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Jeff Charney, 2021 'Brand CMO of the Year,' launches MKHSTRY, an industry-disrupting marketing collective

Transformative, scalable, invitation-only model with leaner infrastructure and greater speed-to-market will modernize the 150+ year-old advertising agency/marketing industry

MKHSTRY’s 360-degree proprietary engagement approach will ensure ‘mutual bravery’ and galvanize company brand culture as the nation anticipates the new post-pandemic work environment

CLEVELAND, OHIO (March 30, 2022)—Jeff Charney, the 2021 “Ad AgeBrand CMO of the Year” and former CMO of top-tier brands including Progressive Insurance (NYSE:PGR), Aflac (NYSE:AFL), and QVC (NYSE:QVCC) today announced the launch of MKHSTRY – a new, disruptive marketing industry collective that will work with brave corporate and agency leaders to modernize existing, pre-pandemic marketing and advertising models to produce breakthrough results in today’s remote working environment.

“Our company name, MKHSTRY, is who we are and what we do. Quite simply, we make results-driven marketing historyfor relevant, game-changing leaders, companies and brands that are brave enough to share our vision,” Charney said. 

"The MKHSTRY collective is part an accelerator for industry changing ideas, part agency catalyst and part lifestyle brand.  In today’s rapidly changing hybrid marketing environment, clients should expect work that is nothing less than historic to impact their bottom line. That's exactly what our proprietary, scalable business model delivers.”

MKHSTRY is a ‘just-in-time’ CMO-designed business collective that had to be launched this year – 2022, Charney said. "Two years ago, before the worldwide pandemic, marketing firms and ad agencies were operating with essentially the same service model they'd used for more than 150 years (based on the model developed by 20-year-old Francis Ayer of the first advertising agency, N.W. Ayer & Son in 1869).  However, the pandemic rocked that existing system to its core.  MKHSTRY will work only with courageous corporate leaders, visionary agencies and firms to maximize remote work productivity and to modernize their aging traditional business models – helping them adapt to the new creator economy, blockchain, Web3 and Metaverse worlds.”

“My love for this industry is a key reason that compelled me to step away at the top of my game as a CMO and drive transformational change.”   Charney left Progressive on January 7th, 2022 after announcing his retirement from the company in March of 2021.

Driving the future of work with ‘on the map’ ideas/concepts developed quickly with minimal overhead and bureaucracy

MKHSTRY will focus on idea-first marketing – instead of the more traditional campaign-first marketing – to put individuals, companies and brands “firmly on the cultural map using the most current marketing technology and practices.”

As a collective, MKHSTRY can react with speed and urgency on behalf of its select, invitation- only clients. There will be no offices, walls or bureaucracy, and staff will be flexed based on individual client need, eliminating the heavy overhead normally associated with a traditional agency or consultancy. The only overhead is what’s inside each team members' head: valued ideas and concepts.  

Proprietary pre-engagement model provides individual and cultural bravery barometer

At the heart of the new company’s engagement model is its proprietary assessment  methodology, or MKHSTRY Index© (MHI). The index functions as a mutual pre-screen “bravery barometer” between MKHSTRY and potential clients to measure the willingness and ability of a leadership team to transcend everyday, traditional marketing, as well as its level of comfort with executing a broader, jointly discovered vision of what’s possible.

“MKHSTRY is not for the faint of heart," Charney said.

"It’s a 360-degree, holistic, model-changing approach that's exciting for the right folks and daunting for those less open to change. It buckles everyone up and prepares them for the journey.

“There’s never been a better time for corporations, brands and individuals to MKHSTRY than now. The creator economy and the Web3 world are here, without rules and gatekeepers to tilt the playing field. Brands – and their leaders – need to get out of their comfort zones to ‘take a walk on the wild side.’  They just need someone to hold their hand while walking, and that hand had better be cool, not clammy."

Brand + culture: Unifying forces for today's 'new way to work'

The model is not for everybody, because we understand that change isn’t in everyone’s DNA. In fact, more than 70% of all change programs in corporate America fail due to employee resistance,” (Source: McKinsey)Charney said. “While the seven letters of action in MKHSTRY must start at the top with brave CEOs, CMOs and agency presidents, the message of change must extend throughout entire organizations to the other most important seven-letter word: CULTURE.” 

Surveys show that remote or hybrid work is becoming a permanent fixture in the corporate landscape (Source: PWC). With the traditional brick-and-mortar workplace in decline, companies must find new ways to build their cultures that don't rely on buildings, offices, break rooms and social gatherings. Instead, brands and corporate cultures will be inspired and unified by the brand and ideas history-making ideas.

Code-cracking creative:  You’re ‘one idea away…’

Rather than focus on the more traditional day-to-day, campaign-by-campaign advertising model, MKHSTRY serves as an accelerator and partner for code-cracking creative ideas. It’s based on the simple belief that "creative” isn’t just a department within an agency – it’s a mindset that can be taught, promoted and institutionalized across an organization.

For over two decades, one of Charney’s core business tenets has been that you are “one idea away” from a breakthrough, and if you translate that into action the rest is…history.  MKHSTRY is that action.

Creating a pathway for all future “historians”;  grass roots market introduction

MKHSTRY is also a company committed to giving back.  A portion of MKHSTRY’s profits will go to Little Free Libraries, a nationwide initiative to bring books and education to local communities through small, personalized, pop-up libraries across the nation.   “We want to ensure that everyone has an equal chance to MKHSTRY and the Little Free Library book exchange provides that wonderful grass roots opportunity to create a pathway for future historians – young and old,” Charney added.

Also, as part of MKHSTRY’s unconventional launch strategy, the company will introduce a week-long “Reverse History” tour with in-person presentations at four separate cities and grass-roots locations.  More details can be found on the company’s website, mkhstry.com.

Leaders looking to MKHSTRY should reach out to Charney and his team in confidence at bravery@mkhstry.com.

About Jeff Charney

Charney has a track record of success at driving bottom-line results across three decades of work—with more than twenty years as an acting CMO for Progressive, Aflac, QVC and startup Homestore.com (parent of Realtor.com) now Move.com.  Over his career, Charney directed billions in spending across the marketing ecosystem. This gives him unparalleled insight into both external and internal agency models at high-velocity creative levels.

Throughout his career, he continually evolved his approach to anticipate and adapt to tectonic demographic, technological and cultural changes in real time. He is unique in that he applies a character-driven “network” approach to develop some of marketing’s longest-lasting brand icons. Charney is also an industry catalyst and pioneer in internal agency start-up and development.  As early as 2015, he drew the inside + outside agency ‘line in the sand’ at the American Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Masters of Marketing Conference opening keynote presentation. In March of 2021, he announced his intent to retire from Progressive and left the company on January 7th 2022.

Charney is also one of the nation’s most heralded CMOs. He and his teams have received nearly 100 national and international marketing and creative awards. Charney was named “Brand Genius: Top Marketer of the Year” by Adweek Magazine in 2011 and Ad Age’s “Brand CMO of the Year” in 2021.  He is a member of the board of directors of Investor’s Exchange (IEX), the highly transparent stock exchange based in New York; is on the advisory board of Brand Innovators, the largest professional network for marketers; and is a member-at- large of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA).

Charney holds a Bachelor of Arts degree (summa cum laude) in journalism from the University of South Carolina, where he serves on the dean's advisory board for the College of Information and Communications. He received a Master of Arts degree in journalism with highest honors from The Ohio State University. He also received distinguished alumni awards from both his undergraduate and graduate universities.

Leaders looking to MKHSTRY should reach out to Charney and his team in confidence at bravery@mkhstry.com.


MKHSTRY is the industry’s newest code-cracking virtual startup, proudly and purposefully established in March 2022. The transformative, vowel-starved company vision is...

“2 wrk w/th bst brvst, gmchngrs 2 cr8 mktg hstry, rslts.”

For non-consonant advocates, the MKHSTRY puzzle can be cleverly solved by adding vowels in the exact order learned in elementary school: A-E-I-O, with the U missing as a placeholder for its brave, invitation-only clients and agency partners.

The company’s proprietary "MKHSTRY Index©” is another pre-engagement differentiator serving as a barometer for client/employee bravery. A variation of the index has been used dating back to the FringeQuotient from early 2000, when Charney founded the creative boutique FringeVentures in Venice, California. The company will also launch an exclusive, purpose-driven apparel line – a hybrid of comfort and fashion designed for the remote work environment – later this year. A portion of those profits will go to Little Free Libraries, a nationwide book exchange program. 

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