Branding The Queen City: The Advertising Geniuses Behind Cincinnati's Success
Northlich welcomes new COO Tim McCort to their team of highly creative and experienced individuals. McCort is working closely with CEO Kathy Selker and Executive Creative Director Jason Schmall to create advertising campaigns that connect brands to consumers. By telling compelling stories that connect with consumers on their terms, Northlich is able to influence consumer behavior.
Let’s face it, the following definition of marketing offers a pretty dry explanation: The action or business of promoting or selling products or services, including market research and advertising.
It is a definition that, according to Tim McCort, COO at Northlich, leaves out the most vital component of the industry – people.
Sure, Northlich is an ad agency with full-service offerings for industries such as consumer products, healthcare, restaurants and retail. But more than the typical agency, Northlich is a group of highly creative, highly experienced individuals with a culture whose purpose is to lift its clients, or partners as Northlich calls them, by telling engaging stories about people.
“The real appeal of Northlich,” says McCort, “is being in an independent environment, surrounded by people who challenge you and only have one agenda – to creatively solve a brand problem. Simply put, we connect brands to consumers.”
McCort is just 10 months into his tenure as COO of the 60-year-old agency. “Coming here was an easy decision and I genuinely mean that,” he says of accepting his new position.
The decision was easy because of Northlich’s President and CEO Kathy Selker.
When Selker joined Northlich in 2000, she was responsible for client services, digital media and operations.
Throughout her years at Northlich she has expanded the agency’s capabilities in brand planning and new media by recruiting new leaders, including McCort.
“Kathy maintains the highest level of integrity and she’s always so on top of it,” McCort describes. “That integrity is part of the infrastructure of Northlich. There’s deliberate transparency and an independent vibe.”
That independent vibe was missing from McCort’s past career endeavors. With a career that spans Denver, Chicago and Minneapolis, McCort is a seasoned agency veteran. He’s worked on national and international campaigns for large companies right out of the gate.
Northlich President and CEO Kathy Selker (left) with COO Tim McCort (right)
“When I was 26, Leo Burnett sent me to Italy to work on a Coca Cola campaign,” says McCort. “It was great training and taught me the fundamentals of business are the same everywhere. It’s about making personal connections with consumers on their terms.”
However, working for large agencies sometimes meant sacrificing that personal connection McCort wanted in his work. But that all changed when he met Selker.
“We would just chat. It started friendly, you know, small talk stuff,” McCort pauses to reminisce. “Then those chats started to turn into recruitment discussions. She wanted me at Northlich and the more she talked about
it, the more and more I knew that was what I wanted, too.” Helming an agency as a COO, especially one like Northlich, was not necessarily a path McCort thought he would take. He acknowledges the lessons he has learned in his past but credits Selker for the majority of his success at Northlich.
“I’m constantly presented with new challenges,” McCort says of Selker. “I’m learning a great deal from her.”
Part of McCort’s and Northlich’s success is in the redefining of what marketing means and how that definition drives the work they produce.
“Communication, in its most basic form, is stimulus and response,” McCort explains. “But in marketing today, there’s a desire to make the stimulus the same as the response, to just tell people what you want them to believe about your brand, and that just doesn’t work. That’s like walking up to a stranger and saying ‘trust me.’ You need more. You need a deep understanding of consumer inter- est in order to make a connection.”
Northlich is focused on making that connection. For example, offers McCort, just look at the work the agency produced for Ohio Responsible Gambling “I Lost a Bet” campaign or The Joanie Bernard Foundation “Meet Scooter” campaign.
“Both campaigns were built from core insights about human behavior. Those insights are the fuel Jason Schmall as his team used to find brilliant ways to creatively tell those stories,” says McCort. “I’m really proud of the work and our client partners are thrilled.”
Continuing that top-notch work is just one of many on a long list of McCort’s priorities.
“We need to continue to grow while maintaining our integrity and creativity,” says McCort. “That is how I would define success at Northlich.”