Why an Agency Founder Dropped His Ph.D. Ambitions to Tackle Marketers’ Real-World Challenges

From a beach in the deep South

Who From left: CCO Scott Seymour; president, CEO Kevin Meany; creative strategy and ideation vp Larry McGearty
What Promotion-driven marketing services agency
Where Hilton Head, S.C.

After college, Kevin Meany took a break from working on his Ph.D. in psychology, enrolled in a marketing class by chance and changed the course of his life. "It turned out branding and consumer awareness blended in really well with all my interests in psychology," Meany said. Further, 20 years ago, he figured if successful agencies could open in Portland, Ore., and Minneapolis, he could launch one amid Hilton Head, S.C.'s beaches. His Beverage and Food Group (BFG) started there with clients like Miller Brewing and Smirnoff and grew to include marketers like General Motors, Coca-Cola, Hyatt and Six Flags. BFG's promotional roots still inform its work. The "Soak Up Sonoma" pitch for Chateau St. Jean, with singer Sheryl Crow, uses online, retail, brand tie-ins, music downloads and nationwide events. That integrated campaign quickly paid off: In the two years since its 2013 launch, brand sales jumped more than 20 percent.