Episode 74: Matt Williams, The Martin Agency on Component Thinking, How We Can Solve It and 21st Century Account Planning

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Meet Matt Wiliams, EVP/Partner and head of Group Planning at The Martin Agency, the #3 ad agency in America with over $600 million in billings. With a client list that includes Wal-Mart, Geico, UPS and the high-profile WE campaign from The Alliance for Climate Protection, Matt is responsible for the strategy behind some of the best brands in the country.

Learn about channel planning in today's complex media landscape. Get acquainted with the "brand experience path." Matt describes the account planning discipline and how strategy and research integrate with media. Hear how Matt applies his "component thinking" to tradition-breaking campaigns for Geico and UPS. He also covers the exciting and innovative activism program called the WE campaign at WeCanSolveIt.org - an outgrowth of Al Gore's success with an "Inconvenient Truth" movie.You'll also learn the insight behind the campaigns you know well from a consumer perspective: "15 minutes could save you 15%" and "What can Brown do for you?"

Suz and Matt get dishy, covering his mentors and his favorite author, Martin Amis. Amis has been described in Wikipedia as "the undisputed master of what the NY Times describes as "the new unpleasantness."" Matt offers his recommendations for the two must-read Amis novels. And then we roll back in time to the heydays of the 80's. Matt was lead-singer in a band called (oh, god, I can barely type this...) "The Flannel Animals." New wave, big hair - he was HOT! Ha ha! In addition to playing music with his sons, his guilty pleasure is playing the Rio album from Duran Duran. Suz can't miss an opportunity to sing on the show with her guest, so yes - there's a duet of Rio as the smash ending to this hit show.

Williams is impressively articulate and entertaining. Enjoy!


Susan Bratton: Welcome to DishyMix, I’m your host Susan Bratton.  And on today’s show you’re going to get to meet Matt Williams.  Matt is the EVP and a partner and runs group planning for the Martin Agency.  Now, the Martin Agency may or may not be a company that you know, but by the end of the show, you’re going to be very impressed.  They’re part of the IPG empire, and Ad Age ranked the Martin Agency third among US ad agencies this year.  Their billings are over 600 million, and they have an amazing client list, and you’re going to get to hear about some of their top clients when you meet Matt today.  On today’s show we’re going to talk about the account planning discipline - how “We” can solve it.  The Geico Gecko, and the absurdity of the post-modern condition.  So let’s do it.

Matt Williams [voice-over]: I think planners are great component thinkers.  Where we can take a complicated problem, pull it into its pieces, and be able to tell the important pieces from the unimportant pieces…I think of account planning as the folks who are responsible for finding the intersection between the consumer and the brand…Account planning in the traditional sense and media planning in the traditional sense can come together to combine to create channel planning, which is a way of defining the behavior of a brand, and the meaning you want the brand to have, and the touch points along the lives of a  – life of a consumer that that brand can bring that meaning to life….You think about “The Sopranos”.  “The Sopranos” is multiple storylines going on at the same time, lots of intricacies, lots of depth, lots of different characters.  And I think that consumers have gotten to a point where they can not only consume television shows that way, but brands can present themselves that way too.  So Geico is a great example of what we like to call multiple storylines.

Susan Bratton: Welcome Matt, how are you?

Matt Williams: I’m great Susan, thanks, how are you?

Susan Bratton: Well, its my pleasure to have you on.  I don’t even remember which publication it was that I read about the We Campaign for the first time and you were profiled.  What magazine was that, was it Common Ground, or…

Matt Williams: It actually might have been the NRDC’s magazine.

Susan Bratton: It was, it was the National Resource Defense Council publication, and I saw the spread on you.

Matt Williams: I think its called “On Earth”

Susan Bratton: “On Earth”, I get that.  And I called up the agency and I said “I got to have Matt on the show”.  I just was just really impressed with the work you were doing with that campaign.  So we’re going to get to a little bit more about The Alliance For Climate Protection in a second on the show, but before we get there – Matt, you’ve been at The Martin Agency for seventeen years, you practically grew up there.  The question I had for you was – you know, we have a lot of listeners who are on the Agency’s side.  And you’ve been at the company for seventeen years.  Can you just give us a quick synopsis of your career evolution and how you went from being an account exec and moving in to the world that you’re in now?

Matt Williams: Sure.  Yeah I kind of grew up around advertising, because my father was a senior marketing guy at DuPont of all places for years and years.  So he would bring reels of TV commercials home and I’d watch them and we’d talk about them.  So I kind of fell in love with advertising when I was younger.  I always liked the combination of creativity and business, and ending up going in to account management.  I got wind of the Martin Agency through a good friend of mine who worked at the first agency I worked at, which was Ketchum Advertising in Philadelphia.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, you’re a Philly boy, or a Delaware – DuPont is Delaware, right?

Matt Williams: Delaware, exactly.

Susan Bratton: Where did you grow up?

Matt Williams: In Wilmington.

Susan Bratton: Wilmington, yep, I grew up just outside of Newark, Delaware.

Matt Williams: Oh wow!

Susan Bratton: So yeah, I’m from the area.

Matt Williams: There aren’t many of us. [laughter]

Susan Bratton: I did a semester at the University Of Delaware with the Blue Hens.

Matt Williams: Yeah, The Fightin’ Blue Hens, exactly.

Susan Bratton: So you were at Ketchum and you ended up at The Martin Agency down in Virginia.

Matt Williams: And I moved down there when I was wow, I guess 23, 24 years old in account management and there was no account planning function at Martin at the time. 

Susan Bratton: Yeah

Matt Williams: And so all of this strategic planning and the consumer research was all managed through account management and I realized in the course of doing it that I loved 20 percent of my job and I tolerated and frankly wasn’t that great at the remaining 80. 

Susan Bratton: Interesting.

Matt Williams: And the 20 percent that I loved was the account planning strategy research stuff.  And I ended up conspiring with another person at the Martin Agency – a guy named Earl Cox.  And Earl and I ended up starting up the account planning function at the Martin Agency about uh, wow, about 13, 14 years ago. 

Susan Bratton: Well its interesting that you say the 80/20 thing because we just did an episode recently with Marcus Buckingham, he’s the kind of career guru – he has a new book called “The Truth About You”, which is about understanding what your strengths are and then essentially taking the things that you do really well that you love to do and turning your job into that.  And that’s exactly what you just described.  And that’s his advice.

Matt Williams: Yeah, I took his advice before I even heard it.  So…

Susan Bratton: Well you told me that Earl Cox was one of your mentors and he’s the person that taught you how to think.  That’s a bold statement.  What did he teach you?  How did he teach you that?

Matt Williams: You know, he taught me how to simplify things.

Susan Bratton: Ok…

Matt Williams: And how to pull things apart and to understand which of those components are important and which need to be set aside.  And that’s Earl’s great gift.

Susan Bratton: So like rational logic kind of, deconstructionism.

Matt Williams: Yeah, or what I like to call component thinking.  I think planners are great component thinkers.  Where we can take a complicated problem, pull it into its pieces, and be able to tell the important pieces from the unimportant pieces.  And focus.  That’s what Earl was all about.  He was great at that.

Susan Bratton: Well that’s really interesting – component thinking – I’ve never heard that phrase before, is there a process that you use or some place where we can go to learn more about the process of component thinking?

Matt Williams: No, I, to be honest it’s a term that I kind of, that I’ve made up and used for myself as I thought about what it takes to be a good planner and the kind of thought processes I look for when I hire planners – is can you pull things apart and the understand the relative importance of those components. 

Susan Bratton: And how do you do that – what’s your process?

Matt Williams: You know its less of process as I think it just practice

Susan Bratton: Ok…

Matt Williams: Um, if I look at someone say like Earl, Earl is just wired to think that way.  And when you are around someone like him, and you work with him enough the way I did when I was younger, I understood how he did this and I think I honestly maybe went in to it with a certain innate ability to think that way anyway.  He really just help me fine-tune it and understand the power of it, because it’s a very powerful thing when you can pull things apart and focus on what’s important.

Susan Bratton: Well it sounds like you may have a book in you, just around that concept of component thinking.

Matt Williams: Maybe so…

Susan Bratton: You never know Matt, maybe you and Earl…

Matt Williams: That’s right.

Susan Bratton: Well, I think there are a lot of my listeners who work with agencies or are in small agencies - maybe not agencies large enough to have an entire account planning discipline.  Would you describe what account planning is and how it fits within the other constructs within an agency?

Matt Williams: Sure.  I think of account planning as the folks who are responsible for finding the intersection between the consumer and the brand.  So if I can understand how our target audience thinks what’s important in their lives and the role that this brand that I represent can fill that role in a way that’s unique to it and is born from its strengths as a company – then I can find the intersection of the consumer and the brand.  And as a planner that’s the intersection I’m looking for, and that’s where I think the best strategies and the best ideas, or strategic ideas come from.

Susan Bratton: So, give us an example of an intersection between a consumer and a brand. 

Matt Williams: Alright, think about UPS.  So I work on UPS and was involved in the creation of the Brown Campaign. 

Susan Bratton: “What Can Brown Do For You?”

Matt Williams: “What Can Brown Do For You?” – exactly.

Susan Bratton: And now you have a new whiteboard extension.

Matt Williams: That’s right, so that’s evolved in to the whiteboard.  The original challenge with UPS was you have a company that’s been around for 95 years at the time.  And was far and away the leader in ground shipping, but they had capabilities that nobody knew about or gave them credit for.  And that lack of awareness was kind of a built-in governor on UPS’s growth, right?  So what we realized was that there’s a built-in operational efficiency within UPS that made them the best ground shipping company in the world and people loved them for that.  But the thing that people weren’t giving them credit for was a broader array of supply-chain management capabilities and they had them in spades but nobody thought to think of UPS for that.  The consumer needed operational efficiency that came to life in supply-chain management ways, right?  UPS had a built-in operational efficiency core competency that people would give them credit for but they had never applied that – the consumer, the customers had never applied that to supply-chain management.  So this overlap was the need for operational efficiency in supply-chain management, and UPS’s core competency in operational efficiency – and we were able to bring that to life in a way that made people think of this old style brand in a whole new way.

Susan Bratton: So a lot of what you do in account planning is research the intersection of what consumers believe about a brand, and what consumers need and what the brand can offer and finding that connection, is that right?

Matt Williams: I think that’s exactly right, yeah. 

Susan Bratton: What kind of research are you doing these days in account planning?  What’s the most common thing that you do?

Matt Williams: We still do a lot of face-to-face conversations.  I mean even with all of the advance of technology, you still, when you want to dig deep into what people need and what their motivations are – sitting down face-to-face with them is tough to beat.

Susan Bratton: There’s a real art to that.

Matt Williams: Yeah, there really is.  Um, so we still do a lot of these face-to-face interviews.  We do use technology to enable us to bring chats together of people speaking with each other in real time, but spread out all over the world.

Susan Bratton: So that’s a good one…

Matt Williams: …something we’ve never been able to do before – we do a lot of that.  There’s a lot of quantitative research that we do, whether its over the phone or over the internet.  The burgeoning technology has given us access to consumers in ways that we never would have dreamt of 10 years ago. 

Susan Bratton: So I know that one of the things I asked you Matt as we were getting ready for the show – what is your favorite conference – and you said you loved the Account Planning Group Conference.  That’s part of the 4 A’s, right?

Matt Williams: It is yeah.

Susan Bratton: And I was looking at some of the recent agenda items.  There were a couple that caught my eye.  One of them was this uh, somebody else did this, this wasn’t even your speaking platform, but I was wondering if you could speak to it, because I was interested in it.  There was a session called “Channel Planning In Today’s Complex Environment”.  And I thought “Wow, now kidding.”  Could you tell us about channel planning as it comes out of the account planning discipline and where you are with all that when you think about some of these big clients that you have?

Matt Williams: Sure, yeah, channel planning has been a thing that has grown leaps and bounds over the last couple of years.  I think it comes from…

Susan Bratton: You should describe it first.

Matt Williams: Yeah sure.  It’s a way to handle, in a more strategic way, the proliferation of touch-points that are possible between a brand and a consumer.  So what I can do as a channel planner is say – if I need to create a certain kind of experience for a consumer with my brand, how can I create contact with that consumer and what do I want each of those points of contact to accomplish for my brand.  Right?  Now it used to be the sole providence of media planning, that’s what media planning was about…

Susan Bratton: Right, we called it “media mix modeling”. 

Matt Williams: Yeah, exactly, now with channel planning what you can do is have a closer relationship between account planning, which is all about defining the meaning of that brand and how the meaning comes to life with the needs of consumers and the habits of consumers.  Those habits are so much more interesting on a media-usage level now because there are so many more types of media that a consumer can use. That account planning in the traditional sense and media planning in the traditional sense can come together to combine to create channel planning, which is a way of defining the behavior of a brand, and the meaning you want the brand to have, and the touch points along the life of a consumer that that brand can bring that meaning to life.

Susan Bratton: So what you’re essentially doing is plotting all of the places that a consumer could potentially be impacted or connected to a brand and ultimately how it fits in the day and the life of that consumer, and then looking at which messages that brand should evoke and at what depth in those different mediums and cutting some out and adding some in so that its almost like the right pathway of a connection to a customer.

Matt Williams: That’s exactly right, and its not even just messages, its behaviors – how should the brand behave at this touch-point with a consumer?  And we actually call it brand experience path…

Susan Bratton: Oh really?

Matt Williams: You have to create a brand experience path for a consumer to move down and it’s got to be a path that creates a relationship with momentum and that’s fueled by consumer involvement and that it’s a dialog rather than a monolog and all of those things are enabled by technology and accelerated by the connection planning discipline.

Susan Bratton: Well, you have some amazing clients, I just want to make sure we get out the client list of the Martin Agency.  I’ll just go through them, because it’s probably easier for me because I got them written [laughter] then you can talk about them…

Matt Williams: Sure…

Susan Bratton: Wal-Mart of course, that was a big big win for you, uh you’ve had UPS for a long time, you have Geico – the Geico Gecko, you have Hanes, BF Goodrich, Seiko Watches, Ping* Golf Equipment – I’m sure you like that one – you’re a golfer

Matt Williams: Yeah, that’s a tough one to work on, let me tell you…

Susan Bratton: NASCAR, ESPN’s X-Games, that’s fun, you got a lot of fun stuff – you got a rum company – Cruisin’?

Matt Williams: Cruisin’ Rum, yeah.

Susan Bratton: So you got rum, golf, NASCAR, X-Games, you got some fun stuff here…

Matt Williams: Oh yeah…

Susan Bratton: I like that, and then of course you have the Alliance For Climate Protection, which is the We Campaign.  I’d love to talk a little bit about that one, so this is the one that’s kind of the outgrowth of Al Gore’s amazing work with this movie “An Inconvenient Truth” – describe the Alliance For Climate Protection and then I want to talk about specifically the We Campaign and some of the work you’ve done there.

Matt Williams: Sure, The Alliance For Climate Protection was a non-profit that was begun by the Vice President using the proceeds from “An Inconvenient Truth”.  So the idea of the alliance is to mobilize millions of people in the United States and around the world to raise their voices and stop the climate crisis.  And the specific goal of the alliance is to raise those voices to affect policy change.  So we want to take the critical mass of supporters and direct them specifically at people who influence policy in Washington, D.C. to make sure that we’re passing policy and affecting legislation that can have a serious positive impact on the countries addressing the climate crisis.

Susan Bratton: So this is a political activism program that you’re doing.

Matt Williams: Yeah, and we think of it in a non-political way.  You know, if you think about the climate crisis its not going to discriminate between Republicans and Democrats.  This really should not be a partisan issue.  But it is one to the extent that the policy-making process is a political process, we have to operate in that world that’s how we affect policy. 

Susan Bratton: Well you have a really clever way that you’ve done this bi-partisan, um, evoked this bi-partisan connection and this gathering participation.  I’m going to go to a short break to thank my sponsors, so I want to do that, and when we come back I want to talk about some fun specifics of the campaign.  Great.  I’m your host Susan Bratton and we’re with Matt Williams – he is the EVP and partner and group planning expert at the Martin Agency.  We’ll be back and we’re going to talk about the We Campaign, we’re going to sing for you, we’re going to do all kinds of fun stuff so stay tuned and we’ll be right back…

Susan Bratton: We’re back, and I’m with Matt Williams of the Martin Agency.  So Matt we were talking about the We Campaign, and you were talking about how climate protection, climate change, all of these problems we have with this, the need for clean energy, et cetera, that it’s a bi-partisan issue.  Tell us about some of the things you’ve done in putting unusual pairs together in the campaign.

Matt Williams: Sure, uh, you know, one of the things we realized we had to do was change the way people talk about this issue, so that its not an issue that grinds to a halt because of the partisan lock-down that happens in Washington.  So the idea behind the unlikely alliances campaign which is the, you know, the commercial with Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson sitting on the couch, is that these are people who don’t agree on anything, except this one thing – which is climate change has to be dealt with.  And the idea behind that campaign was to take climate change out of this partisan conversation and say whether you are a Republican or a Democrat you have to agree that we have to solve this problem. 

Susan Bratton: You had house speaker Nancy Pelosi paired up with former speaker, former Republican speaker Newt Gingrich in an ad as well.  So uh…

Matt Williams: They don’t agree on much.

Susan Bratton: Yeah…right…but they agree on this.  Now one of the things I noticed in reading the press releases about the We Campaign is that there’s this stated goal of having, it’s a 3-year program and that you want to have the involvement of 10 million people.  I notice on the site that maybe a week ago or so that there were almost like 1.7 million people who had signed up.  Why 3 years, why 10 million, what are the ultimate goals of this campaign?  What is all that work?

Matt Williams: Well, uh, as I mentioned the ultimate goal is to affect policy change.  The Vice President has been really focused on this idea of – the maximum time threshold we can put on this thing is 3 years because he thinks if we haven’t done what we need to do in that period of time, to engage millions of people around this issue, its taking too long.  So he set the 3-year goal so he can have an aggressive time goal and go out and publicize that goal and add to the urgency of joining this thing because it’s a very urgent problem and we need to solve it.  And we can.

Susan Bratton: You have a lot of amazing support – I mean the Girl Scouts Of America and other big – The Sierra Club, and other big organizations are supporting it.  But what you’re really looking for is this grass-roots activism – bi-partisan grass-roots activism.  The website URL is wecansolveit.org.  I know you want all of us to go there.  When we go there, what are we doing, and why are we doing it?

Matt Williams: Uh you are getting more deeply engaged in the climate crisis, so if you’re looking for more information about it you can find it at the site.  If you’re looking for ways to get involved in your local community, you can find that at the site.  If you’re looking to donate money to the alliance you can do it there, so the site was purposely set up in a way that no matter what your level of engagement in the climate crisis is when you get there, you can information or activities that can deepen your level of engagement and kind of push you down that brand experience path, you know back to that earlier conversation.  So, uh, what we want to do is to get people to register, because we can use that number to prove to policy makers that there are millions and millions of people who are paying attention to this issue.

Susan Bratton: Makes sense.  And one of the things that I think my listeners can support with is um, for every person who listens to DishyMix – we’re those kind of super-influencer people, you know the digerati that when we do something 25 or 2,500 people know about because we’re such big online users of things like Facebook and MySpace et cetera, and I noticed there’s a really well-done Facebook application that lets people bring that up on their Facebook page and also get points towards raising money.  There’s some like matching contribution funds that if you are a participant in spreading the world about wecansolveit that you can actually help raise money for the organization. 

Matt Williams: Great.

Susan Bratton: So I think that’s something that if you’re listening right now and you want to check it out, of course go sign up at wecansolveit and also maybe take a look at something like the Facebook app that helps spread the awareness.  So Matt I want to keep talking about that but I also want go on to Geico, because that’s been a great account for your organization.  I think you grew that in 10 years from a 3-billion dollar business, which wasn’t too bad, to an 11-billion dollar business and its continued to grow beyond that.  Tell us the strategy behind that, we know it as a consumer, but give us the strat.

Matt Williams: Yeah, Geico’s been amazing for us and if you think about how you consume messages, Susan, how we all do, it’s change so much over time, you think about a storyline, you think about it in terms of storylines and you think about a Starsky And Hutch* episode from 25 years ago, right?  It was a very linear kind of storyline, it wasn’t very nuanced, it didn’t have a lot of  layers, it was just show up at the station house, they get a call, they run around in their car, they talk to Huggy Bear, they make a joke, catch the bad guy, and its out.  You think about The Sopranos.  The Sopranos is multiple storylines going on at the same time, lots of intricacies, lots of depth, lots of different characters.  And I think that consumers have gotten to a point where they can not only consume television shows that way, but brands can present themselves that way too.  So Geico is a great example of what we like to call multiple storylines.  And if you think about the Geico campaign, there’s a part of that campaign that deals with service, there’s a part that deals with saving money, there’s a part that deals with different insurance lines, whether its RV’s or boats or whatever.  And they all come together to create this really powerful feeling around this brand.  But what they’ve done is broken the traditional assumption of slavish consistency in creativity.  And this multiple storyline phenomenon that’s been working with Geico has been really amazing, and its made us question, and our clients question some of the long-held assumptions that we’ve had in marketing.  Mainly around this area of having to be slavishly consistent.  We find that consumers are much more able to assimilate multiple storylines around brands, and Geico is a great example of it.

Susan Bratton: I love that.  Um, the only thing that I would say is consistent is “15 minutes could save you 15 percent.”  [laughter].   That’s the thread, right?

Matt Williams: Yeah, absolutely, when you talk about multiple storylines, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have the responsibility to create a unifying brand idea for this brand –we do.  But what we have is the latitude to bring it to life in different creative ways.  And we may have more latitude than traditional marketing has always assumed.  All those different creative ways have to come back up to a unifying brand idea, but the creativity that lives below it can be a little more diverse than we might have assumed before.

Susan Bratton: Well Matt I’m so pleased at how amazingly beautifully eloquent you are about the subject of branding.  You’re delighting me in this conversation. 

Matt Williams: [laughter] Oh, thank you.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, no, you are very eloquent and articulate about this, I love it.  I’m not surprised because one of the things I asked you when we were preparing for the show was what book you most recommended to your friends.  And you told me anything by Martin Amis - “He’s got the sharpest pen on earth”, and I thought “Martin Amis, I’ve never heard of him.”  And I looked him up, and I ended up on Wikipedia, and here’s what Wikipedia had to say about him: “Amis's raw material is what he sees as the absurdity of the postmodern condition with its grotesque caricatures. He has thus sometimes been portrayed as the undisputed master of what the New York Times has called "the new unpleasantness.””  I thought “OK, this guy is freaky-deaky…”

Matt Williams: Yeah that’s right, the unpleasantness…

Susan Bratton: The new unpleasantness, not just the old unpleasantness, this is the new…it sounds super-duper gritty.

Matt Williams: Oh, it totally is.  The great thing about Amis is that he confronts that kind of stuff, not in a terrifying way, but in a way that brings out the humor in it, and he’s got this unbelievable talent for cutting straight to what’s either funny or ironic or shocking about things that we see all around us, but maybe haven’t look at that way.  He’s an amazing, amazing writer.

Susan Bratton: Well, dude is prolific too.  So there’s a huge list of books he’s written – novels, collections of short stories – what should we start with, what’s the best, what’s the quintessential Amis? 

Matt Williams: There are a couple.  One is a book called “Time’s Arrow”. 

Susan Bratton: Ok.

Matt Williams: Which is really short, but amazingly cool because he completely turns the time contiium on its head and…

Susan Bratton: Oh this is the one where he writes it totally backward and even the conversation is backward? 

Matt Williams: The book is backward…

Susan Bratton: Ok, got it, uh-huh…

Matt Williams: The book reads backwards so as you read this book things are revealed to you in the opposite direction than you would expect so its pretty amazing.  And he pulled it off which is fantastic.  And there’s another book that he’s written called “London Fields”.

Susan Bratton: Ok.

Matt Williams: Which is probably the thing that best exemplifies the description you read from The New York Times.

Susan Bratton: Ok, so we’re going to check out “London Fields” and “Time’s Arrow”, because they both sound really fun.  Well we’re almost out of time but I want to talk about a couple of other things with you.  The first one is that there is a theme with you – so Matt what I’ve noticed in this theme is that I asked you what is the one thing that pushed your edge hardest in your whole life, and you told me that it was being the lead singer in a band…

Matt Williams: [laughter]…True…

Susan Bratton: When was this?  Is it a current thing or is it a past thing?

Matt Williams: No, currently I’ve been kicked off the microphone and I just play the guitar…

Susan Bratton: Ok.

Matt Williams: When I was in college I made spending in beer money by being a lead singer in a band, yeah.

Susan Bratton: And were you in an 80’s new-wave band?

Matt Williams: Oh yeah.  It was awful, it was the crazy big hair all kinds of bad stuff…

Susan Bratton: Oh, I love that…

Matt Williams: So yeah if it was by the Smiths or the Hoodoo Gurus and REM and The Cure then we were all over it.

Susan Bratton: What was your band called?

Matt Williams: Uh, we were called the “Flannel Animals”.

Susan Bratton: Oh that’s really bad, I love it.  And do you have a photo of yourself from that era?

Matt Williams: Uh, you know I may have burned them all…

Susan Bratton: Really? [crosstalk] Because I’d really love to put that on my blog. 

Matt Williams: I may be able to hunt one up, we had a reunion concert back at our college a couple of years ago…

Susan Bratton: You did?

Matt Williams: Um, so maybe I could find some pictures from then.  We’re all very respectable now.

Susan Bratton: You are very respectable now…

Matt Williams: Which makes it more fun…

Susan Bratton: Absolutely.

Matt Williams: Doctors, lawyers, advertising people, so…

Susan Bratton: Your guilty pleasure you told me was Duran Duran’s “Rio” album, did you just play it incessantly? 

Matt Williams: Its just the greatest terrible album ever made.  I love it.

Susan Bratton: I do too.  And you told me that you love to chill, that you love to play music with your sons. 

Matt Williams: Yeah, uh my kinds have got the rock and roll bug so I got an 11-year old that plays the guitar and a 9-year old that plays the drums. 

Susan Bratton: I think that’s fantastic, so what do you, do you play the guitar with…you have 2 boys, right?

Matt Williams: I do.

Susan Bratton: Patrick, he’s the guitar player…

Matt Williams: Patrick’s the guitar player, and he’s 11…

Susan Bratton: Yeah…

Matt Williams: And Ethan’s the drummer, he’s 9.  So we got a little rock and roll room set up in my house, and I’ll play the guitar and sing along with them.  We make a lot of noise.

Susan Bratton: They love that…I mean when they look back on their life, they are going to remember those moments as being probably some of the quintessential dad moments of their life, don’t you think?

Matt Williams: Well that’s how I think about them so hopefully they will too.

Susan Bratton: So I was wondering if you would indulge me today, um, I really liked Duran Duran too – I was a little more punk than new-wave in the 80’s myself but I sure liked that, I was wondering if you would be willing to just maybe end the show with a little chorus of the Duran Duran Rio song?

Matt Williams: Oh, I thought you wouldn’t ask…I was afraid you wouldn’t ask…

Susan Bratton: And you’re doing this from a conference room from one of your biggest clients in Chicago.

Matt Williams: I am, and I’m worried they’re going to walk in on this and fire me on the spot. 

Susan Bratton: But you’re going to do it anyway…

Matt Williams: I’m going to do it anyway…

Susan Bratton: Ok, here we go.  This is our first take, are you ready?

Matt Williams: Yeah.  Alright, hit it.

[Together, singing]: “Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand / Just like that river twistin’ through a dusty land / And when she shines she really shows you all she can / Oh Rio Rio dance across the Rio Grande. ”

Matt Williams: My client just walked in, no kidding.

Susan Bratton: Are you serious?

Matt Williams: Yeah.  I’m mortified.

Susan Bratton: Say hi, say “I’m singing Duran Duran on DishyMix, I can’t be bothered.”

Matt Williams: She made a funny face at me and walked out.

Susan Bratton: Well you maintained really well in the middle of that.

Matt Williams: Well that’s one thing they teach you is never stop.

Susan Bratton: I thought we sounded pretty good. 

Matt Williams: I’d hire us.

Susan Bratton: I think everyone else thinks we sound like old douche bags from the 80’s, but…

Matt Williams: Well you know what?  They’re right, and we’re right.

Susan Bratton: Exactly, everybody wins.  Hey, that was super fun Matt.  Thank you for teaching us about account planning, talking to us about business strategy, and singing some great new romantic songs.

Matt Williams: [laughter] Thanks Susan, it was great.

Susan Bratton: I love it.  Yeah it was great fun.  So Matt, I will talk to you soon, and I want thank everyone who was having fun with us on the show today.  I’m your host Susan Bratton, you got to know Matt Williams from the Martin Agency, I hope you’ll go to wecansolveit.org and spread the word.  We all need to take care of climate change.  Alright, have a great day – I’m your host, and I’ll see soon.  Bye-bye.