Find a Purpose or Face the Pitchforks: This Ad Agency Bets on Doing What's Right

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Drew Train of Oberland

Drew Train was a rising star on Madison Avenue, working at the legendary J Walter Thompson agency for clients like HSBC, one of the biggest banks in the world.

But at night, he was going to Occupy Wall Street rallies.

That's because he thought something had gone very wrong with business: it was extracting more from the world than it was putting back, and benefiting the rich over everyone else.

Eventually, he couldn't stand the tension between his day job and his values. He ended up leaving J Walter Thompson to co-found a new agency, Oberland, with Bill Oberlander, himself a highly successful ad veteran who had designed campaigns for clients like Target and Snapple.

At Oberland, Drew and Bill work with nonprofits, like The Nature Conservancy, and for-profits, like the Blue Man Group. But increasingly, they believe there'll be less difference between the two: all for-profit businesses will have to be socially responsible, or risk going out of business — and quite possibly taking the whole system down with them.

About Drew Train

After racking up more than a dozen national and global awards for cause marketing and driving social change through traditional, digital, social, and mobile campaigns, Drew Train set up shop as Co-Founder and President of OBERLAND, a purpose-driven branding agency founded with Bill Oberlander.

Before launching OBERLAND in May of 2014, Drew started the social-good practice at J. Walter Thompson New York, called JWT Ethos. In that role, Drew worked with corporate, nonprofit and public-sector brands that play a role in driving change on the big-picture issues society faces. By leading an integrated team, Drew leveraged the potential of CSR strategy, communication planning, branding, and advertising to create positive, lasting change.

Prior to opening JWT Ethos and OBERLAND, Drew learned his craft through extensive work on global, corporate brands like HSBC, Verizon, UPS, Puma, Lufthansa, and Tiffany & Co. in the U.S. and Shanghai. Drew was instrumental in helping grow Services for the UnderServed into one of the most influential and impactful nonprofits in New York City. And, as National Campaign Co-Chair he molded the #IWillListen campaign for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City (NAMI NYC) into a powerful call-to-action to eliminate the stigma against mental illness.

Drew serves on the Board of Directors for Summer Infant, Inc. (NASDAQ: SUMR), a global leader in premium infant and juvenile products, as well as on the Board of Directors for NAMI NYC, the Resource Development Committee for Services for the UnderServed, and the Planning Committee for the CEO Summit on Mental Health in the Workplace. Drew is 36 and holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Richmond. He resides in New York with his wife and three children.

— From thisisoberland.com/drew-train

Episode Links

Oberland

J Walter Thompson and The Thompson Way

"Conscious Capitalism," by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia

"Amusing Ourselves to Death," by Neal Postman

Frank Luntz, political consultant

"Why Government is the Problem," (PDF) by Milton Friedman (essay on which the book of the same name is based)

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