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353: Narrative Economics with John Connors, Founder and CEO of Boathouse

In this episode, Alan and John discuss what Narrative Economics is, how it works, and why marketers may need to reevaluate their use of Brand Management theory. John tells us how Boathouse uses data and AI to empower brands to understand their true narrative and evaluate how it aligns with their desired narrative. Boathouse employs strategies like “newsjacking” and “socialjacking” to manage and leverage their client’s stories in a way that drives engagement and aligns with their goals and values.

John Connors has spent his entire career in the advertising industry and founded Boathouse in 2001 after serving as CEO of Zentropy Partners and being part of the McCann World Group Management team. At Boathouse, John and his team use Narrative Economics to help brands manage and leverage stories by overseeing both the strategy and execution.

 In this episode, you’ll learn: 

  • How Narrative Economics works in practice 
  • What Tesla and the Catholic Church narratives have in common
  • How Narrative Economics can help CMOs reestablish power 

 Key Highlights

  • [01:30] On the farm and off the grid
  • [02:50] The path to Boathouse
  • [04:00] Boathouse overview and national scaling plans
  • [08:15] What is Narrative Economics
  • [11:20] Remembering a conversation with Phil Kotler
  • [14:00] How Boathouse tested its tools before talking to clients
  • [16:20] Using AI to monitor what is catching on and what isn’t 
  • [18:25] Artificial Intelligence + Human Intelligence
  • [20:30] The lifecycle of a narrative
  • [22:30] Why Narrative Economics should matter to the CMO
  • [25:20] Use cases 
  • [27:00] A hard lesson that taught John what matters in life 
  • [28:20] Don’t chase other stars. Lean into your own strengths
  • [29:20] Think about why and how marketers embrace brand management
  • [30:00] Brands to watch
  • [31:30] Rethinking how marketers approach the c-suite

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