JACKSON, Miss. (September 13, 2017) – Jackson Advertising Agency, Maris, West & Baker (MWB), announced that Tim Mask has been named the President of the agency, effective immediately.
Mask, who will be the fifth president, is a nearly 19-year veteran of the Mississippi-based agency, which he joined in 1999. Peter Marks, who has served as CEO and President of the agency since 2006, will continue in the role of CEO. “In his time here at our agency, Mask has very quickly risen up the ranks from a PR intern to an account executive, marketing strategist, and agency partner,” said Marks. “His keen insight into brand strategy and his deep knowledge of new and emerging marketing platforms and tactics will serve us well in years to come.”
One of Mask’s proudest achievements at MWB was championing the agency’s #CreateForGood initiative, which reflects the agency’s mission to attract clients that have a positive impact on health, the economy, and quality of life. “Here in Mississippi, there are many opportunities for us to use our creativity to inspire positive changes to the world around us,” said Mask. “You can do good work and good works.”
In addition to his agency responsibilities, Mask is the founder of the Fast Forward Mississippi Initiative, a benefit organization focused on reversing Mississippi’s “brain drain,” the outmigration of knowledge worker talent. In 2014, he co-founded one of Fast Forward Mississippi’s best-known initiatives, Kids Code Mississippi, with MWB Partner and Creative Director, Randy Lynn, to advocate for K-12 computer science education in Mississippi.
While serving as agency president, Mask will maintain his supervisory role on MWB clients, including the Mississippi State Department of Health, Entergy Nuclear, the Mississippi Development Authority and the Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Maris, West & Baker is idea + creative content company focused on creating positive social impact and helping partners maximize brand visibility.
Well, a whole school year’s gone by since we started the marvelous mayhem that is Spark-O-Matic in early September of 2016 at Medgar Evers Library. And fittingly enough, it’s been most educational, both for mentors and for students, in the exciting months since.
Together, even without a bright, shiny digital creativity lab, we’re exploring how to design websites, make videos, produce soup commercials, delve into logo development (see this post’s featured image), create captivating personal stories with Lida Burris that get seen up on the big screen, and much more.
We’re also learning that sometimes, it’s important to put away your digital devices, even during a digital arts class (maybe especially during digital arts class). And that it’s good to unplug for a while — perhaps do some letterpress at the Mississippi Ag Museum and regain your connection to the real world. After all, one essential key to achieving digital literacy is knowing how to strike a healthy balance between time online and off.
Most importantly, though, the students are discovering how to collaborate together, make connections, share ideas, find their voices and freely express themselves in an increasingly loud, noisy world that can all too often drown them out and mute their creativity. In fact, my favorite times at Spark-O-Matic are when a few students who are inspired and passionate about something—like transforming their own illustrated sketches into digital art—take the lead and share their skills with others. There is such talent in this group, such incredible potential.
These are the times, too, when the class becomes a true melting pot, simmering with ideas that are made better with each new insight offered up by the students themselves. This is peer-to-peer education at its finest. The way the kids guide each other in solving problems, overcoming technical issues, troubleshooting, and tackling details like shading and perspective is amazing.
And now we’re embarking on two new projects that could top them all: One, a cool music video project propelled by the theme, “What Medgar Evers Library means to me…” Kicking things off a couple weeks ago, we discussed what form such a music video would take. Together, we made a list of what we like best about this library, which included: Talent shows, Game day, Movie Flick Saturday, Spark-O-Matic, Creativity, Community, A place of peace, A place to speak your mind, Family, Superheroes (drawings and people), Voting, Babysitting, Volunteer, Conversation, Escape, Family… and so on.
Angel, a rising 9th grader at Callaway High School, came up with a winning idea: Have the words and phrases from our list illustrated on handmade cards that students, in groups or individually, hold as they pop up around the library. The plan is to get those action-word pop-ups on camera, then create a soundtrack with masterful music assistance from Will Jolly over at Brown River Sound. Will’s already stopped by to scratch beats and get us going on the music track.
Another big project underway is something in partnership with James Bridgeforth from the Mississippi Heritage Trust (mississippiheritage.com).
The Heritage Trust is about preserving Mississippi’s historic places. One of those places is Medgar Evers’ home. So, this summer we are embarking on a Spark-O-Matic documentary about Medgar Evers’ home that will created by our students.
Medgar Evers: Where he lived then. Where he lives today: In the hearts and minds—and lives—of the children and families served by the Medgar Evers library.
We will tell that story through: 1) A visit to Medgar Evers’ house where we will gather video footage, and 2) Interviews with the families and kids who come to the library, talking with them about Mississippi civil rights leader Medgar Evers.
Starter questions for our patron interviews:
Who is Medgar Evers?
What did he do?
How does what he did live on today?
In our first lively discussion about Medgar Evers, his family and his home, the students added the question, “What is civil rights?” to the mix. That’s a huge question we’ll continue to explore through the project. Once complete, the students’ documentary will be shown at a Mississippi Heritage Trust gala event in December of this year.
We’re going to keep the creative sparks flying over the summer at Spark-O-Matic. While the school doors are closed, the library’s will be wide open. Big things are happening. And you’re invited join this crazy, creative melting pot, Tuesday nights from 5:30 to 6:45.
“You can kill a man but you can’t kill an idea.” — Medgar Evers
We have launched another MWB Podcast – Spark-o-Creativity – hosted by MWB Creative Savant Marc Leffler (that’s me). The new podcast joins MWB Creative Fire as another in the agency’s line of content focused on the mission of #Create4Good. Specifically, Spark-O-Creativity revolves around an endeavor to increase digital and creative literacy among young people in Mississippi – particularly those in under-served communities (more on this at a later date).
The inaugral MWB Spark-O-Creativity podcast features Jackson area youth music group Tribe 3. Ish Gray and his friends – who are Tribe 3 – are high school juniors who mix beats and create hip-hop with their laptops. (they’re self-taught, btw.) Find out how this free-form digital music-making has become their “second voice.”
Maris, West & Baker (MWB) has been awarded the overall Best Wellness Campaign for 2015 by the Ragan Health Care Awards. The campaign, developed by MWB on behalf of the Mississippi State Department of Health, takes a direct and hard-hitting approach to encouraging young people to get tested for HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases.
Ragan’s Communications Awards are among the most prestigious in the fields of marketing and public relations throughout the world. Ragan properties support over 800,000 daily readers and is considered a gold standard in communications information.
MWB’s HIV/STD awareness campaign – titled “Know It,” encourages young, sexually active adults to utilize interactive and mobile technology to remain aware of their personal sexual health. The multi-platform campaign utilizes traditional television, print, outdoor, and interactive media to promote testing access and a discrete mobile application users can utilize on their mobile devices. In addition to the marketing campaign, MWB was also responsible for the development of the mobile app.
“This candid call for action from the State of Mississippi Department of Health to potential and untested HIV carriers who are young, sexually active adults is the only one of its kind in the U. S. so far.” – Ragan’s
“This campaign was first and foremost about communicating clearly and directly exactly who is at risk for HIV and other STD’s,” said MWB Creative Director Marc Leffler. “There are stereotypes of who these at-risk people are and the fact is so many more people are actually at risk.”
The campaign was developed around social situations many young people frequently find themselves in. The campaign then connects these situations with at-risk behavior and subsequently encourages the audience to have peace of mind by being tested.
“With today’s media targeting technology, we knew we could afford to be a bit more hard-hitting with our messaging, because we weren’t as worried about it being seen by ‘the wrong audience,’ ” said MWB President Peter Marks. “This is a great example of effective messaging being married with highly sophisticated media placement and message dissemination.”
Ragan recognized the “Know It” campaign as “one of its kind in the U.S. so far.”
MWB’s campaign increased engagement with testing services by 17,000% from pre-campaign levels, testing center tracking information showed. The campaign ran statewide in Mississippi and targeted 17 – 35 year-olds. The main goals of the campaign were to boost awareness of the importance of getting tested, publicize access to free and confidential testing, to dispel myths that HIV is “untreatable” and “fatal,” and to encourage those who have HIV to get and stay in treatment regimes.
“It is unfortunate that Mississippi is among the leaders in the U.S. with per capita rates of HIV and STD occurrences,” said Marks. “We do hope that campaigns such as ‘Know It’ and the clinical and field work being done by the Mississippi State Department of Health and other partners will make a real and positive impact.”
Maris, West & Baker is a Jackson, Mississippi-based marketing and experiential brand development agency with a core competency in public health communications. The agency oversees campaign development and implementation for tobacco prevention and cessation, vaccination awareness, communicable diseases awareness, and healthy lifestyle promotion.
The Ragan Health Care Awards are part of Lawrence Ragan Communications, Inc., which has been the leading publisher of corporate communications, public relations, and leadership development newsletters. Ever since the launch of The Ragan Report in 1970, Ragan has provided the professional communicator and executives with timely, practical, and relevant information that few others can match. The Ragan brand now includes over 16 targeted newsletters in the areas of employee communication, organizational writing and editing, sales and marketing, media relations and motivational management. The Ragan Health Care awards fall under the company’s Health Care Communication News, which is a daily website that highlights the latest news in health care social media, marketing, health communications, Pharma, physicians and mobile health.
For more information, contact Tim Mask at Maris, West & Baker.
This edition of the MWB Creative Fire podcast originally posted 5/7/15. It’s the first of our revamped podcast recorded in the brand MWB Creative Fire Studios. Enjoy!
We have a great #MWBeer30 lined up for April. The good folks from FNC in Oxford are stopping by the MWB World Headquarters to give a talk about innovation drivers they have incorporated into their company. If you’re interested in the 80/20 model, intern innovation, hackathons, or various other creative strategies for building a corporate culture of innovation, please join us 4/17 at 3:30-ish.
Oh, and as always, there will be a great selection of Mississippi craft beer on hand for sampling.
See you then!
UPDATE 2/25/15: Unfortunately craft beer legal expert Matthew McLaughlin has a conflict and will have to make a speaking appearance at MWBeer30 later this year. However, Butler Snow counsel and former gubernatorial policy advisor Tray Hairston will be on-hand to give a brief talk about the exciting things happening in healthcare in Mississippi, and the concept of healthcare as an economic driver. Join us at 3:30-ish, Friday, February 27th at MWB’s world headquarters for a great line up of Mississippi craft beer, innovative discussions, and some Mississippi iconic-in-the-making photos taken by MWB Producer of Multimedia Tate Nations.
Great Mississippi from the folks at LD’s Beer Run will be available for sampling.
To stay up with the next #MWBeer30 event and learn about topics discussed at previous gatherings, sign-up for #MWBeer30 alerts. Sign up today and get a free beverage at our next event!
(OK so the beverages are always free. You should sign-up, anyway).
Yes it’s that time for the ubiquitous “look ahead” to what’s expected in 2015. Actually, I read a great article from Fast Company Create that was a list of prognostications from brand managers and creative types. Letting author Jeff Beer do the heavy lifting, we’ll comment on excerpts from his well-done piece. Read the full article on Co.Create.
What are the things (technological, societal, media-related, economic, or otherwise) that will most impact the work you’ll be doing next year?
Tor Myhren, worldwide chief creative officer, Grey: Our industry’s obsession with celebrities became massive this year, and I see this as an even bigger trend next year. Leader brands are using them to flex their dominance, challenger brands are using them as a shortcut to quick buzz, and everyone is using their social media tentacles as a cheaper media channel. I have never seen our industry lean more on celebrity, both as “the idea” and as a media outlet, than we did in 2014. Of course this simply mimics what’s happening in society as a whole. We are and forever will be a culture that cannot take our eyes off the stars. Micro-celebrities (like YouTube celebs) will continue to grow and become a more central part of media and partnership strategies.
I couldn’t agree with Tor more. Especially in regard to the “YouTube celebrity” phenomenon. Back in late 2013 MWB ran with a series of faux YouTube celeb shows as part of our youth tobacco prevention campaign (check out the exploits of Trip and Trey, Coach D-Blast, and Masterdaters here.) I actually believe you’ll see more marketing campaigns creating their own faux celebs on YouTube and other social media channels. It is an uphill battle to push product or even brand attributes via social media simply because it consists of platforms built for personal interaction, not passive messaging. Personifying messages solves that. It’s the evolution of the “spokesperson.” Used to celebrities were hired to be spokespeople because of their celebrity. Today, being a spokesperson actually generates the celebrity. This is a trend on the upswing.
Ben Priest, founding partner and executive creative director, adam&eveDDB London: The only real challenge facing us every year is finding great people. That never changes. 2015 will be no different. Great talent is a rare thing but when you find it your business hits fast forward.
I SWEAR there was no collusion between us and Mr. Priest on this quote. The “Fast Forward Mississippi” initiative is designed to address this very challenge for Mississippi on a statewide level. This is certainly true for creative firms such as ours – we want to find the best, most innovative folks we can and retain them. It’s also true for most other industries in an age in which we are moving into a full fledged global knowledge economy. Sorry for the tangent, but this issue is something in which Maris, West & Baker is deeply involved and I found it interesting that it came up in this article.
Adrian Belina, partner and creative director, Jam3: As people’s interest in Facebook continues to fade we will see fewer requests from brands to do campaigns and apps that reside within Facebook. In the last year, we’ve definitely seen a return to the microsite format, especially for digital campaigns, and I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of it as brands continue to use Facebook as a conversation tool rather than as their main platform.
I totally agree with Ms. Belina. I never believed that Facebook should be an anchor platform. It’s a great conversation tool, buzz generator, and can be useful for PR, but not as the “home” of a brand. There are actually other social media platforms that are better suited for such if that’s the route you take, particularly tumblr. I’m not sure I’m on board with the idea of microsite, though. At least not in the traditional sense. They can be really cool, but you risk having a dilutive effect (depending on the product/service). Not to mention being a management headache. To accomplish the effect of a microsite, I’d recommend a technology overlay such as Get Smart Content. (I’ve also learned that “dilutive” is apparently not currently a word…. so now I own it Dilutive™.) We actually penned an article about this very topic here way back in February of 2013 titled “Clearing the Digital Kudzu.”
Jon Jackson, global creative director, Huge: People don’t have as much room for b*llsh*t in their lives anymore. With social and political issues top-of-mind for so many right now, we’ll need to employ a greater sense of empathy and understanding in everything we do. Companies that are honest with people and really trying to make their users’ lives a bit better are the ones that will do best. The work we execute next year will be focused on braver ideas, honesty, and empowering people with a little more control over their lives.
Mr. Jackson, I hope you are correct. I do believe there is movement in corporate America toward more of a Tom’s Shoes-esque model. Time will tell how genuine these efforts are, and how genuine consumers perceive them to be. I can foresee a rise in the prominence of “Benefit Corporations” in the global business landscape. The big question will be, if everyone and their brother starts making this empathy aspect part of their brand DNA, how special will it really be? Brands spent the better part of a century convincing everyone that “the customer is king.” A shift to “the greater good” may be the right thing to do, but those who do such at the expense of their consumer experience will likely become non-profit companies (and not in a good way). On a related note:
John Patroulis, chief creative officer, BBH NY: How a company behaves in the world is becoming increasingly important, which is a wonderful thing. Wonderful for the kinds of ideas we can create and the kinds of behavior we can inspire. In a world of perfect information, the activities, values, and stances you take really matter, and affect the health of your business whether you like it or not. A nice side benefit just happens to be happier, more inspired employees, customers, and planet. Using our strategic and creative muscle to help a company find its soul, its authentic space of good, and creatively express that in actions as well as communications (or, when done right, actions that are themselves communications) will be an important focus, along with everything else we do with them.
That’s a great point about happier employees, Mr. Patroulis. Many times the “customer is king” model was at the expense of the employees. Remember, that’s how Brad Hamilton (Judd Reinhold) got fired in Fast Times? Dennis Taylor was a total jerk.
Linda Boff, global executive director of brand marketing, General Electric: Virtual reality! We’re fascinated by the limitlessness of it and began creating content for Oculus Rift this year. It’s a great storytelling platform, particularly for GE, because it gives us another incredible way to show how our big machines perform in extreme conditions. We can take someone on a journey to the sea floor or into the human brain.
We’re also paying a lot of attention to connected TVs and thinking about how brands can play with original content. We love that media is becoming more ephemeral through platforms like SnapChat, Yo and Yik Yak, and at the same time, more long form with platforms like Medium.
Data is also going to have an impact on what we do next year. With data, you enable things, and there’s an opportunity for GE to tell stories with smart light bulbs or thermostats as media.
Not sure how compelling stories via light bulbs and thermostats will be, but the potential for wearables such as Oculus Rift is exciting. This from a guy who had his first experience with Google Glass late last year, and totally geeked out over it. The issue will be how well these items integrate into our everyday lives. They may never become as ubiquitous as some prognosticators claim, but then again after growing up watching Zack Morris talk on a brick, who would have thought I’d turn around and go back home just because I left my iPhone!
— Maris, West & Baker (@MarisWestBaker) December 13, 2014
Those interviewed in Mr. Beer’s article go on to talk about how they are increasingly thinking through branding and consumer touch points at the holistic level. I think this is always the way we need to approach marketing. In an age when message delivery systems are literally customizable down to a person, we tend to let the media platform do the heavy lifting. We have to keep in mind that the media channel is an end to a means. It is FedEx. What is really important is what is in the package when it arrives. Content is and always will be, king.
Full credit of all content in quote blocks above to Jeff Beer and Fast Company creative. I encourage you to read the entire article.
As for Tim Mask predictions of what tactical marketing trends we’ll see congeal in 2015 – I think we’ll begin to see more executions created specifically for aerial drones. Marketing messages for people looking down from above isn’t new. Messages have been painted on the rooftops of barns and big buildings for years. According to Erich von Daniken and Paranoid Rob Lowe, mankind has actually been messaging to flying audiences for centuries. Arial photography and video have traditionally been rare and purpose-specific. As we see camera-ready drones become more affordable and content taken from the air becomes more ubiquitous, it won’t be long before advertisers see the opportunity for product placement. It won’t surprise me a bit if we see a handful of novel ad campaigns this year that are only discoverable from the air. Remember, when it happens, you heard it here.
I suspect 2015 will also see a profusion of viral social-media based “challenges.” The Ice Bucket Challenge was brilliant. There have already been numerous copycats and I suspect more are on the way. Nothing wrong with that. It will be interesting to see what news twists can be incorporated into the concept, though. We may even do a little something for Kids Code Mississippi (… that was a teaser if you didn’t notice… stay tuned).
So we ask the millions of readers of the MWB blog, what are your predictions for 2015?
In order for Mississippi to meet our potential and realize a leading role in the 21st century knowledge-based economy, we believe that we must first be invested in that very potential. In other words, we must believe in our own capabilities and be willing to be our own evangelists. This can begin with something as simple as stirring the conversation.
MWB founded the Mississippi Brain Drain Commission which has worked with partners to develop the Fast Forward Mississippi initiative. This effort is dedicated to stopping the loss of intellectual capital, promoting the next-generation opportunities that exist in our state, and featuring the creativity and innovation that is endemic to our culture.
Make no mistake, creativity and innovation are embedded in the very fabric that is Mississippi. Our state is the cradle of modern American music. We’ve produced some of the most renown literary figures in American letters. Mississippians have played a leading role in the aerospace industry, media conglomerates, and software companies (just to name a few). However, it is also in our nature to be quite humble and reserved about our resources and accomplishments.
Humility is an admirable quality and certainly has its place. The landscape of 21st century economic development is not one of them. We need to be proud of our accomplishments, bullish on our future, and we need to let everyone know it. Every year we lose some of our best and brightest young people to other areas of the country. In most instances, these are young adults who are products of our public school systems, have attended state colleges or universities, and have studied to be innovators in leading-edge and emerging industries. We have invested in these young people with our tax dollars and values. Simply put, we can’t allow the intellectual capital that we’ve grown to be outsourced.
Yet in many instances, we have no one to blame for this outmigration but ourselves. If we’re not willing to tout our own accomplishments and be confident in our future, why should we expect those with the most potential to remain? This is unacceptable. That’s what Fast Forward Mississippi is focused on changing by being a forum to feature our innovators and creators and to underscore the fact that you can go farther, faster in Mississippi.
The first and often most important step in efforts such as this is starting the conversation – and starting the conversation organically. That’s why Fast Forward has made the call for Innovation Ambassadors. We want to leverage the reach of our social media networks to provide the opportunity to have the conversation we need to have. We’re asking all those who believe in our capabilities of innovation, those who believe in Mississippi’s creative spirit and those who understand that leading the 21st century isn’t just a pipe dream but can be a reality – we’re asking you to show your belief by adding a Fast Forward badge to your personal social media profile picture. You’ll be asked, “What’s that symbol on your pic?” That’s your chance to say,
It means that in Mississippi, we understand what it takes to succeed in the new economy. We don’t focus on investing in businesses or organizations. We don’t focus strictly on industry clusters or market segments. Everything we do in Mississippi is concentrated on investing in talent, innovation, and creativity. We’re doing this and the result is industry, arts, and entrepreneurs that will lead in the 21st century… right here in Mississippi. Watch us go farther, faster.
If you believe we can and should lead, if you believe we have the potential and the people, if you believe in our capacity for creativity and tenacity, then we ask you to be an Innovation Ambassador. If you’re unwilling to accept what some call the inevitability that we’re doomed to fight it out for 49th place, and if you hold the determination to control our own future, then we’re asking you to add the Fast Forward badge to your profile and start telling everyone about the bright future that is the state of Mississippi.
At MWB, we’re always doing fun things that also substantively spur creativity and innovation for ourselves and our clients. Creative Director/Short Order Chef Marc Leffler institutionalized Friday breakfast several years ago. A group of us meet at lunch to watch/discuss/speculate about what’s happening with Game of Thrones. We’ve invested our resources in promoting innovative companies and aspects within Mississippi with our Innovation Article series. And as of today, we’re opening the MWB Creative Caffeine Café.
We’ve documented the association between caffeine and creativity. So what better way to spend a little time than rapid fire of innovative ideas over a cup ‘o joe? So, conveniently located downstairs in the office of Tim Mask, we’ve opened a creative café. And the best part is, you’re invited. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, feel free to stop by 8:30 – 9:00 a.m. and we can discuss new and innovative ideas on economic development, healthcare, education, etc. (might want to tweet me first if you’re coming by… just to make sure I’m in the office that day). The only catch before you can partake in caffeinated goodness is that you must write one innovative idea on the big white board conveniently located to the right of the coffeemaker.
Let’s enjoy a good cup of coffee and generate some valuable, creative, and innovative ideas. See you soon at the MWB Creative Caffeine Café!