Brand consultancy with full service capabilities to develop emotionally engaging omnichannel customer experiences.

  • Jim Cobb

    Jim Cobb

    Founder/Chief Brand Strategist

    Jim has honed his branding chops over 35-plus years, crafting successful strategies and memorable brand experiences for both B2B and B2C clients. His view of branding is unique and holistic: he believes it’s a financial business decision capable of driving superior P&L performance and balance sheet equity. From his early work as a consumer researcher through his three decades with Howard, Merrell & Partners—a leading brand development agency where he served 12 years as COO and CEO—Jim crafted a model of brand value creation that today is a holy grail sought by companies large and small. He has worked with more than 50 brands, in consumer packaged goods, pet care, sporting goods and services, power equipment, financial services, health care, and more. CPG brands he has worked on include Butterball, Scott Paper, Brawny Towels, Mama Mary’s Pizza Crust, ZenPuppy Dog Treats, and ANF and Precise brand dog foods. He has also worked with FMI on branding and grocery channel research. In 2017, Jim founded The Bloodhound Group (BHG) as a supercharged brand experience agency. BHG applies neuroscience to brand meaning and customer emotional engagement and combines this with single-minded focus on superior strategy delivery within and outside client organizations. Jim will work to ensure Welch’s brand strategy is clearly aligned across Welch’s agency partners for creative and media. He will also provide his insight on research design.
  • Julie Stephens

    Julie Stephens

    Director of Omnichannel Marketing

    Julie is a results-driven, award-winning, integrated marketing professional with extensive experience in consumer packaged goods. She has been in the business for more than 30 years and has had the opportunity to work for both manufacturers and agencies, providing her with unique insight into what clients really need to meet their objectives and drive sales. Her diverse CPG background includes work in competitive categories, with companies/brands including Post Consumer Goods (cereal, snacks), Kraft Heinz (full portfolio), Back to Nature (organic cookies/crackers/nuts/granola), Skyfall Wine, Stonyfield Farm yogurt/diary and Aleve, Advil (OTC), to name a few. She is passionate about creating highly effective, omni-channel brand activation and shopper marketing plans across the shopper’s path to purchase (right channel, right time, right messaging) to generate demand, engagement and positive ROI. Julie believes collaborating closely with her clients and truly understanding their needs, while providing insights and spot-on solutions, is the key to successful relationships and winning campaigns.
  • Kristina Baldridge

    Kristina Baldridge

    Public Relations & Communication Strategist

    Kristina has more than 13 years of communications and reputation management experience working across the financial services industry. Before becoming an independent strategist, she was a senior vice president at Prosek Partners, running some of the firm’s largest accounts, including Ally Bank, Silicon Valley Bank, Goldman Sachs and Voya Financial. Her portfolio also once included a national haunted house association. Kristina believes a company’s reputation is its defining asset, and external communications goals should always extend beyond a headline. As a result, she approaches storytelling with an eye towards broader issues and trends that can impact how her clients’ messages are heard. Regardless of the project, Kristina loves asking questions and believes “noodle” is both a delicious food and an excellent verb. She’s had the opportunity to work on some of the most innovative financial programs in the world and has a knack for dissecting the alphabet soup of industry slang to break it down so that real humans can understand what’s being said.
  • Enrique Jose

    Enrique Jose

    Hispanic Marketing Strategist

    A results-drive and award-winning branding and digital marketing expert, with more than 15 years of experience. His experience with brand strategy and execution started very early in his career, when he was recruited by a global brand consultancy, primarily for the CPG team - creating brands like "Cakesters" for Oreo and "PocketPacks" for Listerine.   Enrique then shifted gears to a digital space to work directly with US Multinational brands engaging in Latin American Countries.  Together with them, defined digital and marketing strategies, executions, and plans that adapted to each specific "subculture", while maintaining the essence of the brand and the financial and marketing goals in mind.  During his tenure, he created shopper strategies for Head and Shoulders, Gillette and Oral-B.  Today, he focuses on the creation of strategies to yield successful measurable tactics on the web; either from the development and creation of creative concepts, development of websites and mobile applications, successful engagement initiatives in social media and content marketing, and effective media buying campaigns. It is Enrique’s work ethic to highlight that all strategies must be measured to obtain ROI; while maintaining that everything done with clients must cause emotion and a sense of "love for the brand". Other brands he has worked on during his career include Sony, MasterCard, Claro, McDonald's, Samsung, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Merck, Shell, and Ford.
  • Gwen Cox

    Gwen Cox

    Brand Marketing Manager

    Gwen is a skilled communications and marketing professional with more than 30 years in corporate roles with blue chip enterprises. She relishes the role of seasoned marketing consultant for her clients and is always looking for innovative approaches to projects. She places top priority on managing all aspects of her assignments with effective execution and integrity. Her career experience includes holding various senior staff positions at IBM in its hardware, software, sales and partner organizations. She brought her leadership and reputation as a self-starter to bear in successfully launching IBM’s first intranet website and creating a new product PR team. She also developed and executed effective communication strategies for acquisitions, events, products, business executives and new product launches. Throughout her IBM career, Gwen continually embraced new processes and new media, ranging from being one of the first in the company to use podcasting to employing social media as a leading-edge marketing tool. She developed and executed a major sales transformation communication plan with minimal disruption to the sales team and successfully coached executives on using social media effectively and authentically.
  • Alejandro  Porras

    Alejandro Porras

    Data Scientist & Digital Marketing Strategist

    Alejandro brings over 8 years of digital marketing experience, collaborating & executing digital strategies for companies such as Subway, Procter & Gamble, Merck, TLF Apparel, Pizza Hut, KFC, GTC Bank (2nd largest bank in Guatemala), American Express, Scavolini Italian Kitchens, Wake Forest University, Panifresh, among others. As a tri-lingual asset to the team, Alejandro’s digital experience with Hispanic marketing is extensive. He has managed digital teams, in both North & Latin America, collaborating on media buy, creative assets, e-commerce strategies for consumer-packaged goods, website & mobile app implementations, customer service, & most recently data analytics/data science. For the last 2 years Alejandro has been developing proprietary software specific to gathering and providing data in real time. He greatly understand the opportunity cost of dealing with old data, and as a result misinformed marketing strategies. This is the specific problem he set out to fix! Data is King is a motto that he lives by & every day he sets out to make sure each client’s investment is optimized to return a positive and constant ROI or ROAS growth.
  • Brian  Spain

    Brian Spain

    Creative Director

    Spain is an out-of-the-box thinker with a passion for creating unique and attention-grabbing creative. With over 20 years of creative experience under his cap, he has consistently and successfully aided in the development and enhancement of brands throughout a variety of industries and for an array of clients, including: Kraft, Mondelez, Motorola, and NASCAR. With a career focused on Shopper Marketing and Consumer Promotion, Spain has a proven record of success in delivering creative that meets and exceeds client needs and expectations.
  • Deidre Hartley

    Deidre Hartley

    Media Buyer & Planner

    Deidre has spent 15-plus years identifying, negotiating and supervising media strategies for a wide range of clients. She treats the client’s media funding with the same care she would give her own budget and strives to be a savvy steward of the client’s dollar. Her experience with digital media, newspaper, shopper marketing channels (Catalina and Valassis), business and consumer publications, radio (both local and national) and television ensure the client’s messages reach the precise target audience required for optimum exposure and growth. She has handled media for more than 15 clients, in pet care, agricultural chemicals, health care, construction services, banking and consumer packaged goods. CPG clients have included Bahlsen brand cookies, Scott Towels, Wearever adult underwear and Defend flea & tick products. Other clients have included STIHL outdoor power equipment, BB&T Bank, Capital One 360, Kioti Tractor and Rheem new multi-channel product launches.
  • Nicole Johnson

    Nicole Johnson

    AdWords & Digital Display Planner/Manager

    A seasoned professional with almost 20 years of media and advertising experience, Nicole has honed exceptional skills in the strategy, development and optimization of Google Ads and other paid digital campaigns.  She believes every interaction with a company’s brand, no matter how seemingly small, has an impact. Being thoughtful and intentional in your execution, she says, can accomplish more than a big budget. Nicole also has considerable experience in the strategic development and placement of traditional and digital media for brands. Clients have included Carquest Auto Parts, Kioti Tractor, Dollar Tree Stores, AstroTurf, JCB Equipment, and Twin Troller.
  • Jake Baldridge

    Jake Baldridge

    Strategist & Research Director

    After almost a decade in the agency world, Jake founded a consumer research consultancy in 2012 to fully indulge his love of asking questions, understanding what makes people tick and figuring out how companies can motivate the (very) unique individuals they serve. Since then, he has had the opportunity to develop brand strategies and uncover unexpected insights for some of the world’s biggest brands — and a whole bunch you’ve never heard of. Whether it’s food and beverage, tech, pharma or automotive, Jake loves the opportunity to dive into a new category and help clients reach their business goals through human understanding. Jake started his career in advertising agencies, working on food and beverage brands including Stacy’s Pita Chips, Sabra Hummus, Propel Water and Lipton Tea. In more recent years, he and his team have tackled rebranding, insights and marketing challenges for Yogi Tea, Wilde Chips, Smashmallow, Tillamook, Lenny & Larry’s, MetRX, Smuckers and SunBites UK (Sun Chips in the US). In his spare time, you can find Jake either running through the woods or refining his pizza making skills at home in Durham, NC
  • Jim Stevens

    Jim Stevens

    Director of Hispanic Marketing/Creative Director

    Jim is multicultural by birth and upbringing—he was born in Miami to a father from Illinois and a mother from Puerto Rico. Over the past 35+ years he has used his background to become an Hispanic marketing expert, serving such blue-chip clients as Citigroup, Volvo, Colgate-Palmolive, Bristol-Myers, Nationwide Insurance, Pizza Hut and Sears, among others. His career arc has included taking the roles of creative director, copywriter, video producer/director, graphic designer and English-Spanish translator/transcreator. He believes the most gratifying aspect of advertising is creating a campaign for a product you believe in that shows how it will make the buyer’s life better, and doing it with authentic emotion and honest human warmth. His work has won Telly Awards, Regional Emmys, awards from the New York Commercial Film Festival and the Grand Jury Award for Best Commercial for “Rums of Puerto Rico” at the USVI International Film Festival.
  • Ann  Wilson

    Ann Wilson

    Global Brand Strategist

    The first half of Ann’s four-decade-plus career was in the hospitality industry, where she held a variety of communications, marketing and brand development positions for two of the global leaders: InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and Starwood Hotels & Resorts. She loved the people focus of the hotel business, not to mention the bonus of global travel. At IHG (then Holiday Inn Worldwide), she held a variety of senior marketing positions, including heading up the company’s worldwide loyalty program and ultimately becoming global vice president of marketing for the Holiday Inn brand. For Starwood’s Sheraton Franchise Division, she led the successful launch of the company’s midscale Four Points Hotels brand. She left the corporate world to start her own brand and communications consulting practice in 1998 and has worked with clients in the hospitality, food and beverage, retail/franchising, association, interactive marketing and manufacturing industries. She has served as a communications/brand/marketing consultant to Applebee’s, Kimberly-Clark, Delta Airlines Sky Clubs, IHG and the IHG Owners Association, among many others. Ann believes listening closely to what is being said as well as probing for what’s underneath and perhaps not always being directly communicated are key to hitting the mark with deliverables and ensuring an impeccable client experience.
  • Scott  Ballew

    Scott Ballew

    Creative Director

    Over the course of almost 30 years, Scott has been involved in strategic and memorable campaigns for clients including Pier 1 Imports, Memorex, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Kimberly-Clark, MacGregor Golf, UNC Chapel Hill and BCBSNC. The list could go on but it already has. He firmly believes the best work is born out of cross-discipline collaboration, and the end product of some of those partnerships has been recognized by industry awards such as Communication Arts, The One Show, Graphis and the National ADDYs. Whether he’s filling the role of art director or creative director, he thrives on solving communication challenges with executions that center around unique and ownable concepts.
  • Lou Killiffer

    Lou Killiffer

    Brand Strategist

    Throughout his career Lou has been entrusted with helping build some of the world’s most enduring businesses and well-regarded brands, among them: AT&T, P&G, Castrol, Citigroup, FedEx, GM, Nikon, Nestlé and Cadbury Schweppes. Before starting his strategic consultancy, Five Mile River Marketing, Lou was managing director, strategy, at Sterling Brands, directing engagement for companies seeking growth through revitalized brand positioning and new product innovation. Before Sterling, he was chief marketing officer at Merkley+Partners, driving business development that doubled the size of the agency behind $450MM in new billings. Prior to Merkley, he served many years as EVP, managing director of the Americas at Ammirati Puris Lintas, responsible for the UPS, Labatt and Sara Lee portfolios. Lou is a recipient of bronze, silver and gold Effie Awards for advertising effectiveness from the American Marketing Association and is a past Global Effie judge. A former member of the New Business Committee of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, he was a visiting lecturer with the Advertising Educational Foundation and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Lou writes frequently on marketing, branding and innovation.
  • Tor Swenson

    Tor Swenson

    Senior Brand Strategist & Partner

    Tor describes himself as one part executive, two parts entrepreneur and three parts brand junkie. That means he seasons every assignment with executive leadership, instinctive brand vision and the proven ability to roll up his sleeves and get the job done. When he’s not swimming, biking, running (it’s a triathlon thing) or spending time with his family, Tor is tirelessly visualizing and researching how to best position brands for the way purchasing decisions will be made in the future. He has brought his brand visions to life over the past 17 years, first in the hospitality industry then finding his niche in the outdoor, fitness and sporting goods categories. In this arena he helped shake up the market for two emerging challenger brands: run specialty bad boy Newton Running and innovative Swedish newcomer Salming Sports. He directed multiple “rock star” marketing and sales divisions for both companies before settling in as CEO of Salming. There he developed corporate strategy, brand positioning and strategic vision across multiple sporting verticals (specialty run, trail, technical apparel, athleisure, performance underwear, squash, badminton and floorball). Tor’s diversity as an entrepreneur, vast expertise in consumer package goods and executive leadership experience have perfectly molded him to help deliver superior brand strategy for our clients.
  • Adam Cohen

    Adam Cohen

    Creative Director

    Adam has built a stellar reputation locally and nationally over his 25-plus-year career as an award-winning creative director and writer. He specializes in emotional work that’s difficult to ignore, and believes this level of creativity is only possible by uncovering genuine insights into the audience. He was most recently creative director and senior vice president at Capstrat in Raleigh, where he oversaw creative work for a client list that included Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina, Red Hat software, Epic Games and NC Ports. Before that, he founded Distill, one of North Carolina’s most highly acclaimed creative boutiques, and spent time on the West Coast helping shape brands such as Bank of America, Taco Bell, Microsoft, Levi’s, McDonald’s and Apple Computer. His work has been recognized by virtually every major creative organization, including The New York Art Directors Show, the CLIO Awards, Graphis, Creativity, The One Club, PRINT and ADDYs. Adam’s other creative ventures include syndication of his daily comic strip, developing an animated TV pilot for Cartoon Network and working as a standup comedian
  • Joseph Cobb

    Joseph Cobb

    Operations Manager

    Joseph has more than 10 years of experience managing business operations. He started his career as an assistant operations manager for Minor League Baseball’s Durham athletic park. This venue, famous as a key location in the movie “Bull Durham,” served as the Minor League Baseball training center for umpires and field crews. Joseph managed day-to-day activities, weekend AAU and scouting tournaments, food and apparel concessions and venue marketing. He then became vice president of operations for Baseball Factory Institute, where he managed a staff of coaches who conducted player training, baseball camps and tournaments. In addition, he was responsible for facilities maintenance and payroll administration. Joseph believes careful management of even the smallest details is the key to delivering a superior customer experience and ongoing brand success. At The Bloodhound Group, he assists in the day-to-day management of work in progress and project finances.