Hello! I am Anders, CEO of Protobrand. Before you read my bio, let’s take a moment and reflect upon what these profiles really are. Personally, I am always struck by the things people come up with and are willing to say about themselves. Perhaps it is because I come from a culture where the Law of Jante effectively mutes any self-bragging tendencies. Despite this peculiar cultural law, I believe that there are a few things I am particularly good at. Contrary to what you may expect however, I haven’t always been interested in consumers and brands. Although I completed my first attitude survey in sixth grade, there were times when I thought it was more likely that I would end up as a celebrity chef or an accountant or some combination thereof. However, a fortunate stroke of serendipity introduced me to Consumer Culture Theory, an academic field in which I was exploring the role brands play in consumption and culture. It got to a point where I realized that my knowledge and skills could help marketing practitioners build better brands. And that’s what I do at Protobrand, and I do it quite well, or even exceedingly well, if I may say so myself.
Protobrand is an independent research and branding consultancy that offers a unique perspective on emotional insight mining. Through Meta4 Insight – our online application for metaphor elicitation – we mine the human psyche and uncover the rich, hidden motivations behind people’s behavior. With such insight as a foundation, we craft strategic and creative solutions that result in emotionally resonant brand relationships.
I'm Stephen: one part artist, one part scientist, and one part over-achiever.
Originally from the UK, I got into the business of building brands after making a sharp U-turn during my undergraduate studies, shifting from medicine into marketing.
At Protobrand, I lead a team of progressively minded strategists and highly innovative researchers - and I take a hands-on role in the application of metaphor elicitation techniques to provide groundbreaking and actionable insights to our clients. In doing so, I practice the fusion of projective psychology and the behavioral sciences to spearhead our strategic thinking efforts, lead client engagements, and to ultimately provide the inspiration from insight to yield highly effective strategies.
I do all this with a British accent and a smile.
Prior to joining Protobrand, I had a storied career in the advertising agency world, as a strategic planning leader in Europe, Southern Africa and during the past decade or so in the US, working for agencies that include Saatchi & Saatchi, Doner, and Mullen. At my last gig, I headed up the largest strategy group in the world at Leo Burnett, where I was Chief Strategy Officer.
During my career, I am fortunate enough to have been critically acclaimed for my work, and have been recognized for winning multiple creative and strategic awards including EFFIEs and the coveted 4A’s Jay Chiat Award for strategic excellence. Key clients that I have meaningfully contributed to - and that I have especially enjoyed working with - include British Airways, P&G, Coca-Cola, Mazda, M&M Mars, Land Rover, Expedia, Zappos, Jet Blue, Allstate and Four Seasons.
In terms of bragging rights, my academic qualifications include an Executive MBA from Stern, New York University. At NYU, I was also the lead singer in the MBA program rock band, but I have since asked for forgiveness. These days, I much rather run long distance than cause people to run out of the concert hall due to my singing talents.
When I was 13 I read Freud's "Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious." To my dismay, it really wasn't very funny. It did, however, propel me on a journey that I'm still following today: to understand why people do what they do and say what they say.
I was certain that I would become a pipe-smoking psychoanalyst, but when I went to UC Berkeley, and realized that Freud had based his entire approach on nine people, I sought other avenues of understanding. I worked in the neuropsychiatry department at UCLA slicing brains, exposed myself to low-level radiation doing radioimmunoassays at Cal, and worked with alcoholic war veterans in Stanford's psych department.
After graduation from Berkeley with a degree in psychology, I was invited to a party at Daniel Kahneman's house in the hills above the Claremont Hotel. There were delightful finger sandwiches over which he and I chatted about one of his research ideas. He was interested in exploring why someone might eat egg salad sandwiches everyday for lunch for 20 years, and then one day switch to tuna for the next 20. At first I thought, here is a pretty good argument against tenure. Later I began to consider the "egg/tuna inquiry," and realized that penetrating such a seemingly minor decision was at the root of what makes people fascinating.
I am a Tuck alum, having graduated in 1991 with an MBA (sorry Dr. Freud). And, I adore both tuna and egg salad sandwiches. Mixed together is even better than apart.