A storyteller by nature, a fine arts painter by training, and a marketer by profession. That’s a startling combination to find in just one person.”


HIS Story

But perhaps it’s not so unpredictable that the person behind the successful global marketing campaign called “To a Life Less Ordinary” would be leading a life that is… well, not very ordinary.

And such a unique history does make for a fascinating story. The kind that Carmen d’Ascendis deeply appreciates: full of unexpected twists and turns, possible catastrophes, improbable victories, all leading to a creative resolution with a memorable message.

If he were telling the story, Carmen might start it out this way: “I grew up in New Jersey, the son of a used car salesman, and earned a BA degree in studio painting. Which inevitably led to work as a waiter, bartender, substitute teacher, and real estate agent. Naturally, those diverse adventures prepared me for my current position as Global Brand Director of Finland Vodka and Chambord at Brown-Forman. Such is life. Adaptability leads to success.”

Of course, one cannot omit from the narrative his 25 years as an organizationally cross-trained corporate athlete sailing the seven seas on behalf of Brown-Forman. He’s visited 64 countries and lived in eight cities on four continents. London, Tokyo, Sydney, New York, Amsterdam… Carmen d’Ascendis is truly a world citizen.”

In that role, he has learned many lessons worth passing along. Such as, “People are more alike than different. Yet we spend more time debating the differences.” Also, “Balancing the tension between global brand leadership and local marketing needs requires empathy and adaptability.” And, “The most gifted brand builders are also great storytellers. Telling the brand’s story provides context and meaning, which is something consumers seek.”

When practicing his craft, Carmen often takes to his feet. Literally. Long walks seem to inspire his imagination. As does making his legendary gnocchi. The subliminal brain simmers away, the ideas bubble up, a narrative slowly forms… and then there’s a story. One he’s likely to share with his colleagues.

Though he may choose instead to share it in his favorite location on the planet: the dinner table with his wife and children. That, too, is a perfect ending to a story.


A consummate student of art, 36 Views began as an homage to Japanese artist, Hokusai (1760–1849) who created a series of landscape prints depicting Mount Fuji from different locations and in various seasons and weather conditions (Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji). The series was produced from 1830 to 1832 when Hokusai was in his seventies and at the height of his career. The series is described as the artist's "indisputable color-print masterpiece."

In my interpretation, Brown-Forman's Old Forester water tower holds a similar perspective in Louisville Kentucky. Like Mount Fuji, the water tower is looming over the landscape with local significance to the culture and intertwining with the city's economic history before, during and after prohibition. By self-publishing the images as a continuous theme on Instagram, I have been able to engage my network of creatives and colleagues.



Dear Mr. d'Ascendis

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