Join us for the October Chamber Luncheon, sponsored by Kemper Cognitive Wellness. The Rocky River Chamber will welcome Jeff Charney to present, "There's no "B.S." in BEST."
After four years away from the Chamber of Commerce stage, Jeff Charney, CMO of Progressive Insurance, will return on October 28 with an unparalleled and unapologetic glimpse into marketing during the past 18 months and give his unique take on how to truly stand out amid a "sea of sameness" in the marketplace.
The recently named Ad Age 2021 "Brand CMO of the Year" will bring his unmistakably high-energy, fast-paced, and interactive style to deliver a big and bold presentation—There's no "B.S." in BEST.
Charney's provocative, in-your-face message on what it takes to produce your best work will resonate regardless of whether you're a one-person business, ten-person startup, or 10,000 employees strong.
Get ready to be brave—this isn't for the faint of heart. Buckle up!
The Rocky River Chamber plans to gather in person at Westwood Country Club for this luncheon; if changes are made, it will be based on restrictions from the Ohio Department of Health.
Guests may join us in person or virtually for this dynamic presentation. Everyone must register to participate.
More about guest speaker, Jeff Charney:
A self-described pop-culture junkie from an early age, Jeff Charney grew up watching the ground-breaking television shows that have come to define their respective genres. Studying pioneers the likes of Norman Lear, Matt Groening, and Lorne Michaels, he adapted the underpinnings of their seminal work to create an industry-first “network” approach to the craft of marketing— creating content and running his teams similar to that of a Hollywood entertainment studio. This radically different approach to storytelling has been the defining mainstay of Charney’s success as a marketer and led to the development of not just one, but two of the most well-known brand icons of this century in the Aflac Duck and Progressive’s “Flo.”
From an industry perspective, Charney’s innovative and highly disruptive marketing has led to him being a highly heralded chief marketing officers (CMO). Spanning previous posts, he and his teams have won more than 100 national and international awards for creativity, communications, and business effectiveness.
The most recent recognition came in June of 2021 when Charney was named the “Brand CMO of the Year” by Ad Age, one of marketing’s leading industry publications. Earlier in his tenure at Progressive, he was awarded “Brand Genius: Brand Marketer of the Year” by Adweek Magazine; named one of the “Top 100 Creative People in Business” by Fast Company Magazine; noted as one of the 40 top brand Innovators by PR News; listed on the “Creativity 50,” recognizing the top 50 creative minds in business by Ad Age; honored with the “Brand Impact Award” from the American Advertising Federation; named “Marketer of the Year” by the Radio Mercury Awards; and received the CMO Clubs’ “Marketing Leadership Award” from his industry peers.
Character Development and the "Network"
Often described as the “Lorne Michaels of marketing” because of his similar emphasis on using improv actors to create humorous and relevant content that capitalizes on social and cultural currency, Charney’s marketing “network” strategy has grown over the years to create some of the industry’s most memorable
characters and campaigns.
Most notably, as CMO of Progressive, Charney developed the “Flo” character into what’s widely considered the country’s #1 brand icon. This often emulated—but never duplicated—character is the centerpiece of the company’s landmark “Superstore” campaign. In addition to the long-running “Flo,” her family, her sidekick Jamie, and the rest of the Superstore squad, Charney’s current slate of cast members include the parenta-life coach, ‘Dr. Rick’; the half-man, half-motorcycle, ‘Motaur’; the stadium dwelling Baker Mayfield; the bumbling NFL line markers, ‘Mark & Marcus’; the never-grow-up, ‘Baby-man’; the suit-sporting, blathering brand ‘Rivals’; the sign-twirling, ‘Sign Spinner’; and the parent-leeching ‘Rebel.’
Earlier notable “network” characters included a ‘talking Box’ voiced by Saturday Night Live alum Chris Parnell; zombie-like ‘Rate Suckers’; the lone-wolf, savings-bent ‘Messenger’; and even the half-insurance clerk, half-basketball superstar, ‘FloBron.’
Developing a "Best-in-Class" Marketing Team
To establish his “network” and explore such character development, Charney built a broad, talented, best-in-class marketing team by combining both his external and internal agencies to create a singular creative structure. This seamless content pipeline feeds Progressive’s media budget, which has more than quadrupled since Charney’s arrival to become the #3 spender in the country (source: Ad Age). His team’s marketing efforts helped the company achieve eight consecutive years of growth in the hyper-competitive insurance marketing category.
Charney also pioneered “in-housing” creative work by establishing an award-winning internal creative shop, Ninety6, which provides Progressive with an efficient, speed-to-market creative alternative—lessening its reliance on outside creative agencies. When Ninety6 first launched in 2011, in-house agencies were considered a rarity among large brands. Now, the in-house model is increasingly being replicated and adopted.
Prior Roles, Membership and Education
At Aflac, he led the development of the “Duck” character and two of the most extensive marketing campaigns in the company’s history, “You Don’t Know Quack” and “Get the Aflacs.” He also drove branding for the company’s #2 most-liked commercial in the U.S., several months after its Japan marketing team grabbed the country’s #1 spot with the innovative “Cat-Duck”—another iconic character. Under Charney’s creative leadership as senior vice president and CMO, the company moved from brand recognition to brand definition—quadrupling existing brand understanding figures and increasing quarter-by-quarter sales.
Before Aflac, Charney served as senior vice president and CMO of QVC Inc., one of the largest multimedia retailers in the world. While there, he led the company’s domestic and international marketing and helmed a complete overhaul of the brand.
He previously held posts as a CMO at real estate aggregator Homestore.com (now Move.com and parent of Realtor.com), and was the chief creative officer at Fringe Ventures, LLC—an experiential-based digital marketing and consulting company he founded.
He is a member of the Board of Directors of Investor’s Exchange (IEX), is on the Advisory Board of Brand Innovators, and serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board for the College of Information and Communications at the University of South Carolina.
Charney holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of South Carolina (summa cum laude) and a Master of Arts degree in journalism (highest honors) from The Ohio State University.