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Running an experiential marketing agency in 2021 (featuring Dan Hirsch and Deb Lemon)

What has changed and what does the future look like?

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It’s no secret that the pandemic has disrupted the experiential marketing space. In-person events evaporated almost overnight. Even today, large-scale events haven’t resumed and the future remains uncertain, albeit more hopeful than a year ago.

So how did an experiential marketing agency with a long history of success handle the challenge? Dan Hirsch and Deb Lemon, co-CEOs of On Board Experiential (OBE), share their story in this episode.

From what they have done so far to how they see the future, Dan and Deb have lots of perspective to offer other agency leaders. Chip also explores how they make the co-CEO role work — something they both feel isn’t all that special, but it is something that many agencies have tried and struggled with before.

Additional Resources

More About the Guests

Dan Hirsch

Founder and CEO Dan Hirsch throws all his energy into upping OBE’s game. With decades in the entertainment and events industry, he’s got experience to build on. Hirsch started his career in the electrifying world of live music, representing hip-hop giants like Run DMC and Wu-Tang Clan. He simultaneously developed an affinity for the exploding action sports industry. In 1995, he combined his passions to create one of the first snowboarding and music festivals—and OBE was born. Since then, Hirsch has been challenging his teams to match his effort, bringing the same raw excitement that started his career to all of OBE’s experiential marketing campaigns. Today, the agency creates authentic and memorable moments for mega-brands like Facebook, Nike, JPMorgan Chase, Kellogg’s, Activision and Rothy’s. Proudly, OBE has been named to Event Marketer’s “IT” List for the past nine years (and counting), and Hirsch has been featured in the San Francisco Business Journal and honored as a member of Event Marketer’s Executive Roundtable. For four years, he served on the Board of Directors for Worldwide Partners (the biggest independent Marcom network on the planet). As for “down time”—what’s that?! To recharge, Hirsch jumps on surfboards, snowboards and mountain bikes. 

Deb Lemon

OBE CEO Deb Lemon brings straight talk and smart strategy to every client partnership. She believes in the long game: making sure brand experiences add up to real business impact. And she takes pride in building (and leading) the dream teams to do it, thanks to instincts she sharpened as both a marketer and a true brand believer. A former college athlete, Lemon started her career working at a Nike store. Why? Because the brand spoke to her. She never forgot the authenticity of that connection as she rose through the ranks at Nike (Sports Marketing, Events, Brand), where her crowning achievements included activations at four straight Olympic Games and the creation of the Nike Women’s Marathon. At OBE, Lemon now keeps Facebook, JPMorgan Chase, Activision, Tesla and, yes, Nike (she’s a lifer) connected to their brand communities. She welcomes every chance to build OBE’s “Work Hard, Play Harder” culture, and she never loses her curious sense of adventure. Did you know? There are only two U.S. states “Fun Debbie” hasn’t hit. Arkansas and Nebraska: get ready. 

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