Marcus Collins

Lecturer in Marketing | University of Michigan

Marcus Collins is an award-winning marketer and cultural translator. His deep understanding of brand strategy and consumer behavior has helped him bridge the academic-practitioner gap for blue-chip brands and startups alike. He is a recipient of Advertising Age’s 40 Under 40 award and Crain’s Business’ 40 Under 40 award, and a recent inductee to the American Advertising Federation’s Advertising Hall of Achievement. Before serving as Chief Consumer Connections Officer at Doner Advertising, Marcus led Social Engagement at Steve Stoute’s New York-based advertising agency, Translation. There, Marcus developed a practice to create contagious marketing programs that extended across both the online and offline worlds of “social.” His strategies and creative contributions have led to the success of Budweiser’s “Made In America” music festival, the launch of Bud Light Platinum, the launch of the Brooklyn Nets (Hello Brooklyn!), and State Farm’s “Cliff Paul” campaign – among others.

As Marcus puts it, “I’ve always been a bit of a square peg in a round hole – I grew up as a black kid in Detroit who swam competitively, loved the Monkees as much as I loved A Tribe Called Quest, and spent my summers at band camp. Among my white peers, I was the ‘blackest’ they knew. Among my black peers, I was never quite black enough.” The result of these experiences taught him how to observe cultural codes and develop an empathic muscle. His years of training and work have since strengthened these innate abilities into an actionable practice that allows him to translate culture for brands and translate brands for culture.

Prior to his advertising tenure, Marcus began in music and tech with a startup he co-founded before working on iTunes + Nike sport music initiatives at Apple and running digital strategy for Beyoncé.

Beyond his practice, Marcus is also an extremely passionate educator. He is a marketing professor at Michigan Ross and the faculty director for the school’s executive education partnership with Google. During his time at Ross, Marcus has won the Teaching Excellence Award for executive education and the university-bestowed Cornerstone Award. He is also a faculty member at Harvard and Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. Outside of the classroom, Marcus delivers keynote talks across the globe for companies and conferences such as Cannes Lions International Festival for Creativity, SXSW, Social Media Week, Adcolor, Hyper Island, TEDx, and Talks at Google.

Marcus holds an MBA with an emphasis on strategic brand marketing from the University of Michigan, where he also earned his undergraduate degree in Material Science Engineering, and is a doctoral candidate at Temple University, studying social contagion within cultures of consumption. He is a proud Detroit native, a devoted husband, and loving father to Georgia and Ivy.

Session: If I Could Tell You Just One Thing: Conversations with Ross Thought Leadership


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