Dr. Marcus Collins

  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • Fees* On Request

Tagline: Cultural Leadership

Talent Highlights

  • 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.
  • Best-selling Author, Leading Cultural Translator, University of Michigan Marketing Professor, 2023 Thinkers50 Radar Award Winner, Forbes Contributor and Award-Winning Marketer

Keynote Topics

THE CURIOUS CASE OF CULTURAL CONSUMPTION

Since its modern conception, marketing and advertising have relied on creativity as a catalyst for commerce. Marketers use copy and images to evoke desired behaviors from a target populous in hopes that it will impact the brand’s bottom line.

While the convergence of the two—creativity and commerce—is considered the hallmark of “good marketing communications” (sought after by ad agencies and ambitious brand managers alike), there is an unspoken factor that frames its relevance and significance.

That factor is “culture” and this talk ventures to explore the unwritten rules about culture and why its simultaneous salience and nebulousness should be the backbone of how we approach marketing in today’s hyper-connected world.

UNLOCKING THE POWER OF NETWORKS

Today’s connected-world provides marketers unprecedented access to consumer data. We can track what people like, where they go, what they share, what they buy, and so on.

The reams of passive information that people shed on a daily basis allow for more targeted messaging and measurement. However, while this intelligence has made marketers more confident, it has not made them more accurate in their efforts.

This deficiency is not due to a lack of available data, rather, it is born from a lack of truly understanding people. Marketers have mistaken consumer information for consumer intimacy and, therefore, have not been able to fully leverage the power of the data and the connectivity of the ever-evolving media landscape.

This talk uncovers a new and more accurate approach to segmentation so that we might improve our marketing accuracy, extract the true potential of data, and, ultimately, get closer to predictive modeling.

CREATING CULTURAL CONTAGION

In today’s hyper-connected world, the allure of “going viral” continues to seduce marketers and idea-generators into investing significant time and resources toward the creation of content – videos, memes, tweets, posts, etc. – that spreads.

There is seemingly no shortage of brands, business owners, or storytellers who covet the opportunity to have their ideas trend on Twitter, rake up 1 million+ views on Youtube, or garner thousands of Facebook “likes.”

Metrics of social-chatter are then used as a proxy for success with the inclination that virality leads to reach and reach implies potential action.

Though there are benefits to “going viral,” one must wonder if virality is truly what we’re after or if perhaps there is something far greater worth pursuing.

This talk reframes the benefits of “going viral” and provides an alternative aim. It explores the impact of culture on consumer behavior and offers an actionable framework that enables marketers to create ideas/messages/ products/content that not only spread but also take hold in culture.

THE LIFE OF A BLACK SHEEP

This talk discusses the concept of foreignness and how the adoption of perspective helps us to be more empathetic and, consequently, more human.

Here, I share my experiences as an educated black man in a white-dominated career and how feeling “too foreign for home, too foreign for here. Never enough for both” has shaped how I see the world and the way I show up in it.

The hope is that my story might widen the aperture of how you see the world also, and lubricate the connective ties that bind us all.

NUMBERS DON’T LIE, RIGHT?

These days, there is no shortage of marketers looking for “data-driven” insights that lead to informed creative ideas. The use of data help reduce risk in our communication efforts and often times optimizes the effectiveness of the media we allocate to support said efforts.

What a great time to be a marketer?!

  • However, despite the fact that marketers have access to more data than ever before, there are very few marketers celebrating “better ideas” or “better performing marketing” as a result of it?
  • How can that be?!
  • Are the numbers not as accurate as we thought?

Or perhaps we’re looking at the wrong data.

This talk explores a calibrated look at data and how it might better serve the marketing function by analyzing a case study in motion.

Dr. Marcus Collins is an award-winning marketer, cultural translator, and best-selling author who has spent his career translating culture for brands and translating brands for culture. He currently serves as Clinical Assistant Professor of Marketing at Ross School of Business, University of Michigan and as a regular contributor to Forbes, where he writes about subjects ranging from […]

Dr. Marcus Collins is an award-winning marketer, cultural translator, and best-selling author who has spent his career translating culture for brands and translating brands for culture.

He currently serves as Clinical Assistant Professor of Marketing at Ross School of Business, University of Michigan and as a regular contributor to Forbes, where he writes about subjects ranging from the business cost of canceling diversity efforts to the impact of AI on creativity.

Previously, he served as Chief Strategy Officer at Wieden + Kennedy, New York, where he was the architect of some of the best-known advertising campaigns of our time. Collins has championed strategies for blue chip brands such as McDonald’s, Apple, Google, State Farm, Target, Peloton, and Budweiser.

Earlier in his career, he ran digital strategy for Beyoncé. Marcus Collins honors include being an AAF Advertising Hall of Achievement Inductee, 2022 Cannes Lions Jury Member, a member of the 2023 Thinkers50 Radar Class and one of the favorite professors of the University of Michigan MBA class of 2022.

He is also the recipient of Advertising Age’s 40 Under 40 award and Crain’s Business’ 40 Under 40 award.

Dr. Marcus Collins | Cultural Leadership

Marcus Collins 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 to their own pursuits.

Since its release, For the Culture has received numerous accolades—making it to Thinkers 50’s Best New Management Booklist 2023, Forbes “6 Must-Read Books for Spring Reading”, Amazon’s #1 New Release list, and receiving rave reviews in the Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.

For the Culture was recognized by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) with the Outstanding Book Award for 2023.

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