2 Minutes With ... Marcus Byrd, Founder of Byrd Eye View

On translating culture into something consumable for brands

Marcus is the founder and chief executive officer of Byrd Eye View, a marketing and consulting firm specializing in brand strategy, campaigns and collaborative activations. He has worked as an entertainment consultant for talents like Kevin Hart and has built two brands to acquisition in the food and tech spaces, respectively.

We spent two minutes with Marcus to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.

Marcus, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in Oakland. After spending 10 years between D.C. & NYC, I've landed in Los Angeles.

How you first realized you were creative.

When I was a freshman in high school, I ran for 9th grade president. I went to Staples and printed campaign stickers that said "5 out of 4 voters prefer Byrd (& Caroline) to other leading candidates." People thought that was pretty cute. And yes, we won.

A person you idolized creatively early on.

I didn't decide to get into marketing until the second half of college, but I was an avid consumer of pop culture. One ad campaign that stuck with me was a billboard with a simple message scribbled, "You Suck, Sarah Marshall" with a link to a website. I thought, "Wow someone really hates their ex-girlfriend!" It was the OOH rollout for a (great) movie. As a teenager I went to the website and everything. 

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

After my freshman year at Georgetown, a friend from high school called and asked if I would start the Hip-Hop side of a blog he owned called MetroJolt. I was a huge fan of Hip-Hop's Mixtape/Blog Era, so I accepted the invitation. I ended up recruiting 10-15 friends from across the country (Columbia, Northwestern, University of Washington, Pitzer, Syracuse) and spent the better part of the next two years interviewing my favorite artists, reviewing concerts and hounding my friends to turn in their articles on time. The website ended up getting 40,000+ unique hits a month, and I parlayed the experience into an internship at the NBA League Office, which was a huge springboard for me professionally. 

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

Growing up on the West Coast, I was captivated by the early work of two L.A. legends: Dom Kennedy and Nipsey Hussle. Both were independent artists whose music focused on leveraging their notoriety into entrepreneurial endeavors. Their goals of financial self-sufficiency, on an individual and community front, were themes that still resonate with me. Dom Kennedy was a pioneer "lifestyle" artist who found a way to be authentic and engaging while describing the most mundane details. I hear his influence in modern artists, and find that I do my best work where I can be my authentic self. Yellow Album (2012), is a project that stands the test of time and I find myself returning to it again and again.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

As someone who has been in the hospitality industry for the better part of a decade, watching The Bear is appointment viewing. In terms of inspo—episodes 6 and 7 of season 2 are incredible. "Fishes" is some of the most tension-filled TV in recent memory. Apparently, they wrote it so the viewer would feel like it was one continuous shot. Mission accomplished. Likewise, the Giordano's Deep Dish scene in "Forks" feels like a genius reference to the 11 Madison Park hot dog story. *Chef's kiss*

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on. 

Historically, plant-based food hasn't looked very appealing. One of the theses behind Hart HouseKevin Hart's plant-based QSR—was that "people eat with their eyes," so the food has to be indistinguishable from any meat-based counterpart. After opening our first location, we joined forces with creative agency Cactus to bring out the beauty in plants. Hilarity ensued. Behold the Triple Paddy Daddy, now serving on OnlyPlants.xxx.

A recent project you're proud of. 

Right before I left Hart House, we executed a social campaign with TikTok's Jordan the Stallion.Turning 45-minutes of Kevin's physical time into 15-20 million impressions was a thrilling exercise, "the content creator collab you didn’t know you needed."

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago. 

This Nike commercial has stuck with me. I had no idea at the time, but of course it was Wieden+Kennedy. I vividly remember seeing it on TV and being captivated. I found it on YouTube and played the 60-second spot on the family computer in the living-room until my mom got sick. 

Someone else's work you admired lately. 

Derek Thompson is the guy. I've been on a bit of a podcast kick and the most recent Future of Everything podcast with Bill Simmons is top-tier listening. They touch on the Meta Quest Headsets, Ozempic, NBA ratings, the "Inevitability Belt" in sports (Eff you Mahomes!) and more. Great podcast, and his Hit Makers is in my top three branding books, ever.

Your main strength as a creative person.

I've been able to translate "culture" into something consumable for brands. I'm always looking for "how to guide (insert brand name here) into the conversation." Working with startups, I'm constantly playing "moneyball," and we were one of the first brands to partner with MSCHF, grabbing 10 seconds of everyone's mindshare for lunch with our HQ Trivia-esqe app, Burrito Time

Your biggest weakness.

As a brand marketer, I love finding omnichannel ways to grow a business. But it is incredibly important to try to measure each tactic on its own merits so you can digest what worked. One motto for 2024 is "Dream big, but aim small!"

A mentor who helped you navigate the industry.

I have to give credit to the Kremer brothers, founders of Dos Toros. Leo Kremer, former bassist in Third Eye Blind, wasn't classically trained in marketing but has "taste" in spades. I spent a couple of years watching and learning from his brand-building business acumen. 

How you're paying it forward with the next generation of creatives.

From 2018-22, I was heavily involved with the New York non-profit Getting Out and Staying Out. GOSO is dedicated to curbing recidivism. And while not creative-specific, I love the organization, giving back and ultimately paying it forward to make a difference in my community.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.

I thought about this a little, but didn't get past trying to get into city-level politics or reviving my basketball career. Both of which were vetoed, by my girlfriend and knees, respectively.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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