Chief Digital Officer
Brian is an entrepreneur, digital marketer, and digital media thought-leader with more than 20 years progressive experience working in a diverse set of companies.
Brian was co-founder and Director, Strategy of the award-winning digital agency The Barbarian Group. Hailed as one of the most groundbreaking and innovative agencies of all time, TBG was awarded Digital Campaign of the Decade by The One Club, Fast Company, and the readers of Ad Age. The list of awards, accolades, and who’s who of clients is long.
After TBG, Brian was the General Manager & Vice President, Digital Strategy and The RedPlum Network for Valassis Communications, a $2.4B company, and one of the nation’s largest marketing services companies. Brian developed consumer-facing digital strategies for RedPlum.com and Save.com, and created the Valassis Digital Ad Network (now Brand.net). In this role, he led all digital development and strategy for the company.
Brian was also Chairman & CEO of Maple Farm Media, a digital marketing solutions company for franchise and retail businesses, where he built relationships with national brands, ad networks, and agencies to deliver cross-channel digital promotional media solutions via search, search retargeting, and RTB.
Brian works routinely with investment banks, private equity firms, VCs, and other financial professionals to provide due diligence and strategic insight into digital marketing and technology-based investment and M&A opportunities. He’s been a pivotal team member in a number of large acquisitions in the past few years. Brian is also a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
5 Questions with Brian
LB: Brian, clearly you’ve had an illustrious career, and frankly, you could probably be anywhere in the world right now. What made you decide to join our GYK Antler team?
BC: For me, it’s all about the type of people I want to work with — fun, passionate about quality and customers, and talented. I didn’t want a place to “work” – I wanted a place to enjoy doing what I love surrounded by people that felt the same way — it’s clear to me that most of the folks at GYK Antler are the same, and that’s awesome.
LB: Throughout your career, you’ve worked on several celebrated campaigns. Is there any one campaign that particularly stands out to you?
BC: Well, Subservient Chicken for Burger King, is the one everyone remembers most in the early days. But that’s been written about a million times. For me, a real stand out was developing an integrated camping for the launch of a big name prescription drug. We concepted out the development of a connected mobile “clinic” that would travel to PGA events all around the country — gave consumers instant results and recommendations with real local health professionals, built confidence in the brand, and brought “direct-to-consumer” marketing from handing out water bottles to actual consumer education that made a difference. It was one of the first times I saw true consumer engagement with brands in a nontraditional setting that drove amazing consumer awareness with education.
LB: Very interesting. Obviously, you were a pioneer in terms of tying in mobile to integrated campaigns. How was the prospect of investing in mobile first received by clients?
BC: Really poorly. You have to realize that this was pre-iPhone days, pre mobile apps days. There were no real “apps” and the idea of text messaging was sort of like presenting a flying car billboard to brands. It was all Jetsons stuff to these folks. I think we looked like NASA scientists.
LB: Makes sense. Do you see any emerging platforms/technology that will be common place for brands in the future, but are currently being viewed with that same reluctance? Basically, what’s the next “mobile”?
BC: Well, if I knew the answer to that, I’d likely not share it yet! I’m interested in a few things lately — how the Internet of Things plays out both on a consumer and an enterprise level. Basically, we already have connected devices everywhere, but what’s next? How can that be used to enhance the enterprise or your life so that it’s not in the way? Also, on a more basic level, how agencies rely on more tools and services to build the right experiences for the client while still offering cool and groundbreaking customized projects. I see tools as bringing down costs and time investment for base builds, which frees up time and budget for cooler stuff.
LB: Awesome, finally, what’s your favorite part about having our HQ in New Hampshire?
BC: Hmmm. Well, I live 75 miles away from the office and in another state. So let’s just say I’m here for the awesome people, not the drive! But, you know, any place with Live Free of Die as a motto is a great place, in my opinion!
Connect with Brian on twitter @brianscostello.