Utilizing the Power of Video in Your Marketing Strategy

Episode 152

September 28, 2021

‘Video is the strongest tool to build a brand,’ says our latest guest Vern Oakley, the CEO and Creative Director of Tribe Pictures. Vern is a video marketing expert with over 30 years in the industry creating films, videos, and commercials. Vern talks about why he believes video content is a powerful tool for your marketing strategy. He shares tips on being authentic on camera and how to work with CEOs when filming videos. Learn from Vern’s three decades of industry knowledge on how you can incorporate video into your organization’s marketing strategy.

Utilizing the Power of Video in Your Marketing Strategy Transcript:

Announcer: You’re listening to The Kula Ring, a podcast made for manufacturing marketers. Here are Carman Pirie and Jeff White.

Jeff White: Welcome to The Kula Ring, a podcast for manufacturing marketers brought to you by Kula Partners. My name is Jeff White and joining me today is Carman Pirie. Carman, how are you doing, sir?

Carman Pirie: I’m doing well, Jeff. I’m excited about today’s conversation. Great to be here recording another show with you. 

Jeff White: Yeah. And you know, it has been a little while. You had a bit of a vacation in the middle there.

Carman Pirie: Yeah. Yeah. 

Jeff White: And looking forward to that when we recorded the last episodes and now, we’re post-vacation and that’s all… It’s just different. 

Carman Pirie: I can guarantee you folks that I am not any sharper as a result of vacation. There’s been no improvement in my mental state whatsoever. You should expect the same lacklustre performance today as every episode. 

Jeff White: I think you’re selling yourself short. 

Carman Pirie: It’s important to not oversell. 

Jeff White: Yeah. For sure. 

Carman Pirie: But look, Jeff, today’s guest… Well, look. I’m a little biased. He’s been a friend of mine now for several years and I’ve long been impressed by his thinking and his work, but don’t believe me, I guess, because Seth Godin and everybody listening to this podcast know Seth Godin, and Seth wrote for our guest about his book, wrote, “Every business major takes a writing course, but that’s not our future. Instead, everyone with something to say is going to need to say it on camera, and Vern Oakley’s crash course is a great place to start.” And that’s a great endorsement, I think. 

Jeff White: It’s a ringing endorsement. Yeah.

Carman Pirie: Yeah. It’s an honour to have Vern on the show. 

Jeff White: And it’s the first time we were able to quote Seth Godin while introducing a guest. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. I’ve lied and made up many Seth Godin quotes over the years, but this is the first real one. 

Jeff White: Yeah. Exactly. But anyway, let’s introduce Vern properly. So, Vern Oakley is the CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Tribe Pictures. Welcome to The Kula Ring, Vern. 

Vern Oakley: Excited to be here. And Carman, you’re downplaying your smart thinking and critical ability, because I do love our conversations. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. No, I save all of that for our conversations. 

Jeff White: You’ve only got so much wit. 

Carman Pirie: Exactly. Yeah. You gotta-

Jeff White: You got to temper that. 

Carman Pirie: You can’t use that all up at once. Yeah. Well, look, Vern, it’s an honour to have you on the show. And I’m excited about today’s conversation because really, I don’t know anybody that knows video the way Vern knows video. And it’s almost every aspect of marketing, particularly B2B manufacturing marketers, what do you hear time and again, is they have this sneaking suspicion that they should be using video more. 

Jeff White: I don’t know how to approach it. 

Carman Pirie: Maybe I don’t even know why other than the fact that video is popular. And I’m just excited to have somebody on the show that can kind of connect the dots for everyone today on how to maybe best bring that to life. 

Jeff White: Why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself, Vern, and what you do with the video? 

Vern Oakley: Sure. My company, Tribe Pictures, we’re located in the New York Metro area, and this November will be 35 years in business, so it’s been quite the journey between all the revolutions, from film to video, to streaming, to non-linear editing, to augmented reality, to 3D, so at the core of what we do is we are storytellers and we’re trying to create an emotional connection with our clients’ clients. We’re helping them to better craft their stories, better expand their brand in a way that has some heart and soul that is accurately reflecting their best selves, and hopefully creating a trusting relationship with their customers. Or all their stakeholders, frankly. 

Carman Pirie: And you work primarily, Vern, really with Fortune 500s, correct? 

Vern Oakley: We do, although we’re starting to work more with the startups because that’s a lot of fun. But yes, our client roster over the last three decades plus has been the Fortune 100, Fortune 200. 

Carman Pirie: Very cool, very cool. 

Jeff White: Including several manufacturers, I believe you mentioned? 

Vern Oakley: Yes. I mean, we did a lot of work for Stanley when they purchased Black & Decker and tried to create a cohesive story about why that merger would work and define the sort of the brand essence of this new entity. We also have worked with BAS, shooting all over the world, and we also worked with Hubbell. They manufacture a lot of electrical parts. And these are complicated stories to tell because it’s not about a little piece of equipment, or a widget, or a drill. It’s about something they’re providing that no one else can provide. 

And just going back to the basics of branding, you gotta differentiate yourself. There’s a lot of different companies out there that are selling something that may be similar to what you’re selling. 

Carman Pirie: No question. The manufacturing space is just kind of choc-full with that, right? With a lot of things that are very much manufactured to a certain spec, where every competitive product is good enough, and so I want to dive into that a little bit more, Vern. How do you… What do you see as the role of video today? 

Vern Oakley: Well, it’s like Seth says, it’s the future. And you just have to look at the utilization of the internet and the pipelines and it’s because people are watching a video. I mean, during the pandemic, Netflix had to skinny down in Europe the use of the internet because there was just so much video being watched, and that’s the way people prefer to get information now. I mean, so if I have a choice between reading a 50-page white paper and watching a three-minute video about the same subject, I’m gonna do that, or I’m gonna do that first and then read the paper if I’m interested. 

And the other thing that’s unique about video is, and not everybody uses it this way. I mean, 50% of the videos on YouTube are information-driven. And so, people will watch a 10, 12-minute video about how to repair my lawnmower. But for marketers, the real exciting thing is that you can make this emotionally powerful connection with your viewers, and sort of riding about all of that is that when you’re dealing with emotions if you’re telling the right story, in the right way, with master storytellers, it’s going to build and deepen the trust for all those stakeholders. For your customers, it’s gonna shorten the sales cycle. Companies that tell their story well frequently have a 10X value compared to companies that don’t tell their story well. And video is one of the best ways to tell that story. 

Carman Pirie: That’s interesting to think about because it’s true you can’t… It doesn’t matter how much personality comes across in a written piece. Yes, there ar0e those written pieces that do transcend. They seem to be able to drive an emotional connection. But I think everybody just kind of almost stepping back from it for a second would say, “Yeah, but it’s probably-“ 

Jeff White: Objectively, video can do that better. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah, or at least easier, maybe. 

Jeff White: Yeah, for sure. I do think, though, that it points to the need for a higher level of consideration about video than a lot of people… A lot of people just think simply being in the medium is sufficient. But what you’re talking about is really a higher level.

Vern Oakley: And I think as marketers you have to understand that higher level, but I don’t want to throw any shade on that midlevel or that lower level, where you’re shooting something with your iPhone because those all have different places in the marketing mix. And so, if your sales rep’s going over to China and you’re doing a panned shot of all of the warehouses filled with your products, that’s gonna be impressive. But a lot of the work that we’re hired for is to make that most important video that is sort of the brand video, or the heart and soul of the company so that somebody gets a quick understanding of what you do and why you’re different. 

Carman Pirie: And so often, that means bringing the C-Suite onto the camera, doesn’t it? And you know, and I’d be curious, I think that’s a skill set that not every CEO kind of comes prepackaged with, is it? CEOs need to know a lot of things. They need to be pretty good at a lot of stuff. 

Jeff White: Yeah. But being on camera or understanding how to respond in an interview isn’t necessarily one of them. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. Vern, what percentage of CEOs that you work with would you say are kind of just naturals on camera?

Vern Oakley: You know, it’s an age-driven thing, which I find interesting, and of course the younger generation’s been sitting there with a phone and a small computer in their pocket since they’ve been growing up, so the younger CEOs usually are pretty good on camera. Some of the older ones may not be as comfortable and you don’t really know. Somebody… I mean, I saw this with a CEO we were working with, and oh my gosh, what an amazing public speaker, and then we got him in front of the camera, and he just froze up. So, you don’t really know, but percentage-wise, putting some numbers on it, I would say 10 to 15% are really good. Another 15 to 20% are okay, acceptable, and people will accept you on this journey as you get better and better as long as they see the purpose is you’re trying to communicate to them and trying to build trust. 

And the other half of them frankly are not very good. And the biggest issue is not that they’re not good people and not that they aren’t trustworthy individuals, it’s that they come off on camera as untrustworthy because we as humans have this little computer on our head which is going, “Trust, not trust. Trust, not trust.” It’s very primal and if you see somebody who’s fidgety, uncomfortable, you don’t trust them. It’s just… It’s not an intellectual decision. It’s in your gut. 

So, you have to be careful about putting your CEO on camera if they’re not gonna come off trustworthy. 

Jeff White: It’s so true. And at the same time, I have to think, having worked with the number of C-suite folks that you have, what are some of the other things that you see that you help with in terms of bringing that level of trust and helping them better represent the brands? 

Carman Pirie: I guess, yeah, is that something that can be overcome with training? 

Jeff White: Yeah. 

Carman Pirie: If you’re looking at it like, “This person just doesn’t decode as trustworthy,” can you… Is that a hump you can get over?

Jeff White: Can you fix that? 

Vern Oakley: Absolutely. And you know, and since this is a private conversation and no one outside the marketing department is listening to it, I truly empathize with these marketers who are having to put their CEOs on camera, because it is a challenging task. And what I’ve observed over time is that CEOs frequently don’t have the time, and it’s sort of like they’ve ridden to the top of a black diamond slope and they’re thinking, “Because I can do everything brilliantly, I can ski down video mountain flawlessly on my first trip, and I won’t fall, and I won’t break my leg.” And that’s… You know, hey. That could be true. That could be true for that 5% to 10% that I’m talking about. 

But for the rest of them, it’s a little bit of practice that makes it better, and how come nobody understands that? It’s like I’ve been screaming that from the rooftops for years and I believe it’s because… You know, video is so ubiquitous that it doesn’t get the kind of respect because you think it’s just easy. And listen, if you take a video of your kid biting your finger in the back seat and it gets million-plus views, you think, “Oh, my goodness. Video is easy.” But to craft a story, to put your CEO on camera, to make something that’s important, and powerful, and engages, and accrues to the brand, and helps to build a culture, takes a little more thought, a little more refinement, and a little more rehearsal. And it’s a team sport. 

Video is a team sport. And that’s why I like it. I like being on a team. 

Jeff White: I just want to say I’ve skied with that guy. It didn’t go great. 

Carman Pirie: It’s not great. Vern, you mentioned how you’ve seen lots of videos, so it’s ubiquitous, so it doesn’t get the respect that it deserves in some way. I often felt that when I was in a more advertising-focused agency in my former life. It felt like, “Oh yeah, now everybody thinks that they know television advertising because they watch TV ads all the time.” It was kind of a similar feeling, like-

Jeff White: Yeah. Us graphic designers thought the same way when PageMaker came out. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s just like this notion of a CEO thinking that they can just do it because they’re pretty good at everything else. And it also occurs to me there’s not a lot of CEOs of Fortune 100, Fortune 200 companies that got there because they doubt themselves. 

Jeff White: Fair. 

Vern Oakley: Precisely. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. Overconfidence is probably a pretty key trait in some instances. And then all of a sudden, it’s, “Lights, camera, action,” and they freeze up. 

Vern Oakley: I got a couple of tips for them if that would help. 

Jeff White: That would be awesome. 

Carman Pirie: Please. Yeah. Yeah. Sure. 

Vern Oakley: So, one of the things, when whoever’s putting the CEO on camera to prepare, and one of my great clients, Charlie Meyer, who worked at… I guess they were a serial acquisition company, and they grew from 500 million to I think almost 50 billion. They just kept buying companies and buying companies. The CEO he worked with respected him. So, there has to be mutual respect, and what Charlie did when we were doing… He came up to me and he whispered in my ear, “I delivered him in a good mood.” So, that made my job so much easier, so if you know your CEO well enough to know that they want the cup of coffee, or they’re good in the morning, or they’re good in the afternoon, you want to deliver them in a good mood, okay? 

And then if you’re working with a professional crew, you want a professional crew that’s used to putting high-level people on camera, because they create an atmosphere when the CEO walks onto that, it’s as fun. 

I mean, my favourite thing to say to a CEO coming in is, “Hey, you’re in charge. I’m just here to facilitate you being great and if you’re uncomfortable and you don’t like a take, stop. You can call ‘cut,’ anytime you want.” So, I transfer my power, somewhat, to them. 

Another thing is they’re probably very good at saying these messages because they say them in sales meetings, and they say them to customers, and they say them to employees, but they need to say them shorter. They need to be succinct. Because people prefer a well-crafted story, the job of the person that’s prepping them is to help them understand that crafted story with some key bullet points. Please don’t give them a script. If you’ve given them a script, we’ve seen this a lot of times, they’ll try to memorize it. And as soon as you see somebody trying to deliver lines who is not a professional actor, that’s that trust thing we were talking about a few minutes ago. 

And then also, sort of in Zen Buddhism, it’s like nervousness is excitement without the breath. So, please get these people to breathe. You know, and I know that sounds very simplistic, but it’s like they can have shallow breath. So, I mean sometimes I’ll just say, “Hey, close your eyes. Hey, I want you to take a deep breath.” And then also, one other tip is I say, “Listen, you need to talk to one person. Who do you know really, really well? Who do you like? Who will make you feel really good? And imagine you’re talking to that person.” And those are a few tips that get you in the ballpark pretty quickly. 

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Carman Pirie: That’s really, really cool. I want to explore this kind of connection between this authenticity and trust. And I don’t want to put words in your mouth, Vern, but it’s something that’s been kicking around in my mind the last week or two, is this… It seems like some leaders get up in the morning, or they come to work, or whatever, and they know that the role that they need to play is like they put on that character, and they play it. And then other people seem like they’re just themselves like there’s not a lot of difference between them in a personal context, or at work, or at different times at work, like they’re less playing a role. 

And it seems to me that when you get somebody that’s trying to play a role, i.e. memorize lines, et cetera, versus just being themselves, that’s when you get a break between that… That trust meter starts to go off and it doesn’t seem like they’re-

Jeff White: Yeah. To add some context to this, we’ve just been through both a provincial and federal election in the last 30 days, so there’s been a lot of opportunities to see leaders. 

Carman Pirie: Critique leader trust and authenticity messaging, I suppose. Yeah. Does that make sense, or do you think I’m half-baked? 

Vern Oakley: Well, you put some great words in my mouth, so I’m willing to accept all of them. So, yeah, I call it putting on the mask. So, what people want to see from their leaders is they want them to take off the mask. And that is not an easy thing, and so, in Leadership in Focus: Bringing Out Your Best on Camera, the book, I talk about this being a journey, and this is not a journey of just being better on camera. This is a journey about being a more authentic, real, vulnerable, strong leader. Because the two go together. 

And you know, I came out of a theatre background and worked for some incredible actors, and they are some of the smartest people I know. Smart as the CEOs that I’m dealing with. Because they understand who they are and they understand what they’re trying to accomplish, and they have a through-line for their characters, and that’s different from being on camera. But on camera, authenticity is merely a perception. So, you can teach yourself and you can become a good enough on-camera authentic person. That is really valuable. And most of the people that do that are really authentic in person. 

And you can just sort of see it. I mean, I was talking to somebody the other day, and it was on a Skype call, and her dog came into the room, and she immediately grabbed the dog and started petting the dog, and it’s like she was in the moment. But there’s that famous BBC thing where they were interviewing the guy and his little girl came in in her roller thing and he pretended she wasn’t there. And I’m going like, “What human being has their daughter come into a newscast and pretends that they’re not there?” You’re not human. You got a mask on. You’re trying to hold it together. And the biggest thing that most people going on camera don’t realize, and I’ve seen this over and over again, is the power of editing. 

Meryl Streep will do 20 takes on a film, and then the director and the editor go back and pick the best moments of each take, so when we’re business films, we’re the friendlies. We’re not one of these newscasters trying to getcha or gotcha. We’re trying to make you look great. So, that trust works both ways. We’re trying to make you trustworthy, and you have to trust us to do our job and to know that we know when we got it. 

Jeff White: So, it seems like the path to good video is the same as getting your kids to do their homework properly and actually do it more than one time and not just take the first thing, right? Multiple takes. 

Carman Pirie: Well, I don’t have kids, so I can’t help here. I’m useless. I don’t even remember homework now. 

Jeff White: Yeah. No, I have three teenagers. It’s not getting any better. 

Vern Oakley: How do you get them to do their homework properly? What’s the path? 

Jeff White: Well, I think the thing with them is getting them to understand that they’re not necessarily going to do their best work on the very first attempt. You know, those things take practice. And you know, that can be really hard with a CEO whose time is limited and who is obviously thinking of other things, to be willing to devote the time to say something five times to deliver it well or to just try it out a few times rather than just say it and then get out of there and onto the next meeting. 

Vern Oakley: Well, here’s one of the secrets about putting the CEOs on camera that I can share, because I talked about editing. So, when you’re interviewing your CEO or any of your senior executives and you want to get them on camera, hopefully, they’re gonna be camera the whole time, so what you need is you need this one moment where they are saying the right words, they have the right intonation, and they have the right body language, and hopefully, that trio of things is at least six to eight seconds long, because the viewer will identify with those six to eight seconds and assume that that’s the way the rest of it is. 

And then you take all the other takes and you cut those other takes into making the messaging perfect. And then ideally, you want to get that killer quote at the end where the CEO is embracing the subject and says it well, says it succinctly, says it with the right intonation, and the right body language. And if you just get a few of those moments peppered throughout your video and the rest of it has the right messages, editorially you can cut the thing pretty close, and people are gonna love it. 

Jeff White: That’s the perception thing at work. 

Vern Oakley: Yes. 

Jeff White: You’re getting that first impression, and it’s a positive one, and it sets the tone for the rest of everything else. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. I think people that have listened to this show for a while will have heard me say this, but when I went to Parliament Hill in 1997, to work as a chief of staff to a member of Parliament, we were in training very early on trying to give us the lay of the land in the nation’s capital, and a senator came in and said, “Okay, here’s what you guys need to know. Perception is reality. Truth is negotiable.” And I always… You know, it’s like-

Vern Oakley: Whoa. Okay. 

Carman Pirie: Okay. All right. I’m not sure everybody wants their politicians or political staffers thinking that way, but it’s… You know-

Jeff White: It’s pretty accurate. 

Carman Pirie: I think it’s accurate there and it’s probably accurate in the video, as well. I mean, as you say, you have the edit working for you. 

Vern Oakley: Well, I have to say that politicians grasp this idea of being on camera early. In the United States, it started with the Nixon and Kennedy debates, because for the listeners who listened to that debate, Nixon won. So, purely auditory. But the viewers saw Nixon as sort of being sweaty, fidgety, all these kinds of things we’re talking about which don’t build trust, and Kennedy was charismatic, spoke well, his body language was great, and by the way, he hired and was coached by Arthur Penn, the famous director who directed Bonnie & Clyde. So, sometimes you do want to bring in some help to kind of get you up to speed. 

Carman Pirie: I love that. Because you know, everybody can use a coach. It doesn’t matter how good you are. And that’s a great example of it. 

Vern Oakley: And I think I just heard Tiger Woods has four or five coaches. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. I mean, the sports analogies always get pulled out in talking about this, and appropriately so. It’s even, I think… I don’t know. It’s more interesting to me to hear that JFK had a coach of that kind of calibre and of that background. 

Jeff White: Yeah. A bit of a different bent, for sure. 

Carman Pirie: And I mean, if we want to talk about Hollywood-politic crossover, I suppose we could go off to Reagan, but that’s another conversation for another day. 

Vern Oakley: Or even Trump. My God. You know, reality TV stars, like geez. He understood the camera. Actually, I talk about that in the book. I was talking about Al Franken, Ronald Reagan, and Donald Trump before he was elected, and they understood the medium. And there’s not gonna be anybody who doesn’t understand the medium getting into the high-level political office anymore. And that I believe it’s part of the requirements moving forward for most of the companies in the world. 

Jeff White: Yeah. Boy, talk about social culture informing business culture and communication, and you know, it really is the case that things that happen globally end up informing marketing and business approaches immediately thereafter. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. No question. 

Vern Oakley: We all steal from each other. It’s part of… The osmosis just happens. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. 

Jeff White: Yeah. 

Carman Pirie: I’ve enjoyed this chat, Vern. I’m kind of curious as we’re kind of coming towards the end of the show, I guess what are some of the… Look, there are lots of people out there making videos and I agree with you. We don’t want to just say it’s about not using your iPhone. So, rather than it being nearly that simplistic, I guess I’m curious. What are the biggest mistakes that you see people making as they try to embrace the medium? 

Vern Oakley: I think some of the mistakes that people make, film is just so kinetic, and it affects us in so many ways that when you get pictures and sound moving along, it can be pretty entertaining. I like people to take a different view because of the bigger videos and this could even apply to the medium and small videos, iPhone stuff, is like does it move me? Does it affect me? Does it touch me in my gut and my heart? Because that’s… I tend to think that information leads to understanding. I saw the lawnmower repair video. I know how to repair it. Okay. 

Emotions lead to actions, like, “Oh my God, that car just looks so sexy. I want that version. I want my new Tesla S.” So, when you think about somebody participating with your company, or buying your products, some sort of emotional connection is helpful. And I’m not talking… And listen, if you look at emotions, film and TV commercials try to… Fear, excitement, laughter, but I mean if you study emotions, there are 140 emotions. So, being nuanced and understanding what you’re trying to do and having somebody who can craft the right emotion for you with the film and video is so helpful. 

So, I think people, particularly in manufacturing, because there are lots of engineers, are much more analytical, so a mistake that happens is they think that that is gonna get them where they want to go. And you have to be more creative, more intuitive. I believe the creative economy is here. Its part of what we see is moving us forward. So, not truly understanding the power of emotions is a big mistake. 

And then I think not understanding that you need to have a partner if you’re going on an enterprise that’s bigger, you know? And if you look at your marketing budget and you say, “Okay. Well, my marketing budget is X,” what percentage do you want to devote to video? And what kinds of videos? You know, I want to do some iPhone videos. Perfect. I want to do some social. Perfect. I want to make one big brand film. Well, that’s gonna take more money and time than that. So, it’s allocating the right resources. I mean, we have some clients who saved up for three years and said, “I always wanted to try film.” And that’s very empowering but it’s also very… I mean, the stakes are high. We’re like, “Whew, we have to deliver.” You know? 

So, it’s understanding to budget to pay the right price to get the right people in there. You wouldn’t design something without an architect, and certain companies have the ability to be the architect of your video or your story, and certain companies have the ability to sort of be the builders and understand the difference. 

Carman Pirie: It’s interesting on that emotion versus the analytical front. I think it’s a real challenge for a lot of manufacturers. They’ll over-communicate the details. And then I think there’s a time and place for that, but it’s probably not video. And it strikes me that a lot of the advice that you’re giving on that front isn’t that dissimilar to what some of the advertising pros like Dave Trott would try to say, which is like make an emotional connection, have some fun with it, but it’s not about communicating every little detail. And I guess how much of the coaching, Vern, is about trying to get them to communicate less detail but more emotion? 

Vern Oakley: You know, in terms of the coaching, I can’t come in and work with a CEO without a partner who’s not the CEO, because the CEO is not gonna give us the time. So, we have to sort of craft that message and craft what we want to say before that, and we have to put it in context. You know, in terms of emotions, in terms of the company’s best practices, what I see works is you want to tie back into your purpose. So, if you’re not a purpose-driven company, you’re kind of floundering out there because you can say anything you want. But if you’re a purpose-driven company and you have strong values, bringing them front and center in the right kind of communications is crucial. And always having that purpose and values-driven lens on all your communications is crucial over a period of time, because this doesn’t happen with one video. 

I mean, you know, it takes… We all know brands are built over a period of time. And video is the strongest tool to build that brand, so you need that mix of different kinds of videos, and you need 

to craft the story well. 

Jeff White: Gotta have the strategic house in order before you approach this stuff. 

Vern Oakley: Really. Absolutely. 

Jeff White: Well, Vern, it’s been fantastic to have you on the show today. Lots of great tips and I’m really glad you were able to join us. 

Vern Oakley: Thank you. It’s fun being here. 

Carman Pirie: Thank you, sir. 

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Vern Oakley

CEO, Chief Creative Officer

Vern is the founder, CEO, and Creative Director of Tribe Pictures. For more than three decades, Tribe and Vern have worked with dozens of Fortune 500 Companies, CEOs, nonprofit organizations, and academic institutions. His films and videos have helped launch some of the industry’s largest public offerings, and the world’s biggest brands, and have been credited with raising billions of dollars for colleges, universities, and philanthropies. Vern has directed feature films, documentaries, television programs, and commercials that have garnered over five hundred international industry awards. He’s worked with some of the world’s biggest industry figures and cultural icons – from Ken Chenault and Arthur Penn to Andy Warhol. He’s led Tribe Pictures through decades of technological change, cultural and financial upheavals, 9/11, and a pandemic. In fast-changing, tumultuous times, he’s learned that the power of story, the need for authenticity, and the desire for connection are more important than ever.

The Kula Ring is a podcast for manufacturing marketers who care about evolving their strategy to gain a competitive edge.

Listen to conversations with North America’s top manufacturing marketing executives and get actionable advice for success in a rapidly transforming industry.

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Kula Partners is an agency that specializes in maximizing revenue potential for B2B manufacturers.

Our clients sell within complex, technical environments and we help them take a more targeted, account-focused approach to drive revenue growth within niche markets.


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