Tag Archives: digital advertising

New Beginnings:   A Father’s Day Thank you

Like many black men, I grew up without my father in the home. I never resented him, or questioned why he was absent from my life. It was a fact of life and I accepted it as such.

My mother supplied several dozen reasons (daily it seems) as to why they had divorced. I loved my mother. But although she was endearing, she was a difficult character tat times. So as a kid I packed a sandwich bag many a day and headed for the railroad. I was going to get away from that woman and live a hobo’s life. From the way she blistered my ears blasting me verbally, I think I understand one the reasons Dad headed for the hills.

Was that the real justification? Some things provide their own rationale, so in the end, it doesn’t matter. I had strong men in life to help through hurdles and pitfalls. If I have any worth as a man today, it is because of the men God placed in my life.

My older brother Sammie was a constant morale force.  Even while we were kids, he taught me to be respectful of women. Sammie was wise and cool. When I had my first foray into interracial dating (a beautiful red-haired Irish-American girl) and it went sour, Sammie helped me to deal with the pain of rejection. You see, my would-be girlfriend’s father was a Boston cop; as were two of her older brothers.  I was unceremoniously shown the door.  

Sammie had a lot of Italian-American friends and one was a ‘made man.’  He didn’t shoot me when I met his niece and my heart raced. Uncle Vito said, “You boys are  part Sicilian.”  That only meant he was accepting and knew the young heart. That particular uncle was infamous to law enforcement, but besides protecting us from less understanding folks, he taught me that all things pass away with time. Vito said: “Enjoy life, kid because your tomorrow may not get here.”  Vito treated his wife well. I remember him as being a hell of a dresser. Sammie took after him because my brother dressed with style. Here’s the point, Vito was a strong man who showed us how to believe in ourselves. Fathers you see, are mentors and encourage you to excel.  

My grandfather, Sherman taught me to appreciate the gift of perseverance. Of course, he was there to straighten me out when I steered off course. I remember a week before his death, Grand-daddy Sherman called us from Augusta. I spoke to him briefly, but Sammie had the phone more than me. I honestly believe that he made Sammie promise to watch out for me and keep my tail out of trouble. Try as I might, my big brother always pulled me out of whatever crap I brought on myself.

My uncles James and Robert (RD) influenced me in much the same was as ‘Uncle Vito’ and my older brother.  James taught me martial arts – Robert taught me how to play baseball and football. Everything they knew about both, Sherman taught them.

For the last ten years of his life, Dad and I had a very strong relationship – an unbreakable bond. I loved the man I learned he was. He was a college graduate, served in the Korea War, later was a business man. Dad took me to task about some less a less than appreciate attitude I had about our country. He was a fighter and even killed people in war. He didn’t have regrets about it because he was a product of his father and time – a real man.  

Lately, several things happened to me that has proven to be deflating.  I remember the most valuable lesson a young man can learn as he grows into adulthood: “Don’t give up – get off the ground. Plant your feet — turn around and kick ass.”

I’m not a young man anymore. It’s time to listen to those voices and act.

All of the men that served as father figures, as a guide,  mentors, teachers, and spiritual forces and my birth father have died. I remain to remember: “Live life…avoid trouble…appreciate your gifts… tomorrow is not promised… don’t give up. Plant my feet…”

And I thank them all.

Catch you later,


Bernard A. McNealy, President 

Carson Dunn Media Advertising, Inc.

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New Beginnings: Dare To Be Great

Carson Dun Media Advertising stands on the cusp of dismantling its old line traditional business model in favor of becoming a re branded digital agency. I’m running into something a lot of small businesses run into: Stretching the dollar; hiring competent staff; finding people who want to be outstanding and not just employees. The process has been nothing short of interesting.

I revisited something that boosted my spirits. That is, no matter what we do and and how we operate, we must do so competently and with integrity. And from a cultural standpoint, we’re doing at least that. In other words these two things, competence and integrity are part of our brand. It is who we are and how we plan on navigating the agency to greatness.

Ever notice that most businesses, large and small have no distinctive brand stamp? It is far too true. And when someone decides to give the company identity, he or she runs it by a committee. A herd of cats have more uniformity that most committees — so when one relies that, nothing gets done.

Can this be as bad as the company owner that is afraid to establish an identity? After all, there is imitation of approach, selling and product line. So, they settle for hunkering down with the usual excuses. Here’s the thing. Your company, just like mine has to be distinct because there is about six thousand businesses opening every month in the USA. Surely, some appear to be, or are the same. That’s why its critical to brand — to give a face to who you are. We assist in this process, but we need to be clear, unless you listen — and pay us — you’ll fall back into that sea of sameness.

The challenge is to brand — the challenge is to dare to be great.

Check you later,

Bernard Alexander McNealy, President
Carson Dunn Media Advertising, Inc.


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New Beginnings: Dumb People Can Be Millionares

Advertising is not my first foray into the business world. I have been in business for some time. I have an internal argument about my level of success and failure. It’s an ongoing discussion.

I had a man tell me that I was smart, so much so that I should be a millionaire. At one time on paper, I was a millionaire. It’s amazing how fast paper burns, as does a fortune. But, I digress.

The dude was actually putting me down although he thought he was being encouraging. I don’t fault him but I did come to realize two things: 1) People without a business always tell you how to run yours; 2) Most successful people in business are amazingly dumb.

If my clients are smart, they are not part of this discussion.

It is truly amazing how people tend to rest on their “laurels” of accomplishments as if the past is relevant to what they’re doing today. The past is instructed and foundation. It’s like what I read in another blog: “The Ad Contrarian.” The contention is that dumb people become successful as a matter of positioning. In his blog, the author talks about a concept called “achieving orbit.”

It makes sense. Consider a satellite, he says. The satellite has energy to escape the gravitational pull of years. Once it gets orbit it operates on its own. It continues to circle under its own power for years. It does have a cycle, however – when it bumps in the something that’s in this way.

I agree with the Ad Contrarian. Many businesses are like that as well. The power of their products and services get them through. The company’s current administration may not have had anything to do with it; nevertheless, the business continues to be successful.

In my opinion, when a company hit a point of diminishing aimlessness is the moment a similar product is introduced by a vibrant competitor. The moment that happens, business will go south because consumers will see the old company as being irrelevant.

As Joe Friday said: “That’s where I come in. I carry a badge.” Well, in my case it is a briefcase, a Samsung tablet, a yellow pad and pen.

Carson Dunn Media Advertising, Inc. (or CDM Digital) offers advertising services that will help a company survive on something other than its own inertia. Our agency specializes in campaign plans, analyzing marketing trends and development, and importantly, consumer receptivity of a brand.

We pride ourselves on devising the insuring of the client gets a healthy return on their advertising investment. We even develop marketing materials and collateral clients. Why? It is all part of the process of their success.
CDM has adapted and embraced digital technology. Digital advertising agencies not only grow fast, but are nimble and inventive. There are still some people doubt the power of the Internet to communicate and sell products. I’m not knocking them, I’m just trying to make a point.

As we learned, we cannot continue to do things as we have and expect optimum results. Change this necessitated by time. I’d like for new clients to walk in the door. Here is why. Unlike the naysayers, I believe in ideals, business growth and in their very essence, business needs to be guided in the direction they want to go.

Check you, later.

Bernard A. McNealy, CEO

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Every business is predicated on a model. Carson Dunn Media is partly based structurally on mythic firms of old Madison Avenue, and on an agency birthed in Boston in 1999: Modernista.  Unfortunately, that shop closed in 2011, but we  learned from it while it was around, and although it is out of business, we will continue too.  It is important to study the factors leading to Modernista’s demise and avoid similar pitfalls.

Modernista began as a blank canvas. It was started by two creativities visionaries. The bygone Madison Avenue was a fresh ghostly imprint, but they desired to be different. Perhaps that was a concession that they could not replicate the Masters — David Ogilvy –Leo Burnett — and J. Walter Thompson. Who could? These are Olympian giants that no one is worthy to stand it their shadows. But, Modernista took on its accounts with fervor, producing time expanding work.  I developed CDM with imitation in mind.

Starting an agency is relatively easy. Survival and growth are another story all together. Do you start small – that is pursuing small accounts? Or does an agency demonstrate boldness by setting its sights on the big accounts? That requires a nimble sales force. Modernista had that. CDM did initially, but that dissipated.

When Modernista came along the dot-com madness was waning. In 1999, no one cared or understood digital marketing because big television, print were in vogue. There were signs that these media were waning, but the tip of the sphere had not been reached. It was in that era Modernista was birthed in 2000.

Drawn by its creative vision Modernista’s work force seemed flock to them. It was cross-cultural with people from 30 different countries. 13 languages spoken at the shop. Clients came fast. Within a year, Gap hired them, followed by Hummer, MTV, Napster, Cadillac, TIAA-CREF, Converse and Project (RED). Nice. Our similarity is a cross-cultural bent. However, measured solely by the size of the accounts our client roster is not as impressive.

We cannot be complacent. Our clients have been a law firm, health spas, two publishing companies, a trucking company, a tax service and other small businesses. An eclectic mix of small businesses. Honestly, Carson Dunn Media has not arrived and it is imperative to change gears. Thinking about doing good work is no longer acceptable. We must have the right clients. If I claim different, it is a blatant lie

My creatives have come into a shop rooted in an the past. Yet, they are savvy smart as hell folk raised on digital-marketing, social media and the internet. Rather than hold them back, they guided to share our creative vision with our clients. Truthfully, this is where the ad dollars are.

Modernista did something typical of Ogilvy by passionately encouraging its staff to be creative. They also brought a modern spin to Burnett by creating equally memorable advertising that may stand the test of time.  To a degree, CDM should portray the newness of our agency because a directional change should allow our freshness to be evident. Maybe its time because CDM started in 2002 — our creative pedigree should be national by now.

We don’t intend to create a party atmosphere with the ‘oo-hooo’ fun gadgets and do-dads. No, Carson Dunn Media wants to create admirable work. Timmy the Trapeze Dude or Bozo the Clown can’t do it, but the people at CDM can. We are struggling to arrive; and we have no intention of being confortable.

The industry has changed a lot. The internet is now an advertising source to an inexhaustive consumer base. We also have a sophisticated communications world laden with smart phones — another advertising medium. These are beasts that can be conquered. I looked up one day and came to the realization that our agency must adapt. Our repertoire must expand.

Certainly, we have a great foe in the recession, as well as client bankruptcies. Yet, I am more convinced than ever that there are more companies hellbent to stay in business than those want to go under. These may be companies with smaller marketing budgets, but they are there beckoning for our services. CDM would love a few million dollar clients; but there is business out there among the lesser budgets. Some of them want to be national brands.

Here is the essential thing. We need to work hard because that is our corporate mentality. We have big ideas and can deliver them using the mixed media of triplication. No matter our size, CDM is relevant. Here are my final points. If people and business trickle out, we will not see it as a source of defeat – or a portend of disaster. No, we will see it as an opportunity to free ourselves from a mistake laden past while adding to our client base and staff.  We want the spirit of Modernista to invest our walls.

Everyone that worked at CDM has something great to offer this industry. CDM itself only will grow and keep doing what we do for as many clients as possible. That’s why we are changing gears.

Bernard A. McNealy, President

Carson Dunn Media

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