll go through that people overlook. We’ve taught college students through to CEO, CSO, and CCO. This material is a day of our go-to techniques, things we’d do if we worked with each other so, in that sense, it is both basic and advanced.
Even if you knew every concept we’ll take you through, there are other things people take away from days like this that are special to them. These things include: attitude (we’ll splash some irreverence on you), motivation (a kick in the pants, so to speak), ways of teaching your team or clients things you know, a day in a room of people trying to work out the same things as you (this might seem trivial but we know it isn’t - “I just appreciated being in a room of people like me” is common feedback).
Can you fill in forms for my finance department?
If they are short and if they don’t tell us that you’ll own our IP.
Can you supply a W-9?
I’ve registered. Now what?
For this first event, we are handling nearly everything manually while also avoiding the fees of large ticketing websites and without knowing what the demand would be. The demand has been strong so we are sending invoices to people every couple of days and we’re asking people to pay within a week so that we can manage capacity.
Do I need to prepare anything beforehand?
Probably not. We mean, at this stage, no. But we’ll send a couple of emails before the day so you feel prepared.
What will I do in the sessions? Will I write? Will I need a laptop?
The day will largely be an interactive lecture with individual writing exercises. You can bring pen, paper, laptop, tablet - whatever works best for you. We might do some small-group or pair exercises but, fear not, we won’t make them too strange. We expect a good turnout from the introverts among us and we want them to feel at ease.
Nayantara Dutta is a writer, strategist and third culture kid. She started her career at JWT Intelligence, identifying consumer trends across sectors, and currently works in content strategy at McCann Worldgroup.
Growing up in six countries, Nayantara hopes to connect the dots between cultures and elevate minority voices. In her journey so far, she has created Unapologetically Muslim, a trend report and photo series which explores the power and influence of Muslim women and has received coverage from The Drum, Campaign, Teen Vogue and Dazed.
She has been recognized as one of The Drum’s 50 Under 30 Women in Creativity, received a Female Frontier Award from Campaign US and was an ADCOLOR Rising Star Award Nominee.
Davis Ballard is an LA-based freelance strategist specializing in brand and comms planning.
Since starting his first marketing company in 2007, Davis has created everything from digital strategies for Fortune 500 companies to founding a vinyl record label which sold out its first release in under 48 hours.
When he’s not knee deep in strategy he runs Parang Recordings and internet radio station Rainbow Jeremy FM.
Iuren Ramiro is a brand strategist. He works in São Paulo and loves meeting and helping people wherever he goes.
Iuren has worked at some of the best and biggest agencies in Brazil for global and local clients like Coca-Cola, Oi Telecom, Petrobras, and GSK. He is passionate about social media and is an avid early adopter.
Now he works at Santa Clara agency, admins the Brazilian strategic planning community Facebook group, PlannersBR, and the Podcast, PlannersCast.