Brand Stories

by David Anderson

Gulfstream Aerospace

The brand was faltering. In 1995 my mentor and NYC financier Teddy Forstmann bought Gulfstream from Lee Iacocca for some $400 million. Tons of debt to be sure. But it was Forstmann who realized the brand potential. For some reason he hired me to direct the advertising for the brand and the launch of the Gulfstream V – an aircraft that was in a race for global supremacy with a bunch of French guys at Bombardier. The idea was that all-powerful people see themselves as leaders. And leaders needed transportation that said something about them as people. We never sold airplanes. We sold symbols of power and leadership. Thus, the Leadership campaign was born. Our orders for the $50M plane went through the roof. See, Ted taught me how to communicate with really rich people. How to appeal their inner voice. He said, “There isn’t a person out there that doesn’t want one of these planes… what we have to do is connect with why they want the plane. We have to grant permission.” Boy was he right… We lost Ted to brain cancer in 2011. His impact on my career was profound…


Disney made a brief foray into the timesharing business. They figured they could leverage the popularity of their theme parks brand and provide an amazing vacation experience. But, Disney, being the iconic brand that they are used their popularity to build a development that they wanted – not what the public wanted. The idea was to convince the customers that Disney was building something that the consumers wanted. And so, the “All Ears” campaign was born. The idea that vacations would be shaped by consumers was a winner. Disney loved it. I thought it was OK – but the public rallied to it like crazy…People from the suburbs dying for some authenticity, some respect from the giant entertainment company… Go figure…

Del Webb/Sun City

Sun City was long touted as the place where people go to die. A terrible reputation. A lousy brand persona. Why go to a place surrounded by people who were in the final throws of an unremarkable life? I got there and decided that what the brand needed was paddles… not electrical ones, but canoe paddles, and tennis courts and Friday mixers and golf outings and some hanky panky. Sure enough, by sending the message that Sun City was a place to live, instead of die, we turned those communities upside down. And so the “Live On” campaign was born. We even coined the term “active adult”. Sun City. A place where people could really live. People still died there, but at least they died happy…

Hilton Head Island

I remember when I was hired to direct the advertising at Hilton Head. John Crosby was his name – he was the head of the VCB at the time. He was also an incredible visionary. He said, “I can’t build a town on 3 months of traffic a year.” See everybody went to Hilton Head Island in the summer. John realized that to place infrastructure in the town would require year-round residents. So we let the summer/beach traffic take care of itself and focused our marketing on the shoulder and off-season. Slowly but surely, people came for the holidays, and Christmas and Valentines day and on into the summer. Year-round residents – people discovered Hilton Head had so much more to offer that just the beach…in the summer.

Memorial Health

Originally known as the gunshot hospital, Memorial had a terrible brand in Savannah. You only went to Memorial in an ambulance. That’s it. Consumer preference was nil. Docs wouldn’t practice there. The place was avoided like the plague. Then they hired new blood. New management with new ideas. Through an engaged employee communications program and several upgrades to the facility we managed to make Memorial the hospital of choice for a wide range of procedures in Savannah and southeast Georgia. Physicians actually wanted to be there. Patients felt comfortable there.  And so the orange dot was born. The dot did everything – it danced, it sang, it was ubiquitous. A real piece of positive, consistent branding. A happy dot. 

The employees embraced it and consumers recognized it. To this day, Memorial is the hospital of choice in Southeast Georgia… Branding as simple as a happy orange dot…