Getting to Know AFFIRM – Part 4


Happy New Year from everyone at AFFIRM! As we settle in for another successful year after a nice holiday break, I thought it would be fun to let our readers get a sneak peek into what we typically do outside of work. For this post, I asked “Where could we find you on a typical Saturday?”

Danny: At a live music show.

Katie: In a yoga studio, at the park with my dog, or drinking a craft beer somewhere near my house in Bay View.

Karissa: In the summer, I’ll be on the lake – paddle boarding, swimming, and soakin’ up the sun. When it’s colder, I’m a big fan of fuzzy blankets and cheesy rom-coms, but I also enjoy hiking, shopping, spending time with family, anything really. I’m not picky.

Amy: Well it depends on the season, but for sure at brunch at The Knick or in the Third Ward! In the summer, I’ll be checking out the festivals in Milwaukee. In the fall and winter, I’ll be watching college football and basketball.

Cathy: I’m usually at home during the day doing boring stuff like cleaning. Evenings are more relaxed; go out with friends for dinner or drinks

Ryan: You can’t find me. On the weekends I am conducting secret missions and flying around the world.

Erik: At home brewing a meticulous pot of coffee; probably off to the library for a bit in the afternoon.

Rick: Kids’ sports, family outings, back yard, deer stands or sitting somewhere with a Bloody Mary and a chaser.

Steve: It depends on the time of year but it’s usually one of three things. It could be on a golf course, at a Badger football game or working in the yard!

Traci: On a typical Saturday, you will find me sipping on a cappuccino, running errands, spending quality time with family, and finishing the day with an Old Fashioned or craft beer.

Laura: No such thing as a typical Saturday for a mom of two, but most likely would be cheering on my kids at a soccer, basketball or baseball game depending on the season, regular weekend chores, and in the evening, either a family movie night at home, a date with my husband or a night out with friends.

Meaghan: On a typical Saturday, you could usually find me catching up with friends or spending time with my family. Either way I like to be on the go!

We’d love to hear from our readers as well. What do you do on a typical day away from the office?

Getting to Know AFFIRM – Part 1



Well, it’s official. You are reading the FIRST installment of “Getting to Know Affirm”. As I’m sure you’re aware by now, we’ve recently re-branded ourselves. We decided it was time to change our name to something that better describes what we do and how we do it. We provide positively engaging marketing (we don’t sell toner or paper clips.) In honor of the re-branding process, I thought it was fitting to ask a survey question that actually relates to what we do. What did I learn? It’s shocking that our office doesn’t constantly smell like Old Spice.

What is your all-time favorite marketing campaign?

Ryan: Old Spice, “The man your man could smell like”

Danny: The original Miller Lite Beer campaign in the late ’70’s/early ’80’s featuring famous former athletes and comedians arguing over “Tastes great” and “Less filling”

Katie: Old Spice, “The man your man could smell like”. I also love new Southwest Wedding Season commercials!

Karissa: The 2015 Budweiser Super Bowl Commercial – “Lost Dog”

Erik: I don’t know about all-time, but this child abuse PSA designed to be seen only by children is a great campaign in recent memory:

Amy: Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like! (link above) Otherwise a not as funny but great commercial is the Budweiser 2014 Super Bowl commercial.

Cathy: I don’t know if it’s my favorite, but the one that immediately came to mind was the Get a Mac campaign. I will admit to rooting for poor PC.
And if you’re looking for a more current one – I do enjoy the Kristen Bell & Dax Shepherd ads for Samsung.

Josh: Guinness is good for you.

Traci: I’d say the Anti-Smoking “Truth” campaign. It was very hard hitting public service announcement that really made an impact for me.

Steve: That question is like asking what’s your favorite dessert or song – way too many choices! Here are my top three:
1. Volkswagen – Think Small. It’s an older campaign but a testament to the fact that Volkswagen never tried to be something there weren’t.
2. Apple – Get a Mac. Simple, clever, and people could easily relate to the people and benefits.
3. Old Spice – The Man Your Man Could Smell Like. Proof that even great marketing can resurrect an old, tired brand.

Rick: Quiznos Subs – Spongemonkeys

Roe: The Fireside Dinner Theatre – High School Musical

Laura: I have many favorites, but two that are sentimental faves:
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup: “You got your peanut butter on my chocolate. You got your chocolate in my peanut butter. Two great tastes that taste great together.”
Tootsie Pops: “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop? The world may never know.”

Getting to Know Staples Marketing – Part Seven

photo courtesy of:
photo courtesy of:

Sure, everyone here is interested in marketing or advertising of some form. I mean, that’s why we’re here, right? But let’s just say, for a moment, we weren’t. A career in marketing just wasn’t a part of any of our plans. What the heck would we all be doing? Well, read on to find out.

“Question 7: If you didn’t work in marketing, what would you do?”

Erik: It would’ve required a very different career path, but I’m going to say build furniture.

Ingrid: I don’t work in marketing.  Hahahahaha  🙂 (Okay, she got me – she works in Accounting!)

Ryan: I would own and work a restaurant bar on a tropical beach.

Cathy: I’d go to Culinary Institute of America and become a chef. Then open my own restaurant.

Josh: I would run a small movie theater or bowling alley that also serves really good sandwiches.

Amy: I would work in the sports industry, maybe doing sports marketing or something.

Katie: I would open a pit bull rescue and save ALL THE DOGS!

Traci: I’d still be in the arts in some shape or form, probably own an art gallery. If my husband had a say, we’d be running a brew pub!

Laura: Teach theatre classes to kids.

Steve: I’d work in some form of healthcare as a physician or specialist, possibly sports medicine.

Danny: I’d be a lawyer.

Karissa: I would love to be a pediatric nurse. I love working with and helping kids!

Roe: I might be a stock broker or financial planner, helping people maximize their investments.

Reliability Is Gold (Or Even Platinum)


Photo source:

Extremely Reliable is one of our Core Values here at Staples Marketing. We’ll always be there for our clients, and we’re always ready to provide great service, regardless of what the situation requires. Here’s an example of another group that subscribed to the same ideal.

In the mid-1960s, a group of session musicians quickly rose to prominence (as much as a backing band can) for their work at FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, or “The Swampers”, had a distinctive sound, a solid work ethic, and the ability to provide an impressive foundation for a wide variety of music styles.

The Swampers established themselves playing on R&B hits like:

– “When A Man Loves A Woman” by Percy Sledge

– “Mustang Sally” by Wilson Pickett

– “Tell Mama” by Etta James

– “I’ll Take You There” by The Staple Singers

– Most of the Aretha Franklin songs you know.

But they were recruited to back artists of all sorts of musical styles, including Willie Nelson, Jimmy Cliff, Joe Cocker, Cher, and many others.

All told, this group was the backing band on over 75 gold or platinum records. That’s a lot. You don’t achieve that level of success in such a wide range of styles without serious levels of ability and professionalism, and a strong desire to get some great things done. That’s what I call extremely reliable.


He Only Scored 39

Atlanta Hawks vs. Boston Celtics

Photo Source:

The NBA is a league full of storied rivalries and unforgettable games, and this story is pretty unforgettable. Plus, it’s a fantastic example of what it means to be ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE – one of our Core Values here at Staples Marketing.

Dominique Wilkins recently gave an interview for the Boston Herald wherein he discussed one of his first ever matchups with Larry Bird, during the 1982-83 season. Wilkins was a highly-touted rookie, but Bird had already established himself as a superstar – and a known trash-talker.

After refusing to shake Wilkins’ hand before the game, Bird proceeded to score on him time and time again, talking a HUGE amount of trash all the while. It wasn’t until Wilkins scored on Bird with a strong move to the basket that Bird finally relented (momentarily).

Bird told Wilkins that he liked him and admired his toughness, but said he would still score 40 points on Wilkins that night. Wilkins said in the interview, “But I got him. He only scored 39.”

Giving up 39 points to an opposing player is not great, but Wilkins chalked it up as a win because it wasn’t 40. Additionally, he went on in the interview to say that tough games against the league’s best competitors didn’t hurt him, but instead made him into a tougher, better player.

Dominique Wilkins developed into a Hall of Famer because he didn’t let setbacks get him down, and he used the setbacks he met as learning devices to better prepare himself for the next time. That is what it means to be ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE.

Getting to Know Staples Marketing – Part Six

“Getting to Know Staples Marketing” is continuing with the travel theme for another round of vacation-related questions. When I asked everyone where their favorite vacation spot is, it was assumed that people would answer with destinations they’ve been to and enjoyed. After reading everyone’s answers, the question began popping up around the office about places we HAVEN’T been, but would love to go. That leads me to my next question:

If you could go anywhere in the world (assuming money was no object), where would you go?

Amy: The Maldives or Bali

Katie: I’d go to Australia and New Zealand for the surfing and the scenery!

Traci: Paris, France to see the Eiffel Tower. My husband’s answer would be Belgium, for the sole purpose of drinking their beer…I’d consider that too!

Josh: Giza, Egypt

Danny: Australia

Jenny: Greece!

Cathy: I’ve been there before but didn’t spend nearly enough time, so if money and time were no object, I would go to Europe – starting with Italy. I would spend most of the time there – at least a week in Rome, a week in Sicily to meet remaining relatives and tour the island and spend a week in Capri. Then I’d have to see the areas I haven’t visited yet – Tuscany, Venice and hang around Lake Como. After that, I’d want to see Crete, Belgium, Paris and London. And, maybe a stop in Amsterdam.  😉

Ryan: I would travel through every country in Europe, for a 3 month Summer Vacation!

Ingrid: Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France, England, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Ireland, Scotland, Portugal

Laura: I would go to Ireland and Germany to find family and ancestors, then spend some additional time on every continent.

Erik: Belgium & Austria, touring all the Trappist monasteries that brew beer, bringing some of the best of everything home.

Steve: Laucala Island, Fiji

Rick: Africa

Roe: I would like to travel through Europe, especially Italy.

While we’re on the topic of places we’d like to visit, check out this list of completely unreal destinations throughout the world. I might have to change my answer…

Do you know WHY your company exists?

Simon Sinek Golden Circle

That’s a pretty basic question when you get right down to it. If you asked 10 people, most of them would likely say it’s, “to make money.” While that certainly is one of the reasons companies exist, we know that most are here to satisfy the needs of the groups they serve by providing them some type of value. Knowing that, it still doesn’t explain the key reasons why companies exist.

For those who are familiar with TED Talks and the one by Simon Sinek regarding “The Golden Circle,” he does a great job of explaining this idea. If you haven’t seen it, take a few minutes to watch this short clip. While the examples he provides are based on well-known brands and individuals, he points to three basic principles that drive successful businesses. In short, the “The Golden Circle” refers to:

  1. All companies must know WHAT they do.
  2. Some know HOW they do it, and how they add value.
  3. Very few know WHY they do what they do.

These three principles apply to all companies, from those that are just another company in the market to those that lead them. While you may agree or disagree with the Simon’s rationale or principles, the takeaway is that “People don’t buy what you do but why you do it.”

Our agency’s purpose is to effectively communicate to people how they can make their own lives better. This was defined over the past year as we looked more closely at WHAT we do and HOW we do it in establishing our core values. The WHY part came out of that discovery process and it speaks to not only why we exist but what we hope to inspire in our clients and everyone we work with.

From providing information to people about better ways of recycling and keeping a cleaner environment, to helping them become aware of how to drive more safely on Wisconsin roadways — plus a whole lot more, we’re all about making lives better.

Even though our agency started 30 years ago (with the latest iteration beginning in 2004 when Danny Mager and I joined the firm), we hadn’t taken the time to define the WHY. Prior to Staples Marketing, I was fortunate to be part of a number of successful companies that used “The Golden Circle” principle whether they knew it or not. These companies helped shape my outlook for the kind of work we do today as well as the kind of agency we’ve become. And looking back over the years, I know there are many organizations that have impacted the WHY for me personally, including my experience growing up in Scouting and my involvement more recently in Rotary International.

So, while some of you may know WHY your company exists, for those of you who don’t — know that it’s never too late.

Next time I’ll share our Mission, Vision and exciting news about where our agency is headed.

Turtle Power!


Photo source:

One of our Core Values here at Staples Marketing that regularly proves invaluable is that we are AMAZINGLY RESOURCEFUL. The combined experience of our team gives us a huge amount of resources from which to pull solutions for all situations, and the know-how to correctly utilize them. We’re great at finding ways to overcome challenges!

It’s always inspiring and fun to see how other resourceful people take on challenges, as well. One example comes from Germany, where a veterinarian (Dr. Carsten Plischke) found a creative way to help a disabled turtle regain its mobility.

The turtle, named Blade, has a condition wherein muscle loss and a lack of bone density prevent him from moving or even supporting the weight of his own shell. In an effort to help, Dr. Plischke has mounted LEGO wheels to the lower portion of Blade’s shell, which keep his body off the ground and allow him to walk more easily. The hope is that these wheels will just be training wheels, and that Blade will ultimately gain the necessary strength to walk on his own.

Check out the following video to see the little guy in action. [NOTE: The audio is in German.]

Getting to Know Staples Marketing – Part Five


For this edition of “Getting to Know Staples Marketing”, I asked a question about my favorite topic – travel. In my opinion, nothing beats exploring somewhere you’ve never been. I make it a point to travel somewhere new every year. In fact, I’ve booked plane tickets at the drop of a hat with the last dollar in my bank account just to go somewhere new. (Okay – maybe not the smartest decision, but looking back I‘d still say it was worth it.) I was excited to find out which places everyone else has explored, and which destinations were their favorites. Who knows, maybe one of these answers will spark an adventure for someone reading. Today’s question:

What is your favorite vacation spot?

Traci: That’s easy, where Tim and I went on our honeymoon – Ireland!

Katie: In the United States, definitely San Francisco. Internationally, it’s a toss-up between Lisbon, Portugal and Santorini, Greece. Too hard to choose!

Amy: London if I am up for sightseeing and exploring or if I am looking to relax then Atlantis in the Bahamas.

Josh: Portland, Oregon

Danny: Bermuda

Jenny: Naples, Florida

Ingrid: Austria

Roe: Fort Meyers Beach, FL

Laura: Ogunquit, Maine and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Steve: Kauai, Hawaii

Ryan: My girlfriend’s family cabin in Presque Isle, Wisconsin. A nature retreat from the hustle and bustle of the world.

Erik: A bit fancy to make a regular thing, but our honeymoon was on Isla Mujeres in Mexico, and that was a great place to be.

Cathy: New Orleans

Rick: Paradise Island, Bahamas

Collaborate and Learn!

Openly Collaborative Icon

One of our Core Values here at Staples Marketing is that we are OPENLY COLLABORATIVE. It’s a great way to be. We work well as a team, both with our coworkers and with our clients, and it leads to the best results for everyone.

To get a better understanding of this particular Core Value, I did some research on the notion of collaboration. While an excellent finished product is what our team always strives to create, by collaborating the way we do we are actually creating other positive results, as well!

We pride ourselves on having a well-seasoned staff of media professionals, but in everything we do we are still always learning and always developing our skills. The concept of collaborative learning is one that you’ll find in hundreds of scholarly journal articles, and while the findings might vary a little, most studies show similar benefits related to learning as a team.

Collaborative learning promotes better social interaction and overall communication between people. It creates an appreciation for other points of view, other talents and other learning styles. Critical thinking, positivity, diversity, responsibility, exploration and support are all positive side effects of collaboration.

Taking a step back, one could say that OPENLY COLLABORATIVE is at the core of our Core Values. What I mean is, by being collaborative within our team and with our clients, we are constantly developing our inclinations to be ALWAYS RESPONSIVE, EXTREMELY RELIABLE, AMAZINGLY RESOURCEFUL, EXCEPTIONALLY ADAPTABLE, ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE and INSPIRED FUN.  It helps those we work with to live out those values, as well.

If you’re interested in collaborating on a project or campaign for the coming year, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re always interested in partnering with new people and developing new ideas!