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Dr. Marcus Collins

Best-Selling Author, Leading Cultural Translator, University of Michigan Marketing Professor, 2023 Thinkers50 Radar Award Winner, Forbes Contributor and Award-Winning Marketer, chosen as a Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coach

Considered America’s leading cultural translator since the success of his best-selling book, For the Culture: The Power Behind What We Buy, What We Do, and Who We Want to Be, Dr. Marcus Collins is the recognized authority on leveraging the power of culture to influence behavior, inspire collective change, get people to share your vision, and most importantly, move them to take action. Dr. Collins is a professor of marketing at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, former head of strategy at Wieden + Kennedy, New York, and a regular contributor to Forbes. An inductee in the American Advertising Federation’s Hall of Achievement, he is the architect behind some of the most notable campaigns of the last decade for brands including Nike, Apple, Budweiser, and Beyoncé.

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Culture is a word we often use but seldom fully understand. So, why does that matter? Because there’s no force more influential on human behavior than culture. What we wear, what we watch, who we marry, how we vote, what we support, and just about every aspect of daily living is informed by—and in many ways governed by—our cultural subscription. Therefore, if we can fully understand what culture is and the underlying physics of how it works, then we can leverage its sway to get people to take action. Of course, this is powerful for marketers, politicians, leaders, managers, and anyone with a vested interest in getting people to move. In this talk, Marcus pulls from both theory and practice—using learnings from his work spearheading digital strategy for Beyoncé to working with Fortune 500 companies like Apple, McDonald’s, and Google—to break down the ways in which culture influences behavior and unpacks how to leverage its power to get people to move.

No matter what your company or organization aspires to be—more innovative, more inclusive, more creative, more customer-centric, more productive, etc.—your success is 100% dependent on the culture that you create within the culture at large. After all, culture is the operating system of humankind. When you understand and operationalize it, it can become your organization’s superpower. In this game-changing talk, Dr. Marcus Collins walks audiences through the fundamentals of culture and how it affects who we are and who we want to be, giving audiences the tools to view any business challenge or opportunity through the powerful lens of culture. He also brings the audience together with group exercises that challenge their thinking, spark new ideas and inspire action.

Scholars often refer to leadership as the ability to influence without authority. The most powerful way to do that very thing at scale is through culture—the system of beliefs, norms and symbols that demarcate who we are and what is expected of people like us. Whether you are in a company, an organization or community, culture governs everything. Dr. Marcus Collins helps leaders understand the power of culture in influencing and changing human behavior and to develop it as a leadership tool. Audiences learn how to shape a more innovative, productive, inclusive and empathetic culture in their workplace or organization. Most importantly, they’ll learn how to harness the sway of culture to get people to move and take action.

In today’s competitive business landscape, it’s more important than ever to put the customer at the center of all business decisions. While this truth might be widely held, our ability to build organizations that are readily capable of implementing a customer centric approach is not as accessible as we might desire. This talk uncovers a perspective for customer centricity and provides actionable strategies for adopting this approach within your organization.

Key takeaways:

  • Understand the benefits of a customer-centric approach, including increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, and how it can drive business growth and success
  • Discover strategies for creating a customer-centric culture within your organization and building a customer-centric team
  • Learn how to apply these strategies to your organization right away

Think of some of the most influential consumer brands of the last 20 years: Apple, Nike, Google, Target, Budweiser—even Beyoncé. Now, learn how to create your own successful personal brand from the award-winning marketing strategist behind them. In this transformational learning experience, former head of strategy at Weiden + Kennedy/New York, University of Michigan marketing professor, and bestselling author on the power of culture, Marcus Collins, applies the secrets and strategies of top brands toward achieving both personal and professional success.

Audiences will:

  • Explore what a brand is—and why it can be such a powerful tool.
  • Reflect on their own core values to create an authentic personal brand
  • Develop an “elevator speech” and imagery to articulate their brand’s  value
  • Create an engaging brand story
  • Align their personal brand story with their organization’s brand and goals
  • Learn how to leverage brand to achieve personal and professional goals at any stage of their life or career.

Featuring fascinating stories about brands,  insightful reflections on human behavior and contemporary culture, and interactive exercises from an acclaimed marketer and professor, Marcus Collins’s can’t-miss talk can be tailored to a wide variety of audiences.

Biography

Dr. Marcus Collins is an award-winning marketer and cultural translator with one foot in the world of practice—formerly serving as the Head of Strategy at Wieden+Kennedy, New York—and one foot in the world of academia—as a marketing professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.

His deep understanding of brand strategy and consumer behavior has helped him bridge the academic-practitioner gap for blue-chip brands and startups alike. He is a recipient of Advertising Age’s 40 Under 40 award and Crain’s Business’ 40 Under 40 award, and an inductee into the American Advertising Federation’s Advertising Hall of Achievement. In 2023, he was recognized by Thinkers50 with the Radar Distinguished Achievement Award for the idea most likely to shape the future of business management. He is a member of Marshall Goldsmith’s 100 Coaches and has also served as a jury for the Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity.

Before joining Wieden+Kennedy, he served as the Chief Consumer Connections Officer at Doner Advertising and led Social Engagement at Steve Stoute’s advertising agency, Translation. Over the course of his career, Marcus has developed a practice for creating culturally contagious ideas that inspire people to take action. His strategies and creative contributions have led to the launch and success of Google’s “Real Tone” technology, the “Made In America” music festival, the Brooklyn Nets, and State Farm’s “Cliff Paul” campaign – among others.

Prior to his advertising tenure, Marcus began his career in music and tech with a startup he co-founded before working on iTunes + Nike sport music initiatives at Apple and running digital strategy for Beyoncé.

Marcus’ work centers squarely on the impact of culture and the power that comes from having great cultural proximity. His best-selling book, For The Culture: The Power Behind What We Buy, What We Do, and Who We Want to Be, examines the influence of culture on consumption and unpacks how everyone from marketers to activists can leverage culture to get people to take action. Throughout the book, he relies on literature, case studies, his work with brands, and academic data to illustrate the “whys” and the “hows” so that readers will be empowered to successfully apply these learnings in their own pursuits.

Marcus holds a doctorate in marketing from Temple University where he studied cultural contagion and meaning-making. He received an MBA with an emphasis on strategic brand marketing from the University of Michigan, where he also earned his undergraduate degree in Material Science Engineering. He is a Forbes columnist and a trusted voice among CMOs and business leaders. But most importantly, he is a proud Detroit native, a devoted husband, and a loving father to Georgia and Ivy.

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