Scott Goodson (CEO) and Karin Drakenberg (COO) are the co-founders of StrawberryFrog, an advertising and marketing agency that created the creative movement marketing framework that activates purpose to galvanize both consumers and an organization’s employees. For the last 25 years, Scott has worked with some of the world’s most iconic companies and invented the concept of Movement Thinking™, an approach that uses the principles of societal movements to solve marketing and leadership challenges. Scott has written two books, Uprising and Activate Brand Purpose, that both help leaders harness the power of purpose inside and outside of their organization. Originally from Sweden, Karin started her career at Nike’s marketing agency in Sweden and quickly moved to lead the marketing for the country’s most distinguished big box retailer. Today, running the operations for StrawberryFrog, her focus is curating the best quality teams who deliver the highest quality work, all done with a penchant for Scandinavian efficiency.
What is your company’s origin story? What is the biggest reason you started your business? What did those early days look like and teach you?
Karin Drakenberg and Scott Goodson: We (husband and wife) invented a new kind of creative-driven marketing and communications company, StrawberryFrog, and launched it in Amsterdam on Valentine’s Day 1999. Scott had read an article calling the established, global corporate ad agencies dinosaurs and came up with the antithesis: the strawberryfrog, a red frog with blue legs that lives in the Amazon. A rebel with jeans as our mascot and a symbol for agility, speed and doing things better compared to the dinosaurs. Scott created this animated video to launch the new company.
But we didn’t want to do just traditional advertising, which we thought was passé. Rather, we wanted our new company to be the world’s first Movement company, using a new framework based on the principles of societal movements to galvanize employees and mobilize consumers. Movement Thinking also did wonders in helping our clients activate brand purpose (which was important for our Scandinavian clients that were globalizing).
Thus, on Feb 14, 1999, as wife and husband, we gave birth to the world’s first Movement Company with a purpose: Creativity for Good. Which we still abide by today close to 25 years later.
We both believe that it’s in businesses interest to improve the quality of life for customers, employees and shareholders. And driving growth together with positive change was the reason we set out to launch StrawberryFrog.
What do you wish you knew when you started? Is there anything you would do differently?
KD & SG: Our goal from the start was to build a micro global company working with a select group of international brands, doing it better, smarter, and with greater agility than the huge corporate firms that control and dominate the sector. We opened eight offices around the world relatively quickly, wooing and winning iconic global brands such as Pampers, Emirates, Jim Beam, Heineken, ASICS, PepsiCo and Mercedes. Fifteen years later, we wish we had known how much travel was needed to maintain the success we achieved in the early years with the company.
What does “success” look like for you? We’d love to hear your biggest, boldest dream? What do you think will help you achieve it?
KD & SG: Developing movements for our clients to drive positive change inside and outside of their organizations is what success looks like for us.
For example, when we designed and launched the “Out the Monster” movement to end the stigma associated with the accidental opioid addiction epidemic in the United States. This work was motivated by Orexo’s entrance into the US market, but the launch strategy allowed us to identify a terrible monster living among us and then rally opinion formers, HCPs, and patients to join us in stopping it.
Or “OnUp” for SunTrust, a movement to help millions of Americans learn financial literacy so they can have greater confidence.
Or “Live Better,” a purpose-driven transformative movement mobilizing millions of Walmart associates to join their comprehensive internal well-being program.
Or “Make History,” a purpose-driven movement by Jim Beam led by Mila Kunis against the patriarchy and for equality, which attracted a much younger audience for the aging brand and increased bourbon sales exponentially.
All of these small steps or Frog Leaps helped move us forward in a tiny, but important way to achieve success.
What are your personal driving principals, your top values? And how have they shaped your company’s values & principles?
KD & SG: “Creativity for Good” is our purpose. To do good work, good impacts for our clients and teammates and good in society.
We’ve proven that we can apply Movement Thinking to drive growth for the world’s most iconic brands. Now, we are applying it to our fast-growing purpose-driven transformation business with our service offering, Movement Inside. Movements are powerful change drivers for employees because they form passionate advocate communities who rally around a shared purpose to drive change. They are rooted in a shared dissatisfaction with the status quo. They shape beliefs and transform behavior. They take a clear stand and defend it. They are co-created and co-owned.
What role does mentorship play in your world (as a mentor or mentee)?
KD & SG: When we started StrawberryFrog, we asked Uli Wiesendanger, the famous Swiss creative mind, cofounder of TBWA (W is for Wiesendanger) and Scott’s mentor to be non-executive chairman. He agreed.
His role was to encourage the partners to stick to the company strategy we had set out for ourselves. To encourage us not to be afraid of our own courage, because it is enormous. To console them when things were tough (he had usually been in a similar bind before). To help us be as generous with our people as their business allows us to be when things are good. To encourage us to be firm with the occasional difficult client (rarely ever needed as Karin is pretty firm without coaching). To bring in the perspective from other types of experience (or other generations). We, the husband and wife StrawberryFrog Partners, actually listened to Uli. And we always said thank you and always had a lot of fun.
Today, Scott actively mentors young professionals and has been a mentor for The Marketing Academy for several years, mentoring 3-4 mentees each half year.
How do you think about helping others through your work?
KD & SG: We invented Movement Thinking™, a framework to activate brand purpose inside and outside of large corporations. An approach that draws on the principles of societal movements to shape and mobilize human behavior at scale. Movement Thinking™ supports the development of new cultural realities for consumers, customers, employees, stakeholders, citizens, and society at large. It builds communities of passionate advocates around an organization’s “WHY”.
What advice do you have for fellow (and aspiring) entrepreneurs building and leading teams?
KD & SG: Use “Movement Thinking” to inspire your teams. And invite them to help you define strategy and deliver results, don’t think of them as merely executors. “Movement Thinking” is the difference between “do this because I tell you to do it” and “let’s do this because it’s important to all of us.”
What kind of an entrepreneur do you want to be known as – as in, what do you want your legacy to be?
KD & SG: Creativity for Good.
We want to be known for bringing creativity to bear to help leaders solve employee issues and culture inside major companies (burnout, health, well-being). And help CMOs grow their market share and drive positive change for stakeholders.
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