Here’s What You Learn About Marketing When You Work With Oprah Winfrey and Taylor Swift

Here’s What You Learn About Marketing When You Work With Oprah Winfrey and Taylor Swift
August 22 12:00 2016 Print This Article

Marketing is so complex and it’s becoming more and more difficult for brands to make their mark. Leigh Holt is the CEO and founder of maddjett whose clients include Oprah Winfrey, Hunter Hayes, Pepsi, Taylor Swift and others. After recently partnering with Kendra Flack, founder of Red Barn to create REDJETT a full service management company I had the opportunity to speak with Leigh and learn what it’s like marketing for such elite celebrities. Here’s what I learned:


 Jay: The reach that social media has afforded companies in their marketing is incredible. At the same time it’s challenging to pick up traction on the extremely crowded social media platforms. What have you found to work for your clients that other companies can learn from?

Leigh: Brands have to be on social media. That is no longer an option — but you don’t have to be on every platform. To be successful, build your presence where your demographic lives and create authentic content for them. You don’t have to develop shocking, earth-shattering, jaw-dropping clickbait for each post. Whether you are producing original articles, graphics or videos, make sure it speaks to the desires of your audience.  Serve it up in a way they can’t find anywhere else. You can cut through the noise by tuning into the frequency of your audience. Find your niche. That space is a lot less cluttered.

Jay: Every company is different and marketing is only effective if it’s genuine and authentic. In your role representing many different companies how difficult is it to get a real understanding of your clients and create the proper marketing strategy for each one?

Leigh: We spend a lot of time with each new client digging into their culture, their product offerings, their perception of the brand and their goals. We also research their space in the market, identify how others perceive the brand and clarify what messages most resonate with the public. Then we find the overlap and create their unique voice in that space. The beauty of analytics and focus groups make it easy to course correct (if needed) in real-time. The biggest thing we stress with new clients and in our research is to deeply know their audience. Brands have to be honest about what need they fill for their fanbase, and vigilantly serve that need. We help answer that question for them and then build marketing strategies around it.

Jay: What are some of the points you believe emerging companies fail to notice when it comes to creating an effective message for their companies?

Leigh: Oftentimes, companies get very entrenched in their own hype, and lose focus on what their audience actually needs, not just what they would like to see.  Additionally, egos often get in the way of a healthy internal dynamic. A large barrier to success for new companies can arise from wanting to make a big, noisy, yet potentially unnecessary, splash. Again – think about what will best serve your audience.  Is it a big billboard on your drive into work every day or relevant messages to your followers on Snapchat?

Jay: Everyone talks about “millennials” and how the markets have changed so much because of them and for them. Do you see that and if so what type of changes have you needed to make to fit those needs?

Leigh: In all honesty, I don’t view millennials as a negative or perceive a problem with them dictating market change – and yes, I believe they have.  Millennials are the largest living generation in America. As a result, this group of 75+ million members absolutely dictates marketing efforts, and should be a constant conversation in marketing strategy. Past generations have done the same thing and we (marketers) have had to adapt our messaging to fit their unique needs. Now, we have to speak to this audience through authentic, transparent and cause-centric communication. If you invest time to develop content for them, they will invest in your brand.  Hunter Hayes is a great example of an artist that we developed sponsorship and marketing plans for that were strictly targeted at millennials.  We developed an intimate coffee house VIP event that spoke to the desires of the fans he served.

Jay: Creating a brand and a personality for your company is a tough challenge. Merging with another company with perhaps somewhat of a different “brand identity” takes a tremendous amount of work. What were some key elements in making the decision for you to merge and join forces?

Leigh: As I’ve worked to grow maddjett, I have had the opportunity to observe some of the best brand management teams in business – from Oprah Winfrey’s team to Taylor Swift’s. I learned first-hand how great managers think and the strategic thinking behind their decisions. I was instantly drawn to that role in an artist’s life. Concurrently, my business partner in REDJETT, Kendra Flack, had the dream of running her own company.  As she launched her own business, Red Barn, we continued to talk about what values mattered to us.  We knew that if there ever was the right opportunity, we would start a management company together. Then, in September of last year we launched REDJETT with the goal of holistically managing an artist’s career with a focus on team and brand building.

There is no difference in the culture between maddjett & REDJETT- we seek to find top talent, identify good people and build healthy teams that stand on the dynamic of valuing everyone’s unique gifts.  I believe that people maintain a brand’s personality and identity. Whether you are building a partnership or growing your staff, take time to find the perfect fit for your brand, culture and environment.

Jay:Will there be a different approach moving forward?

Leigh: No, both companies exist to serve our clientele’s need to grow their platform.  I am intentional with the word “serve”; that is our focus. At maddjett, we serve brands in need of effective partnerships in the entertainment space.  With REDJETT, we surround our artists with a support system to build and grow their reach and impact.  Our focus at both companies is on growth – for some it is revenue growth, fanbase growth, ministry growth and overall brand expansion.  The people we hire perpetuate our vision of service and value.  Helping our clients grow their brand is the intent for both companies.

Jay: Finally, what do you see coming down the road as far as marketing goes? What should businesses as well as marketers have their eyes on in terms of factors that will hurt and help their campaign in the coming years?

Leigh: When I think about this question, it is interesting that the same dynamics that have been fueling marketing for a century stand true today – know your audience.  Figure out what they need.  Find a way to get it to them in an excellent way that super serves them.  That is the key to success in marketing and product strategy, and that hasn’t changed.

With the advent of the internet and social media, we have the best chance to talk to our audience 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.  The key is to find the most effective way to communicate to them and give them an experience that draws them near to you. Additionally, it will be extremely important to create authentic partnerships that maximize audience relationships to your brand. We’ve been fortunate enough to do this with Hunter Hayes and numerous brands to break a Guinness World Record®, WME and Oprah’s Live the Life You Want Tour to create an award-winning technology that impacted the fans and drove brand engagement via social media, Pepsi distributors and today’s top country acts to create one-of-a-kind consumer promotions, and PixMob and the 1989 Tour to deliver new fan experiences to concert-goers and more.  Understanding your audience, finding out what channels they are tuned into and delivering appropriate, effective messages is the key to success in the future as it has been in the past.


Leigh HoltWith an impressive array of professional experience, Leigh Holt continually draws from her entertainment, sports, marketing and sponsorship backgrounds in her current role as founder & owner of maddjett. Based in Nashville, TN, the successful startup serves national entertainment, event and lifestyle clients while giving back to local nonprofits. When working with Leigh, partners find a strong focus on strategy. Leigh is unafraid to ask questions to best understand the culture of the business and the project at-hand. By pushing the envelope and building strong relationships, Leigh creates win-win scenarios for her clients and connections. An entrepreneur at heart, maddjett’s founder is never satisfied with a sub-par performance. She is most energized when developing an experience or “moment” that resonates in the consumer’s mind and drives revenue for her clients. 

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