Headshot-1670201254-1520365115311.jpgI don’t know the answers. So I blog.

Some blog to build their brand or make a living. I do it for the same reason people do calisthenics or piano scales: for practice and conditioning. Blogging forces me away from my regular workload to look around, to seek out the new and innovative, and then to consider them from multiple angles to learn as much as possible. So I’m always learning new things, or at least trying to.

Here are three things about advertising and marketing I know to be true:

  1. All attention must be earned.
  2. Stories matter more than facts.
  3. Staying curious is critical.

We operate in the most distracted society in human history, one empowered by technology to avoid commercial messages. If your brand doesn’t recognize that, it will suffer. Data alone won’t protect brands–It might help get you to the right audience at the right time, but only ideas and creativity can earn the actions marketers need.

So I respect brands that focus on ideas and creativity. And a dollop of courage always helps as well.


Feel free to e-mail me here.

For an overview of my creative philosophy, watch this video. It’s lower quality because I shot it on the fly with an iPhone when a snowstorm interrupted my travel plans. Still, the truth remains.

9 thoughts on “About Dennis Ryan

  1. Julia Evans says:

    Hi Dennis,

    Are you open for questions should they come up later in the semester?

    Hopefully… yes!

    Thanks again,

  2. Steve Mahoney says:


    I have really enjoyed reading your daily blog, Collective-Thinking! And it reaffirms to me that you were born to do this. Of all the witty and funny people at ND, you could always crack me up with a hilarious take on something that was right in front of all of us. True comedic genius and essential for advertising. I have to agree with your question: Why did the jingles die? I have to admit that if I remembered half of the medical information on diseases as well as I remember “Who wears short shorts or Where’s the Beef? or It’s raisins that make Post Raisin Bran so wonderful!” I would be a much better doctor. There is something medical to reinforcing the message with music. It has to be processed and stored in different areas of the brain and linked – so it becomes a much more reinforced memory. It’s just like people that stutter – but when they sing, they don’t stutter. By incorporating those different areas of the brain, they can bypass the problem. It is curious why companies have seemed to move away from this powerful tool of reinforcement. I know that no matter how hard I try to purge my cerebral cortex, I can’t forget old Air Supply songs because of the excessive air play in South Bend. I guess that shows that even a terrible brand can be successfully ingrained if you flood the market or have crappy radio stations. Your amazing success is exciting to see, but to me it was inevitable. You were born to do this and the world of advertising is better because of your creative mind and sense of humor. Keep up the great work!


  3. Mary Beth Sammons says:

    Hi Dennis:
    The is a GREAT perspective on last Monday’s dedication at CtK. I was there too and you did a great job of capturing the essence of this special place of hope for so many.

    I am reaching out to you because I am a volunteer there – journalist and author, who has been trying to help Chris and his team surface their compelling story to gain media attention. We had a great moment in the limelight last June with spots on CBS Early Morning News, The Tribune, USA Today, and all the local TV News.. But there is so much more that needs to be done. I am trying to put together a volunteer marketing committee and am hoping you may be interested. Also, one cool project I am helping with is a writing project with the students who are capturing their stories through blogs in an innovative program started by their history teacher, Matt Monahan. There is so much here, and am hoping you may be interested in this. My email is marybethsammons@aol.com,
    Thanks, Mary Beth Sammons

  4. Patrick Kniesler says:

    Forgoing any explanation of who I am or why This matters to me:

    With our technological and social developments moving at Large Hadron Collider paces, is it possible we may return to a state of marketing where quality and accessibility (spatial, financial) becomes the only real way to gain customers? For the sake of my question please assume the economy stabilizes magically, small businesses gain back lost freedom, and either Judeo/Christian morals or magically perfected ethics totally permeate developed societies. This leaves us with an interesting interval of technological innovation; I wonder if this is enough to change the game from how it was socially before the turn of the last century.

    Having only recently come across your writings, the only article I can relate this to would be your reaction to the Consumer Reports findings on infomercial merchandise.

    I am quickly answering the question in my own head, but would very much like your opinion. Thank you in advance for not taking this too seriously ;]

    Patrick Kniesler

  5. Sarah Smith says:

    Dennis –

    What advice would you give to an 18-yr. old rising college freshman whose mother thinks advertising would be a great career fit for him? He’s leaning towards business, which is okay, but not really an area he’s passionate about/gifted in. Strong in the arts and English–much like you were in high school, as I recall.

    1. Dennis Ryan says:

      Well, from my perspective of this situation, I’d probably be more interested in hiring you. You’re the one who went out on the web looking into the subject, you’re the one who contacted me with an interesting question, you’re the one with the initiative. And without initiative, an advertising career will either be mercilessly short or pathetically, unrewarding long and uneventful.
      Advertising and marketing are terrific areas for people who like words and images and ideas–it’s business, obviously, but it’s ever-changing and interesting for those who like to search out new things. And there are jobs for people who really want them, even Arts & Letters majors. Thank God.

      Good luck!

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