Once again, the 4th of July has passed; Independence Day, a time for reflection on the events and the characters who gave birth to our nation. As I sat in my reverie, the iconic names scrolling through my mind’s eye - Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, Madison, Jay - a funny thought came to me. What would it be like to work with these cats? No, I wasn’t imagining myself in a powdered wig and tights pontificating about the finer points of liberty and tyranny; I was thinking about it in reverse: what would it be like to work with such luminaries in my profession of digital marketing? As my mind continued to wander down this path, I envisioned a new agency, the Founding Fathers Digital Marketing Agency, or FFDMA, if you like. After I stopped laughing, I imagined myself has the head of HR trying to figure out what role each of these esteemed gents would likely fill in such an organization. Here what I came up with.
CEO: George Washington
The face of the company (and the one-dollar bill); an able leader, Washington is best positioned to be CEO because, well, he doesn’t really have any core competency in any relevant areas (we don’t need a surveyor). It’s been said that George Washington enjoyed raffles and lotteries, card playing, fox hunting, duck hunting, fishing, cockfighting, horse racing, boat racing, and dancing- all great networking events of the day, to be sure. Throw him in a pair of Cotton Dockers and ship him off to the next charity golf event. I’m sure he’ll do just fine.
CFO/Controller: John Hancock
One of the wealthiest merchants in the colonies at the time of the Declaration’s signing, Hancock knew his way around a net sheet. Besides, his signature signature would also look really cool affixed on all company checks:
Creative Director: Thomas Jefferson
Our third President, Thomas Jefferson has been variously described as an agriculturalist, anthropologist, architect, astronomer, bibliophile, botanist, classicist, diplomat, educator, ethnologist, farmer, geographer, gourmet, horseman, horticulturist, inventor, lawyer, lexicographer, linguist, mathematician, meteorologist, musician, naturalist, numismatist, paleontologist, philosopher, political philosopher, scientist, statesman, violinist, and writer. He was also fluent in Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, and German. At the tender age of 33, he was the chief architect of the Declaration of Independence. He also put together the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, doubling our nation’s size at the time for a mere 15 million bucks, or 4 cents an acre (try getting that in today’s market-recession be damned). Not a bad guy to have shape and execute the creative strategy for your clients.
Lead Copywriter/Content Creator: James Madison
Co-author of the Federalist Papers, leading architect of our Constitution, Madison was hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” with good reason- he wrote most of it. Definitely enough copywriting cred to get the nod for Lead Content Creator at FFDMA.
Content Creator: John Adams
Yea, he was the first VP, the second President, and on any serious historian’s short list for the Founding Fathers MVP award, but at heart, the guy was a fruity academic. A few quotes from the man himself to illustrate my point:
(On graduating from Harvard, John Adams became a grammar school teacher). “My little school, like the great world, is made up of Kings, politicians, divines, fops, buffoons, fiddlers, fools, coxcombs, sycophants, chimney sweeps, and every other character I see in the world. I would rather sit in school and consider which of my pupils will turn out be a hero, and which a rake, which a philosopher and which a parasite, than to have an income of a thousand pounds a year.” Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.
Definitely back office material. “No, back there, John, behind that row of filing cabinets down the hall.” Maybe we should put him on the Rosetta Stone account…
Web/Graphic Designer: Benjamin Franklin
A true jack of all trades, besides being a scientist and a diplomat, he was a printer and designer.Little known fact:Franklin reportedly designed the first American penny in 1787. Known as the Fugio cent, it bears the image of a sun and sundial above the message “Mind Your Business.” Cheeky git.
Remember the phrase, “a penny saved is a penny earned?” He designed that too. Madison Avenue, eat your heart out (he never really cared much for Madison, anyway).
Data Analytics: Jon Jay/Alexander Hamilton
In our digital age, data analytics is all the rage. Agencies need number crunchers and logic choppers- folks with a strong command of numeracy to interpret statistics and a keen ability to extrapolate trends from massive amounts of raw data. How about America’s First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Founder of the US Treasury? This dynamic duo would put the most advanced marketing automation software through its paces.
Account Manager: Sam Adams
One of the most controversial figures in US history, historians are still debating Sam Adam’s legacy, with some calling him an incendiary revolutionary and others an adroit political operative. However, his contemporaries, both friends and foes, regarded him as one of the greatest leaders of the American Revolution. Thomas Jefferson characterized him as "truly the Man of the Revolution.”
With accolades like that, there’s no doubt Sam had the skills that pay the bills. Sounds like a perfect account man. Look for The Sons of Liberty LinkedIn group coming soon.
Legal: John Jay
In these heady days of revolution, you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting an attorney; for example, of the original 56 signors of the Declaration, 24 were Lawyers or Jurists. As such, it’s tempting to say let’s outsource this one to one of our buddies. However, as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and architect of the Constitution, John Jay (JJ) helped create many of the laws we abide by today. It’d surely be a waste of internal resources to outsource. “Sorry, JJ, money’s tight – I know we’ve got you working with Alex on Analytics, but we’re gonna need you to pull a little double duty as acting FFDMA legal counsel, just until we find someone else. You understand. Thanks buddy. Remember, we’re all in this together!”
With or without formal experience, I’d hire any of these characters in a hot minute. Doing so might cause some unforeseen complications, however. Can you imagine trying to get these guys to adhere to the 10-minute Agile morning review meeting? Good luck with that. Keeping Franklin focused on the task at hand might be difficult too; I could see him wanting to tinker with the commercial printer to see if he could improve upon it, or getting all geeked out trying to create a custom CMS for every web project (just use Word Press, dude). Just think about the lively repartee at happy hour - and the confusion when somebody orders a Sam Adams. Ahhh, the list goes on. Try thinking about it for yourself. Pretty fun stuff.
I would be remiss if I didn’t close with at least one nugget of practical advice for marketing agencies struggling to meet the manifold challenges of the digital age. Our Founding Fathers were men of multiple talents - polymaths who knew a little (or a lot) about a number of different things. This intellectual curiosity lent to creativity in problem solving and nimbleness in the face of roiling change: two things necessary as agencies try to navigate their way through the various qualms of our internet-driven techonomy.
At the time of our nation’s birth, it was the intellectual versatility of our Founding Fathers that allowed a relatively small number to speak truth to power and challenge the greatest empire of their time (having help from the French Army and Navy didn’t hurt either, but I digress).
Imagine what it could do for your organization.
Featured Image Credit: Killerpinapple.com
Fugio Coin Image Credit: History.com