Meet the Open Minds
Open Mind Strategy is your truth-telling research partner that approaches all client engagements with a higher standard to ensure that insights go beyond information to drive action.
We Specialize In
- Delivering actionable strategic and tactical recommendations, not just interesting findings
- Customizing methodologies and reporting to meet client needs
- Unlocking deeper consumer understanding by treating respondents like human beings
- Finding sparks that inform new thinking, not just finding out what people think
- Better storytelling for more memorable and actionable reporting
We help brands reach their potential
We help them not only see their consumers more clearly, but understand them more deeply. The result is better strategies, and better business.
Robin Hafitz, Founder/CEO
Robin grew up in an eclectic combination of locations - Nigeria, Washington, DC, and Martha's Vineyard, but mostly Montana. She went east on a scholarship, and after graduating Magna cum Laude from Yale, headed to New York to try her hand as an artist.
After a stint at Chiat/Day, Robin joined Creative star Nick Cohen as Co-Chair of start-up Mad Dogs & Englishmen in 1992. Under their leadership, this strategically-driven creative boutique won awards for both creativity and strategic excellence for clients such as AOL MovieFone, YooHoo Chocolate Drink, Blue Moon Beer, The Village Voice, and The Economist. As a “media neutral” agency before it was fashionable, Mad Dogs was a dot-com darling, and grew to over 70 people. After the dot-com meltdown, Robin diversified Mad Dogs' offering by opening Mad Logic, a Planning consultancy, which came to specialize in insights for media companies. Using innovative high-tech and high-touch research techniques, Mad Logic solved challenges for companies like the LATimes.com, Newsweek, Univision, Sirius Satellite Radio, USA Network, SyFy, and Viacom. At Mad Dogs Enterprises, Robin was proud to be able to train many talented planners who still today work in some of the best agencies in the world.
Robin and Nick closed down Mad Dogs Enterprises in 2005. “Thirteen years is about as long as you can expect a good-sized dog to live,” Nick said at the time. Robin next started Open Mind Strategy, building on the expertise of Mad Logic in the media arena. Open Mind retained clients like USA, SyFy, and MTV Networks, and helped a host of television channels, print companies, and web-based businesses to do more successful business by better connecting with their audiences. Among other achievements, Robin’s team developed the still successful “Characters” positioning that helped USA capture the lead in cable. One of the first research companies to consider consumers as co-creators, Open Mind did over $2 million in sales in its first year, and soon expanded beyond media to experience brands, such as travel destinations and retail brands. During this period, OMS also had the opportunity to team with eatbigfish, helping companies like Cole Haan, eBay, Kodak, and Unilever successfully apply “challenger brand” principles to innovating their businesses.
In 2007, Robin joined kb+p as Managing Partner and Chief Strategic Officer, and OMS became one of kb+p’s specialist divisions. Working across all of kb’s disciplines, Robin was instrumental in winning business from clients such as Wendy’s International, Avon Fragrances, Starz, and Bloomberg, and in developing successful insight-driven strategies for clients such as Panasonic, Kao, Diageo, and Mohegan Sun. Meanwhile, Open Mind helped solve problems for Comedy Central, TVLand, Yahoo!, NBC, and others.
Robin left what is now kbs+p at the end of 2009, and in Fall of 2010 set up Open Mind Strategy as an independent LLC. Recent assignments have included work for Yahoo!, The Food Network, Travel Channel, VNSNY, PBM, USA, several non-profits and a number of advertising agencies.
Robin is a member of the New York Entrepreneurs Organization. She sits on the National Advertising Review Board. She served for over five years on the board of the AAAA’s Account Planning Committee, including two years as Co-Chair. She has been a regular teacher of the 4A’s “Quantitative Literacy for Planners” course, was an Executive in Residence at the University of Oregon’s Advertising Program, and has taught at VCU and the Miami Ad School. She has spoken frequently at research and marketing conferences on strategic development, new media, and teens, has judged numerous award shows, and was named America’s “Iron Planner” by the US APG in 2004, a title so far unchallenged.
Andrew Hafitz, Co-Owner & Film Editor
Andrew Hafitz has been editing films since 1995. Along the way, he's collaborated with directors including Whit Stillman (Damsels in Distress, 2012; The Last Days of Disco, 1998), Lodge Kerrigan (Keane, 2004), Larry Clark (Ken Park, 2002; Bully, 2001), and writer-director Jay Dockendorf, winner of the IWC Filmmaker to Watch award (Naz & Maalik, 2015).
Andy has also frequently crossed over into nonfiction cinema. His documentary credits range from a recent portrait of author Mark Epstein and sculptor Arlene Shechet for Rebecca Dreyfus's On Meditation series (2015) to several David Schisgall films, including the feature The Lifestyle: Group Sex in the Suburbs (1999). He also edited Schisgall's "True Life: I'm in Iraq," winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Network News Documentary for MTV in 2005.
A graduate of Yale University with a degree in comparative literature, Andy is passionate about telling stories in film language that is both articulate and emotional. He lives in Manhattan and Willow, NY, with his wife, Robin.
Allison O'Keefe, EVP, Managing Director of Research & Strategy
Allison O’Keefe Wright is an expert in consumer culture and media. She has spent her career studying consumers and consulting major brands on strategy and positioning, product development, marketing and communication geared at various demographic groups and the illusive millennial target in particular.
Allison is Senior Vice President, Managing Director of Research and Strategy at Open Mind Strategy. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to leverage her diverse experience from both agency and “client side” as an effective partner who can approach client business issues and goals with valuable perspective from both sides of the aisle.
On the “client side”, Allison was most recently Vice President, Research and Strategic Planning for Capitol Music Group (formerly EMI Music North America) heading up both research and media services for the label. Building from a blank canvas, Allison put Consumer Insight at the heart of the company, establishing her division as a key function across all critical business units and informing the transformation and evolution of the company at large. In this role, she delivered strategic and tactical value for major artists such as Katy Perry, Coldplay, David Guetta, Jennifer Lopez, Norah Jones, and Rod Stewart among many others, as well as for catalog artists like The Beatles, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Frank Sinatra, to name only a few. Allison put fans at the center of CMG’s processes via consumer segmentation, online fan community exploration, brand/partnership analysis and creative and image testing. In addition to her work in North America, she worked in concert with global offices and with industry associations constructing major studies to analyze the music marketplace on a global scale.
Prior to Capitol/EMI, Allison served as Vice President, Strategic Insight and Research at MTV, where she was responsible for consumer insights and strategy for MTV, MTV2, and mtvU, across all screens. Initiatives that Allison spearheaded for MTV included large-scale consumer lifestyle investigations, brand and buzz tracking, pilot testing, and website usability. Her landmark research study “Crossing the Line: Exposing Millennial Digital Abuse” was awarded the Grand Prize in the 2010 CTAM Case Study competition and informed the establishment of MTV’s Thin Line pro-social campaign. Among the MTV shows that Allison tested and helped usher into the channel was Jersey Shore, a pivotal turning point in the channels recent history with regard to viewership and cultural relevance.
Allison co-wrote a section of the book “Beyond the Usability Lab: Conducting Large-Scale User Experience Studies”, distributed by Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, which detailed the groundbreaking usability research she spearheaded to inform the re-launch and evolution of MTV.com.
In her agency days, Allison was Director and Global Editor for strategic consultancy Henley Centre HeadlightVision. There she authored the book D_Code 5, an investigation of leading edge youth culture and marketing around the world and travelled the globe running innovation workshops for major companies including Coca-Cola and Unilever. Allison also worked as a strategic planner at Publicis, D’Arcy and Young and Rubicam where she contributed to the strategic growth of a diverse range of brands from Heineken/Amstel to Sony to Crest to Campbells, and many more.
Allison is a regular speaker in the research conference circuit and has lectured on her insight work at Wharton School of Business. She lives in Ridgewood, NJ with her husband, Darren, and their daughter, Mary Ann, who is already a music and television fanatic.
Lianna (Lee) Willoughby, Managing Director
Lianna has a background in Film and Spanish language and culture. While working on an independent documentary film in 2005, Lianna realized that her true passion was finding the unique stories of the people featured in the films. She decided to make a change and pursue a career that would allow her to continue to explore how people think and feel, and why they do the things they do, but with a different spin.
As Managing Director at Open Mind Strategy, Lianna oversees both qualitative and quantitative research endeavors, balancing her time as a project director, researcher and thought partner. She works closely with clients to ensure the research is tailored to their unique needs and objectives, including recent projects with USA Today, Amazon, Syfy, Yahoo!, Travel Channel and Food Network.
Prior to joining OMS, Lianna developed her skill for internal team management as an assistant in Robin's planning department at KB+P where she steered jobs for clients, including the NBC Olympics, CMT and Comedy Central. Moving into a role as a planner at KB+P, Lianna worked with creative teams, developing strategies and providing key insights for clients including Wendy’s, Capital One and Starz.
While Lianna is adept at managing the operational details of OMS's diverse roster of research projects, her favorite part of the job is still that moment when a consumer randomly surprises and fascinates her, offering a priceless insight that can change the way that she and her clients think.
David Dyte, Director of Research and Strategy
David has a masters degree in probability theory and two decades of research experience in such diverse fields as road safety, sports, advertising, retailing, music and children's television. He is never more at home than when playing with masses of data and solving a tricky statistical problem in a surprising way. All of this heavy numerical focus is tempered by an artistic streak, however - he plays blues guitar and has published two books of his New York photographs. Before joining Open Mind Strategy, David was Director of Quantitative Research in the Consumer Insights group at Nickelodeon.
Leah Perlmutter, Senior Researcher & Strategist
Leah is a Senior Researcher and Strategist, and resident cultural anthropologist at Open Mind Strategy. As a “hybrid” qualitative and quantitative researcher, Leah’s analytical and humanistic approach to understanding consumers has helped uncover deep insights for clients across many categories. She has cultivated a particular expertise in media and youth, digging into their beliefs and behaviors on projects for clients including Food Network, iHeartMedia and MTV. As a moderator, Leah excels at creating a comfortable and open space for uncovering respondent truths. She is thrilled to have found way to use her anthropological background on a daily basis to identify and truly understand the cultural trends of those around her.
Ruth McCormack, Executive Assistant
Ruth is a graduate from Barnard College with a degree in Art History. She has always been interested in how human behavior changes as a result of cultural phenomena, which is what led her to research and understanding people - how they feel, what they do, and why.
Leveraging her administrative and archival experience from art and cultural institutions, Ruth creates structure and processes for the team at OMS.
Ruth handles all administrative components and coordinates all aspects of OMS projects and team processes. Her strong organizational skills keep the OMS team, and clients, on target by attending to all project details and ensuring everyone is where they need to be. Ruth’s analytical mind is a natural fit for overseeing OMS's research and business processes.