You may not know the CMD Agency by name, but you likely know their work. The pioneering, Portland-based agency recently led three of Microsoft’s major brand story partnership campaigns. There is the omnipresent NFL campaign with Microsoft Surface, a fun retro-themed integrated campaign with Netflix hit Stranger Things, and most recently a partnership with the new Space Jam movie.

Inside Brand Story Building

Looking at CMD’s big-name clients like Microsoft, Xbox, T-Mobile, and Intel, we get a unique back-stage pass from owner and president Darren Rankin who offers insights on how these powerhouse partnership brand story campaigns happen.

Darren is a long-time friend of mine who I’ve known as a great leader since his time as captain of the Harvard men’s basketball team.  His career journey on both the brand and agency side offers a healthy perspective on the challenges of rolling out integrated brand story content campaigns.

Prior to CMD, Darren has held leadership positions on both the agency and brand-side with GlobalStar USA, BRC Group, LeadDog Marketing Group, IMG, and his true passion-play side project, the Joe Moore Award, honoring the best  offensive line in college football.

Below are some of the highlights of my conversation with Darren:

  • Origin Story. CMD’s pioneering example of a brand in-housing their agency.
  • Pandemic Perspective. Changing POVs to in-person experiences and activations.
  • Case Study Deep Dive. Microsoft + Stranger Things project
  • Collaboration Corner. Advice on agency/large client collaboration.
  • Communication Cliff Notes. CMD’s best practices and tools of the trade.
  • Success metrics. How CMD sets-up the goal posts for client wins.
  • Wish I Would’ve Known. Darren’s trip in the time machine leveraging his learnings.
  • Morning Musts. The morning routine of an agency owner to stay on top of the industry.
  • Bedside Bookstand. Our weekly personal look at the current book of choice.


We want to hear from you. Share this podcast, give us your feedback and hit me up with topic suggestions and guest ideas.  You can learn more about CMD here, and follow Darren Rankin on Twitter here or ping him on LinkedIn here. Brand Story, Inc. is for you, so let’s make it great together. You can ping me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter @_JaySharman. Thanks for listening. Enjoy!

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