Can Cincinnati be the Silicon Valley of consumer marketing?

News came out today of a national marketing campaign that aims to position Cincinnati as “the Silicon Valley of consumer marketing.”  As the Cincinnati Enquirer states, “the work grew out of the Agenda 360 community-wide plan sponsored by the Cincinnati USA Regional chamber, which set as one of its goals the creation of 50,000 jobs by 2020.” In support of that goal, this work will specifically “support entrepreneurial companies in consumer marketing in Cincinnati.”

In this regard, the effort seeks to build on a substantial core of marketing talent already here, drawn by major advertisers such as P&G, Macy’s and Kroger, and organize it, expand it and tell the world about it.  One example of this that is already underway is the Digital Hub Initiative that happened last month here in Cincinnati.

Personally I think there is huge potential in this work and I couldn’t be more supportive.  When you think of the world of Consumer Marketing, it is about more than just the CPG manufacturers.  The ecosystem of Consumer Marketing also includes retailers, design firms, advertising agencies, and market researchers.  Cincinnati has all of these elements of Consumer Marketing including:

  • Consumer Packaged Goods: Cincy is the home of not only Procter & Gamble but also Kao Brands / Jergens, Perfetti Van Melle (maker of Mentos),   and US Playing Cards.  There is a reason that Cincinnati was the birthplace of Brand Management.
  • Retailers: The area is the home of the United States largest grocery chain (Kroger with ~2,500 stores) and largest department store (Macy’s with over 1,000 stores)
  • Design Firms: Cincinnati is filled with amazing firms including Landor, LPK, Deskey and Interbrand.  We also have one of the top Design Schools in the country with the University of Cincinnati College of DAAP
  • Advertising Agencies: Cincinnati has a rich advertising history and today is home to agencies like Bridge Worldwide, Barefoot Proximity, Northlich, and many others.
  • Market Researchers: The Nielsen Company and dunnhumby both have a major presence in Cincinnati.

And on top of this, Cincinnati has a thriving entrepreneurial community with several leading Venture Capitalists, banner start-ups such as Share This, and 3 of the Top 20 Undergraduate Entrepreneurial Colleges in the US.  And this will just get stronger with Northern Kentucky University’s new $50 million dollar School of Informatics that opens in May 2011.

So what does all of this mean?  In my eyes, it means that if you are company in the Consumer Marketing / Advertising space, you should be seriously thinking about having a presence in Cincinnati.  And I dont mean just agencies, but any companies (big and small) who need top Consumer Marketing talent.  Furthermore , if you are an entrepreneur / start-up that is looking to play in the Consumer Marketing space, I would challenge that you couldn’t find a better area than Greater Cincinnati to get started.

Cincinnati is a town with a deep and rich history in Consumer Marketing.  But more importantly, it is a town with a bright future when it comes to defining Consumer Marketing in the 21st Century.  I am looking forward to being part of it.


  1. MarkA says

    Marketing in the 21st century…. ain't gonna happen in Cincy, most of the people here haven't gotten past the 1950's yet….

  2. Rich Kiley says

    Actually, it is happenning in Cincinnati just as it has historically. We've got an incredibly long list of firsts in package goods marketing and retialing.

    Further, the acendent drivers of marketing in the 21st century are:
    * Design – Cincinnati has the largest concentration of consumer design firms in the country with LPK, Landor, Interbrand, Deskey coupled with UC's Design program at DAAP
    * Data – Cincinnati has the largest concentration of consumer data analysis talent with dunnhumby, Nielsen and this will soon be augmented by NKU's new informatics center which will have a focus on conumer marketing data analysis
    * Digital – where P&G stepped out as a leader in 1999 with the first industry-wide meeting to address digital marketing and is still a leader. Nielsen is the acknowledged leader in digital interactive data. Bridge is an acknowledge leader in interactive marketing.

    • says

      Rich– Another database marketing firm headquartered in Cincinnati that specializes in the consumer goods industry is Market Intelligence Group (MIG). Founded in 1998, MIG services several Fortune 500 companies. MIG's expertise includes database marketing, data mining, predictive modeling, segmentation strategies, data analysis, dashboards, GIS/spatial analytics and visual analytics. At MIG, we believe marketing is more science than art. We help clients make better marketing decisions by helping them better understand their customer.

  3. Rich Kiley says

    Here's the rest of my thought…

    In addition to all this, you have the other resources mentioned by Dave above.

    Net, I think MarkA is hanging around with the wrong people. Most of the people inventing the future are pretty excited about the opportunity and, in fact, are inventing right here in Cincinnati

    Rich Kiley – initiative leader

  4. says

    Love this post Dave. I speak as one who is just entering the world of marketing/pr/advertising here in Cincy. The community has bee extremely gracious and kind to me. I have learned a ton in a very short amount of time. And I too look forward to all the excitement that is to come and being a part of helping Cincy become the "Silicon Valley of Consumer Marketing".

    My only regret is that I will graduate with my Masters in Comm from NKU before they open the new social informatics building. It's going to be state-of-the-art to be sure.

  5. says

    I suppose I should qualify my 'yahoo' to this announcement with an explanation… I am an almost-lifelong Cincinnatian, a veteran pr/marketing/communications practitioner in this region, and a strong fan of this area by choice.

    For those readers of Dave's blog post who are not from Cincinnati, I join Dave in attesting that, along with the special folks who live and work here, there is definitely a deeply-rooted spirit of creativity and innovation, as well as a sense of camaraderie among marketing-field-related professionals. And, to Dave's litany of assets above, you can add a beautiful landscape and a renaissance of our downtown, our riverfront and historic districts. The end result: 'one heck of a place' to become “the Silicon Valley of consumer marketing.”

  6. says

    This isn't a future conversation, it's a now conversation. Those in the know are well aware that Cincinnati is on chock-full of leading edge of consumer goods expertise. Beyond P&G, you have firms like dunnhumby, Nielsen, BASES (now Nielsen), Bridge Worldwide, my company ThinkVine who are getting global attention in this space. From a talent pool perspective, look around the country and see how many top marketing executives have roots in Cincinnati. We have the right to claim this city as a marketing hub…….today.

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