All About Summer Craig
Craig Group, Partner
Summer Craig’s work experience could double as a history of digital advertising. From her beginnings at famed advertising agency GSD&M in Austin where Craig worked on the Southwestern Bell, now AT&T account — back when they used to advertise for the Yellow Pages, she went on to an early iteration of AOL and then on to a start-up called HomeAway.com, which now we know as VRBO.
“I have been in marketing and advertising for the entirety of my career,” Craig said. “I fell in love with the idea that targeted communication could impact human behavior as a freshman in Advertising 101 at the University of Texas at Austin and have been doing that ever since.”
Being on the digital team at a number of companies, for whom digital was brand new, allowed Craig to master the basics.
“I learned everything about how to build a media plan, how to build a budget, how to work with vendors – really all the nuts and bolts of the industry,” she said.
HomeAway was Craig’s entry into the realm of private equity backed, high growth companies and IPOs and it is an experience that has helped shape the company she owns today.
“We were basically building the plane while it was flying,” she said. “It was amazing to be part of a start-up culture and really understand what it means to be venture-backed. I got to know the founders and stayed with them all the way through the IPO.”
After a stint at ZenithOptimedia Group where Craig first met Craig Group Vice-President Tricia Eaton and managed the Gulf States Toyota account, she was hired by GST to come manage media in-house.
“It wasn’t just digital,” Craig said. “I was managing all aspects of marketing with a $100 million budget. GST is the absolute best in the business and I was honored to work with The Friedkin Group.”
The nearly 5-year experience was the catalyst for Craig to decide to start her own company in 2019.
“I wanted to help companies solve business problems through marketing,” she said. “At Gulf States Toyota we had all these agencies and they could do a number of different things but they weren’t thinking about our business as a whole.”
When Craig told the president of GST about her plans, not only did he wish her well – he hired her company. Since then, one thing has led to another. The Craig Group has clients in healthcare, the automotive industry, education and private equity, among others.
“We keep seeing doors open and we keep walking through them which is really exciting,” Craig said. “As strategic marketing consultants, we can come in and address problems in a number of different ways. All of us here have expertise in different areas. So our tool kit is deep.”
Although Craig has experience in a variety of industries, she believes that Craig Group can serve an even broader base.
“People can be so creative when they have diverse industry backgrounds,” she said. “We take what we’ve learned managing large, in-house marketing operations and apply it to other situations. The reason we serve multi-location businesses and private equity firms with eclectic portfolios so well is because we are familiar with their complexity. We’ve been in the trenches and understand the dynamics at play. There are very few, if any, mid-size consultancies that can do what we do.”
Craig is proud of the value that Craig Group creates, both for clients and its employees.
“We are doing this really fun, meaningful work,” she said. “I love the idea of creating something new that wasn’t there.”
Craig said that one of the company’s values is bringing your whole self to the enterprise.
“We all live very full lives,” she said.
For Odessa born, Ft. Bend County raised Craig, that includes her three young children and volunteer work at St. Martin’s Episcopal and Hunter Creek Elementary as well as The Children’s Fund and Impact100.