About Smith Brothers
Our agency exists for one purpose only – to help clients break out of their sales doldrums by eschewing the conventions of the categories in which they play. We’re a CPG agency that never goes for safe. A B-to-B agency whose work actually has soul. A healthcare agency with a sense of humor. An edu specialist that dares to tell students how tough their education’s going to be. It’s not simply about being rebellious. It’s about the shortest path to unexpected work – creative that drives conversations and conversions. Standing apart is the way to tip the scales in a brand’s favor. And the relentless commitment to doing things differently influences everything we do.
Tinker. Meddle. Find what works – this time! While most agencies stand behind a single, definitive approach to developing work, we reject the notion of process as a static thing. We consider a deep understanding of the client’s business, their consumer and especially their category to be fundamental to our process. Non-negotiable. But getting to the best work is seldom a straight shot – a linear path. And it shouldn’t be. When you kick off every project by asking, “What are the category conventions and how can we break them?” you have to be open to a fresh approach.
“We reject the notion of
process as a static thing.” -Lindsey Smith
You know that universal notion that a job should go to the most qualified candidate? Well yeah, that’s still true. But you can’t run an agency committed to creating unconventional work without hiring people who are, well, different. So while we’re looking for the best marketing minds out there, read our bios below and you’ll see we also value the odd, the eccentric, the complexicated. Because we’ve seen that the best idea can come from anywhere and anyone in the agency, we know the value of keeping interesting people around.
Co-Chief Creative Officer
Lindsey is an award-winning creative director and copywriter with a particular passion for consumer packaged goods marketing.
Typically, the first rule of getting hired to a creative department is bringing a great portfolio to the job interview.
Suffice it to say, Lindsey went about things a bit differently. He started his career as an assistant media planner, then account executive—working on several P&G CPG accounts, including Folgers, Duncan Hines and Hires Root Beer. While he learned valuable lessons about strategy, writing the perfect brief and speaking the client’s language, business suits didn’t suit him very well. His heart was in the creative department and his feet were out the door—taking his first copywriting job (and a 50% pay cut) at Campbell, Mithun, Esty working on Froz-Fruit Bars, The United Way and The Travelers Insurance.
Yearning for more opportunity to work on consumer brands and, honestly, for a little more change in his pocket, Lindsey took his next job at Avrett Free & Ginsberg. In his ten years there, he honed his craft, working for dozens of clients and taking the creative lead on over 100 pitches. Not only were his campaigns bold and spot on strategically, they garnered outstanding results for clients as diverse as Meow Mix Cat Food, Johnnie Walker Black Label, Crayola, Bacardi Rum, Outward Bound, Dewar’s Scotch and the Financial Times of London.
Lindsey founded Smith Brothers Agency with (surprise!) his brothers, Miles and Bronson, in April of 2002. His mission? Do great work and have a great time doing it.
Lindsey holds a B.A. in English and French Literature from Georgetown University.
Co-Chief Creative Officer
Bronson is a highly recognized creative director and art director who has created award winning print and broadcast campaigns for both local and national advertisers. He got his first taste of advertising at Della Femina McNamee/Pittsburgh where, as an assistant art director, he worked on Pittsburgh Brewing Company’s Iron City and I.C. Light Beer campaigns, Stouffers Frozen foods and LaCroix beverages.
You’d think that after securing a job in the industry, Bronson would be satisfied to stay the course.
Instead, he flipped the script and departed Pittsburgh for Parsons School of design and a two-year stint as an art director at Young & Rubicam/Paris. There, he developed a taste for strong, black coffee and worked on campaigns for American Express, Kodak, Smirnoff and Virgin Megastores. After Paris, Bronson (no longer sporting a beret) joined Lindsey at Avrett Free & Ginsberg in New York City to work on campaigns for Meow Mix, Johnnie Walker Black Label, Crayola, Clairol, Mistic Beverages and George Dickel Whiskey.
Before co-founding Smith Brothers, Bronson served as vice president, chief creative officer at US Interactive (USI) where he supervised and produced corporate identities and ad campaigns for adidas, Columbia House, Comedy Central, The National Football League, Sprint Business, RCA, Unum Insurance, Deloitte & Touche and Martha Stewart.
Bronson holds a BFA degree from Ohio Wesleyan University.
Head of Strategic Planning & Research
There is no clear path to becoming a strategist, but maybe studying English, Psychology and starting on the Creative side ought to become the official roadmap—Milla’s ability to uncover the core essence of a brand is second to none.
Prior to joining the Smith Brothers team, Milla led strategy departments at agencies around the country. Before it all, however, she did indeed begin her career as a Copywriter. The experience taught her the type of information creatives depend on when developing concepts for a brand. Thanks to this valuable perspective, Milla switched gears and began creating strategies for clients in just about every category imaginable, including automotive, travel, finance, beauty as well as food and beverage.
Eventually, she landed at Tribal DDB, New York, where she served as Head of Integrated Strategy and worked to meld the rigor of traditional planning with the new platforms, needs and capabilities of the digital space. Moving on to become EVP Head of Strategy at Arnold Worldwide in Boston, Milla led strategy on Carnival Cruise Lines, New Balance and Fidelity Investments among others. Her next stop was the Martin Agency, where her role as Global Strategy Director put her in charge of developing strategies across Mondelez cookies and cracker brands.
Milla brings a wealth of experience, intellect and optimism to the clients of Smith Brothers. Now, if she could only use her research and planning skills to find an efficient route from her office on the North Shore of Pittsburgh to her home in the North, she’d have it all figured out.
Michael was all-too-eager to break Tom Wolfe’s “You can’t go home again” credo by returning to Pittsburgh after 20 years at a global agency network. And we’re glad he did.
Thanks to Michael, clients benefit from the breakthrough brand storytelling skills of Smith Brothers’ creative heritage, delivered with the speed, efficiency and real-time optimization demanded by today’s digital environment.
Michael joined Smith Brothers in 2005 as Director of Client Services, after spending the previous 20 years with DDB Worldwide where he was Senior Vice President, Group Account Director of the agency’s flagship, Chicago office.
Excited by Smith Brothers’ creative firepower and entrepreneurial spirit, Michael joined the Smith Brothers’ team with a vision for delivering big agency resources on a dramatically more nimble and effective platform.
Under Michael’s leadership the agency acquired digital agency, Hot Hand Interactive, in 2007. It added its Social Media practice in 2008. Developed an Analytics practice in 2009 and a Product Innovation specialty group – Sliced Bread - in 2016.
Layered onto its existing strategic planning, creative and media capabilities, Smith Brothers is now a force in the CPG marketing world – working with brands like Nestle, Del Monte, Heinz, Ghirardelli, Red Bull, and more.
Michael holds a B.A. in English from Union College
Creative Director, Copy
Cathy’s father was an art director, and her mother was in PR. She grew up around ad people. She didn’t have a chance.
As a creative director with a writing background, Cathy is well-acquainted with the rules of grammar. And she willingly slings some slang, writes in fragments and begins a sentence with a conjunction in order to communicate more effectively. Maybe that’s how she became a hall of fame copywriter?
When she’s not crafting a crisp headline, Cathy also contributes to strategies and drives the collaborative efforts of a project’s creative team. Additionally, she’s created TV spots, magazine and digital ads, outdoor boards, websites, social promotions and mobile apps for Nestlé USA, H. J. Heinz Company, Del Monte Foods, Kings Family Restaurants, Iron City, Sheetz Convenience Stores and PNC Bank.
Prior to joining Smith Brothers, Cathy was a creative director at MARC USA, WernerChepelsky & Partners (Mullen) and Ketchum Advertising.
Her favorite quote was penned by fellow ad writer, Luke Sullivan.
Vice President of Client Service
During his junior year of college, Steve was studying abroad at King’s College in London. Feeling like there was more to learn than he could be taught in the classroom, Steve withdrew from his dorm contract and used the refund to tour Europe for two months. The experience certainly wasn’t part of his original plan for traveling abroad. But, you could make a strong case that the immersion taught him the fundamentals for how to dive deep into a brand’s identity. He’d tell you it was the best decision he made in college.
Today, Steve leads the agency’s account management team, working closely with clients and cross-functional agency teams to deliver value for our clients and creative that breaks category conventions. Steve is a seasoned integrated marketer combining traditional brand strategy with deep experience in digital marketing. His focus is to ensure agency teams gain a deep understanding of client brands, categories, consumers and objectives in order to develop the most impactful strategies to drive brand growth.
Steve’s experience includes stints on the publisher side, “traditional” agency side, as well as several years in digital. Building on his multi-channel background, Steve and his team of account leaders strive to ensure all client marketing activities and touch-points are creating emotional connections with consumers and building brand demand.
Before joining SBA in 2008, Steve was the Director of Strategy at Ripple Effects Interactive, leading large scale digital initiatives for brands such as GNC, BNY Mellon, Carnegie Mellon University and Notre Dame. During his tenure at Smith Brothers, Steve has led account teams and integrated marketing campaigns for Red Bull, Nestlé, JM Smucker, PPG, Del Monte, UPMC and EDMC.
Steve lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and two sons. Outside of the agency, he enjoys pitching BP for his boys, traveling with his family and exploring the emerging Pittsburgh food and cocktail scene. He holds a BA in Philosophy and English from Allegheny College.
Executive Creative Director
Craig is at the hub of our creative department, ensuring both strategic and smart design in all disciplines. With over 20 years in design and advertising, he’s able to deliver an idea that can cut through the clutter.
Throughout his career, he’s led award winning campaigns and experiences for some of the largest brands in the marketing world, including Nestlé, Heinz, Del Monte and Mine Safety Appliances. Locally he has worked with PNC Bank, Iron City and Sheetz—not to mention creating the Frownie for Kings Family Restaurants. He also spent several años making up fake Spanish words for the big Burrito Restaurant Group.
As an avid illustrator and screenprinter, Craig has done album design, tour posters and merchandise for some of indie-rocks biggest acts.
While attending the University of Pittsburgh, Craig proved that there’s no hard and fast rule for how to become an expert designer—in college, he earned his degree in nonfiction writing.
Hey, never underestimate a Creative Director who can quote Gauguin or turn a phrase with the best of them.
His creative philosophy is simple, “Make them laugh or cry; pick one.”
Cliff Rankin, Group Account Director, began his career within the restaurant industry as marketing manager and then director within Boston Market. He helped lead several significant promotional campaigns, new product launches and participated in the brand conversion from Boston Chicken to Boston Market. His restaurant marketing background also includes the national launch of Einstein Brother’s Bagels.
In 1998, he changed industries and became national director of marketing for Stadtlanders Pharmacy / CVS Procare. He successfully managed patient programs and marketing campaigns for disease states that included HIV/AIDS, organ transplants and fertility treatments.
Rankin joined Smith Brothers in 2003 and became an integral part of the account service team.
His focus has been building client relationships and providing strategic direction that defies category conventions for each of the brands he helps manage.
Business Development Manager
Nora has read the books on how to help an agency win new business. And then, she sat down and decided to go about it her own way. Since then, she’s helped numerous clients discover that Smith Brothers is indeed the right agency for the job.
Nora got her start at FSC Marketing + Digital, getting her hands dirty in virtually all aspects of the advertising business—from account planning and PR to digital, social, media planning and even copywriting. As an account manager, she led numerous creative and strategic projects for clients including Transitions Optical, PPG Industries, The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and The Port Authority of Allegheny County. Along the way, Nora had the opportunity to pitch (and win) several new accounts, which is when she caught the new biz bug.
Prior to joining Smith Brothers, Nora spent three years as a new business specialist at MARC USA, where she continued to hone her business development skills. Bringing her passion for big ideas and a willingness to pull all-nighters, Nora was part of the team that won new assignments from Macy’s, New York & Company, Payless ShoeSource, Build-A-Bear Workshop and The American Heart Association.
A New England native, Nora has happily called Pittsburgh home for over a decade. She holds a B.A. in Communication from the University of Pittsburgh.
Head of Channel Strategy & Analytics
With more than a decade of experience in the digital marketing game, Dan has lent his expertise to brands of all shapes and sizes—from Fortune 500 companies to fast-growing startups. But if there’s one thing he’s learned over the years, it’s that the size of your company isn’t nearly as important as the data behind it. That’s right, Dan knows a thing or two about evaluating ones and zeroes. And he uses what he learns to deliver efficient, effective and scalable marketing results that drive consumer action.
Prior to joining the team at Smith Brothers, Dan cut his teeth managing digital marketing strategy and execution for brands such as Tiffany & Co, Forrester Research, Best Western, UPMC and H&R Block. Along the way, he learned to do everything from paid and organic acquisition to content and social media strategy, email marketing to web analytics. Oh, and he knows how to play nice with others as well—Dan has led cross-functional teams of more than 20 people.
Dan holds a BA in Managerial Economics from Allegheny College and currently serves as a Board member for the Pittsburgh based non-profit Beverly’s Birthdays. When he’s not crunching numbers and modeling data, you can find him out and about in the Steel City with his wife Melissa, daughter Vivian and English Bulldog, Brutus. As a lifetime Pittsburgh Pirate fan, Dan couldn’t be happier seeing PNC Park out his office window. Hey, there’s no harm in dividing time between the blue & gold and the black & gold, right?