We built Street Dog out of necessity and opportunity. We took our collective agency experience, trimmed the overhead (that typical agency models bill you for), and then applied more nimble and targeted marketing solutions to start-ups and brand refreshes. We can now market brands and measure our efforts more accurately, and manage the talent necessary to do a job, whilst the work remains as beautiful and creative as ever. Our senior leadership works directly with clients, forming lasting relationships that don’t cost a ton. Call that scrappy or call it street smart. We just call it “Street Dog.”
Our core team has a combined 150+ years of marketing experience, and that’s being conservative. Divide that up and you’ll reveal we are nicely seasoned. Some of us reside in Chicagoland, others have a permanent leg extended down into Austin, Texas. Our team of senior leadership works directly with our client partners, forming lasting relationships. All Dogs are Southwest Rapid Rewards members and are cleared to fly on leash. Here’s a quick look at our likes, relationships, and pedigrees.
Blake Thomas, President, Managing Partner, Lead Dog
Blake’s a business development leader and marketing strategist who possesses an infectious positive attitude. He hasn’t pondered the inside of a box since his days as a pup and even then he was clawing his way out onto the floor and out the door. He’s an experienced entrepreneur and business leader with a strong marketing, sales, and interactive strategy background.
Paroled from Detroit, Blake made his way to the Chicago area in 2003 for the next twelve years–a good twelve years, mostly. In 2015, Street Dog and family moved to Austin, Texas–most likely his best move yet. His career credentials include: Director of Strategy, Business Development and Group Account Director for Creative Marketing—Illinois, Founder and President of Platinum Marketing, Founder and President of Luxur Design, Business Development Director at twoxfour Chicago, Business Development Director and Client Services Director at Street Level Studio, as well as V.P. and Business Director at Level2 Interactive. Blake’s poured his last five professional years into conceiving, building and developing Street Dog alongside Greg Ice.
Blake loves life, eats red meat, requires urban surroundings, plays loud music on stringed instruments, enjoys comedy and is often heard laughing out loud. Believes three chords and the truth can move the masses. Button-pusher. Thinker. That “plus” icon on your car battery.
Greg Ice, Managing Partner, Creative Director, a.k.a. Deputy Dawg
Greg’s a creative who’s been around the block. Art Director by trade, he cut his teeth at The Richards Group in Dallas. Moved over to DDB Dallas for several years (where he created greatness with our Mr. Graves), then on up to Chicago at JWT. Greg helped get twoxfour in Chicago off the ground as its first creative hire, collecting two tours of duty there. Even directed creative and marketing in music production (country, he must clarify), publishing, and pharma for a few years in there somewhere. He’s collected accolades from Cannes, National Addys, Effie Awards, OBIE’s and others along the way. Impossible as it sounds, that’s an entire 25-year career in a single paragraph, sparing the
dazzling details while assuring you, the talent he fought with in the streets were none other than the toughest and most respected men and women in advertising. And now, Greg fearlessly leads the strategic creative and tactical executions for Street Dog.
Quick particulars: Known to wear caps indoors, but is working with his own Personal Stylist. Native Texan. BBQ connoisseur and Judge (really). Requires a full breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cranky when hungry. A seasoned woodworker. Tennis player when his elbow allows. Rides MTB. A LOT. Has a beautiful and artfully-talented family. Shaves twice a week (sensitive skin?). A nice guy, but unafraid of dark alleys. Emphatic listener.
Brooke Hubbard, Circus Dog and Social Media Marketing
Brooke found her passion in social marketing while pawing around Twitter back in the early days when it was still what you ate for breakfast and we all showed our appreciation on #FF. She started off as a college intern writing social strategies for companies that just got their start-up funds. Since then, she completed a Master’s degree in Digital Media and started her own social media consulting business working with companies from industries across the board, from leadership speakers, to active wear, to fashion, and into technology. Brooke enjoys the hunt for the perfect campaign and can be found digging through analytics for insight and innovation. She prides herself as the “Circus Dog” of Street Dog because of her specialization in start-ups and social event marketing. This talented character loves the rush of the high-flying, perfectly balanced environment of live event social marketing. Plus, she can wear many hats at a time. She recently was recognized by her local business magazine (in Seattle) as one of the 30 Under 30 Entrepreneurs to watch.
While not posting to Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and everything else, Brooke can be found with her nose in a good book, a remnant of her college English major. She also enjoys learning new tricks, like bouldering and snowshoeing. Her favorite drinks are ones that sparkle.
Mike Meyers, Breeder of Creative, Show Handler and Copywriter
Mike’s been in scraps more than a few times with his friend and creative partner, Greg Ice. Together, they’ve tapped into emotional insights and moved the marketing needle for brands like the Chicago Bears, Grainger, Navy Pier, Wrangler and Absorbine. Their award-winning thinking and executions have resulted in ideas that get noticed and yield results—the reason we’re all doing this in the first place.
On his own, Mike has been a Writer, Creative Director, Executive Creative Director and agency owner. He’s worked at giant agencies like Leo Burnett and DDB Chicago on world-class brands like McDonald’s, Discover Card, Home Depot, Anheuser-Busch, Sea World, Kellogg’s, P&G, J&J, Merck, Novartis and countless others. Always ready to roll up his sleeves, kick off his shoes and dive headfirst into a marketing challenge, he has also made a positive impact on brands like Pentair, Tyson Chicken, USG Building Products, Founders Brewing, PNC, JPMorgan, Janus, Spartan Motors and Gilda’s Club Chicago.
When not writing marketing and advertising, guess what Mike does? He writes. Everything from children’s books and short stories to satire and greeting cards. He also runs a pro-bono comedy series in Omaha, Nebraska, in honor of his fun-loving, always laughing, dearly departed parents called “LOL: Legacy of Laughter.” Not surprisingly, Mike drives a convertible Jeep. Woof!
Richard Graves, Copyhound and closet Creative Director
To the bone: this near-native Texan loves him some barbecue, especially with generous sides of blues and Memphis soul music. Known to talk more than his share, mostly the truth. Has a wife, a daughter and a son who make him proud and make him laugh. And think. And be grateful. Works out pretty regularly, including a weekly pick-up soccer game at which he is surrounded by much better players who have not yet changed the location of the game without telling him. Plays drums and sings (yes, often at the same time) and strums a little acoustic guitar. Has side business in real estate and real estate lending.
Richard grew up in Dallas, both before the advertising business and in it. His decades of experience include stints at Bozell, Tracy-Locke, Levenson, Interstate Batteries and recognition from “Communication Arts” and “Print” magazines, Radio Mercury Awards, Addys, Dallas Society for Visual Communications and more. He’s been known to do Broadcast Production Lite and voiceover for local and national TV and radio spots. He’s gone from Copywriter to Senior Vice President/Creative Director twice, and now finds himself back in the role of Copywriter, but with better stories.
Phil Klafta, Hound Dog and Planning Guru
Chicago-born and it shows. Ex-college jock and it doesn’t (but he’s trying). Mixes up things that don’t usually sit on the same plate and forces his family eat it. Re-watches old movies and TV Shows for fun. Prefers listening to talking. Has far fewer answers than questions and still raises his hand slightly to ask. Puts his fist down sometimes, but nicely. His photography gets worse with practice. A big fan of anyone who wants to try something new. Turned his resistance to authority into a career. Makes more tangential comments (and parenthetical statements) than any man alive. Stopped using air quotes a year ago, but relapses on occasion.
Has worked on a wide variety of businesses like insurance, professional sports, and entertainment, but always gravitates back to technology and marketing to businesses. He began doing communications research for the Center for Disease Control, until he was lured into advertising by promises of glamour and easy money. Talked his way into a first job at DDB in Chicago where he championed integrated communications long before they were normal. Did time at Draft, pitched in at twoxfour, and most recently sipped a year-long cup of coffee at Ogilvy. Street Dog is happy to have partnered with Phil on several occasions and trusts his golden nose. Phil digs deeply for strategy and insights (truffles, if you will), using that awesome stuff to help give direction to brands, their strategic and creative development and their communications tactics. Seriously, the guy’s a strategic sommelier.
Steve Bailey, Mixed-breed Cattle Dog and SEO Expert
This is the great Steve Bailey. He has a voice that could calm a lion and a software setup that would immediately prompt Bill Gates to hire him for some much-needed R&D. After over a decade of leading a national team in consulting, deploying, and operating telecommunication networks utilizing complex call center technologies, Steve wanted to move into the revenue generation for clients. Today, he heads Strategic Online Corp., an online sales and SEO agency, partnering those services with Street Dog’s select and creative consortium.
Steve has developed products: BizVid (Business video traffic generation), AuthorityNet (private authority backlinks), and PerfectAdTargeting (profit-based, micro-targeted display advertising). He’s formulated how to drive traffic and create new leads for clients and has refined the short-term “tricks” of SEO, its constant change, and ultimately passing results into long-term quality foundational tactics, which build a company’s position, value, and authority. C’mon. How else is there a way to say that? Steve is instrumental in making our clients’ online (and offline) marketing more effective and measurable. We love Steve because he makes clients love us.
Of note: Steve is dependable but known to sneak off and go fishing. Native Iowa farm boy, loves to make things grow. Can be seen in moments of triumph to enjoy a cigar, sip of bourbon, and the company of good friends. Loves his family including the dogs (canine types…he won’t apply “love” to us Dogs just yet out of fierce loyalty). Dabbles in audio and mixes live bands in one of the world’s best-sounding rooms. Thinking about upgrading his old Jeep to a ‘77 Wagoneer.