The Most Scared I’ve Ever Been as a Marketer


I’ve been in marketing for nearly a decade.

I’ve enjoyed success, experienced failure, and learned from both.

No one knows, but I recently had one of the scariest moments—let me double down and make that the scariest moment—of my career. It was hours before the publish button was hit for this video ad:


How could such a lighthearted production stir up so many nerves? I’m talking anxiety to the point of not being able to sleep. Why?

The Elusive Next Level

The client we created the video for, Dr. Squatch, had an extremely solid foundation when they came to us. The challenge was taking their business to the next level, that arbitrary but very real place everyone wants to go. In this case, that meant exponentially increasing their already-high sales.

After spending almost a year getting to know Dr. Squatch’s brand, products, and customers within various marketing projects, it became clear that in order to take their success to the next level, we needed to go all in. Rather than spend on smaller campaigns, it was decided that it was time to go all in and invest in what we call a “hero” video that would take customers through everything Dr. Squatch stands for and completely, undeniably validate their natural soaps for men. All the marbles. All the chips. On one video.

This is Everything I Know

Our entire process is built on the idea that if you can uncover the core values of a company, identify its purpose, and pinpoint how it aims to make people feel, you can make a profound impact on the brand and audience alike. The video represents not only everything we know about our client, but also everything I personally believe about the power of a brand.

We poured countless hours into understanding the audience. We wrote a compelling script and edited it to perfection—not a word short of it, and not a word past. We hired literally the funniest person in San Diego, James Schrader. We staged a fantastic shoot (and that’s an understatement). We developed a thoughtful launch strategy. We used every ounce of our team’s abilities in every aspect of marketing. And then it was ready. Go time.

What Was Really at Stake?

It wasn’t the investment, large as it was, that made this video so monumental in my mind. It wasn’t the risk, or the possibility of losing business. There’s always a risk in marketing and it has never bothered me.

It was the realization that I wholeheartedly believed in what we were doing and wasn’t prepared for the possibility of failure. If it didn’t work, nothing would and my confidence would be shaken to the core.

At this point, the video was our baby. We saw nothing but beauty. But in the back of my mind, I was wondering if our perception was skewed. Could our baby be ugly?

I showed the video to a few of my colleagues and friends; their reactions were positive, but not necessarily emphatic. Okay, seriously…Is our baby ugly???

… And the “Post” Button is Clicked

I held my breath and waited to see how the world would respond.

Fortunately, my fear did not come true.

The video was immensely successful almost instantaneously, capturing 6 million views in the first 6 weeks. It has now eclipsed over 13 million views on YouTube and Facebook, with record sales and “soapscriptions” to show.

It’s thrilling to see people respond to it, and the experience has reminded me to remain confident in the value of discovering the identity of a brand to move people emotionally.

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