EDGE North Carolina native heads marketing experts VaynerMedia's Chattanooga office

EDGE North Carolina native heads marketing experts VaynerMedia's Chattanooga office

Young Guns: Mickey Cloud

November 1st, 2017 by Dave Flessner in EDGE

Mickey Cloud heads VaynerMedia's Chattanooga office.

Photo by Erin O. Smith

About Mickey Cloud

* Job: Senior vice president and head of the Chattanooga office at VaynerMedia

* Career: He previously worked for StrawberryFrog, Deep Focus and Publicis Modem & Dialog in New York

* Age: 32

* Education: Commerce and finance degree at the University of Virginia

* Local boards: Member of the board of directors for the Enterprise Center and the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce

* Personal: He and his wife, Amy, the alumni director at the McCallie School, live in North Chattanooga

Growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina, Mickey Cloud wanted to be a sports writer. But after studying business and finance at the University of Virginia, Cloud said his story-telling interest combined with his intrigue about the power of commercial brands to entice him into the advertising business. As one who grew up as Facebook became a dominant social media force, Cloud spent his early years in advertising in Manhattan as a digital consultant to conventional ad agencies.

"I feel like we're living in a time of transition like when TV overtook radio," Cloud says of the way in which smart phones are replacing television as the primary source of attention and entertainment for most consumers.

But at a number of New York agencies where he worked, digital or social media was regarded as a supplement or extra to the what agencies still saw as the big driver in brand recognition, the 30-second TV commercial.

"The agencies then were still treating social and digital media as the sprinkles, not as the batter," Cloud recalls.

So in 2011, Cloud jumped at the chance to join Gary Vaynerchuk in a company then devoted entirely to social media. Although Vaynerchuk's marketing business, VaynerMedia, has grown to become a full service agencies around the globe, it remains a pioneer in how to use social media platforms to promote a product or business.

VaynerMedia has grown to about 800 employees with major offices in New York City, Los Angeles and London to serve many of its Fortune 500 companies. In 2015, two years after he first came to Chattanooga to speak and was captivated by the city, Vaynerchuk decided to open an office in Chattanooga — away from the coasts and the big city perspective.

Cloud, who had told Vaynerchuk in 2011 he didn't want to stay in New York City forever, jumped at the chance to lead the satellite office in the Loveman's building in downtown Chattanooga. Lamp Post Properties, which owns the building, gave VaynerMedia free rent for a year to help entice the 20-employee office to locate in Chattanooga to serve its growing corporate clientele in the Southeast.

In New York, Cloud headed a strategy team and worked a lot on business and staff development as the company grew. So he was ready to staff up a new office in the South, closer to where Cloud and his wife Amy, who grew up near Norfolk, Virginia, have found to be more comfortable.

Since moving to Chattanooga, VaynerMedia has picked up the parent company of Chattem, Sanofi Co., along with growing business with clients such as Ruby Tuesday, Stainmaster and Georgia Pacific. VaynerMedia has its client services account team and the creative team in Chattanooga, but the New York office handles video production and media buying.

"We've also been embraced by this community and seen the public-private partnerships that are working to help businesses grow and create a real entrepreneurial vibe in this city," Cloud says. "It kind of feels like a playground where the city is willing to embrace experiments and that's really exceeded our expectations."