Imagine going from college football player to President of an NYC ad agency. That’s the story of this week’s podcast guest, Scott Gelber! Episode #26 of the Wild Business Growth podcast is HERE and features the President of Merkley+Partners, a full-service advertising agency in New York City. Listen to the episode, which was recorded at Merkley’s incredible NYC office, on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, and your other favorite audio platforms – subscribe and leave a 5-star review if Scott made you rethink your digital strategy!

What is the Wild Business Growth Podcast?

Hear how entrepreneurs & innovators unleash creativity to grow bigger and better businesses. Hear from an exciting new guest every single week who’s turning wild ideas into wild growth. Guests include startup founders, product inventors, social media influencers, and much more. Hosted by our digital marketing dude Max Branstetter – that’s me!

Episode #26: Scott Gelber – Digital Strategy Genius, President of Merkley+Partners

Scott Gelber, the President of Merkley+Partners, joins the show to share his journey from college football player to President of the NYC ad agency. I met Scott from my previous job as his team managed the media planning and buying for some of our campaigns. He’s great friends with my former coworker and Episode 2 guest, Brendan O’Marra, and Brendan is still one of Scott’s clients today! Brendan connected Scott and I and Scott was happy to host the interview at the incredible Merkley NYC office, complete with stunning skyline views and a beautiful rooftop (see pictures below). Scott is consistently known as one of the brightest digital marketing minds in the agency world. More importantly, he’s an amazingly nice, honest, and funny person. This episode covers everything from how to succeed in the agency world to how to evaluate hot digital trends. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • How Scott progressed from Media Planner to Chief Digital Officer to the first-ever President at Merkley
  • Why you need to focus on ideas instead of shiny objects
  • How today’s digital experts got where they are
  • Why you have to be OK with failing to lead in digital marketing
  • How to market effectively with a lower budget
  • What you can learn from presidential biographies
  • The best ad Scott has seen in the past 10-15 years
  • How many tacos Scott once ate in 8 minutes

Connect with Scott on Twitter at @sgelber1, on LinkedIn, and his blog at

Enjoy the show and don’t steal Scott’s seat on the train! Check out the show notes below for much more detail.

Show Notes

  • Intro
    • [0:33] Email me at for help starting and building your own podcast or with digital marketing
    • [0:44] Scott Gelber Twitter, LinkedIn, Blog
    • [0:54] Scott Merkley bio, Adweek article
    • [0:59] See below for our “Double Heisman” and the view from the Merkley office
    • [1:03] Wild Business Growth Podcast Episode #2: Brendan O’Marra – Digital Marketing Director at Bic
    • [1:26] Scotty 2 Hotty
    • [2:08] Scott’s background
    • [3:15] Why the advertising industry needs to get on the tech wave to survive

Scott Gelber Max Branstetter Wild Business Growth Podcast Hippo Direct Merkley+Partners Wild Business Growth Podcast Hippo Direct

  • Agency Life & Merkley+Partners
    • [3:30] How Scott got into digital marketing in the first place
    • [4:45] How today’s digital experts got where they are
    • [5:10] How Scott found the courage to go all in on digital marketing
    • [5:52] His start at Merkley as a Media Planner
    • [6:20] Chief Digital Officer
    • [6:32] What helped Scott ascend the ranks at Merkley
    • [8:02] How the agency space has changed over the years
    • [8:45] Why you need to focus on ideas instead of shiny objects
    • [9:15] Instagram, Snapchat
    • [9:45] How Scott has reinforced that the idea is essential
    • [11:15] His goals as President of Merkley
    • [12:10] The importance of PR
    • [13:25] At the time this was published, the Wild Business Growth podcast has been downloaded in 40 countries on 6 continents
    • [13:50] Scott’s favorite campaigns he’s led
    • [13:58] Mercedes-Benz, Merkley client page
    • [14:20] Zonnic Merkley client page
    • [14:45] NicoDerm, Nicorette
    • [16:30] What keeps Scott coming back to Merkley and agency life
    • [16:45] His crazy long commute
    • [17:25] Challenger brands
    • [18:20] Connect with Hippo Direct at for all your mailing list, email list, and digital marketing needs
  • Digital Strategy
  • Inspiration & Creativity: People, Hobbies, and Resources
  • Wild Business Shoutout of the Week
  • The Unusual: Pet Peeves, Quirks, and Weird Talents
    • [40:48] Scott’s biggest pet peeve
    • [41:20] “Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well” was said by Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield
    • [41:48] Scott’s quirks
    • [42:05] Long Island Rail Road (LIRR)
    • [42:12] The ideal train seat for commuters
    • [42:46] Scott’s weird talents
    • [43:18] How many tacos he once ate in 8 minutes
  • Rapid-Fire Q&A
    • [44:10] Scott’s favorite football memory, Brentwood, NY
    • [44:25] Al Bundy
    • [44:30] Scott’s favorite food
    • [44:40] Billy Joel
    • [45:02] Keens Steakhouse
    • [45:40] Shoutout my buddy Cam Stuart for the next question!
    • [45:50] The weirdest “would you rather” of all time
    • [46:50] Connect with Scott on Twitter at @sgelber1, on LinkedIn, and his blog at
    • [47:45] Scott’s final thoughts
    • [48:15] Why the more content channels the better
    • [48:50] Subscribe to the Wild Business Growth podcast and leave a 5-star review on iTunes / Apple Podcasts and more!
    • [49:05] Connect with Hippo Direct at and on Facebook, Twitter, InstagramLinkedIn, or YouTube
    • [49:10] Connect with me on InstagramTwitter, and LinkedIn at @MaxBranstetter
    • [49:20] Sign up for the Hippo Digest – your Weekly Recap of Creative Marketing
    • Theme music: Freestyle Percussion Magik – Jungle Tribe – provided by Jamendo

How do I start a podcast?

How’d you like a podcast of your own? Email me at with questions on any part of the podcasting process:

  • Podcast Planning
  • Podcast Production
  • Podcast Promotion
  • More!

We’re happy to start out with a free 30-minute consultation and provide some helpful resources that have been instrumental in getting the Wild Business Growth Podcast up and rolling and connecting with high-quality guests. We love making your podcast the best it can be. Let your podcast Run Wild!

Great Scott! That’s all for Episode #26.  Stay tuned for a new top notch guest every single Wednesday morning! Let us know any guests you’d like to see on the show and follow along for your favorite marketing tips, business tips, and podcasts on Facebook, Twitter, InstagramLinkedIn, or YouTube. Sign up for the Hippo Digest email newsletter for your Weekly Recap of Creative Marketing. Let your business Run Wild…and Bring on the Bongos!!