Client Services Director
Events & Associations Director
Director of Finance
Senior Project Manager
Great leaders quietly motivate and inspire others to greatness. ~Marlene Byrne
For over 23 years, Marlene has led Celtic by defining a culture of integrity and passion for excellence. She ensures that clients develop a strong relationship with their Celtic team, and work in concert to use industry knowledge for marketing strategy. She inspires each Celt to generate ideas that work across integrated platforms, deliver sales, and advance brands. As a true hands-on leader, Marlene can often be found participating in creative and strategy brainstorm sessions.
Jim HeitzmanV.P. Advertising
Jim is a Big Picture kind of guy, focused on helping clients identify their strategic and creative relevance—as he has for hundreds of clients over his 25+ year career. He works closely to design results-oriented annual strategic plans. His hands-on leadership ensures strategic alignment among agency services.
Danielle VitogiannesDigital Director
Danielle leads the digital team to ideate and execute digital initiatives to deliver the optimal user experience. Her strengths lie in her passion for leading clients through major digital initiatives with transparency, delivering sound structure with elegant execution. Danielle has experience in multiple digital disciplines spanning enterprise content management systems, development methodologies, and UX/UI strategies.
Kurt MaloyCreative Director
Kurt's deft hand guides his team of copywriters, art directors and production designers like a symphony conductor, inspiring them to consistently produce award-winning work. His raison d'etre is to provide an open environment where artists can collaborate and create.
Blair CieckoPR/Social Director
PR/Social provides clients with multiple touch points to help each client define and communicate their unique story, identifying the best channels and tactics for reaching the target audience. In partnering with clients, Blair and her team employ authenticity in messaging, boldness in trying new things, and planning and discipline to ensure brand alignment through thick and thin.
Lee HillerichClient Services Director
Lee leads Celtic’s client services team with a “roll up your sleeves” attitude. He encourages new ideas and suggestions because "you never know what may lead to the next great initiative." Crafty with budgets of all sizes, Lee is focused on simplifying processes and maintaining open lines of communication. He provides guidance and leadership to his team to create strategic direction that is realistic and aligned with client goals and objectives.
Deb RyanEvents & Associations Director
Deb's team begins each event by developing a thorough understanding of its purpose: Will the group be celebrating something? Rewarding work well done? Rolling out a new idea? Or exhibiting their products or services? Once that's been established, the team is off and running, drawing on deep experience to plan and execute every detail. From space scouting to contract negotiations, program development to promotion, her team makes it all work seamlessly.
Mary JohnssonMedia Director
Drawing on 25+ years of experience, Mary creates tailor-made media plans, researching traditional and alternative media options to find the best mix for reaching client goals. Working with international, national and local clients spanning many industries, she has devoted her career to building relationships with media partners and negotiating exceptional value for all media buys.
Monica ZachackiDirector of Finance
Monica is responsible for managing all financial activities including budget tracking, accounting and payroll. She also oversees human resources functions for Celtic Chicago.
Bob BrunkSenior Project Manager
Bob oversees resources at the agency, planning, budgeting and documenting all aspects of in-house projects. He works to ensure the scope and direction of each project is on track and on schedule, and provides ongoing communication to the client team. Bob is also collaborating within the agency to strengthen the agency best-practices approach to project management and project workflow.
Q. Is there one piece of advice you’ve carried throughout your career?
A. The president from my first job told me to always remove my watch on vacation and return to work refreshed. “Eat when you are hungry. Sleep when you are tired.” It stuck with me.
Q. What is one document you always keep on your desk?
A. The updated company org chart is always on my desk. In managing the people and processes, I want everyone to know their role. The org chart keeps me focused on where we are while I plan where we’re going.
Q. How do you start your work day?
A. Coffee. And then email. But I love to sort work into piles on my desk and then work through them during the day.
Q. What things are most important to you?
A. Family, work and home. Choose the love of your life well, as it will drive how you create a family, and building a strong one is the single greatest accomplishment you can achieve. Second, love your job. You spend more time at work than you do at home. Lastly, have a good bed. You’ll spend almost a third of your life there and it needs to be a peaceful place you can rest.
Q. Does the agency do pro bono work?
A. We support organizations that the Celts are passionate about. My passion is NPH USA, an organization that supports orphanages in Central and South America. In fact, my family hosted a student from the El Salvador orphanage, named Samuel, as he studied English and attended college. www.nphusa.com
Q. How do you inspire new ideas?
A. Prior to a brainstorm, I like to assign a random task. Bring in an ad or color palette, find a new product or show a piece of art. The exercise gets us thinking and inspires a conversation.
Q. What do you like to do in your off time?
A. Much like managing clients at work, my off time is about managing the chaos of being surrounded by my girls - a wife, two daughters and our shepherd mix. Whether it’s softball, cross country or cheerleading, I am on the go. When we are in need of downtime, we travel.
Q. How do you approach yearly planning?
A. Find a moment in time to look back and dream forward. I like to get everyone in the room throwing out new ideas. Yearly planning is about documenting ideas and structuring a roadmap.
Q. What is quirkiest thing in your office?
A. I keep an apple on my desk in homage to my dad who was a high school principal. But I really enjoy how much it bothers Danielle as it begins to wrinkle. She’s such a perfectionist.
Q. What does it mean to work in sprints?
A. Scheduling in sprints gives my digital team succinct tasks and the client ongoing peeks at our progress. Daily standups keep us in close contact and drive us to achieve defined goals as we build digital projects.
Q. What is your favorite holiday?
A. I love St. Patrick’s Day because it’s my birthday and at Celtic, we get a half-day off every year. I’m pretty sure it’s because of me.
Q. Can anyone really keep up with all the changes in digital?
A. No. No one is the master of all things digital. It’s about being the best at what you and your team know, and partnering with those who have complementary knowledge.
Q. Does your digital career reflect in your home life?
A. Ironically, I am off the grid personally. Our house is wired but I am not. I spend my time connecting with my husband, daughter and dog at home.
Q. How do you work in so many different software environments for clients?
A. We start projects by pinpointing the key client team members in order to define the digital details and pull together technical requirements. The roadmap for success lies in planning for the unique landscape of each client.
Q. Where was the craziest place you had a new idea?
A. In line at the DMV. Talk about a great place to ponder all kinds of consumers.
Q. How do you know when you’ve hit the right idea?
A. When a client starts to talk about a concept in the future or in their marketplace, I know we’ve hit a nerve. Our best day is when the concepts are so good, they want to choose them all.
Q. Why is your face on a rock on your desk?
A. The staff presented it to me at a “milestone” birthday. Now I consider it a landmark – but they think I am.
Q. How do you inspire people?
A. I share myself as much as possible. I don’t like walls or preconceived notions of how people create. I give them a place to think and try not to create for them. “What if we …” is the best start to any question.
Q. Do you personally love social media?
A. Being busy with family and work makes face-to-face time with friends more challenging. My personal social accounts allow me stay in touch and to reconnect with people from my past. Having three boys and two cats, I‘m never at a loss for funny content.
Q. How has public relations changed?
A. With the advent of online content, everything is instantaneous. Companies need to be ready to react and lead the way for online discussions, both good and bad.
Q. Is content all about the written word?
A. Although well-crafted word choice is vital for SEO, adding video allows us to enhance the experience and showcase companies in new ways. Consider content a conversation with your audience that never stops.
Q. How do you unplug?
A. I love to get lost in a good book, but camping with our family is my real downtime. We love to relax in the mountains of Colorado without access to the online world. After a few days, however, I start to miss my connectivity.
Q. How do you keep up with the changes in social media?
A. Knowing that tomorrow will never look like it does today keeps my team open to what’s next. We work to trial new technology and see how it applies to client goals. Delivery must be poignant to really work.
Q. Are you critical of other consumer advertising?
A. I’m drawn to campaigns with a concise message. I want the imagery and copy to peak my curiosity. Find that one single idea and then surprise the audience with new and unexpected ways to deliver it.
Q. How do you ideate?
A. Ideas come to me at different moments. I love to talk with my girls - ages three and five - because simple words make brands powerful. Sometimes great ideas come from something right in front of me.
Q. What makes a great account team?
A. A well-rounded group with experience in various areas. Having diversified knowledge and working with an optimistic outlook is essential. Lastly, have fun and celebrate the successes on a daily basis.
Q. What is your favorite movie?
A. The Star Wars films are my definite “go-to.” They are timeless - the visual storytelling coupled with multiple subplots is right up my alley. I plan to use the underlying theme of good and evil with my kids – especially my newborn son.
Q. Why are events so important in marketing?
A. Events get clients face-to-face with target audiences. With so much screen time, connecting to a brand has never been more important. Tradeshows, guerilla marketing and meetings cut through the noise and create personal relationships that will last.
Q. Do you have travel tip or habit?
A. I leave money on the pillow for my hotel housekeeper every morning. Their work is sometimes forgotten. As a mother of three teenagers, I so appreciate someone cleaning up and leaving me fresh towels.
Q. What advice do you have for conference attendees?
A. Don’t be afraid about an odd request. Our team is wired to help and never fears any request. From finding a quiet room for a new mom or cooking up something for a crazy dietary need, we are ready. It’s what we do.
Q. Where is a favorite location for a conference?
A. I love New Orleans because when you step outside the energy and history are palpable. Attendees never want for interesting sites, food or shopping. And everything is so walkable. So bring your appetite and comfy shoes.
Q. How does your career migrate to your personal life?
A. I always love a good bargain. It stems from media buying because I negotiate all day. It’s in my DNA and I guess I have passed it on to my kids. My son just negotiated $20 off his new hockey equipment by bartering at the store.
Q. Is media buying all about finance?
A. No. Anyone can get an ad rate. I think the strongest media programs include valuable add-ons. I am always negotiating unique media extras. I want to be the best advocate for extending my clients' reach.
Q. How does media planning interact with content?
A. By matching the topics in the media placement to social content, we leverage individual conversations that supplement the ad campaign. It helps connect our message to topics trending in the marketplace.
Q. How do you work to break through the clutter?
A. Research is my inspiration. It’s how I understand the target audience and their interactions with the media. As individuals, we all have more stimuli than ever. Multi-media campaigns create an opportunity to see, hear and remember a message.
Q. What is your lucky number?
A. My favorite number is five because I have five members in my family. But I like all numbers – especially the ones with dollar signs in front of them.
Q. How is finance different in an ad agency?
A. Every client’s financial process is unique. I work with the accounting people behind the scenes and sometimes we never have the opportunity to meet in person. Communication is key to keeping the process seamless and convenient. Clients can be confident that our accounting team will get it right.
Q. What is one thing you love about Celtic?
A. My team isn’t in on the day-to-day creative process. I love Celtic’s monthly get-togethers so we can see the work that is connected to projects. It’s our chance to peek over the shoulder of the agency.
Q. How does your job fit in the organization structure?
A. I’m the hub between our client relationship group and our creative, digital and strategic teams, ensuring that projects are properly scoped, resourced and scheduled. If I do those things well, everyone else can focus even more on the project as well as the client.
Q. Do you ever take risks?
A. In college I photographed people bungie jumping off a hot air balloon for a magazine feature article. They offered me a free jump and I accepted…and it was awesome!
Q. How do you know if a project was successful?
A. A truly successful project is delivered on time, on budget and in scope. That said, none of that matters if the client is not happy with the results. Happy client equals success.
Q. Why do you have an ice ax hanging in your family room?
A. I climbed Mount Rainier in Washington and Mt. Shasta in California between 2005 and 2007. My trusty ice ax, lovingly named Butkus, was literally by my side for both successful summits.