In the Wake of a Crisis, We’re Getting Creative

As a marketing agency, we’ve always used our talent and resources to promote the people and things we believe in. That isn’t changing. However, now that our world is in the midst of a crisis, we’re getting creative with how we use our skills, services, and communication infrastructure. To borrow a line from Apple, we’re thinking different.

Here are a few examples:

We’re helping governments and other organizations cut through the noise.

Right now, there’s an endless stream of information being pumped through social media. Some of it is authentic and helpful, but much of it is useless (or even harmful). We’re helping verified, valuable information reach the people who need it most.

We’re getting the right information to the right audience.

We have sophisticated digital targeting tools and a team of experts on-hand to help organizations reach their audience (and vice versa).

As populations practice social-distancing, people are turning to digital communication like never before. Your audience is listening. Getting the right message to them is difficult but essential.

We’re making information compelling and shareable.

No matter how important information may be, it’s powerless until it reaches the right people and resonates with them. An important piece of advice from the CDC, for example, may go largely unnoticed unless it’s presented in an interesting way.

Our team of artists, designers, writers, and animators are transforming dry (but important) information into compelling content that resonates with audiences.

We’re helping clients prepare for the future.

It’s unclear how long this crisis will last, but one thing we know for certain is that it will eventually come to an end (although, no one can agree when that ‘end’ might be).

When the crisis finally ‘ends’, there will be a lot of hard work ahead of us—the hard work of rebuilding brands and refitting them to a new world. The organizations that prepare for this phase of the emergency (the rebuilding phase) far in advance will be at a clear advantage. They will lead the pack.

Today, many of us are scrambling to solve problems we never anticipated. That’s unavoidable. However, in the midst of this reactivity, we can’t leave proactivity behind. At MACLYN, we’re thinking beyond the present, helping our clients prepare for the post-pandemic world.

We’ve always taken our work seriously. We care about our clients, we love our people, and we work hard to protect the world around us.

As all of us encounter new challenges over the coming weeks and months, our team is making a commitment:

We’re using our talent and resources to do what’s good for our community, even (in fact, especially) if that means thinking outside the box. Way, way outside the box. Creativity has always been fundamental to who we are. It still is—now, more than ever.

As we get creative about our place in the world, we invite you to get creative with us. Does your organization need to get information to a specific audience? Give us a ring. Want to prepare your business for the post-pandemic world? Let’s talk. Have an idea about how we can use the infrastructure we’ve built over the last 25 years to make a positive difference? Let’s have a beer (remotely, of course).

Stay safe. Stay compassionate. And get creative.

Get in touch with MACLYN here.

Under the Influence: The Power of Social Media Mavens

In the modern age of advertising, it’s not enough to talk AT people. You have to talk WITH them.

After years of bombardment and as part of a populace that’s more educated than ever, we’re increasingly immune to celebrity power. George Clooney (with an ally-oop from Danny DeVito) is enough to make you amused, but maybe not enough to make you buy an espresso machine.



Enter the social media influencer. You’ve seen that term everywhere. You’ve even seen a TV character or two with that lavish job description. But what the hell is it? Well, an influencer is a social media user with a large following who has established credibility in a certain social sphere. And for the right price, they leverage their popularity, personality, authenticity and reach to push products in an unprecedented way. Because of each influencer’s unique niche, they’re massively popular enough to sway hearts and minds, yet still obscure enough to be trustworthy. Because what’s more persuasive than the parasocial relationship you have with your virtual BFF?


Photo via Elise Swopes

As they navigate an ever-shifting rulebook created by their sponsoring platforms, influencers have changed the paradigm for the whole playing field. Everyone is trying to cash in on the phenomenon, even as they try to explain it.

Some chalk it up to the Snowball Effect: after all, the key to success is momentum, no? Everyone likes to feel like they’ve discovered something before it was cool, and the right charismatic tastemakers are able to set the snowball rolling.

Some say it’s just monkey see, monkey do – not only is it safe to eat the red berries, their delicious crimson nectar looks even more delectable through the right Snapchat filter! Others chalk it up to simple attractiveness bias – that the phenomenon of “Instagram model” is just the age-old tactic of “stick hot Hollywood people like Charlize Theron or one of the Chrises (be it Evans, Hemsworth, Pine, or Pratt) in it, and see sales spike”.

Still more remark how influencers are able to build up an air of authority through popularity: the sheer number of followers allows a business-savvy, Pinterest-hot individual to cement a perceived reality of power.

But it’s about more than all of that. While that cynical curmudgeon who doesn’t get social media is focusing on individual posts and facets of the phenomenon, they’re losing the bigger picture.

It’s not about commodity. It’s about belonging.



The best influencers have created an active community for people to relate to: they have cross-platform presences and directly talk to and engage with their fans. There’s something that can never be quantified, and that’s legitimate connection. The influencers create a community of something to relate to, something to aspire to, something to desperately wish we were. And then the community creates an emotional bond with your product.

That’s why influencers are so influential. They’ve helped manifest a new world. And in this new world, it’s not about making a sale. It’s about making a connection.

Are you not influenced? Follow MACLYN on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

We Just Opened a New Des Moines Office, and It Has Pancakes

MACLYN has opened a new location at the heart of the funkiest city in the Midwest. It’s a sweet new place for us to continue serving our growing portfolio of clients in the Des Moines metro and beyond.



Walking into our downtown Des Moines office, you feel like you’ve arrived at a creative brainstorm in full swing. (Chances are, you have.) Our new location, constructed in a converted auto shop, feels like a place out of time, somewhere between an industrial start-up, Santa’s workshop and a selection of Des Moines’ greatest hits. Awards pack the shelves. Ancient vinyl spins on the record player. Surprises fill every last nook, like a rare, mint-condition G.I. Joe action figure peeking out from behind an Addy.



It’s very Des Moines, too. Whimsical and ironic, but with a big heart and a genuine love of home. Everything is one-of-a-kind and sourced from the surrounding community – reclaimed wood, hand-built workspaces, a smorgasbord of furniture picked from local shops and neighbors. It’s not just in Des Moines; our new office was made in Des Moines.



Here are a few other things you might encounter at our new location:

  • A library of books you never would have thought existed, like an exhaustive collection of clown photography.
  • A garage door that can be opened in the warm months for breakfasts with our clients.
  • A MACLYN flag billowing in the wind.
  • So many pancakes.
  • Wood-Mounted War Posters of our Des Moines staff, striking fierce warrior poses and brandishing powerful weapons, like a large fork.



  • A fridge stocked with beer and champagne, to celebrate our victories.
  • A jackelope that is not to be questioned.
  • A full display of Star Wars toys liberated from a now-defunct Toys ‘R’ Us.
  • Awesome people you want to hang out with (and work with, too).

Want to stop by, have a beer, and talk about your brand? Our new office is at 1717 Ingersoll Ave, open weekdays from 8AM to 5PM. Or, if you’re in the Chicago area, swing by our HQ and we’ll tell you our story. 

SIPPING IS BELIEVING: The Story of Dunkin’ Espresso

When our client Dunkin’ needed to get the word out about their new line of hand-crafted Espresso beverages, we brewed up an unbelievable blend of omni-channel experiences.

We knew that words weren’t enough to describe how Dunkin’ Espresso makes you feel.

Because espresso is more than a beverage. It’s an experience. It’s a way to #EspressoYourself.

With the combined forces of art, music, and #espression, we were going to get Chicagoland craving the new, hand-crafted espresso way of life.

Then, we got our grind on to make it all happen.

We teamed up with Chicago’s hottest social media influencers to hit our target demographic – the on-the-go millennial who needs a hand-crafted rocket boost for their busy life.

And we brought viral latte portrait artist Michael Breach (known on the interwebz as @baristart) on board to help build hype. He hit Windy City Live to share some foam with the hosts. Then, he took over Dunkin’ stores on the UIC and Columbia campuses, earning a ton of buzz (and the eternal thanks of some college students in the middle of finals week).



That night, we threw a rooftop InstaMeet for our influencers. It was an Instagrammable playground to get them hyped about the partnership. Sipping is believing – we brought in magicians to prove it. And while they dazzled with their Dunkin’-inspired wizardry, Michael worked his own magic with custom latte portraits. Through the whole event, we took real-time photos, and assembled them into our custom-built mosaic wall. The memories made the event.

After that, the Sampling Van took the Espresso Lane with its cool new wrap. We went on a tasting tour of the suburbs with the Espresso Lounge, a chill mobile experience that allowed people to kick back, beat the cold, and embrace the cool. And at select events, they could get down to beats by our radio partners, and watch an artist create a Dunkin’ Espresso-inspired masterpiece – LIVE.



And we’re just getting started. With the perfect blend of creative, strategy, and activation, we’re winning thousands of impressions and making cash registers ring. But don’t just take our word for it. Watch the video for yourself, and go out for a hand-crafted Dunkin’ Espresso.

Sipping is believing.



We’re pleased to report that both interns have survived 10 days (possibly 11, or even 12, depending on when you read this) of MACLYN’s Not-Your-Average Summer Bootcamp.

They’ve encountered many challenges along the way, most of which were our fault.

More specifically:

They’ve crawled under great lengths of metaphoric barbed wire, performed thousands of strenuous, symbolically significant chin-ups, and scaled more than a few allegorical mountains (don’t worry – by the end of this, they’ll have scaled an actual, bona fide mountain*).

*Technically, it’s a very large hill. Still, nothing to sneeze at.

In addition:

Our interns have had an excruciatingly awkward encounter with Tiki and lived to tell the tale.

They’ve mastered the baroque and many-layered nuances of corporate refrigerator etiquette.

They’ve even survived a quick but violent scuffle with the large, pituitarily-gifted rodents that loiter in the MACLYN parking lot after 5 PM. Well done, interns.

Anyway. To celebrate their survival and thrival (it’s not a word, but WE ALL KNOW IT SHOULD BE, MERRIAM-WEBSTER), we sat down with the ink-stained duo to get their intern-most thoughts on all things MACLYN.

Without further ado:



Katelyn: It’s what I hoped for, but not necessarily what I expected.

Britanni: I’m trying to think of a word.

K: Relaxed.


K: It’s very relaxed here. Kind of.

B: There’s a lot of passion. Everybody really cares about the work. It’s not just, like, they’re trying to get things done. They genuinely want to do a good job, no matter what.

K: It’s super-hip, which I expected. But it’s not cut-throat, either. It’s a place where the best ideas rise to the top.



B: They don’t take themselves too seriously, which is nice.

K: I always get worried going into a new place. Like, what are the people going to be like? Everyone here is very welcoming.

B: There’s a lot of different personalities, but they all kind of work together.



B: It’s definitely fun to listen to.

K: Yeah…



K: You can have a creative outlet and get paid for it. Pretty cool.

B: Being here has gotten me more excited about advertising. There’s literally no limit to what you can do.

K: It’s cool that this exists.



B: Messy.

K: Difficult to hit.

[Katelyn makes a swinging-motion at an imaginary piñata.]



B: Love ‘em.

K: One of them brought donuts yesterday.

B: Yeah, donuts. That was pretty sweet.

[The interns close their eyes and reminisce.]



K: Oh, god.

B: We were terrified.

K: We were both just sitting there, like, “I think we’re just supposed to sit here. And not talk.”

B: And then you’re, like, nervous and trying to think.

K: You’re thinking about thinking about thinking about things.

B: It gets super meta.

K: Once we learned that we were allowed to talk, it became a lot more fun.



K: Heaven. And then, probably – have you seen Futurama? That episode where Fry gets, like, a hundred cups of coffee?


K: Anyway. It’s just, like, heaven. Until it becomes the worst possible thing. Then, time stops.

B: I get way too buzzed. I get like, “Oh, God! What is life?” You know?



B: Everything you do, even the small things, you think, “I can do better. This is just the bare minimum.” I’ve caught myself, like, “Oh, this is fine!” And then I remember we’re not supposed to say that. Ever.

K: You’re not supposed to be “okay” with things. You’re supposed to always want to do greater. That’s very “me.”

B: #DoBetter.

K: Yeah, #DoBetter.



K: He’s very “MACLYN.” He’s fun, but he’s also a warrior. A “fun warrior.”

Interviewer: Maybe a creative warrior?


K: He’s falling apart, the poor thing.

B: His eyes are closed, but you know he’s watching. Which is kind of scary. But kind of cool, too. Yesterday, we learned he’s not just a thing. He’s an idea.

K: He’s not real. Or maybe we’re not real.

B: It’s like, “Where is Tiki? What is Tiki?” I don’t know, man.