Study All, Serve All: A Conversation with Brad Brinegar, CEO, McKinney


Brinegar may have been hip enough to realize early on that interactive is an important advertising tool, but don’t think for a second he’s some new age Matrix-watchin’ techie. He is, after all, the kind of old-fashioned guy who had to be forced into the cell phone era kicking and screaming. During our chat, he expressed a slight frustration with his brand- new Treo, among other new gadgets and gizmos. “I find them frankly daunting,” he says. “It’s easy to get trapped in what’s the technology of the day, and we’re lucky that we have a bunch of people – and not surprisingly they tend to be younger people – who grew up with this more as oxygen that something to master.”

It’s just this kind of duality that makes Brinegar so interesting. While he’s personally fighting the multiplicity of buttons and touch-pads, he hasn’t for a moment held McKinney back in its chase for future markets—and along the way he’s helped the company rake in numerous awards for their interactive campaigns. His forward-thinking approach has even helped to launch some of the most buzzed about interactive campaigns of the last few years, among them McKinney’s acclaimed Audi A3 campaign, which was launched during the summer of 2005.

Dubbed “The Art of the Heist,” the online promotion included a microsite where viewers could watch split-screen security videos of car thieves taking off with Audi goods. After its launch the campaigns won praise on blogs far and wide. “The Art of the Heist was one of those things where I don’t think half of the people on the program had any idea what was available to them until they got into it,” Brinegar explains. “From my perch running the company I could get lost for days trying to keep up with new media. It was awesome and it’s certainly been well recognized. It won ‘The Best in Show’ at the MIXX Awards [among other acclaims]. It greatly exceeded all of the objectives.”

The explosion of the Audi campaign (thanks to the tremendous blog buzz it incited) got Brinegar thinking hard about the popular tool and how it’s affected the ways advertisers and agencies gauge their campaigns.

“Everybody says that the consumer has control because of the Internet,” he observes. “Well, the fact of the matter is the consumer could get control from day one. The consumer can ignore your bad ad, the consumer can get up off the couch and go into the kitchen if you don’t treat them to something worth watching. And if you [happen to] find out [by reading their blogs], then you just understand how badly you’ve treated people. That’s the beauty of [blogging].”

As for whether Brinegar himself will be logging on to start his own blog anytime soon, don’t hold your breath. As he puts it, “That’s one of those things that I actively refuse to do. Every time I pick up a new technology it takes another quarter of my life away. I tend to get very heavily involved with these things. I was very late to get a cell phone for that reason. I still won’t let most people know what my number is.”


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