Making Sense of Advertising’s Existential Crisis with Kevin Kelly

kevin kelly on brand

“Everything is an ad.” At times it seems as though our industry is in the midst of an existential crisis. Who are we? What do we really do? Are branding, marketing, and advertising still the best descriptors? Kevin Kelly, President and Founder of BigBuzz Marketing Group, helped us get to the bottom of these big questions on this week’s episode of the On Brand podcast.

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About Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly is President and Founder of Bigbuzz Marketing Group, having launched the firm in his Long Island garage in 1995. Today, he oversees the agency’s client relationships, develops and innovates its suite of services, and provides the creative vision for long-term growth from the firm’s office in Manhattan. Bigbuzz Marketing Group is a full-service advertising agency based in New York City’s garment district with clients such as Honeywell, Garanimals, Leviton, Icon Parking, and other major brands.

With over 20 years of experience working on multi-faceted advertising campaigns, Mr. Kelly’s most recent digital advertising projects include designing a digital strategy for NYC’s largest parking brand, Icon Parking; and incorporating the geolocation app Waze into their mobile offering. The campaign resulted in navigating customers directly into Icon’s garages, who were not necessarily budget-conscious using coupons, they just wanted the convenience and were willing to pay full price. This, paired with other innovative advertising strategies, helped improve the client’s visibility. Mr. Kelly also worked on the launch of Honeywell’s new smart home security system, creating an advertising campaign combining digital and traditional advertising. He also developed an app strategy for Leviton smart-home light products, benefitting both customers and resellers.

Episode Highlights

The existential crisis of our industry. Advertising is having an identity crisis. Does this word still apply? “We’re always asking ourselves this — who are we? Who do we want to be? Who do our clients need us to be?”

“Everything’s an ad.” Kevin shared a story about how their agency’s creative director gathered everyone together for a profound announcement. “Everything’s an ad.” The agency had been taking a“slapdash approach to social media” but the CD reminded them that even social updates were ads. “Look at the pieces — a headline, an image, some copy — sometimes some longer copy. It’s a friggin’ ad, people!”

“We can really be accountable with the dollars.” Kevin recounted their integrated campaigns for Icon Parking and Honeywell. Specifically, he noted how they can be accountable for how the ad dollars have been spent. This analytic insight is one of the biggest ways the industry — really the work of advertising agencies — has changed over the past decade.

What brand has made Kevin smile recently? Tesla! Kevin shared a story that saw this powerful brand sync perfectly with a family life moment.

To learn more, go to You can also email Kevin at [email protected].

As We Wrap …

Before we go, I want to flip the microphone around to our community …
Adam Burmwood gave us a shout for our episode featuring Jason Miller of LinkedIn. Thanks for listening!

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

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Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!