Mark believes the key to building brands is uncovering brand belief – and for good reason. For more than 27 years, he has used that guiding principle to develop transformational brand strategies and deliver outsized success for some of the world’s biggest, and most beloved, brands like Nike Bauer, Belvedere Vodka, Anytime Fitness, Boston Scientific, Capital One and Fifth Third Bank.
Before starting Friends & Neighbors, Mark was the Vice President and Director of Strategy and Brand Anthropology at Olson in Minneapolis. There he led the development of Brand Anthropology, a revolutionary holistic strategic planning process that connects people and brands at the core level of shared beliefs. This unique discipline combines traditional agency account planning techniques with the principles and practices of Cultural Anthropology. Mark was also a driving force in helping earn 21 AMA’s Effie awards for effectiveness, and two 4A’s Jay Chiat awards for strategic thinking.
Earlier in his career, Mark worked at Campbell Mithun and Clarity Coverdale Fury. He holds a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing from the University of Colorado in Boulder and an undergraduate degree in Advertising from the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana. He is a contributing writer to Forbes and AdMap.
In Tom’s opinion, there is no more powerful creative force on Earth than that of shared, fervent belief. It’s what bridges divides within organizations; it’s what arms challengers to take the hill; it’s what forges timeless bonds between a company and the various communities it serves.
It’s also what Tom has delivered to world-renowned brands for over 20 years. And continues to champion for wholeheartedly in his role at Friends & Neighbors.
Over the course of his career, Tom and the teams he’s led have been recognized with nearly every major creative accolade. But it’s the outsized success of his work (to the tune of 21 Effies) that gives him the greatest sense of reward.
The consummate relationship person, Jen’s impressive rise through the ranks of client services comes down to her simple, yet powerful, personal philosophy: when it comes to defining the right solution to solve a brand’s problem, there’s no idea that’s either too big or too small. Sustained success is a product of both unfettered dreams and astounding detail.
That mindset has guided Jen for more than 20 year now, and explains why such respected brands as Target, Caribou Coffee, Chinet, Marvin Windows and Doors, Allina Health & Clinics and Pei Wei Asian Diners have placed the account reigns firmly in her trusted hands. Most recently, she worked for several years leading the holistic, global branding efforts of Ecolab.
Jen started her career in Boston, at Houston, Herstek, Favat (now part of Arnold Worldwide), before moving to Minneapolis and contributing mightily to the impressive growth trajectories at both Periscope and Olson.
With more than two decades of experience in project and operations management, Tonja is a high-energy, experienced leader with excellent communication, collaboration and project management skills. Tonja’s value remains unmatched when it comes to wrangling diverse teams, keeping everyone on-task and delivering projects on-budget and on-time. Without breaking a sweat.
Tonja’s project experience includes everything from integrated creative campaigns to cross-divisional corporate projects across a wide breadth of clients and industries. Prior to joining Friends & Neighbors, she led the Project Management department at Olson and served as Director of Operations at Modern Climate. She began her career in publishing at Star Tribune.
Tonja’s personal philosophy when it comes to job satisfaction is simple: “It’s all about the people. When you’re working with great people, there’s really not much you can’t accomplish.” And it’s precisely that attitude that makes her so successful.
When Tonja isn’t kickin’ ass and takin’ names at the office, she takes her boundless energy out on the town. You can find her dancing at cool concerts across the Twin Cities, checking out the hippest new breweries or simply being the coolest mom in town to her teenage daughter, Zoe and son, Zack.
Target. Caribou Coffee. Lucy Activewear. Sperry. Jet.com. These are just a few of the fun brands Tesa has worked on throughout her career, both on the client- and agency-side. As Tesa likes to say, she “grew up” at Target, where she worked in the Home, Beauty and Fashion categories. Her work there included the launch of several fashion and beauty designer brands, along with the cleaning brand Method. After 10 fruitful years at Target, Tesa made the leap to agency life. She has since worked as an Account Director at Mosquito, BBDO and Mono and Director of Client Services at PMH.
Tesa loves working with underdog brands—the ones that punch above their weight class. Who want to dig in and get their hands dirty. Building teams and working together are Tesa’s bread-and-butter, and she firmly believes the best creative work is the result of collaboration. That the best ideas can come from anywhere. And above all, that work should be fun.
When she’s not working, you can find Tesa outside or trying to get outside. She’s a sports fan through-and-through, and her favorite teams usually include one of her three children—Madeline, Will and Sam—who she considers to be her greatest achievement in life.
Over the course of her 10 years in project management, Annie has excelled at driving complex, holistic efforts for a range of high profile clients (Subaru. Boston Scientific, Schwan’s, Nestle Purina, Capital One, University of Minnesota, the US Army, to name but a smattering). But where she truly shines is helping us create our most important products of all: a culture of collaboration, a constant line of communication with each client, a get ‘er done atmosphere, and the conditions for inspiring creativity. Simply put, F&N’s signature DNA runs strong through Annie.
Prior to F&N, Annie was rocking in ways that others only roll at some of the Twin Cities’ most respected agencies, including Carmichael Lynch, Olson and Martin Williams. Her passion for process is only matched by her passions for baking pies for the MN State Fair, volunteering for the MN History Center, hiking on the North Shore, playing piano – and attempting to mix and muddle the perfect Old Fashioned.
Aaron is one of our token Millennials, although he’s an old soul with many years of account management experience. He started his career rising in the account group at Olson, followed by a stint as an Engagement Manager at Modern Climate. Throughout his career, he’s led teams through digital, social, broadcast and print projects with clients such as Ecolab, UnitedHealth Group, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, General Mills, BISSELL, Jamba Juice and Frontpoint Home Security.
Aaron has a special eye for all things digital, and really believes in the power of an awesome digital brand experience. He also believes in the power of good relationships, and a mean shot of espresso.
Molly began her creative career in social media as a community manager – before community management was really even a “thing.” In the years since, she has skyrocketed through the ranks of copywriter-dom (sure, that’s a word) to her current role: Associate Creative Director at F&N. In this position, Molly helps drive strategic creative development across our agency’s growing roster of clients.
Just as she’s fluent in French, Molly is also fluent in all the languages of connection. Fully integrated campaigns; branded content; corporate website redesigns; experiential art installations; PR stunts that have generated word-of-mouth wildfires around the world; you’ll find it all, and more, in Molly’s envy-inducing portfolio. Better still, you’ll see that level of ingenuity and impact for powerhouse brands the likes of VF, Honeywell, Schwann’s, Carmex, Boston Scientific, University of Minnesota and Ecolab, to name a few.
Beyond an exceptional blend of concept and craft, Molly’s signature “deliverables” are the passion, positivity and curiosity she pours into every project – which her clients absolutely covet. Best of all, Molly is a perfect reflection of our culture: so expect a genuine interest in your business; a thoughtful, creative response to the challenges you’re facing; and a deep-seeded belief in your brand.
As an architect turned designer, Mitch brings a unique perspective to each brand he works on—always keeping the end-user in mind. In his capacity as a designer, he has a remarkably wide range of experience—leading breakthrough creative on everything from major corporate identities to deep digital experiences to buzzworthy live events. His portfolio features award-winning work for brands ranging from start-ups to industry leaders, including 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey, Cargill, Crestliner Boats, General Mills, KeyBank, Land O’ Lakes, Minnesota State, Polaris, Popeye’s, Purina, Red Bull, Target, Toro and more. Prior to joining Friends & Neighbors, Mitch worked as a designer at Six Speed, Campbell Mithun and Padilla.
At his core, Mitch believes that branding, advertising and design stands tallest when it is built on a foundation of rock-solid strategy. And, like all his Friends & Neighbors colleagues, he firmly believes that the best work comes as the result of true partnership between agency teams and clients.
Justin is much more than a senior designer. He’s a tattoo collector, a die-hard Wheel of Fortune fan and a connoisseur of Sun Chips. Justin is an integral part of the creative department at Friends & Neighbors. He’s helped create award winning campaigns for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Ma Jolie Marché and The Mayhew (just to name a few).
He not only firmly believes that his dog was once a human in his past life, but he also believes in the power of a strong strategic backbone and building great client relationships. According to Justin these two important components lead to great, meaningful work. In his free time, you can find Justin drinking lots of coffee, rock climbing or finding a reason to attend a happy hour.
Carrie is F&N’s senior copywriter, resident comedian and traverser of the Upper Midwest. After growing up in South Dakota and majoring in Theatre at the University of Minnesota Duluth, she began her advertising career in Chicago. There she worked on big consumer brands like Kraft Foods and Laughing Cow Cheese, while honing her comedic chops on the Chicago stand-up circuit. Fun fact: she once won a stand-up contest, where—in typical Chicago fashion—the prize was 3 giant hot dogs. Next, Carrie took her show on the road to the Motor City. Again, in keeping with the city’s style, Carrie spent her stint in Detroit working on Chevrolet, while at Commonwealth McCann. Finally landing in the Twin Cities, Carrie was most recently at Morsekode, where she worked on some of Minnesota’s heavy-hitters, including 3M and Boston Scientific.
At F&N, Carrie brings humor and powerful insight to brands ranging from Bulwark FR to Anytime Fitness. Her kindness, cleverness and willingness to dive head-first into any project that’s thrown her way make her a perfect fit at Friends & Neighbors. Beyond her passion for crafting compelling copy and cracking up her colleagues, Carrie has turned her love of dogs, especially senior dogs, into a bonafide side-hustle (no really, she’s a 5-start dog sitter! Check her out on Rover!). In her spare time, she’s also an avid biker (she’s completed 3 bike marathons!) and dreams of someday leading a Tedx Talk on Body Positivity.
Kelsey comes to F&N all the way from Las Vegas, and that’s why she’s our resident desert baby. On most days you can find her in the office trying to figure out how to stay warm, whether it’s with a heating pad, a blanket, layering on two sweaters or wearing fleece lined jeans. She made the blustery trek to Minneapolis, where she attended the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and received her B.F.A. in Graphic Design.
Kelsey strongly believes that design can help others communicate better. Her passion shows through her logo and website design for Arts Not Parts, which is a creative call to action in support of and solidarity with trans youth.
Besides her passion for design, Kelsey is on a mission to find the best French fries in the Twin Cities. According to her, you can find the best ones at the Iron Door Pub in Uptown. Let the debate begin!
Beth Tarr comes to F&N after a 9-year tenure at space150, where she helmed the agency’s fiscal ship as VP of Finance during a period of rapid growth. Beth was well prepared for the ride, having graduated from the Carlson School of Business with a degree in Accounting. She began her career at EY, where she was a CPA. After leaving EY Beth spent many years working both as an employee and a consultant for a number of start-ups across a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing, distribution, software and food. Tiring of the hubbub of corporate America, Beth found herself in advertising. She appreciates the energy—and lack of cubicles—of the creative environment.
In her role at F&N, Beth works with banks, auditors and insurance agents to support the company on the business end of things. She loves being back in the start-up environment—watching the growth, seeing the direct impact that each person has in creating and meeting goals, being involved in building the foundation of the business. When Beth isn’t crunching the numbers at F&N, she and her family prefer to escape the city for the serenity of their Northwoods cabin.
What can you make with Friends & Neighbors? Spell something using the letters in our name and we’ll display our favorite submissions in our window, and give you a social shout out.
We’re always on the lookout for new talent, and we love meeting new friends & neighbors. Send your resumé and/or portfolio to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.