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Q&A with Jeff Griffin: The Future of Media at Retail

 

When Jeff Griffin joined STRATACACHE a couple of months ago, he came to us with 25 years of experience in brand and sales management with both Fortune 50 CPG and emerging-media companies.  At STRATACACHE, he is EVP of Retail Media Networks, focusing on building momentum in winning large scale, commercial media networks.

We had a chance to sit down with Jeff to find out more about him, his experience in the industry and what he predicts for the future.

 

What’s your preference? Baseball or Football?

A year ago I would’ve said college basketball, since I grew up in (and attended the University of) North Carolina…I’m a lifelong fan of the Tar Heels.  However, my son is a rising sophomore at the University of Michigan, so since I now pay out of state tuition, we clearly have to support Wolverine football.  I’m sure that will go over big with all of the Buckeye fans at STRATACACHE.  Anyway, living in Atlanta, our pro teams seem designed to break your heart, so college sports are less painful!

 

Tell us a little about yourself – where were you before this and how did you get here?

I see my career broken down into three chapters:

  1. The first chapter, I spent 16 years in the consumer products world at P&G and Nestlé working in sales management. Then I jumped the fence to marketing management for Nabisco and Kellogg’s.  I received my MBA in Michigan during the dot com bubble (I was a brand manager at Kellogg’s and we had a new baby a dog and a kid, so I needed something to fill up all my time).  I was pretty miserable behind a desk in Battle Creek, so I took a chance on a small startup that ended up being PRN.  Apparently I was in the digital place-based media business before it existed.
  2. PRN became my second chapter; I was there for 10+ years. We transformed less than 1 million dollars in revenues to 150 million a year.  We set up a quarter million TV screens, growing a very large presence in the industry, up to having the 5th biggest TV audience by viewership in America. Awesome people, awesome work – it was great, until…
  3. The third chapter started when the 2nd iPhone came out, at exactly the same month as the Crash of 2008. When I saw what the new iPhone could do, I knew I wouldn’t be able to talk people out of $100 million for screens in stores (at least for a long time), so I made the jump to helping VC-backed start up in the ecommerce media, mobile retail intelligence and proximity marketing spaces. Those are all just fancy-pants words for marketing at retail, just on smartphone screens instead of screens in stores. STRATACACHE is such a natural next section of this chapter, since we weave together both mobile and screen based platforms to serve shoppers, retailers and brands.

 

How did you know STRATACACHE was the right fit for you?

Two things: first, I’ve known Chris for around 11 years and we became friends sharing the “pain” that is serving global retailers. We’ve always wanted to work together, and finally the timing was just right. Chris is the only guy I know that travels more than I do, and he leaves me in the dust by the way.  We have this constant joke of “Where and when are you?”.  More importantly, we share the same “Why we do this” philosophy –media at retail really helps shoppers, retailers and brands.  We want to be the single go-to resource on the planet.

 

What challenge(s) do you hear most from retailers or brands as it relates to digital signage?

From a brand standpoint, the issue is “How do you get my brand noticed?  How do you help me stand out from the competition? How do I build share using your tools?”  For retailers, all they want is two things (but they’re big): increased customer trips and increased sales in their store.  The only time retailers want to see me is when they see that we’ve been successful at this before, and they expect us to do it again.

 

What about your work would surprise people?

When I say I have 3 bosses: the shopper, the retailer and the brand.   I have to work for them all simultaneously, and I can’t concentrate on one specifically. I can’t just focus on the shopper and create an amazing experience, that costs a ton of money and retailers are nonprofit institutions (or at least they talk like they are).  I can’t just work for the retailer and the category because someone needs to pay for it, manage it and match up the competing desires of the shopper and the brand. And I can’t just focus on the brand because those brands live in someone else’s house: the retailer’s space.  Most people don’t think about that when they think about what I do.  I am trying to match what is best for all three segments and that is difficult and rare…but also a lot of fun.

 

What excites you most about the future of STRATACACHE?

Our suite of fully managed services that I didn’t even know about.  The breadth of things we can do for the shoppers, retailers and brands is amazing. I can’t find a retailer today that we don’t have a solution for, and that is pretty exciting stuff.

 

Can you tell me the story of your prior successes, challenges and major responsibilities?

So on paper I had this neat resume of big brands…the only trouble was that I’d do good things only to get in trouble with the big bosses. I have an entrepreneurial spirit – it took me a while to figure that out.  I kept wanting to try new things and it made me a bit of a bull in a china shop, especially with the big brand companies. Once I moved to PRN, I fell in love with the people and the passion much like STRATACACHE.  That’s ultimately why you go to work.  I love to create things on the scale we are today.

 

If we were sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great 12 months it has been for you, what did we achieve together?

Easy: we will have built the world’s largest new place-based media network in a major (meaning top 2 in their channel) retailer. We would have strengthened our relationships at our existing customers, and STRATACACHE will be getting credit for what we are already doing by showcasing the projects we have done for our current customers and our new ones.  By 12 months, we will be surprised how quickly the year went by!