Brad Zeifman, Co-Founder

Providing clients with integrated services in-house has become a key differentiator for top marcomms agencies, a practice that SHADOW founder Brad Zeifman put into place early on. We spoke with him to learn how he and his partners founded their agency, and what they’ve done to take their company to the top over the past 13+ years. Get a glimpse into the ongoings of their NYC and LA offices, plus what the company’s been up to of late.

What does SHADOW do?

SHADOW is a creative marketing and communications agency with integrated disciplines across media relations, influencer marketing, experiential and event production, social media management and content development.

Using these services, we shape insights and ideas into stories, animate stories into moments and engineer moments into movements. We are also connectors – we create inter-client synergies to maximize opportunity as well as leverage industry relationships for introductions, partnerships, business development and more.

With a robust portfolio of brand campaigns, cross-categorical experience, and a deep rolodex of industry relationships, SHADOW has captured the loyalty of some of the world’s most prestigious companies, including luxury and lifestyle brands, retailers, tech start-ups, publishers, personalities, non-profit organizations and hospitality groups.

How does the agency differentiate itself in the field?

Like our manifesto states, SHADOWs are inseparable extensions of our partners and masters of projecting what we want the world to see. We are strategic thinkers and believe every great piece of work has the SHADOW ISMM — it starts with an insight or idea; we shape these ideas into stories; we animate stories into moments, and engineer moments into movements that live in many forms. We cast culture.

Having integrated services (media relations, influencer marketing, social media content creation, events, experiential and creative) in-house allows longstanding and new clients the opportunity to streamline their marketing communication efforts for extra efficiency. At SHADOW, every client account has a Partner or Executive Team member involved in every aspect of the account - day-to-day activity, emails, weekly calls, brainstorms and more.

We believe honesty and transparency are the keys to success and long-term client-agency relationships. Our dedication to cultivating this kind of partner relationship has led to many of SHADOW’s long standing client relationships – some even for 13+ years of the agency’s lifetime.

How did you come to start the agency with Lisette, Michelle and Liza?

SHADOW was officially born after many conversations following a night in Las Vegas for the NBA All Star Game events for clients. Lisette and I were at a Blackjack table and talked about the void in the PR industry at the time and the type of agency we envisioned creating together with Michelle Davidson Sokoloff and Liza Suloti, our partners. From there, the rest was history!  

Did you have any mentors or people who inspired you in your early career?

Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to have several incredible mentors throughout my life. Each of these phenomenal mentors provided meaningful insight and long-lasting, valuable tools at different phases of my professional development that have carried over to other elements of my life.

David Posternack was my first mentor. David, who was an EVP at Rubenstein PR, not only gave me the chance of a lifetime, but he helped me find my voice. He taught me to constantly step outside my comfort zone, to always think differently and, most importantly, to never take no for an answer. He shared that it is important to look back on a situation and understand what worked, what didn’t and what could be better next time. His message “persistence breaks resistance” has been a lesson that I constantly pass on to others. David’s wisdom changed my life, it helped me fall in love with this profession.

Catherine McKenzie, a producer at WABC at the time, was also a mentor. Very early on, she taught me not to think like a publicist and instead how to think like a television producer. She taught me that for every “no'' you're one step closer to a “yes”. This process will help you improve your technique and figure out what is missing that will appeal to the end viewer. It’s through these lessons that I've had incredible success booking national and location television segments consistently.

Finally, my Dad has been a mentor for my entire life. He taught me to never be afraid of failure, to be humble yet confident and to dream exponentially and to make these dreams into tangible reality by working hard and staying true to my values.

I feel incredibly blessed to have had such incredible mentors – and there have been many more – who have helped me find my way in my career. At this time in my career, I continue to apply all the lessons they’ve all taught me. I am also committed to do like my mentors have done and pay it forward.

Are there any changes brought about by the pandemic that you think will become long-lasting industry trends?

I see a number of lasting changes from the pandemic and the fact that it forced us to be disruptive, think differently and service our clients differently. At SHADOW, we have always placed emphasis on relationships, and this past year, brought the importance of that even more into focus. With so much uncertainty, our clients needed us to be an extension of their businesses and service them even more holistically. Unlocking our inner creativity, we sought common purpose and solidarity which came to life through ideas we produced for clients like the Webby nominated #AerieREALPositivity Challenge which was just as much about finding the positive moments in life as it was the brand’s inherent message.

Looking ahead, I think traditional work lifestyles will permanently change. Work from home will continue to benefit employees and employers alike, providing the benefits of additional time at home. Active office spaces with multiple people sharing space will be reconsidered and staggered work-shifts will become the new normal.

What are some of your current projects you’re excited about?

Our Spirits, CPG and Luxury Divisions are nonstop. We’ve recently welcomed Bentley into the SHADOW family, launched Belvedere’s Organic Infusions and X by Glenmorangie and are seeing some of our existing clients grow incredibly, including Welly expanding into new categories and retail accounts as well as 1 Hotels coming back online and opening new properties in Toronto, Nashville and more within the year. We have also kept our creative ideas flowing with the launch of Super Coffee’s positivity challenge.


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