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For over 25 years, Robin Koval has specialized in getting brands out of the shadows and turning them into household names. The marketing strategist was the creative mind behind the daring “Yes, yes, yes!” Herbal Essences shampoo commercials. She is also responsible for the lovable Aflac duck whose quacking trademark blew him up to international stardom and grew Aflac insurance company into the U.S.’s largest supplemental insurance provider.

Robin was the CEO of Publicis Kaplan Thaler and the President of its predecessor - The Kaplan Thaler Group, one of the most reputable players on Madison Avenue. She grew Kaplan Thaler Group from a fledgling start-up in 1997 to a billion-dollar agency by working with Procter & Gamble, AFLAC, Continental Airlines, Pfizer, the American Red Cross, Coldwell Banker, Marshalls, Office Depot, Outback Steakhouse, Panasonic, Revlon, Trojan, and U.S. Bank. She has co-authored four best-selling books, the most recent of which is Grit to Great.

Robin is currently the CEO and President of Truth Initiative, the national public health foundation dedicated to achieving a culture where all youth and young adults reject tobacco. Since taking the reigns there, she has re-launched the organization’s award-winning and lifesaving truth® youth tobacco prevention campaign, named by Ad Age as one of the top campaigns of the century. The campaign has received numerous awards including 2015 Best Non-Profit Campaign of the Year from PR Week.

Robin's other non-profit and cause related work includes award winning programs for Girl Scouts, Underage Drinking Prevention, Make-a-Wish, Red Cross, and many others.

Full Profile

    Robin Koval has been a driving force in the advertising world for over 20 years. A marketing strategist and new products expert, her experience spans almost every category from beauty and beverages to distilled spirits and pharmaceuticals. Her successes include the daring “Yes, Yes, Yes” of Herbal Essences and the AFLAC duck quack heard round the world. Simply put, Robin helps marketers get noticed.

    Robin is the President of The Kaplan Thaler Group and is responsible for the general management of the agency, including client services and strategic and new business development. A founding member of the agency with Linda Kaplan Thaler, she has helped The Kaplan Thaler Group grow from a fledgling start-up to one billion dollars in billings.

    The Kaplan Thaler Group is consistently ranked by industry publications as one of the fastest-growing New York agencies and celebrated for its breakthrough creative and immediate results. Its clients include Wendy’s, U.S. Bank, Continental Airlines and Pfizer, as well as Procter and Gamble’s Dawn, Cascade and Swiffer brands.

    Robin is also a best-selling author. Her latest joint effort with Linda Kaplan Thaler is titled The Power of Small: Why Little Things Make All the Difference, (Doubleday 2009) debuted on the USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post bestseller lists and shows that in a big picture world, every detail counts. Her previous best-selling book, The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness (Doubleday 2006), was also coauthored with Linda Kaplan Thaler and demystified the notion that nice “guys” finish last. Following its debut, The Power of Nice was widely featured in the media on television programs like ABC’s Nightline, NBC’s The Today Show, and in print publications including Time, Business Week, Newsweek, Oprah′s O Magazine, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. Linda and Robin’s first book Bang! Getting Your Message Heard in a Noisy World, a savvy marketing book, was also a national best-seller.

    Robin earned a BFA from Syracuse University and an MBA from Baruch College.

    In August 2010, Robin was named one of the top 20 Amazing Women Entrepreneurs by Blogtrepreneur.com and received the Compass Award from the Women’s Leadership Exchange in November 2008 for her work in shifting the paradigm of how women are perceived as business leaders. Robin was honored in January 2007 with the prestigious Advertising Women of New York’s Working Mother of the Year Trailblazer Award. And in 2002, she was inducted into the YWCA’s Academy of Women Achievers. Robin has also served on the board of the Westchester Arts Council and is an adjunct professor at New York University.


Robin Koval Speaker Videos Back to top

Demo Video


Advertising and marketing genius, Robin Koval discusses how reducing complex topics to small memorable moments is the hallmark of a successful ad campaign. She relates how she and her partner were called upon to help a company in Georgia that had been spending millions of dollars on advertising for years with no return to show. After a meeting with senior management, tons of graphs, and charts, the two women’s heads were left spinning by the magnitude of the problem they had agreed to take on.

When they were leaving they happened to share an elevator ride with the company owner who simply pleaded with them to do a “good job,” adding that he was tired of his family and friends constantly forgetting the name of his company. “Well that’s when the light bulb went on, because we knew from that one seemingly inconsequential comment - more than the graphs, or the charts, or the briefing binders – what we would have to do to win this account is make this company a household name,” she states before pulling out a little duck and revealing the company’s name: Aflac.

Robin Koval: Panel



Speeches / Speaking Engagements Back to top


Robin Koval is an inspiring speaker, offering audiences front-line insights into women's leadership, entrepreneurship, youth marketing, and purpose-driven marketing campaigns. Robin illustrates each of her points with exciting behind-the-scenes stories about how she and her partner came up with some of the most iconic marketing campaigns in advertising history. Audiences can easily apply the lessons she’s learned toward succeeding in today’s volatile business world.

    Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary
    In her Grit to Great lectures, Robin Koval tackles a topic that is close to her heart, one she believes is the real secret to her own success and in the careers of so many people she knows and has met. New research proves that the real secret to success isn't some rarefied “It” factor, it’s the “grit” factor. And each and every one of us can possess it.

    Drawing on the latest research in positive psychology and personal success, as well as a cornucopia of stories and practical “how to” tips and exercises, Koval discusses why those who develop and possess the character traits of grit (Guts, Resilience, Initiative and Tenacity) outperform individuals with genius IQ’s, virtuoso talent, unlimited financial resources or a private school education. Individuals with high grit quotient do better in school, work, the playing field, in relationships and life. Her message is relevant to a broad range of audiences from entry level employees and budding entrepreneurs to C-Suite executives. Her inspiring message is that grit is something we all can embrace and develop whether you are nine or ninety.

    The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness
    Robin Koval has moved to the top of the advertising industry by following a simple but powerful philosophy: it pays to be nice. In her The Power of Nice lectures, through her own experiences and the stories of other people and businesses, she demonstrates why, contrary to conventional wisdom, nice people finish first.

    Turning the well-known adage of “Nice Guys Finish Last” on its ear, “nice” companies have lower employee turnover, lower recruitment costs, and higher productivity. Nice people live longer, are healthier, and make more money. In today’s interconnected world, companies and people with a reputation for cooperation and fair play forge the kind of relationships that lead to bigger and better opportunities, both in business and in life.

    Koval illustrates the surprising power of nice with an array of real-life examples from the business arena, as well as from her personal life, and presents a plan of action covering everything from creating a positive impression to sweetening the deal to turning enemies into allies.

    The Power of Small: Why Little Things Make All the Difference
    Our smallest actions and gestures often have outsized impact on our biggest goals: Did you double-check that presentation one last time, or hold the elevator for a stranger? Going that extra inch—whether with a client, customer, family member, or friend—speaks volumes to others about our talent, personality, and motivations. After all, if we can’t take care of the small details, how can we be counted on to deliver when it really matters?

    In today’s challenging times, bigger isn’t always better. In fact, it’s often the baby steps that put us on the path to delivering a true competitive advantage. Koval shows how to get more of what you want with surprisingly less than you’d imagine.

    Female Entrepreneurship
    Koval is a co-founder of The Kaplan Thaler Group, the creators of the Aflac Duck, the Herbal Essences “Totally Organic Experience”, and numerous other famous and business building advertising campaigns. Koval, and her partner Linda Kaplan Thaler built a business founded in a tiny brownstone into a billion dollar agency, led its successful merger with Publicis New York to become the 700-person Publicis Kaplan Thaler and did it all with a primarily female leadership team.

    Social Change Marketing – Using Earned, Owned and Paid Marketing to Create Meaningful Behavior Change
    The truth® youth anti-tobacco campaign has been voted one of the most powerful youth behavior change programs in recent marketing history, one of the top ten advertising campaigns of the 21st century, and preventing 450,000 individuals from smoking and the deadly effects of tobacco.



Robin Koval Speaker Testimonials Back to top

    “Robin Koval’s presentation was just what our teachers needed to get energized in our ongoing effort to teach character along with academics. Robin has a terrific sensibility for speaking to an audience due to her professional and fun style. Her presentation has left a lasting impact on our team and family.”
    Mike Feinberg,
    Co-founder,
    KIPP

    “Robin Koval’s Power of Nice presentation was refreshing and enlightening. The material was well-organized, easy to understand and replete with marketing and business tips and expertise. Ms. Koval illustrated her points through entertaining vignettes that resonated with the audience. In short, it was a huge hit with our employees! ”
    Mendel Hagler,
    Executive Director,
    Gouverneur Healthcare Services

    Partial Client List:

    Procter & Gamble
    Aflac (yes, the famous quacking duck!)
    Continental Airlines
    Champion
    Kodak
    Kraft Foods
    Lunesta
    Pfizer
    Trojan
    US Bank
    Morgan Stanley Women’s Leadership Speaker Series
    National Speakers Association Convention
    Yahoo, Inc. Women’s Conference
    Maximum Impact Ledership Conference
    Walgreens Management Conference
    Women’s Leadership Exchange Conferences
    Rite Aid Trade Show
    International Women’s Leadership Conference
    Marquis Jet Sales Meeting




* Please note that while this speaker’s specific speaking fee falls within the range posted above (for Continental U.S. based events), fees are subject to change. For current fee information or international event fees (which are generally 50-75% more than U.S based event fees), please contact us.

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    “Robin Koval’s presentation was just what our teachers needed to get energized in our ongoing effort to teach character along with academics. Robin has a terrific sensibility for speaking to an audience due to her professional and fun style. Her presentation has left a lasting impact on our team and family.”
    Mike Feinberg,
    Co-founder,
    KIPP

    “Robin Koval’s Power of Nice presentation was refreshing and enlightening. The material was well-organized, easy to understand and replete with marketing and business tips and expertise. Ms. Koval illustrated her points through entertaining vignettes that resonated with the audience. In short, it was a huge hit with our employees! ”
    Mendel Hagler,
    Executive Director,
    Gouverneur Healthcare Services

    Partial Client List:

    Procter & Gamble
    Aflac (yes, the famous quacking duck!)
    Continental Airlines
    Champion
    Kodak
    Kraft Foods
    Lunesta
    Pfizer
    Trojan
    US Bank
    Morgan Stanley Women’s Leadership Speaker Series
    National Speakers Association Convention
    Yahoo, Inc. Women’s Conference
    Maximum Impact Ledership Conference
    Walgreens Management Conference
    Women’s Leadership Exchange Conferences
    Rite Aid Trade Show
    International Women’s Leadership Conference
    Marquis Jet Sales Meeting


Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary
In Grit to Great, Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval tackle a topic that is close to their hearts, one that they feel is the real secret to their own success in their careers--and in the careers of so many people they know and have met. And that is the incredible power of grit, perseverance, perspiration, determination, and sheer stick-to-it-tiveness. We are all dazzled by the notion that there are some people who get ahead, who reach the corner office because they are simply gifted, or well-connected, or both. But research shows that we far overvalue talent and intellectual ability in our culture. The fact is, so many people get ahead--even the gifted ones--because they worked incredibly hard, put in the thousands of hours of practice and extra sweat equity, and made their own luck. And Linda and Robin should know--they are two girls from the Bronx who had no special advantages or privileges and rose up through their own hard work and relentless drive to succeed to the top of their highly competitive profession. In a book illustrated with a cornucopia of stories and the latest research on success, the authors reveal the strategies that helped them, and countless others, succeed at the highest levels in their careers and professions, and in their personal lives. They talk about the guts--the courage--necessary to take on tough challenges and not give up at the first sign of difficulty. They discuss the essential quality of resiliency. Everyone suffers setbacks in their careers and in life. The key, however, is to pick yourself up and bounce back. Drawing on the latest research in positive psychology, they discuss why optimists do better in school, work, and on the playing field--and how to reset that optimistic set point. They talk about industriousness, the notion that Malcolm Gladwell popularized with the 10,000-hour rule in his book Outliers. Creativity theorist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi believes it takes a minimum of 10 years for one's true creative potential to be realized. And the authors explore the concept of tenacity--the quality that allows us to remain focused and avoid distraction in order to get the job done--an increasingly difficult task in today's fragmented, cluttered, high-tech, connected world.


    The Power of Small: Why Little Things Make All the Difference
    The authors of the national bestseller The Power of Nice once again tackle conventional wisdom with a provocative and counterintuitive book about the importance of sweating the small stuff in our lives and in our careers.

    Our smallest actions and gestures often have outsized impact on our biggest goals, say Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval. Did you double-check that presentation one last time, or hold the elevator for a stranger? Going that extra inch – whether with a client, customer, family member, or friend – speaks volumes to others about our talent, personality, and motivations. After all, if we can’t take care of the small details, how can we be counted on to deliver when it really matters?

    In today’s challenging times, bigger isn’t always better. In fact, it’s often the baby steps that put us on the path to delivering a true competitive advantage. The real secret to getting ahead in life and in our careers is to refocus our attention on the small details that, if disregarded, can sabotage a multimillion-dollar ad campaign or undermine your most important relationships. Kaplan Thaler and Koval show how to get more of what you want with surprisingly less than you’d imagine.

    Written in the same entertaining, story-driven style that made The Power of Nice the go-to book for finishing first, The Power of Small demonstrates how all of us can harness the power of small to improve and reinvent our lives. It’s the ultimate guide to shrinking your outlook to broaden your horizons.

    Get Small and get going!
    Order Here




    The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness
    Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval have moved to the top of the advertising industry by following a simple but powerful philosophy: it pays to be nice. Where so many companies encourage a dog eat dog mentality, the Kaplan Thaler Group has succeeded through chocolate and flowers. In The Power of Nice, through their own experiences and the stories of other people and businesses, they demonstrate why, contrary to conventional wisdom, nice people finish first.

    Turning the well-known adage of “Nice Guys Finish Last” on its ear, The Power of Nice shows that “nice” companies have lower employee turnover, lower recruitment costs, and higher productivity. Nice people live longer, are healthier, and make more money. In today’s interconnected world, companies and people with a reputation for cooperation and fair play forge the kind of relationships that lead to bigger and better opportunities, both in business and in life.

    Kaplan Thaler and Koval illustrate the surprising power of nice with an array of real-life examples from the business arena as well as from their personal lives. Most important, they present a plan of action covering everything from creating a positive impression to sweetening the pot to turning enemies into allies. Filled with inspiration and suggestions on how to supercharge your career and expand your reach in the workplace, The Power of Nice will transform how you live and work.
    Order Here




    Bang!: Getting Your Message Heard in a Noisy World
    We all want to get our message heard. And in Bang!, marketing gurus Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval tell us how. They and their talented colleagues are the brains behind a host of memorable and highly successful ads, from the enormously successful AFLAC duck to the irresistibly sentimental “Kodak Moment” to Herbal Essences’ outrageous “Totally Organic Experience.” In Bang!, Kaplan Thaler and Koval offer proven strategies for creating a loud, clear, attention-grabbing message about and product or service.

    Full of entertaining anecdotes and inspiring accounts of campaigns that have propelled revenues and dramatically increased market share, Bang! shows managers how to create a marketing campaign that cuts through the message clutter and creates a genuine marketing explosion.
    Order Here





    Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary
    In her Grit to Great lectures, Robin Koval tackles a topic that is close to her heart, one she believes is the real secret to her own success and in the careers of so many people she knows and has met. New research proves that the real secret to success isn't some rarefied “It” factor, it’s the “grit” factor. And each and every one of us can possess it.

    Drawing on the latest research in positive psychology and personal success, as well as a cornucopia of stories and practical “how to” tips and exercises, Koval discusses why those who develop and possess the character traits of grit (Guts, Resilience, Initiative and Tenacity) outperform individuals with genius IQ’s, virtuoso talent, unlimited financial resources or a private school education. Individuals with high grit quotient do better in school, work, the playing field, in relationships and life. Her message is relevant to a broad range of audiences from entry level employees and budding entrepreneurs to C-Suite executives. Her inspiring message is that grit is something we all can embrace and develop whether you are nine or ninety.

    The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness
    Robin Koval has moved to the top of the advertising industry by following a simple but powerful philosophy: it pays to be nice. In her The Power of Nice lectures, through her own experiences and the stories of other people and businesses, she demonstrates why, contrary to conventional wisdom, nice people finish first.

    Turning the well-known adage of “Nice Guys Finish Last” on its ear, “nice” companies have lower employee turnover, lower recruitment costs, and higher productivity. Nice people live longer, are healthier, and make more money. In today’s interconnected world, companies and people with a reputation for cooperation and fair play forge the kind of relationships that lead to bigger and better opportunities, both in business and in life.

    Koval illustrates the surprising power of nice with an array of real-life examples from the business arena, as well as from her personal life, and presents a plan of action covering everything from creating a positive impression to sweetening the deal to turning enemies into allies.

    The Power of Small: Why Little Things Make All the Difference
    Our smallest actions and gestures often have outsized impact on our biggest goals: Did you double-check that presentation one last time, or hold the elevator for a stranger? Going that extra inch—whether with a client, customer, family member, or friend—speaks volumes to others about our talent, personality, and motivations. After all, if we can’t take care of the small details, how can we be counted on to deliver when it really matters?

    In today’s challenging times, bigger isn’t always better. In fact, it’s often the baby steps that put us on the path to delivering a true competitive advantage. Koval shows how to get more of what you want with surprisingly less than you’d imagine.

    Female Entrepreneurship
    Koval is a co-founder of The Kaplan Thaler Group, the creators of the Aflac Duck, the Herbal Essences “Totally Organic Experience”, and numerous other famous and business building advertising campaigns. Koval, and her partner Linda Kaplan Thaler built a business founded in a tiny brownstone into a billion dollar agency, led its successful merger with Publicis New York to become the 700-person Publicis Kaplan Thaler and did it all with a primarily female leadership team.

    Social Change Marketing – Using Earned, Owned and Paid Marketing to Create Meaningful Behavior Change
    The truth® youth anti-tobacco campaign has been voted one of the most powerful youth behavior change programs in recent marketing history, one of the top ten advertising campaigns of the 21st century, and preventing 450,000 individuals from smoking and the deadly effects of tobacco.



Demo Video


Advertising and marketing genius, Robin Koval discusses how reducing complex topics to small memorable moments is the hallmark of a successful ad campaign. She relates how she and her partner were called upon to help a company in Georgia that had been spending millions of dollars on advertising for years with no return to show. After a meeting with senior management, tons of graphs, and charts, the two women’s heads were left spinning by the magnitude of the problem they had agreed to take on.

When they were leaving they happened to share an elevator ride with the company owner who simply pleaded with them to do a “good job,” adding that he was tired of his family and friends constantly forgetting the name of his company. “Well that’s when the light bulb went on, because we knew from that one seemingly inconsequential comment - more than the graphs, or the charts, or the briefing binders – what we would have to do to win this account is make this company a household name,” she states before pulling out a little duck and revealing the company’s name: Aflac.

Robin Koval: Panel