NSB Logo Marcus Collins Marcus Collins

Marcus Collins

Speaker Featured

Michigan, United States

Leading Digital & Ad strategist for clients like Beyonce, Peloton, Apple, Google

From doctoral research on human behavior to breakthrough ad campaigns for Apple, Budweiser and Google, to teaching marketing at the University of Michigan, Dr. Marcus Collins has spent his career studying and leveraging the underlying drivers that motivate people to take action. His conclusion: Culture is everything. Collins’ best-selling book, For the Culture: The Power Behind What We Buy, What We Do, and Who We Want to Be has established him as America’s preeminent cultural translator, regularly appearing in the media and as a regular contributor to Forbes. A popular speaker with business audiences, he is known for his attention-capturing, highly visual presentations filled with recognizable and relatable cultural references and practical business examples. As a master marketer, Collins targets each talk to client goals—achieving heightened engagement and actionable relevance.

Keynote Speeches

Virtual Keynotes & Webinars
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Putting The Humanity Back Into Customer Centricity

In today’s competitive business landscape, it’s more important than ever to put the customer at the center of all business decisions. While this truth might be widely held, our ability to build organizations that are readily capable of implementing a customer centric approach is not as accessible as we might desire. This talk uncovers a perspective for customer centricity and provides actionable strategies for adopting this approach within your organization.

Key takeaways:

  • Understand the benefits of a customer-centric approach, including increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, and how it can drive business growth and success
  • Discover strategies for creating a customer-centric culture within your organization and building a customer-centric team
  • Learn how to applies these strategies to your organization right away
For The Culture: The Power Behind What We Buy, What We Do, And Who We Want To Be

Each and every day, all of us try to influence others— to get them to believe, join, buy, embrace a vision, and most of all, to move and take action. In both our personal and professional lives, no matter what we do, we are all marketers. And all of us can learn from top marketer Dr. Marcus Collins about how culture is the most powerful vehicle for influencing  beliefs and behaviors. 

In this inspiring talk, Marcus shares stories from his own life and career as a top marketer, from spearheading digital strategy for Beyonce to the success of Google’s “Real Tone” technology to the launch of the Brooklyn Nets and a successful collaboration between iTunes and Nike. Combining thought-provoking examples drawn from contemporary culture with a deep perspective based on a century’s worth of data, he shares the tools for catalyzing collective change and inspiring action.

Whether you’re a manager trying to motivate a team, a company trying to improve culture, or a sales executive making a pitch, Marcus draws from his much-anticipated new book, For the Culture: The Power Behind What We Buy, What We Do, and Who We Want to Be (May, 2023) to challenge old thinking and give you the essential tools to succeed in a hyper-connected, light speed world.

Hear what Marcus has to say about this keynote here!

Going Tribal: The Future Of Brand Is Culture

Historically, “brand” was a legal mark that said, “this belongs to me.” Over time, it became a trust mark, assuring quality standards. Next, marketers decided that it wasn’t enough for consumers to simply buy their stuff. The era of “brand love” evolved, marked by evocative brand stories that fortified consumer love. Today, the most powerful and forward-thinking marketers focus on culture. Why? Because culture governs how we behave in the world. The strongest brands have become identity marks that align with our beliefs and values. They have become brandmarks for “tribes” of  people who share the same cultural identity and mindsets. “My friends use iPhones or Pixels.” “My friends are Democrats or Republicans.” Future brands (starting now) will study and understand the cultural characteristics of certain tribes—their beliefs, artifacts, behavior and language—and weave their brand into the connective tissue of tribal culture.  Renowned brand and cultural strategist Marcus Collins examines the most significant shift in marketing over the last 50 years and how a knowledge of tribes and culture will become even more critical to successfully marketing in the Metaverse. 

Hear what Marcus has to say about this keynote here!

Cultural Contagion: Going Beyond “Going Viral”

Today, there is no shortage of brands, business owners or storytellers who covet the opportunity to have their ideas trend on Twitter, rack up one million+ views on YouTube, or garner thousands of Facebook likes. But are the metrics of social chatter only a proxy for genuine and long term success? Does “going viral” really lead to reach, or most importantly, drive people to take action? 

In this invaluable session, Marcus Collins reframes the benefits of “going viral” and explores how creating Cultural Contagion is a far more powerful way to generate social currency, tell your story, evoke emotion, build trust, activate networks, and to ultimately drive action, connection and commerce. Mixing behavior science and branding, he tells the back stories of brands and analyzes the most culturally contagious phenomena of our time. He also shares the four “Cs” of his “Contagion Cookbook,” the perfect recipes for anyone who wants to go beyond viral and achieve a higher level of connection, engagement and action.

Data Analytics: Don’t Mistake Information For Intimacy

We have more data than ever before, yet we still don’t understand our customers, patients, employees, investors…you name it.  The list is infinite and universal with one important conclusion: Data isn’t enough. How can we gain genuine insights and intimacy that allow us to authentically connect with any stakeholder? 

In this eye-opening  talk, master brand and cultural strategist Marcus Collins draws from field anthropology, ethnography and his decades of research to help marketers understand who their “target” really is. Only by transcending demographics and identifying people according to their belief and values-based “tribes” and “collectives” can we know who they really are. And only by understanding how they translate information through the lens of culture, can we communicate, connect and drive them to action. Sharing case studies and intriguing examples, Marcus shows how adding culture to the equation will give your marketing and communications the competitive edge over data and analytics alone. 

Audience reviews:

  • We had the pleasure of hosting Marcus as our keynote speaker during our annual American Marketing Association conference. Marcus delivered a high-energy presentation regarding cultural consumption that had our audience thinking beyond their traditional marketing messaging and strategies. - Verizon Media
  • Marcus Collins is nothing short of fantastic. As a speaker, Marcus has a way of presenting that is often difficult to find... He's a rare gem when it comes to presentation style, ability to take feedback, area of expertise, and more. Marcus truly listens to what others have to say before responding. - Capital One
  • [After Marcus' talk] our team felt inspired to action and empathy. I had goosebumps multiple times - was NOT expecting that at all. - Account Manager, Google
  • I was looking for an outside speaker to speak to our marketing leaders and I honestly felt Marcus was the right person with the right message... three things stood out to me. First is his ability and passion for simplicity. Secondly, I am drawn to his ability to engage the room. Lastly, I appreciate his preparation. - Chief of Staff-Growth Marketing, Verizon
  • Simply put, Marcus is exceptional... exceptionally capable, passionate, multidimensional, super smart, engaging, human, inspiring, relational, real. He has demonstrated all these qualities as a speaker and team member at Hyper Island. Such a great guy... I can't say enough. - Facilitator and Learning Designer, Hyper Island
  • Marcus brought an awesome presence and engagement to the session. I loved his succinct yet powerful slides and message. In particular, I really enjoyed his energy, sincerity & passion. Great to see academic & real life role merged! - Toyota Motors Corporation, Next Gen Exec Program

Speaker Biography

Dr. Marcus Collins is an award-winning marketer, cultural translator, and best- selling author who has spent his career translating culture for brands and translating brands for culture.

He currently serves as Clinical Assistant Professor of Marketing at Ross School of Business, University of Michigan and as a regular contributor to Forbes, where he writes about subjects ranging from the business cost of canceling diversity efforts to the impact of AI on creativity. Previously, he served as Chief Strategy Officer at Wieden + Kennedy, New York, where he was the architect of some of the best-known advertising campaigns of our time. Collins has championed strategies for blue chip brands such as McDonald’s, Apple, Google, State Farm, Target, Peloton, and Budweiser.

Earlier in his career, he ran digital strategy for Beyoncé. His honors include being an AAF Advertising Hall of Achievement Inductee, 2022 Cannes Lions Jury Member, a member of the 2023 Thinkers50 Radar Class and one of the favorite professors of the University of Michigan MBA class of 2022. He is also the recipient of Advertising Age’s 40 Under 40 award and Crain’s Business’ 40 Under 40 award.

His best-selling book, For the Culture: The Power Behind What We Buy, What We Do, and Who We Want to Be, examines the influence of culture on consumption and unpacks how everyone from marketers to activists can leverage culture to get people to take action. Throughout the book, he relies on literature, case studies, his work with brands, and academic data to illustrate the “whys” and the “hows” so that readers will be empowered to successfully apply these learnings to their own pursuits. Since its release, For the Culture has received numerous accolades—making it to Thinkers50’s Best New Management Booklist 2023, Forbes “6 Must-Read Books for Spring Reading”, Amazon’s #1 New Release list, and receiving rave reviews in the Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times. Before his tenure at Wieden+Kennedy, Dr. Collins served as the Chief Consumer Connections Officer at Doner Advertising and led social engagement at Steve Stoute’s advertising agency, Translation.

He began his career in music and tech with a startup he co-founded before working on iTunes + Nike sports music initiatives. Collins holds a doctorate in marketing from Temple University, where he studied cultural contagion and meaning-making. A proud Detroit native, he earned an MBA with an emphasis on strategic brand marketing from the University of Michigan, where he also received his undergraduate degree in Material Science Engineering. Dr. Collins has spoken to Fortune 100 audiences such as Google, UnitedHealthcare, AT&T, Verizon and Fannie Mae; and at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.