Connecting the Dots

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Why Brands Suck at Positioning Themselves

FoxFuel did some therapy recently and we were confronted with a truth we weren’t terribly excited to face. While agencies pride themselves on their ability to strategically and creatively guide their clients to strong positioning, we do a pretty poor job of positioning ourselves uniquely. In our journey of self-discovery, we got to thinking about the mishaps that are most common when it comes to brand positioning.

Now there are some things that are a bit unique to agencies that we’ll get into in a later post, but we thought we’d start with a case study that points out three key mishaps we often see among brands today.


What Razors Can Tell Us About Positioning

From 2010 to 2016, Gillette’s market share fell from 70% to 54%, and in 2017 they had to slash their prices by 20%. Why? Well, there are a few contributing factors but we’d be remiss not to mention the little 5-year-old company who P&G (Gillette’s parent company) bought for a casual $1 billion last year. Dollar Shave Club (DSC) launched in 2011 selling razors for just $1 a pop and took over the market doing it.

So how does a startup become a billion dollar company in just 5 years while the brand that led the razor industry for decades spirals downward? We have a few ideas.



Prioritizing The Product

One common issue we see is the tendency to focus on the product over the brand. The messaging comes in hot and heavy, bombarding the consumer with facts and features they see no value in.

Gillette is a great example. Just a quick glance at their packaging tells you that they lack focus on what the consumer actually values. Closer shave, less irritation, raindrops on blue strips, Turbo cutting blades (whatever the hell that means), and oh my goodness, you can shave 10 times and still have a “comfortable shave” can you believe it?!

DSC takes a very different approach, keeping packaging and presentation incredibly simple and focused on what they know their audience will find valuable. Not to mention their use of humor which we’re always big fans of.




Missing The Market

Gillette’s success historically laid with an audience that valued a close, clean shave. Pops took pride in the ritual of his morning shave and a baby-smooth jawline. And the leading razor company had great success with that audience for a time. But in case you haven’t been around anyone under the age of 60 lately, big and burly is in, which means Gillette’s message of close and clean is falling on deaf hairy ears.

Another angle Gillette is still hammering away at is the idea that a razor sets a man apart. From Pee Wee Reese in the 1950s to Roger Federer in 2012, they’ve positioned Gillette as the razor for the elite man. Their most recent campaign goes as far as positioning them as the brand for superheroes.



That commercial has around just under 133k views on YouTube, the superhero commercial 110k. DSC’s commercial with practically no budget or media spend? Over 25 million views.



What makes this commercial so incredibly successful despite little to no budget? They know their market and they develop content accordingly. It’s relatable to the average dude and it not only cuts through the bullshit, it calls it out, using transparency, simplicity, and humor to engage its primary audience. It’s a resounding reminder that media dollars can only carry you so far. Content holds the true power.


Content Is Still King

Defining and influencing the public perception of your brand is not an easy feat. You have to know who you’re talking to, which likely means doing some research into your audience and their decision process, and then developing content that effectively engages them.

Gillette’s positioning hasn’t truly evolved since the 1950s. They’ve repurposed the same chapter in their story over and over again and readers are bored with it. DSC succeeded, not only because the content was fresh and new, but because it stepped into the user’s story, giving purpose and character to something that’s already a regular part of their narrative.

So for any brand, three solid steps toward stronger positioning are knowing and committing to your true value, using research to know and understand your audience, and being bold enough to claim a role in their story through great content.

Lucky for you, FoxFuel’s got some great experience in all three for our clients. Still working on ourselves, but that’s a story for another post.


Colton loves 2 things:

1. Buying people coffee to talk about their problems.
2. Talking about branding.

If you want to do both or either, shoot us an email:


Nice to Meet You: Ashley Hillig

Role at FoxFuel:
Account Executive



What’s Your Favorite…

Mode of transportation?

Happy place in Nashville?
Walking Germantown with my pup.

Technology-free activity?

Sport to watch?
Broncos football!

Thing right now?
The cold weather hitting Nashville.

Dance move?
The “Ashley”… prepare yourself.

All About Ashley

What is the most frustrating question, comment, or feedback you get related to work?
I love learning, discovering, and improving so it’s frustrating to be told “just keep doing what you’re doing.”

What is something someone would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a scuba diver but have an irrational fear of eels.

What’s the greatest bit of advice a parent or mentor has given you?
A mentor once introduced me to the quote, “Whatever happens, I want to be self-respecting and conscience-free.”

What’s one thing Nashville should adopt from your previous home, Denver?
An MLB team or less humidity. I’ll take either!

If you could host a talk show, who would be your first guest?
Chris Janson.

What’s your favorite place you’ve traveled?
Nashville, so I moved here!

Would you rather know the history of every object you touched or be able to talk to animals?
Definitely to be able to talk to animals.

Our Halloween Costumes are Pretty Sketchy

Colton Mulligan: CEO & Wolfman




Michael Hutzel: CCO & Frankenstein




Joe Boettcher: CTO & Mummy




Rachel Figley: Account Supervisor & Bride of Frankenstein




Travis Wilson: Developer & Dracula




Kelsey Greer: Graphic Designer & Witch




Mary Ellen Adkins: Developer & Maleficent




Amelia Handshoe: Account Executive & Pirate




Drew Beamer: Art Director & Skeleton




Mason Schmitt: Intern & Pumpkin




Ian Kendall: Developer & Zombie




Ashley Hillig: Account Executive & Clown




Booooo to Costume Procrastination

It’s spooky late to be deciding what you’ll be for Halloween, so stop being a little witch and get your tricks together. We’re here to lend a hand and we’re dead serious when we say these are some wicked good costume puns…


Brush with Death



Grapes of Wrath



Couch Potato



Formal Apology



Identity Theft



Holy Guacamole & Holy Cow



Ginger Bread Man



Snakes on a Plane



The Cloud



Iron Chef



French Kiss



Pot Heads


Paid Internship: Join the Skulk (Group of Foxes)


We’re looking for a Spring 2018 intern!

We believe creativity is best when it is simple, honest, and based on strategy. Through collaboration with our client’s experience and our marketing expertise, we make relevant and powerful connections with an intended audience.

As a FoxFuel intern, you’ll have insight into all the inner workings of a fast-paced, small agency. We do everything from branding to marketing strategy to web development. We value hard work, great ideas, and team spirit. If you’re looking to gain experience, make connections, and aren’t above wiping down the conference table and making coffee, a FoxFuel Creative internship is for you.


  • Accepting applications: Third week in October – first week in December
  • Decision: Third week in December
  • Internship: Third week in January – first week in May
    (12 hours/week, 12-week internship)

Position Details:

  • Well-rounded with great attitude
  • Will serve as general agency intern, reporting to all departments, but able to utilize specialized skill set
  • There will be a formal review process at 3 weeks in which the internship may be terminated should the intern fail to meet requirements and expressed expectations
  • Paid internship, class credit available

To apply, send your resume, cover letter, portfolio (if applicable), and a short video to Your video should answer the following questions:

  1. What are your career goals?
  2. What are you good at professionally?
  3. What do you suck at professionally?
  4. Why do you want to intern at FoxFuel?

And make sure you read this blog about how to be a great intern.

Nice to Meet You: Ian Kendall

Role at FoxFuel:



What’s Your Favorite…

Show on Netflix?
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: they’re narcissistic, idiotic, energetic, and full of terrible ideas. They remind me of my friends!

Happy place in Nashville?
Any taco truck, where you will find me eating a $5 burrito doused in hot sauce and sippin’ on sweet Horchata.

80’s hair band?
Def Leppard! Sure they’re as old as my parents but I’ve still seen ‘em 3 times! (Not even halfway joking)

Book that describes your life?
Idealistic answer: On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Realistic answer: Web Design for Dummies

My ‘60s reissue Sunburst Les Paul

Fictional character?
Jim from The Office

All About Ian

Where were you born?
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

What is the most frustrating question, comment, or feedback you get related to work?
“Oh, you know how to code? Will you hack my neighbor’s WiFi?”

What was the first thing you failed at?
Adding on to my 1-hit-streak in my first (and only) season of little league baseball. It was almost one for the record books.

If you could do anything other than advertising, what would it be?
I’d make a super-trill rapper.

What is the best memory you had from your childhood?
Playing Green Day covers at my 5th grade talent show. I think the fame went to my head a little bit.

Who’s the person in your life you look up to the most?
The man taking my order from inside the taco truck.

What do you look forward to the most every day?
If I’m being good, the road ahead of me. If I’m not, my cell phone.

Would you rather only listen to Nickelback songs or reread all 56 pages of iTunes’ terms and conditions, every day for the rest of your life.
NICKELBACK ALL DAY. C’mon, there are some decent cuts from the older years. I don’t celebrate their entire catalog, just the pre-2005 stuff!

Nice to Meet You: Mason Schmitt

Role at FoxFuel:



What’s Your Favorite…

Show on Netflix?
Whatever is playing in the background while I get distracted by the internet.

Happy place in Nashville?
FoxFuel Creative and High Garden Tea

Favorite beer?
Hopslam Ale, Bells Brewery

80’s hair band?
I was born in 1996.

Book that describes your life?
I’m more of a podcast kind of girl. You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes is my favorite.

Fictional character?
Sigourney Weaver

All About Mason

Where were you born?
In a hospital.

What is the most frustrating question, comment, or feedback you get related to work?
“Don’t worry about it.” Too late boss. Too late.

If you could do anything other than advertising, what would it be?
Run my own small family farm.

What is an embarrassing memory you had from your childhood?
One time, at tennis camp, all the big kids were hopping the fence to go to the snack shack. I wanted to hang with the big kids so I had to hop the fence too. I got to the top of the fence then fell onto the ground, yet my shorts remained on the fence having ripped clean off of my body. The big kids were not sympathetic.

Who’s the person in your life you look up to the most?
My best friend Nic. He’s pretty tall (He’s also incredibly hardworking and creative.).

What do you look forward to the most every day?
My evening phone call with Tom Hanks.

How did you get so awesome?
That’s classified.

Help Wanted: Seeking Mad Word Skills

FoxFuel is looking for a copywriter to join our creative team. Candidate needs to be collaborative and quick to interpret clients’ needs into persuasive ideas. Must be a self-starter who has an excellent understanding of English grammar and usage, deep knowledge of the AP style, and the ability to write and speak clearly, concisely, and persuasively.

At least three years of agency experience is a huge plus.

Typical responsibilities include:

  • interpreting account briefs
  • conceptualizing campaigns, ads and ideas with creative team
  • researching clients, their competitors, and the target audience
  • producing original, clear, and credible ideas/messages/scripts, and presenting these to clients and colleagues
  • liaising with clients and colleagues, and project teams to consider marketing requirements
  • updating and amending campaigns according to feedback
  • writing reports, proposals, scripts, blogs and social media content

To apply, send your resume and your best work to

Seeking an Account Executive

Who We Are

We believe creativity is best when it is simple, honest and based on strategy. Through collaboration with our client’s experience and our marketing expertise, we guide solutions between sophistication and rebellion.

Who You Are

You are incredibly detail-oriented. We always know that when we ask something of you, it will be done and done well. You build strong relationships with clients and effectively manage projects from concept to completion. You’re also good at hounding people until they deliver what they promise in a way that doesn’t make them hate you. The chosen candidate will thrive in a fast-paced environment, be driven, ambitious, passionate, self-starting, and all those other buzz words on job listings. (But really, it’s a very fast-paced environment, so you have to be all those words.)

You Definitely Have

  • Bachelor’s degree in marketing, management, business or related field
  • Almost-annoying (but not quite) attention to detail
  • Ability to write and communicate in a way that makes people feel calm and supported when you’re telling them that they’re wrong and you’re right
  • 2-4 years of account experience at an agency or an impressive history working in a company’s marketing department
  • Strong ability to respond and adapt to unexpected change
  • Ability to take notes that make everyone really happy you’re around
  • The passion and ability to form long-term, close relationships with clients

You Probably Have

  • Experience writing strategic marketing plans
  • Preternatural fear of missing a deadline for a client
  • Experience as the main liaison between an agency and its clients
  • Confidence in driving projects forward and pressing coworkers forward to deliver projects on time
  • Working knowledge of Google Analytics, SEO best practices, modern user experience standards
  • Ability to critically evaluate a client’s needs to proactively research and present solutions
  • Flexibility to work occasional nights or weekends
  • Love for keeping up with the latest trends and tools in marketing, social media, and technology
  • Great joke at the ready
  • Solid go-to Karaoke song

What You’ll Do

  • Own and manage clients that are entrusted to you
  • Field and manage projects to meet expectations and timelines
  • Coordinate with vendors and media to craft strategic campaigns and ship programs on or ahead of deadline
  • Manage invoicing and budgets for assigned clients
  • Build out proposals and presentation decks for client pitches
  • Present creative work to the client for feedback and approval
  • Prepare reports on campaign effectiveness and budget progress
  • Attend networking events to establish new client relationships and potential partners
  • Certain operational tasks and errands as requested – we’re a small team, we all share the responsibility of the “little things”
  • Take the fox on walks (we don’t have a fox, but if we did, you’d have to walk it)

To apply to be an Account Executive, send your resume, cover letter, and something funny to

BONUS (because we’re like the cool professors you had in college):

If you feel so inclined, you can submit a video with your resume to give us a little sneak peek at your personality. In that video, answer these 4 questions:

1. What are your career goals as they currently stand? No pressure, most of us don’t know what we want to be when we grow up either.

2. What is your greatest strength in a professional setting? Aka, what do you offer that no one else can?

3. What is your greatest weakness in a professional setting? Aka, what’s that thing that you have to rely on your team for?

4. Why do you want to work at FoxFuel? We don’t actually have a live fox, so if that’s your reason, we probably won’t work out.

Good luck! Hope to see you around the office soon.


A Big Life Step For FoxFuel


Fast-growing marketing agency strikes deal for SoBro building

Jul 20, 2017, 2:31pm CDT

For the owners of a fast-growing marketing agency, a commercial shoot next week with Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has crystallized why the company is expanding yet again — this time into a high-profile part of downtown.

Read the rest of this article in the Nashville Business Journal.