Switch’s mobile department (mobile, as in wheels, not phones) is home to countless ongoing activations for clients ranging from healthcare software to snacking chocolate. Stafford Warneke, Director of Mobile Operations at Switch, is at the helm, leading teams internally and on the field to bring meaningful experiences to life.


How long have you been with Switch?

This is my second tour with Switch. I was here for a little over four years, from 1996 to 2000. And then I came back in 2006, so I’m approaching a total of 14 years.

What current clients/projects are you involved with?

I work on anything that is field-based, so that ranges from local sampling programs to national tours, and I touch nearly every aspect – even some of the builds. I enjoy working with clients across a wide spectrum of industries, from Anheuser-Busch (which I worked on when I was here on my first tour) to clients like Bosch and even ClinicalKey. They all approach field marketing a little bit differently.

How did you first get involved in this industry?

It’s a funny story. I interviewed at Busch Creative Services and accepted a position, but I didn’t know exactly what I was signing up for. I showed up on my first day in a sports jacket thinking I would be working at a desk. Instead they wanted me in the field, so I was sent home to change clothes. Once I returned, I was told to start studying for a test to receive my Class A CDL – I would be driving a semi-trailer truck.

Back in the day, the only companies activating in the field were cigarette and beer companies at NASCAR races. That was when we were working with Busch quite a bit, as the brand sponsored what is now the Xfinity Series. In addition to sampling Busch, we had a racing simulator that sat 16 people in a huge pod, and they could virtually experience driving with Dale Earnhart.

What about your personal background (education, hobbies, interests) helps to inspire/enhance your professional life?

I love traveling and playing golf when I get the chance, but my main hobbies revolve around my kids – particularly helping coach their soccer, baseball and basketball teams. Having kids put things into perspective for me, even in terms of what we do in experiential marketing. Switch has programs activated in hundreds of markets; good things and bad things are bound to happen. What’s important is that we find a solution to a problem and we put a plan in place to prevent it from happening again.

Is there any project in particular you would consider a “breakthrough?”

Right after my first tour with Busch Creative Services, I was working at a smaller agency. I went from activating and managing programs in the field to managing from the office. It was less of a breakthrough project and more of a breakthrough in perspective. Managing the moving parts from afar – all the granular details – was a very different experience. Fortunately, my experiences in the field enabled me to understand the daily grind and what was needed from me to have a successful activation and happy, healthy field team. Understanding this whole industry from a different side was the breakthrough for me.

What are the current challenges you’re facing in the industry today?

Every client wants it bigger, better, faster … and cheaper. That’s the nature of the industry, though, and it keeps the landscape competitive and exciting. What’s great about the “experience” side of marketing is that there are no barriers to entry. While it used to be only tangible CPG brands that were drawn to experiential work, now there’s no “right” kind of brand for a meaningful experience. The fun part is finding how you can effectively take a service-based product into the field. Or creating an experience for a B2B organization. There’s also always a challenge in finding those clients, but we do a great job of retaining clients and growing with them.

Bonus Question (optional): If you had to spend the next 10 years stranded on a deserted island, what music album, book or movie would you choose to bring with you?

This question says a lot about you. Hmmm. If I had to pick one album to listen to, it would probably be something from The Avett Brothers or Mumford and Sons. We recently went as a family to an Avett Bros concert recently and had a lot of fun, so I’ll go with that. It’s one we all know and love.

Get in touch with Stafford at StaffordW@theswitch.us.