19 Things I’ve learned

19 YEARS of Markham Yard

Today marks the 19th anniversary of Markham Yard. It’s been a crazy journey to get to where we find ourselves, and inevitably, we’ve picked up some stuff along the way. Some useful, some weird, some inspirational, and some, like a cockroach after Armageddon, dumb but immortal.

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The Janitor is in Marketing.

everyone is in marketing

Recently, we were presenting a brand campaign to the Board of Directors of a large corporation, which was going pretty well, when the Chief Financial Officer leaned in to give his input.

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Advertising Strategy and The Molting of Callinectes Sapidus

Life as a soft-shell creative.
Life as a soft-shell creative.

Life as a soft-shell creative.

I was struggling last night to keep an obsolete piece of software running. It was, fifteen years ago, an important and fundamental (also complicated and temperamental) part of the creative toolbox- Everyone used it and its quirks and constant need for attention was an industry-wide joke.

But now, frustrated, I cling to its increasingly rickety Rube-Golberg functionality, anachronistic technology, and updates that stopped arriving around the time of the last generation iPod. Because it is familiar. And because to give up would be to acknowledge that I have to start over with something new.



I would have to clean out a dozen years of ossified files and folders, take inventory, and worse yet: I would have to learn something unfamiliar.

The new thing may be way easier. More efficient. Faster. But that’s no reason to like it. Because I have to change in order to use it, and I’m not crazy about the idea.

And then I asked myself why that is.

This made me step back, for a minute, to look at myself. And those like me. And our entire industry.

And then I thought of the crab.

The Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus) is a marine invertebrate with a rigid exoskeleton. It lives and grows within a shell of a fixed size, until it accumulates an internal pressure so great that it splits its own constricting skin, shedding the calcified limitations of its old self, forming a new and vulnerable stage, with a soft, malleable carapace that can stretch and grow to a greater size.

An adult male Blue Crab molts up to 23 times in its life. But at some point, it stops. It becomes trapped inside the hardened restriction of its own body, where it grows fetid, static, doomed to remain the same size forever.

We are this crab. If we choose to be.

The ongoing timeline of our industry, whether driven by culture, or technology, or innovation, has created an ever- intensifying cycle of necessary reinvention of ourselves and our businesses, which we can either reject or embrace. Every new stage requires the discomfort of change and adaptation, and in order to continue growing we need to eagerly accept these blessings.

Or we can reject it, and become captive to the rigid shell of our own obsolescence at some point. This happens more often than we’d like to admit.

I know a number of advertising folk of a certain age who do little more than bitch about how things have changed and how awesome this business used to be. And it was- The work was exciting, fun, and what was valued was well established and easy to understand.

I get it. It’s comfy here in the shells we’ve spent our lives crafting, with the wall-to-wall One Show books and mountains of free LA production co. swag. But the world is different now. What is important, how it’s done, and where the goalposts are, are all different.

So we have to be different.

We have to get comfortable shedding our habitual limits, and emerging into the vulnerability of our own soft-shell stage, where we are all walking on the wobbly legs of a baby giraffe, and find the opportunities to take the experience that filled our old shells and use it to grow into our new ones.

And the empty, hardened vessel that once restrained us must be discarded- Clinging to it will only slow us down (Like that damn software.)

So I’ll be downloading some new software today, and living with the uneasy period where shit doesn’t work the way it should as my system adapts to the new reality. And the bandwidth/psychic energy I expended keeping the old stuff running can then be spent in much more constructive ways.

Shed your skin once in a while. It is hard. But it’s the only way to find room to grow.

Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services

The possibility engine.

In 2023, Amazon web Services non-profit division came to us with a challenge: How do we help illuminate the often opaque and technical suite of tools they provide to make the world a better place? How do they show the very people they are trying to help the power available to them through AWS?We used the winners of the AWS Imagine Grant program to demonstrate the myriad ways the powerful tools of AI, data processing and machine learning can be harnessed to advance the missions of a broad variety of non-profit organizations around the world.This effort has led to an unprecedented level of applications to this year’s Imagine Grant program, as AWS continues to expand their reach in the non-profit space.

Amazon AWS Case Study

La Tropical 

La Tropical

Established in Havana. Now brewed in Miami.

La Tropical is Cuba’s oldest brewery, founded in Havana in 1879. Dormant since the turbulent times of the Cuban Revolution, it has recently been brought back to life by the great-grandson of the original founder with the development of a brewery here in the Wynwood Arts District of Miami. We crafted a comprehensive platform to infuse the new Cerveceria la Tropical with the Cuban/Miami culture, starting with design and including every vernacular influence that makes Miami what it is today.
La Tropical Brewery Tile Mosaic
Miami Brewery Billboard design for La Tropical
Cervezeria La Tropical Beer Can Label Design
Social Posts for La Tropical Miami Brewery
Cervezeria La Tropical Billboard
Cevezeria La Tropical Social Media
La Tropical Merch
La Tropical Brewery Logo Design

Markham Yard Grows Roots with Farm Bureau Bank

Farm Bureau Bank has selected Markham Yard to lead its integrated branding and marketing efforts after a national competitive review among undisclosed participants.

Farm Bureau Bank provides digitally focused banking solutions to Farm Bureau members and their communities in over 44 states. Banking products and services include checking accounts, auto loans, and credit cards, as well as business and commercial services.

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Based on our proven expertise in the Marine Industry, venerated offshore boatbuilder Yellowfin partnered with us in 2021 to help articulate the brand they had organically built for the last 23 years.

Together, we examined every dimension of what they did, from product development and engineering to the ownership engagement and real-world applications, ultimately crafting a brand platform based on their legacy of helping people achieve a deeper level of experiences and connections on the water. This brand platform will impact every possible executional touchpoint, including outward facing marketing messages, boat show presence (design, messaging, events), the brand’s digital/social presence, owner’s events, and internal communications (even Human Resources training).

Yellowfin Marlin 24' advertisement
Yellowfin Boats Print ad
Yellow Marlin 54 Print ad
Yellowfin Print Advertising campaign
Yellowfin Boats social media
Yellowfin boat instagram post