How to create an inspiring workplace and culture.

How to create an inspiring workplace and culture.
Spot the Brogan & Partners team member among the volunteers at this year’s Muir Valley Trial Days in Kentucky.

My job recently took me to Slade, Kentucky, home of Muir Valley—a nonprofit nature preserve in the Red River Gorge.

The Valley is a rock climber’s paradise, featuring 360 acres and seven miles of Corbin Sandstone cliffs with traditional and sport climbs that run 20- to over 200-feet-tall. Climbers trek here from all over the U.S. to discover more than 400 routes amid classic crags like Bruise Brothers, Midnight Surf and Land Before Time.

Here it’s not just the destination. The journey is equally spectacular, lined with oak, hickory, sugar maple and hemlock trees. Mountain laurel, rhododendron and bigleaf magnolias stretch and hover thick across the valley floor. Trails twist and climb, presenting waterfalls, caves and mountain streams.

This is a marketer’s dream. The creative brief would practically write itself. The Brogan Team would have a field day promoting this place.

But I didn’t go to Muir Valley to pitch business. There would be no campaign. Brogan sent me here simply to do good.

Like many progressive companies, Brogan & Partners encourages employees to contribute back to the community. We’re paid for a volunteer day annually and rewarded for sharing our time and talents to serve on nonprofit boards and committees. The agency partners with several nonprofits throughout the year, providing significant pro bono work and raising money for organizations like Game on Cancer.

Why doing good leads to great.

My volunteer day brought me to Muir Valley because it’s given my family so much. It’s where my son, Nick, travels with his rock climbing team in the summer. It’s where my daughter, Sofia, reads in peace and finds inspiration for short stories. It’s where we road trip on long weekends, catching up on the six-hour trip along I-75 and winding down in the hills of Kentucky.

At the very least, we owed Muir Valley a day’s work.

We joined 100 other outdoor enthusiasts to groom trails, build benches and bridges, paint outhouses and secure routes and belay areas. We met lots of new people. People just like us who had come to Kentucky’s Red River Gorge from far flung places like Brooklyn, N.Y. and Muncie, Indiana. And people who call the Valley home and volunteer regularly to ensure its integrity for generations.

We worked alongside Mike, a volunteer search and rescue team member at Muir Valley and longtime climber. Under his supervision, we pick axed, shoveled, dug and scraped post holes for new benches in the training area.

This was unfamiliar work for my family. We hiked to the job site with tools and relay teamed the building materials to the site. We learned how to use a green bar to break up a rock bed and how to secure a post by compacting soil, layer by layer, with a sledge hammer. We learned how to be flexible when nature proved otherwise.

It was hard work. By the end of the day we were exhausted and achy. But we felt amazing.

Volunteering is good business.

Volunteerism is good for the workplace, according to Deloitte’s 2017 Volunteerism Survey. It can boost morale, atmosphere and brand perception. It can make Millennial employees more proud, loyal and satisfied, and attract Gen Y talent. Survey results found that nearly two-thirds of Gen Y employees surveyed prefer companies that let them volunteer their skills.

These benefits span all generational cohorts, per the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) research. According to CTI data, older generations feel it is important to give back to their community or wider world through their workplace. This is true for 91 percent of Gen X women and 76 percent of Gen X men, and 90 percent of female and 79 percent of male Baby Boomers.

At Brogan, volunteerism contributes directly to our agency mission: creating an inspiring workplace and culture. I may have built benches in Kentucky but I came back to Brogan with so much more. Mission accomplished.

Want to learn more about what makes Brogan & Partners unique? Learn more.

Weekly Recap - June 2, 2017

Raise your hand if you’d like more people checking out your content. Take a look around. You’re in good company. Every Marketer is looking for that prospect juice. You may find insight in these seven tips, complements of Search Engine Journal. Need a little creative pick-me-up? Look no further than this collection of May’s best. Think you’re mom’s favorite? Sorry, Instagram. Try harder.


8 of the top marketing challenges marketers face today [new data]. And more importantly, what to do about them.

7 tricks no one told you about content promotion. No company wants to be less popular. Get more clicks with some tips on promotion.

10 of the best ads from May: Hot dogs, rhinos, and an accidental viral hit. Learn from the best, from Play-Doh to Sweden.

More than 90 percent of U.S. moms have a social media account. You can never have enough data!

Meanwhile, back at the RANCH

A healthcare marketer’s cheat sheet: What to advertise, and when. We know all about winter flu season, Heart Month and World Health Day, but what about other “seasons” that healthcare marketers could capitalize on?

THE Topic of conversation

Communicating with Visuals - Visual communication. Did you know that 93 percent of communication is visual? Amplify your marketing and discover how your brand can communicate visually. Download our latest free guide, "Communicating with Visuals."


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When agency work feels more like a mission.

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Making a difference.

It’s a powerful motivator. Positive change is the primary goal of most of our clients—whether encouraging healthier behaviors, job growth, financial literacy, sustainable communities, and more. It’s the kind of work that feels more like a mission than a job.

Like our recent work with Reading Works, a Detroit-based nonprofit dedicated to improving adult literacy. Reading Works collaborates with community impact partners like Focus Hope and Southwest Solutions to teach adults to read so that they can enjoy a better life and greater opportunities.

The cause is critically important.  One in three adults in Metro Detroit reads below a sixth grade level—twice as bad as the national average. The problem of low literacy is even worse in Detroit where it impacts 40 percent of adults.

Adult illiteracy casts a long shadow. Children of low-literacy parents are 87 percent more likely to be growing up in poverty. When adults learn to read well, it’s life changing. Increased adult literacy corresponds to decreased poverty, decreased crime, reduced overall health care burden, increased child literacy, long-term economic growth and increased per-capita income.

Moreover, improving adult literacy is key to Detroit’s revival. A great workforce, robust neighborhoods and confident children succeeding in the classroom depend on it.

Still, adult illiteracy is overshadowed by other causes. And most people aren’t aware of the magnitude of the problem, according to a recent informal Brogan Talks to Women survey. Nor are they familiar with Reading Works.

  • 40 percent are surprised to learn that one in three adults in Detroit read below sixth grade level.
  • 12 percent have heard of Reading Works.

But people are ready to lean in and learn more. They’re especially interested in its impact on poverty, job skills, crime and community revitalization. Of the 133 respondents surveyed:

  • 96 percent agree or strongly agree that adult literacy is “critical to addressing employment, education…healthcare, citizenship, incarceration and neighborhood revitalization.”
  • 89 percent are compelled by the fact that children of low literacy adults are far more likely to grow up in poverty.
  • 87 percent are motivated by the statement “adults who achieve reading proficiency qualify for better jobs that can move their children and families out of poverty.”

These insights helped inform our creative strategy to bolster awareness and spark action, beginning with a short video to frame the issue. The video was launched earlier this month as part of Reading Works’ bid to win up to $100,000 from A Community Thrives.

Take a look and let us know your thoughts. (And vote for Reading Works through May 12, 2017.) We’ll be reshaping this creative for other channels to connect with volunteers and donors. For more of our social marketing work, visit our portfolio.

Brogan team straps on wearables for a little healthy competition.

I can’t sit still.

I’m looking for excuses to trek upstairs and parking further away from the office. Yesterday, I marched in place while blowing my hair dry. This morning I cha-cha’d at the stovetop while scrambling eggs. My husband smirks. My daughter rolls her eyes. The cat hides. I double-tap my Fitbit.

All this newfound energy is the direct result of a little healthy competition at work. Ellyn, our managing partner, recently threw down a four-week fitness challenge. Those who log 250,000 steps get a check towards the cost of a Fitbit or similar device. Rack up another 120,000 steps over the following two weeks, cha-ching. Another little bonus. There are also weekly incentives to get us moving to the tune of 70,000 steps a week.

Talk about happy feet.

Turns out, our little office competition is part of a big trend. Corporate services is one of Fitbit’s fastest-growing areas of business. Target, Adobe and BP are using the fitness trackers to help improve employee health and cut down on healthcare costs, according to CEB Iconoculture research.

In Arizona, the Local Government Employee Benefit Trust is banking that increased exercise could lessen their most expensive health issues, according to a story in Nogales International. Workers in six counties will receive Fitbits and meet with medical professionals to better their health.  

As part of its Team Member Wellness Initiative, Target in 2015 provided all U.S. employees with a free or discounted Fitbit and hosted activity challenges to create a healthier corporate community. One team competition rewarded the highest performing teams with a share of $1 million to benefit the local wellness nonprofit of their choice.

Competition doesn’t always bring out the best in people. Some creative Fitbit users are finding ways to rack up steps by attaching them to dogs, power tools and electric fans or even by giving the device a spin in the dryer, according to a recent article in In some instances, cheaters are motivated by prizes. But in other cases it’s simply contestants’ competitive spirit run amuck.

So far, the Brogan Fitbit challenge has sparked a lot of healthy conversation and smart ideas. Like, how about we take this meeting for a walk?

Want to know more about wearables mean for the healthcare industry? Check out our blog “Everything marketers need to know about fitness apps and wearables.”

Brogan: Best of 2015.

In just a few days, we’ll be celebrating the new year. But before we do, we’re celebrating the past year by recapping some of the best campaigns we created with clients in 2015. From TV spots and radio commercials to social media posts and brochures, the team at Brogan had a great year full of brainstorms, collaboration, research and creativity. We had the privilege of working on a lot of great projects, but we narrowed down a list of campaigns that really stood out.

Here’s a look at Brogan’s Best of 2015:

  1. Michigan First Credit Union: 365 Live Campaign

    How did we tell people about Michigan First Credit Union’s one-of-a-kind 24/7/365 call center? With melodramatic dilemmas, slow-motion effects and humor, of course.

  2. ComForCare: Best Life Possible

    ComForCare wanted a brand that would help them stand out among competitors. So we created a campaign featuring elderly patients with a lot of energy and a youthful vibe.  

  3. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services: Colorectal Cancer 

    How do you tell the older men in your life to get a colorectal cancer screening? We stepped up to the challenge with a baseball analogy. Listen to our radio spot to see how the campaign was able to hit a homerun.


  4. Consumers Energy: Generation Genius Campaign 

    Consumers Energy invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in initiatives nurturing the next generation of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) talent. We created an inspiring campaign called Generation Genius that encouraged students, parents and leaders to get involved with STEM-related programs in their communities.


  5. Scleroderma Foundation Michigan Chapter: Blog Launch

    In June, we celebrated Scleroderma Awareness Month by launching a blog for the Scleroderma Foundation Michigan Chapter. Since then, we’ve curated more than 25 blogs with tips, recipes and resources to help individuals who have been affected by Scleroderma.  

  6. Scleroderma Aware: Hard Word Campaign

    Scleroderma is a hard word to pronounce, but it’s an even harder disease to live with. For Scleroderma Awareness Month, we created the Hard Word campaign by implementing social media and blogger outreach strategies. The results? More than 1,400 took the pledge to tell someone about the disease.

  7. Karmanos Cancer Institute: Outdoor Board

    We took a step away from traditional outdoor boards and created an inspiring and hopeful billboard for Karmanos Cancer Institute.

  8. Franciscan Health: Perfectly Human Campaign

    If there are two things we specialize in, it’s women and health. So when Franciscan Health asked us to create a Women’s Health Campaign, we knew exactly what to do. We created an inspiring campaign that reminded women just how amazing their bodies are. 


  9. HoneyBaked Ham: Holiday Lyric Video
    You can’t celebrate the holidays without turning on some holiday music and singing along. This holiday, we helped HoneyBaked create their own special tune by changing the lyrics to “Oh, Christmas Tree.” Can you sing along to HoneyBaked’s song? 


    Oh HoneyBaked

    Sing along. You know the song.

    Posted by The HoneyBaked Ham Company on Wednesday, December 16, 2015

  10. Covenant HealthCare: Advanced Orthopaedics Video

    We also created another musical tune to promote the Covenant Center for Advanced Orthopaedics, using the famous tune from Carmen the Opera. Although we intended for it to be a radio spot only, we decided to take it one step further and created a fun video. 

  11. Frankenmuth Insurance: Frankly Speaking Campaign

    Frankly speaking, insurance advertising shouldn’t be boring. We created an entire brand platform for Frankenmuth, with the campaign themeline “Frankly speaking…” that would really resonate with agents, policyholders and consumers. The campaign included fun internal posters, creative social media visuals and a brand video to showcase the brand’s honest service and values.  

  12. Michigan Women’s Foundation: Enough SAID Campaign

    Earlier this year, the Michigan Women’s Foundation asked us to help create an initiative to end the rape kit backlog in the city of Detroit.  We were privileged to be a part of such a great cause that raised more than $1.3 million dollars in private funds and $8 million dollars in public funds.  Not only was the work was featured in several news outlets, including PRWeek, the front page of the Detroit Free Press and New York Times, but it also won Best in Show in Detroit’s most prestigious advertising awards, The D Show. 

2015 was a great year, full of wonderful opportunities, creative campaigns and amazing clients. Now we’re looking forward to 2016 and we’re ready to put our best foot forward. Stay tuned to see what new campaigns we come up with. We can’t wait to share them with you. 

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Celebrating 30 years of creative advertising: #26 Brogan Promotions.

Over our 30-year history, Brogan & Partners has spent the majority of that time promoting all of the great clients we’ve had the opportunity to work with… but we’ve always found a little time to promote ourselves, too.

Whether we were hosting a competition for Michigan-based companies to win a complete marketing makeover or hosting a party for all of our media representatives, people have noticed Brogan & Partners the same way people noticed our founder, Marcie Brogan, when she first started the agency.

With her iconic red-rimmed glasses, signature shoulder pads and ingenious ideas, Marcie was larger than life, and she founded an agency that was, too.

What’s your favorite Brogan promotion? Tell us in the comments below.

To see the rest of the 30 Best of Brogan, visit our original post in this series: Celebrating 30 years of creative advertising.

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Brogan honored as Hero of Breast Cancer.

Brogan & Partners was honored last night at the 20th Annual Heroes of Breast Cancer Award ceremony with a philanthropy award for dedicating resources and talent to benefit the breast cancer cause. It was a beautiful and inspiring event presented by the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. I had the honor of accepting the award on behalf of the agency. My acceptance speech sums up my thoughts and feelings.

Seven years ago, Brogan & Partners created a television spot for one of our healthcare clients. The spot told the story of a young woman who found a lump and was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was this spot that compelled me to do my own breast examination.

I found a lump that soon led to my breast cancer diagnosis. On the first night of that journey, my second phone call was to Marcie Brogan right after I called my own mother.  In the first year, the Brogan Team was consistently there for me. They allowed me work when I felt good and rest when I didn’t feel good. Working at Brogan kept me going through a tough year.  As I neared the end of my surgeries and chemo treatments, I signed up for my first Susan G. Komen 3-Day. Many coworkers joined me, Brogan paid for our team shirts and lots of others supported me with donations. From that first year until today, the Brogan team has continued to support me and so many other women on their breast cancer journeys.   

I am honored to accept this award on behalf of every employee at Brogan & Partners. From lighting the historic Peabody mansion in downtown Birmingham pink during October, to holding fundraisers at the office, to the beautiful writing and promotional materials for the Detroit Race for the Cure, to the sponsorship of the Karmanos Partners event, to attending fundraisers, donating their own money and cheering all the walkers on during the 3-Day, this team is amazing. They are not only my coworkers, they are my friends and my family and I am proud to work with each and every one of them every day.

Celebrating 30 years of creative advertising: #22 Detroit Convention Bureau.

There’s more to Detroit than the Motor City and Motown. It’s a city filled with history and hope, full of promise, potential and great stuff to do.

At the turn of the millennium, the Detroit Convention Bureau wanted everyone to know what we knew. They wanted to remind people that Detroit was still a great place to live, be and visit. So, that’s exactly what we did.

Our copywriters went to work—compiling lists of reasons why people should visit Detroit. We brainstormed with our media and creative teams, attempting to find the best way to get the message across. We executed a few ideas internally. But ultimately, we ended where we began: with the initial list of reasons.

There were so many great reasons why people should visit Detroit, we thought the best way to point them out was to literally point them out, so we created a bulleted list of 15 reasons appearing as a print ad for all to see. And today, years after the campaign, about 15.9 million people visit Metro Detroit annually, which is just one of the reasons we’re so proud of it.

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Celebrating 30 years of creative advertising: #17 MDCH Women’s Health – Happy Pap Day.

Some of life’s most precious moments are the ones that happen once a year. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Christmas. Valentine’s Day. And then there’s your once-a-year scheduled pap test. It’s not exactly “precious,” but it’s definitely just as important.

In 2005, research showed that more than 400 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in Michigan. This could eventually lead to death if not detected or treated in time. In response, the Michigan Department of Community Health wanted to get the word out about the importance of a pap test. Getting a pap test once a year could lead to early detection of cervical cancer, which could be treated and cured.

Brogan conducted focus groups research and found that woman had an overall low understanding and familiarity when it came to cervical cancer. This reinforced the importance of promoting awareness. And we did just that—with a cake, some candles, and a Happy Pap Day song.

The catchy tune served as a trigger to remind women to schedule a pap test each year.  And it worked. During a focus group session, a woman commented, “The song will keep it on my mind because it’s easy to relate to and remember... This is the first one that makes me want to call my doctor because it’s related to your birthday; it’s subliminal—another year of your life, so get your pap smear.” We got the message out and added songwriting to our resume. Now that’s something worth celebrating.

What other marketing to women campaigns for healthcare do you remember seeing? To see the rest of the 30 Best of Brogan, visit our original post in this series: Celebrating 30 years of creative advertising.

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Celebrating 30 years of creative advertising: #14 Joe Ricci Automotive.

What kind of image comes to mind when you think of car dealers? Exactly, not a good one. But Joe Ricci is a very different kind of car dealer. He is known for being a good guy and his customers raved about him. So when it came to branding his three dealerships (which each sold different brand cars) we made Joe the brand with the idea “He’s a good Joe.” Using customer testimonials and Joe as a humble spokesperson, the television, radio, print and point of sale played up this differentiator, which stood out like a yellow Corvette in a lot of gray minivans amidst the cutthroat competition of car dealerships. Under the Good Joe campaign, the Joe Ricci Automotive Group saw a 25% sales increase, a 500% increase to their 1-800 number, and the PR campaign drove more buzz with earned exposure in newspapers on the radio. The campaign was a good jumping off point to leverage all the good deeds Joe did in the community.

Even though it had a very modest budget, the “Good Joe” campaign is a great example of how a big brand idea can deliver the goods for clients. It’s the kind of creative, result-driven advertising we are proud to consistently deliver to our clients in southeastern Michigan. To see the rest of the 30 Best of Brogan, visit our original post in this series: Celebrating 30 years of creative advertising.

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The ultimate #tbt: Brogan & Partners celebrates 30 years of magic.

On July 24, Brogan & Partners celebrated its 30th birthday with current and former employees, past and present clients, friends, family and agency admirers. People came from everywhere—from California to down the street—to reunite, reminisce and reflect on how the agency impacted their lives. In the hours spent at the party, stories were told, speeches were made and pictures were taken. There was laughter, tears and excited screams, and everyone seemed genuinely happy to have a spot in the Brogan family.

As a new employee who has been lucky enough to experience the magic that is Brogan & Partners for the last few months, I already feel like part of the family—a part of something bigger than myself—and I think that says a lot about the agency. It’s a special place—built on a big dream and a lot of determination from our founder, Marcie Brogan, and her first partner, Anna Kabot (who made it to the party to celebrate with us!). Perhaps my favorite story was Marcie telling us that when her and Anna decided to start the agency, then called Brogan Kabot, the two of them were set up at a folding table, ready to take on the advertising world. And that’s exactly what they did.

Thirty years later, the agency has become a place that fosters creativity and innovation—making for a creative history that knocks most peoples’ socks off (thanks in large part to our creative directors over the years: Anna, Bonnie Folster and Laurie Hix).

Thirty years later, the agency has built a family of employees who not only embody our five core values, but who instantly fall in love with the agency and become determined to see it succeed. Whether these employees leave for another agency or simply take time off from the industry, they always seem to find their way back to Brogan—proving there’s something so irresistibly special about it. And those employees who have yet to leave can’t imagine doing so—finding themselves just as happy with their work as they were on their start date. (And of course, we have our CEO and managing partner to thank for that. Thank you to: Maria Marcotte and Ellyn Davidson!)

Thirty years later, the agency has worked with almost 100 clients who have given us the opportunity to research, manage, write and create. They’ve given us projects and campaigns that challenge us to think outside the box—to step outside of our comfort zones. They’ve trusted our intuition and let us share in their success, and for that, we’re forever grateful.

And with only these few months under my belt, I already feel forever grateful to Brogan & Partners—the place that keeps me and those long before me feeling inspired, intelligent, driven and creative. The place where I can learn from those who already know so much. The place where I can be surrounded by supportive coworkers all wishing each other success. And the place where I can only hope to spend the next 30 years.

Happy Birthday Brogan, and thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate with us!

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Celebrating 30 years of creative advertising: #1 Keep the best players on the bench.

Marcie Brogan has always had a passion for politics. It was evident even way back in the beginning of the agency with the iconic campaign for the Oakland Circuit Court Judges Re-election. Five judges already sitting on the bench were up for re-election and the committee to Re-elect Judges Templin, Andrews, Schnelz, LaPlata and Mester had Brogan come up with a cost effective and high impact multi-media campaign. The clever campaign, with the memorable line “Keep the Best Players on the Bench” featured the judges like baseball players. It was a home run, resulting in the re-election of all five judges by their widest margins ever. And the extra media attention we scored was a big hit as well. This campaign won many creative awards, including an Emmy.

This little campaign did big things for the creative start-up Brogan Kabot. It showed how two creative women could play in the big leagues, making big creative plays just like the big ad agencies they came from.  Do you remember this campaign?

To see the rest of the 30 Best of Brogan, visit our original post in this series: Celebrating 30 years of creative advertising.

Judges of the Oakland County Circuit Court

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Client Hurrahs

  • Brogan & Partners has worked on a wide variety of health issues for us over the years. They have not only consistently provided innovative ideas and award winning campaigns, but they continue to help us work towards our overall goal of improving the health of Michigan residents.  Their creativity, expertise, and enthusiasm makes them an invaluable partner in our... More

  • Hiring Brogan & Partners to help Michigan Women’s Foundation create the brand and messaging around the campaign to raise millions of dollars to solve the backlog of untested rape kits in Detroit was a slam dunk!  With a well-deserved reputation for getting to the heart of complex and highly-charged issues with clear, action-driven communications, the Brogan team... More

  • A well-oiled machine operates at full performance, fluid and unyielding. At Frankenmuth Insurance we have often referred to Brogan & Partners as a well-oiled machine. Our experience with Brogan has been very strong and successful from the start. We view our partners at Brogan as an extension of our own staff. They are readily available to us at any time and deliver... More

  • When launching a startup, resources are very constrained and a startup has to pick its partners very carefully and with deliberation. There were many services that we have had to forego in the early stages of our company, Memloom. One crucial need, however, was identifying and aligning with a strong marketing partner who could help us with our brand, positioning and... More

  • We have been working with the Brogan team for the past 18 months. The Brogan team has truly been our marketing partner. They guided us through development our brand and messaging. They lead our our website redesign and deployment. And they provide excellent counsel on business development and market entry strategies. More

  • From the very first meeting we had with Brogan & Partners, it was clear that they had done their research on PREZIO Health, our competitors and the industry.  It has been  a very positive experience working with the Brogan & Partners team to re-design all of our service and product sheets as well as the total re-design of our website.  Their creativity is top-... More

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