McKinney (advertising agency)

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Industry Advertising
Founded 1969
  • Charles McKinney
  • Mike Silver
Headquarters Durham, North Carolina, United States
Key people
Number of employees

McKinney is an advertising agency based in Durham, North Carolina led by chairman and CEO Brad Brinegar and Chief Creative Officer Jonathan Cude. John Newall is president,[1] and Walt Barron is chief strategy officer.[2]

Also in 2012, McKinney was acquired by Cheil Worldwide, Korea's largest and one of the world's leading integrated marketing communications networks. McKinney "will play a central role in the reinvention of Cheil's network in the Americas and beyond."[3] This started by expanding the agency's East Coast footprint with an office in New York headed by Managing Director Kerry Fitzmaurice,.[2]


McKinney was founded in 1969 as McKinney & Silver by Charles "Chick" McKinney & Mike Silver and is now led by CEO Brad Brinegar.

In 2003, McKinney became one of the first agencies to pioneer connection planning, which determines the most innovative and creative ways of bringing brands and people together in mutually beneficial ways.[4]

In 2004, McKinney moved from Raleigh to Durham and took over what is now 60,000 square feet (5,600 m2) of vintage factory space on the American Tobacco Campus.[5] Ten years later, Brad Brinegar was featured in the short documentary "Because No One Would,"[6] which was produced by Goodtree & Company and Horizon Productions to celebrate the factory's restoration anniversary.

In 2006, McKinney combined its three strategic disciplines (account planning, connection planning and interactive strategy) into one strategic offering and named Andrew Delbridge, previously director of account planning, partner and chief strategy officer.[7]

In 2008, McKinney's management acquired 100% interest in the agency from Havas.[8]

In April 2012, McKinney participated in “The Pitch,” AMC Network’s unscripted series that follows two ad agencies over seven days vying for the same piece of business.[9] In Episode 1, McKinney was up against Los Angeles-based WDCW to create a campaign for SUBWAY restaurants. SUBWAY’s marketing team chose McKinney’s “Freestyle Breakfast” campaign idea featuring Mac Lethal, whose YouTube video of a rap about pancakes has been viewed more than 32 million times.[10]

In July 2012, McKinney became part of Cheil Americas, "a regional network of agency partners then led by CEO Buz Sawyer."[11] At the end of 2012, the agency joined forces with Dognition, a venture aimed at strengthening relationships between dogs and their owners by better understanding how dogs think (canine cognition or dognition). "The agency's contributions to Dognition include market research, marketing and brand development, and designing the look and feel and user experience of its website. McKinney, which has an ownership stake in Dognition, also is housing the eight-employee company at its offices at the American Tobacco Campus in downtown Durham."[12]

In January 2013 McKinney opened an office in New York.[13]

McKinney was named one of 10 agencies to watch by Ad Age in January 2015.[14]

As of August 2016, McKinney's clients include Samsung, ESPN, Sherwin-Williams, CarMax, Crocs, Norwegian Air, TuneIn, Sennheiser, Dognition and Urban Ministries of Durham.[15]


In 2012, the agency had 13 Effie Awards finalists for seven clients in 12 categories and won five Effies, making McKinney the most effective independent advertising agency in the world according to the global results of the Effie Effectiveness Index.[16] The Travelocity Roaming Gnome came "home" to McKinney, as reported by The New York Times.[17] And Walt Barron returned as SVP/head of Account Planning in October after his brief stint as director of Account Planning for Peter Mayer in New Orleans.[18]

In 2013, McKinney earned 11 Effie finalists and five Effie Awards,[19] resulting in the following rankings by Effie Worldwide and WARC via the Effie Effectiveness Index:[20]

  • The most effective brand in North America (Mizuno)
  • The third most effective agency office in North America


The Art of the Heist

Alternate Reality Game

Where is my Gnome?

SPENT (online game)


  1. ^ "McKinney Names John Newall, President". PR Newswire. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Coffee, Patrick (9/1/15). "McKinney Names Chief Strategy Officer and N.Y. Managing Director". Adweek. Retrieved 2 September 2015.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ "Cheil Worldwide Acquires U.S. Agency McKinney, World's Most Effective Independent Ad Agency". BusinessWire. Retrieved 31 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "McKinney Boosts Media Capabilities". Adweek. 2003-05-19. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  5. ^ "McKinney Heading to American Tobacco Campus". WRAL.COM. 2002-11-21. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  6. ^ "Because No One Would: American Tobacco & the Durham Renaissance". Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  7. ^ Rodgers, Zachary (2006-04-05). "Execs and Accounts for April 6, 2006,". ClickZ. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  8. ^ "McKinney Buys Back Agency From Havas". Reuters. 2008-06-26. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  9. ^ "Episode 1: Subway: McKinney & WDCW". AMC. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  10. ^ "Nerdy white kid KILLS "Look at Me Now" (Mac Lethal)". YouTube. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  11. ^ Vega, Tanzina. "South Korean Agency Adds to American Footprint". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 July 2012. 
  12. ^ Ranii, David (2012-11-16). "Startup Dognition promises to help you better understand your dog". News & Observer. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  13. ^ Parekh, Rupal (2013-1-17). "North Carolina's McKinney Is Latest Shop to Try New York: Peter Nicholson Hired as Executive Creative Director of New York Office". AdvertisingAge. Retrieved 4 December 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  14. ^ Ad Age Staff (January 26, 2015). "From EVB to Big Spaceship, These Are the Agencies to Watch in 2015". Ad Age. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  15. ^ "The Ad Council and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation Launch Public Service Advertising Campaign to Inspire Adults to Finish High School". Ad Council. August 18, 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  16. ^ "2012 Effie Effectiveness Index". Effie Awards. 
  17. ^ Elliott, Stuart (9/30/12). "A Gnome Is Home, but More Travel Beckons". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  18. ^ Elliott, Stuart (11/05/12). "Accounts and People of Note in Advertising". New York Times. Retrieved 4 December 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  19. ^ "2013 North American Effie Winners" (PDF). 21 May 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  20. ^ "2013 Effie Effectiveness Index: North America Overview". Retrieved 17 June 2013. 

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