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Morgan Tierney is the Executive Creative Director of Rethink, a full-service creative ideas agency with offices in New York, Toronto, Vancouver, and Montréal. Rethink provides 360° campaigns, strategy, design, digital, production, and public relations to the world’s biggest brands. Before Rethink, Morgan served as a Legal Secretary for the BC Ministry of Attorney General. She has a BA in psychology from The University of Columbia and learned advertising copywriting at Humber College.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [03:11] Morgan Tierney talks about Rethink and its services
  • [07:19] Tools and problem-solving strategies for creative agencies
  • [14:17] Morgan explains the process of ad creation
  • [20:44] How Rethink helps its creative staff achieve work-life harmony
  • [26:41] The “Rethink and Develop Day” and what it entails 
  • [32:38] What is the CRAFTS scoring system in advertising? 
  • [35:15] Morgan shares Rethink’s customer success stories 
  • [47:43] Morgan’s career journey from an intern to a partner at Rethink

In this episode…

In today’s highly competitive business landscape, having great products or services alone does not ensure a company’s success. Prioritizing marketing to stay ahead of competitors is essential for entrepreneurs. However, running a successful ad campaign requires a set of skills that many entrepreneurs may not possess.

Marketing plays a pivotal role in the growth of any business. It involves creating and disseminating compelling advertisements across various media channels to raise brand awareness among your target audience and communicate the benefits of your products or services. When executed effectively, marketing can help a business flourish. Morgan Tierney, a seasoned professional with years of experience running a creative agency, is dedicated to providing fellow entrepreneurs with top-notch campaigns, strategy, design, digital, production, and public relations support to help them achieve their goals.

On this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast, Dr. Jeremy Weisz sits down with Morgan Tierney, Executive Creative Director of Rethink, to discuss how businesses can thrive through marketing. Morgan talks about Rethink and what it does, the evolution of its services, creativity tools and problem-solving strategies for creative agencies, the CRAFTS scoring system in advertising, and customer success stories.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Special Mention(s):

Related episode(s):

Quotable Moments: 

  • “The way to get to quality is through quantity.”
  • “The people being presented to are just as nervous as the people presenting.”
  • “There’s no attention without tension.”
  • “Go then grow.”
  • “Trust that your brain can solve problems.”
  • “Try and promote from within.”

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:15 

You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.

Jeremy Weisz  0:22 

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I have Morgan Tierney And Morgan before I formally introduce you, I like to point out other episodes people should check out since this is part of the top agency series. I had two episodes with Jason Swenk, Jason grew his agency to over eight figures and sold it and then he actually has been buying up agencies. So we talked about the valuation process and what he looks for in that. And then Todd Taskey also had on he has a Second Bite Podcast, he pairs private equity with agencies and help sell agencies. And we talked again about evaluation and second bite, he calls it because sometimes the agency owner will make more on the second bite than they do on the first because they sell again to private equity. So it’s really interesting journey. Kevin Hourigan was another one from Spinutech. He’s had an agency since 1995. Just to hear what it was like the evolution the pivots, the ups the downs. So check that one out. Many more and This episode is brought to you by Rise25 and at Rise25 we help businesses give to and connect their dream 100 relationships. How do we do that we actually help you run your podcast, we’re an easy button for a company to launch and run a podcast. We do the accountability, the strategy and the full execution. Morgan, we call ourselves kind of the magic elves that work in the background to make it look easy for the host in the company so they can run their business, develop amazing relationships and create great content. For me, the number one thing in my life is relationships. I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way over the past decade to profile of people in companies I most admire and share with the world what they’re working on. So if you’ve thought about podcasting, you should if you have questions, go to or email us at [email protected] And I’m excited to introduce Morgan Tierney. She’s an Executive Creative Director and Partner at Rethink Communications in Vancouver, Canada. And what’s interesting, Morgan about your journey, it’s not the typical journey that I hear every day. Actually, she started at Rethink as an intern in 2012. And progressed and is now partner. We’ll talk about that journey. Rethink has worked on award-winning campaigns for brands including Molson Coors, IKEA, A&W, Shock Communications, Frida Mobile, McCain Foods, many, many, many, many more, which we will talk about. And Morgan, thanks for joining me.

Morgan Tierney  3:00 

Yeah, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Jeremy Weisz  3:03 

We’ll talk about your journey from intern to here but just start with Rethink Ideas and what you do.

Morgan Tierney  3:11 

Sure, yeah, so Rethink is a full-service ad agency. So we do everything from big broadcast campaigns to digital, we do design, full-service design, agency branding. And we also have an in-house production wing called R&D Productions. So we do it all. And we do it with a focus on we call AX not ads. So we want to have brands doing things out in the world that get noticed and make those brands famous. And we have been up and running since 1999. Founded in Vancouver, Canada, by three founders, Chris Staples, Tom Shepansky and Ian Grais, then expanded to Toronto in 2010, on to Montreal in 2014. And just most recently, New York in the past year. So really exciting time for growth, everything. And we’d like to say, on our website, that Rethink is an independent creative agency here to help you rethink. And that’s a repeating cycle. So Rethink is really a one-word business model, where we are never satisfied with the status quo. And we’re always trying to rethink not just the work that we do, but the way that we do it.

Jeremy Weisz  3:11 

Love it. Talk about the original idea. You were going to talk a little about the origin story and what was the original idea of what companies or what purpose the company wanted to serve?

Morgan Tierney  4:41 

Yeah, so Rethink was founded when this little Vancouver creative shop called Palmer Jarvis, was acquired by one of the big agency holding companies. It was acquired by DDB. And when that acquisition happened, they went from being this little independent shop to being a wing have a global holding company. And they said nothing was gonna change. And lo and behold, things did change. And the founders of Rethink who were all at Palmer Jervis at the time, Chris, Tom, and Ian, decided that it was time to go and start their own agency, an independent agency that was founded on the principle that there was a better way to do advertising and to rethink everything about it, really. So that was how they aligned on the name, Rethink, and it was really a commitment, they were even a little bit afraid to name the agency Rethink, because that’s drawing a line in the sand and saying, we’re going to be disruptive, we’re going to do things differently. And so their goal was really to try and take some of the chaos out of creativity, because a lot of people think, oh, creativity, it’s got to be chaotic, it’s got to be this wacky, unwieldy, like off the rails machine. And Rethink was founded on the belief that you could apply structure, and you could pull some of the chaos out of the creative process, and implement structures that allow creative people to thrive. So create an environment where ideas are championed, and people are championed, and where the process doesn’t get in the way of the product. So just being able to give creative people the best possible chance at doing the best work of their careers.

Jeremy Weisz  6:35 

On that structure, in creativity, right, you and the company talk about, I think there’s 52 tools. There’s a book called Rethink The Business of Creativity, you go through a, and here’s his 55 for the best tools.

Morgan Tierney  6:53 

It’s a moving target, who knows.

Jeremy Weisz  6:55 

Okay, but over 50 best tools, I love for you to talk through a couple of them. And this can be found on Amazon, if you’re listening the audio, there’s a video version of this, but we’re looking at Figure One Publishing and the Rethink The Business of Creativity. You could also find it on Amazon. But talk about some of those tools.

Morgan Tierney  7:19 

Yeah, definitely. So we published the book Rethink The Business of Creativity in, actually, our release date was, what was that? It was, I think, was it March 13 2020. It was the day when everyone went home for two weeks and didn’t come back for at least a year. So yeah, three years and counting didn’t come back fully. So we decided to, obviously canceled our launch party. So I think the publishing of the book kind of fell to the wayside because of COVID. But, yeah, we took on this project in 2018, where we decided that we wanted to take everything that we learned over the course of the past 20 years, everything and encapsulate it all in this book. So I drew the short straw, and I was responsible for writing the first draft of the Rethink book, which was about 30,000 words. And I remember at the time, it seemed like such a novelty, because I decided to work from home to work on the book. So I would, I relish in the fact that I was at home working in my pajamas working on this book, and oh, isn’t this neat? I can work from anywhere. Maybe I can, I can get used to this. It’s pretty funny in retrospect. But we did eventually publish the book, which is this collection of tools and looking at it now it’s really a, it’s kind of a time capsule, because everything has changed since 2020, when we publish the book, like everything has changed. So the way that we work, hybrid, remote working options, there’s so much that has just completely been overhauled, even in the three years since we published the book. And it reached the point where, at one point, I was on a zoom call with the whole staff, and I picked up a copy of the book, and I ripped a chapter out and I set it on fire, and I threw it in my trash can, because the Rethink book is a working document. I can’t stress that enough. So I’m happy to dive into some of the tools in the book that are a little bit more of the timeless ones.

Jeremy Weisz  9:32 

Yeah, talk about those.

Morgan Tierney  9:33 

Yeah, sure. Sure. So one thing that will always be true of working at Rethink or our philosophy around creativity is that the way to get to quality is through quantity. And there isn’t really a way around that if you want to get to a great idea. It could be your first idea or it could be your 100th idea, but you’re not going to know which one it is until you’ve done all 100. So when we say that we cover the wall in ideas, we are dead serious about that. And you will see entire walls, everything that are made of corkboard or chalkboard that are absolutely covered top to bottom and ideas. So the one or 100 Rule keeps us honest, in terms of that desire to come up with a perfect idea right out of the gate. And then revisiting that idea and realizing that you might not be there yet, you might be able to improve on it, there’s always something else. And if you force yourself to go through the badlands in the middle of idea 56 idea 57, you’re also more likely to come up with some gold at the end. So we do subscribe to the one or 100 rule. Another one that I think is important to highlight that may seem obvious, is what we call the ping pong ball rule of communication. And this is the reason why, we’re that wacky creative agency where all of our boardroom tables are ping-pong tables, there’s a reason for that. And the reason is that if I throw you one ping pong ball, chances are you’ll catch it. And if I throw you five ping pong balls, you’ll probably miss all of them. And we like to believe that the same is true of creativity. So whether we are writing a TV, commercial, or radio ad, or know a banner ad, we want to say one thing, and we want to say it clearly. And we want to align on what that ping pong ball is for every piece of communication all the way down the funnel. Let’s see I could talk about it a couple more here, we’ve got the shallow holes approach to presenting creative. So I’m sure a lot of people in your audience would relate to being on the receiving end of a creative presentation. And the people being presented to or just as nervous as the people presenting. And then there’s this terrifying reveal moment, where it’s like you’ve pulled the sheet off the idea and you said, tada, this is it, we’ve solved it. And you have to say you like it because we’ve gone so deep on this idea already. And if you’re not careful, that can be a recipe for disaster, you can waste weeks or months, going deep on an idea that could have been killed in an instant early on, if you just been less precious about the idea and let people into the kitchen a little bit earlier. So when we say shallow holes, thinking it Rethink, we like to think of searching for great creative as imagine you’re looking for gold on a beach. And it’s really tempting to maybe you find a little bit of gold, you point you say “hey, there, X marks the spot, we’re gonna dig 10,000 feet deep right here.” And then you’ve taken a risk, and you run the risk of hitting bedrock pretty early in the process, and you’ve gone deep too soon. And you’re going to end up in that tada moment with your client that can be really terrifying. So we believe in digging many shallow holes, testing hunches, going six inches deep here, six inches deep there. And then our presentations are shaped around that. So we like to present instead of one big idea, maybe it’s five or six hunches. And things are a lot shallower a lot faster and looser, it can be a pencil sketch on a page, we’re really not precious about the format of our ideas, because a great idea should be as clear on a cocktail napkin as it is in 100-page deck. And we focus on ideas we present with our clients, and we train them to be primed to receive ideas and feedback on ideas. That way, you don’t get the feedback from the client that’s like, oh, no, I don’t like the color blue. Or, you know what, you lost me with the casting selection, or I didn’t like the line on the banner ad on slide 27. So it’s allowed us to have a lot more productive first presentations and avoid that dreaded presentation where everything goes sideways, and you’re back to the drawing board. And now you’re four weeks behind. So I’m a firm believer in the power of shallow holes and the belief in sharing ideas earlier versus running the risk of having that terrifying moment down the line.

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