About

Mike Grice and Brad Bennett started Wildfire out of their homes in 2002, with the sole intention of doing what they love, in a town they love, with clients who demand the love and attention they deserve from a marketing company.

Several years, people and square feet later, Wildfire is now located in the heart of the emerging entertainment district of downtown Winston-Salem in a renovated, circa 1920 warehouse.

We’re a team of firestarters, firecrackers and everything pyromaniacal in between, known for firing up ideas that drive high-quality strategic and creative products for clients of all sizes, from Fortune 500 companies to local start-ups.

And we’re always ready at a moment’s notice to help you spread your message like, well, you know…


Mantra

Wildfire exists to shatter every tired, negative stereotype people have either heard about or experienced firsthand when working with a marketing firm. Fueled by commerce based creativity, passion and collaboration, we are here to do one single thing…grow our clients’ business while lowering their blood pressure.  We accomplish this by doing things the “Wildfire Way”—when it comes to working with others and the work itself.

This all starts with the way we see and treat one another. Wildfire is not just the company you work for; it is your work family. And the companies who so generously trust us with their brands and marketing dollars are not just our clients; they are our business partners. Preferably, long-term partners built on trust and respect. Partners just like you and me, looking for the most strategic, creative and effective solutions while facing the same concerns and challenges we all face.

On any given day, we have the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, big and small. No matter its size, we treat every project and the people working alongside us with respect. We take pride in our work, always speaking positively of it to others. And we remain inclusive throughout the process, always sharing what we do, how we think and who we are while inviting our partners to do the same. Never pitching or selling. Remember, sharing invites people in; selling pushes them out in the least genuine way possible. Be genuine.

And, of course, it’s always about the work. Everything we do—strategy, social, design, art direction, digital, writing, from creation to presentation—must stand up to companies 10 times our size. For that to happen, we have surrounded ourselves with smart, talented people who prop each other up and continue to teach and learn from one another.

So, we show up every day, eager to give it all we’ve got. We leave any insecurities and egos we may have at the door. We think globally, not just locally. And we remain grateful for what we have…what we’ve earned.

If we all stay true to this path, we are guaranteed success, together. It’s how Wildfire came to be—and how we’ll continue to grow in the years to come.



 

Capabilities

Strategic Planning

Our strategy group leads the charge with brand planning, positioning and campaign strategy. We develop and build brand identities through connective intelligence and uncover the key consumer insights that, coupled with a client’s business objectives, lead to effective commerce-based creative.

Interactive

Our full-service interactive department designs, programs, hosts and maintains over 150 web sites. We are platform agnostic and develop in the system that best suits a client’s needs – everything we develop today is SEO optimized and responsive, scaling across web, tablet and mobile.

Sports & Event Marketing

Keystone, our Event Marketing specialist subgroup acquired in 2009, has over 25 years of experience in the Sports & Event marketing arena and offers planning and execution for field marketing, event promotions, trade relations, guerrilla marketing and community & grassroots events.

Broadcast Production

We offer concept development, art direction, and production for TV, radio and web. When needed, we partner with producers and production houses that provide the best fit for the project and budget.

Campaign Planning & Execution

We approach campaign planning from a holistic viewpoint – bringing in representatives from every specialty within the agency to brainstorm the best ways to reach the target consumer in the places where they live, work and play.

Social Media

Our social media team grows relationships with consumers by building and managing communities, developing social content, designing influencer programs, and engaging consumers with the brand across all social channels.

Art Direction & Design

Our art directors and designers have a breadth of experience in developing fully integrated campaigns. Including web sites, print, broadcast, mobile apps, collateral, direct mail and more that are high-impact and capture the consumer’s attention.

Copywriting

Writing engaging copy from the brand voice is integral to brand identity and consumer engagement. We offer copywriting, content creation, proofreading and naming services to ensure copy is compelling, informative and on brand.

Market Research

Our strategy team is adept at market research and executes a full range of primary and secondary research, from segmentation studies, to moderating focus groups, to designing and fielding online surveys and managing in-depth-interviews.

Marketing to Women

Factor 9, our marketing to women discipline, has identified 9 factors that make a brand or product appealing to women. Our Factor 9 team helps brands target their products and messaging to their audience.

Media Planning & Buying

We identify the media channels that are most effective to reach a target audience, then handle pricing negotiations and media buying to ensure maximum reach for the client’s budget.

Public Relations

Wildfire’s PR experts help spread the word about a brand, product, or promotion. We create a targeted public relations strategy, develop press kits people can’t help but talk about, recommend key talking points, manage media relations, and schedule the right interviews and appearances to grow the conversation around your brand.


 

Clients


 

Recognition

Communication Arts Adv. Annual
Communication Arts Design Annual
Archive 200 Best Packaging Worldwide
How Magazine
Clio Awards
The Dieline
The Business Journal – 40 under 40
The Business Journal – Fast 50
Top 100 N.C. Small Businesses
Addy Awards
Davey Awards
Telly Awards
W-S Chamber – Small Bus. of the Year
Competitive Carriers Association
Susan G. Komen Comm. Serv. Award
Print Regional Design Annual
The Drum
Communication Arts Exhibit
NACMA – Nat. Assoc. of College Mktg.
Credit Union National Association
IAFE – Intl. Assoc. of Fairs & Expos
Wanda Miller
Extinguisher

Most treasured desk trinket:
Framed poster of Rusty Wallace.

Pets of choice:
Dogs & Cats.

Obsession you can’t (or don’t want to) kick:
Pinterest.

Movie I watch way too often:
Gone With The Wind.

Favorite vacation spot:
The Beach.

Sarah Hinson
Illuminator

Real Title/job responsibility: Copywriter—responsible for finding just the right tinder to ignite ideas.

My motto: Keep it real.

Favorite midnight snack: Cold Chinese food.

Who or what inspires me: Anyone engaged in fearless self-expression. People and their passions. Videos of cats falling off of stuff.

In my fridge, you’d find: An accidental ecosystem living inside a Tupperware container.

Life theme song: Toccata and Fugue in D minor by Johann S. Bach.

Katie Flamand
Sparkler

Favorite midnight snack:
Anything with butter and sugar. Baked goods are my kryptonite.

Favorite thinking spot:
Any hiking trail.

In my fridge, you’d find: A lot of cheese. I’m from the Midwest – I can’t help it.

Pets of choice: My dog, Sassy, who lives up to her name.

Life theme song: “***Flawless” by Beyoncé.

Rachelle Pucillo
Embersmith

Real Title/job responsibility: 
Graphic Designer ­ responsible for taking burning ideas and crafting them into dazzling fireworks.

My motto: 
“I’ll try anything twice.” Because I find that one can’t really judge most things on the first try.

Favorite midnight snack
Oreos with a huge glass of milk! Or cold pizza. But don’t tell my mother.

Who or what inspires me:
Experiencing the world inspires me. I travel as much as I can to immerse myself in different cultures so I can expand my own way of thinking and breathe life into new ideas.

One thing I can’t live without: Chocolate is my life blood but a cup of tea and a good book also soothe the soul.

Best place I’ve ever been: Tallinn, Estonia. I went there on a cruise and loved their rich medieval history and fresh bear meat!

Riley Hill
Katie Kenney
Account Manager
John Nixon
Pyromaniac

Web Developer responsible for setting the web on fire one site at a time.

Favorite midnight snack:
Pizza is always the best anytime snack, it’s the best food group of all.

Favorite thinking spot:
Walking through the woods or riding down the road on my motorcycle.

One thing I can’t live without:
The internet! It plays a major role in how I make my living.

Pets of choice:
Dogs, specifically my jack russell border collie mix, Buddy.

Favorite vacation spot:
I’ve been fortunate enough to see some of the bluest water in the Bahamas, the sands of Daytona Beach, and some of the best mountain views of the Smokies and Blue Ridge, but my favorite vacation and get away spot will always be Carolina and Kure Beach.

Victoria Lawton
Kindling

Account Coordinator – Responsible for ensuring that all the small details are in order to create the biggest fire for our clients.

Favorite thinking spot:
My family lake house on Lake Champlain in New York.

Most treasured desk trinket:
My “Treat Yo Self” banner that hangs over my desk. Three words: “Treat. Yo. Self.”

In my fridge, you’d find:
Cheese – any and all types and all together way too much of it (if one could ever have too much cheese).

Best place I’ve ever been:
Venice, Italy. I studied abroad there and you can often find me scheming my way to get back.

Obsession you can’t (or don’t want to) kick:
My love of wine – another consequence of my time in Italy.

Tina Kneisel
Firecracker

CFO / General Manager

My Motto:
One day at a time.

Favorite thinking spot:
My screened-in porch.

In my fridge, you’d find:
Lots of wine.

One thing I can’t live without:
A nice cup of tea.

Favorite vacation spot:
Hilton Head.

Paul Roman
Vulcan

Production Artist responsible for taking the designers’ incendiary creations and forging them into reproducible objects of magnificent brilliance.

My motto:
What does not destroy me makes me stronger.

Who or what inspires me:
Classical music.

One thing I can’t live without:
Miami Dolphins games on TV.

Favorite vacation spot:
Key West, Florida

Best place I’ve ever been:
Rome, Italy

Jill Painter
JP5

JP5 = jet fuel WARNING: extremely combustible.

HOBBY:
Tivo.

FAVORITE PET:
Poodles.

WHEN I LOOK IN THE MIRROR I SEE:
I see trouble brewing.

RANDOM THOUGHT:
“Only mediocre people are always at their best.” – Somerset Maugham

Matt Rowland
Flame Thrower

HOBBY:
Video games, photography, music, hockey, Hokie football.

FAVORITE PET:
I’ve always wanted a pet dinosaur.

WHEN I LOOK IN THE MIRROR I SEE:
All things considered, a pretty lucky guy.

MY MOTTO:
What’s Next?

Nick Karner
Firestorm

Account Coordinator – Responsible for the steady burn of each project from deadline to deadline.

My motto:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

Most commonly used saying:
It is what it is.

Best party trick:
Juggling.

Obsession you can’t (or don’t want to) kick:
Baltimore Ravens football.

Who would play me in the movie of my life:
im Carrey or Vince Vaughn or Will Smith. Or a hybrid of all three.

Kaylan Hufham
Hellfire

Graphic Designer responsible for pushing flaming hot pixels and taking no prisoners.

Obsession you can’t (or don’t want to) kick:
Tattoos.

Life theme song:
My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion.

Movie I watch way too often:
Space Jam…or Spice World, it’s a toss up.

Who would play me in the movie of my life:
Kat Dennings, Obvi.

The title of a book about me:
He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo.

Bryson Mooring
En Fuego

Assistant Account Executive

Who or what inspires me:
My beautiful fiancé (brownie points), and my black lab pup (he would love me regardless of the call-out).

In my fridge, you’d find:
Cinnamon rolls, buffalo chicken dip, and beer.

One thing I can’t live without:
UNC Basketball.

Movie I watch way too often:
The Other Guys.

Best place I’ve ever been:
Florence, Italy.

Traci Naff
Graphic Arsonist

Senior Graphic Designer responsible for igniting ideas.

My motto:
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

In my fridge, you’d find:
Trader Joe’s Strawberry Greek Yogurt.

Best party trick:
Tying my shoes…trust me. It’s amazing.

Life theme song:
Big Poppa by Notorious B.IG.

Obsession you can’t (or don’t want to) kick:
Mario Kart.

Christine Hancock
Flare

Flare = Flair

HOBBY:
Scavenging for, recognizing the potential in, and revitalizing decrepit old thrift store furniture finds. Among other things.

FAVORITE PET:
My kitties.

WHEN I LOOK IN THE MIRROR I SEE:
I make it work.

RANDOM THOUGHT:
These pretzels are making me thirsty.

Jonathan Reed
Pyro

Associate Creative Director – responsible for setting and stoking the creative fire.

Best place I’ve ever been:
Isle of Skye, Scotland

In my desk drawer, you’d find:
Almonds.

Who inspires me:
My German Shepherd Lobo. To be the person he thinks I am.

Life theme song:
Pink Floyd – High Hopes.

Favorite thinking spot:
Point Lobos, Carmel CA

Brenda Swain
Fire Ant

My motto:
Life is too short to drink bad wine.

Favorite midnight snack:
ice cream.

Best time of day:
6:00am

Pets of choice:
chickens.

Movie I watch way too often:
Christmas Vacation.

Best place I’ve ever been:
Cabo, Mexico

Chace Hoglund
Ember

Strategic Planner responsible for leading the research, uncovering the insights, and positioning the brand to start or rekindle the fire.

Favorite midnight snack:
A Cookout tray.

Most treasured desk trinket:
Does a cup of coffee count? If so, that.

Who or what inspires me:
New products or tech that makes me think ‘that’s cool.

In my desk drawer, you’d find:
My secret stash of K-cups.

Best place I’ve ever been:
It’s a tie. Florence for the art, food, and wine. Trinidad & Tobago for Carnival.

Chip Crutchfield
Charcoal

Interactive Director/Charcoal – A consistent burn.

In my fridge, you’d find:
Miller Lite, Vitamin Water and a plethora of meat ready to smoke.

Pets of choice:
Lilly- The toughest West Highland Terrier on the Planet
Ray Ray – a rescued Shih Tzu that now runs the house.

On thing I can’t live without:
Tailgating.

Obsession you can’t (or don’t want to) kick:
Cooking- it’s the only sport I can still play.

Favorite vacation spot:
Fripp Island, SC

Crystal Nelson
Fireball

Account Manager responsible for managing the heat of each project, from the first spark to the full blaze.

Who or what inspires me:
My son Bryce. He inspires me everyday to be a better person. He inspires me to be more thoughtful, to be more kind, and to laugh even when I want to cry.

In my fridge, you’d find:
Apple juice, milk, cheese and buddy fruit. Total proof that I have a 4-year-old.

Pets of choice:
Two Pit Bulls. Both are about ten years old and we wouldn’t have another breed. Cena and Jade complete our family.

Obsession you can’t (or don’t want to) kick:
Chocolate chip mini muffins. I. Love. Them. And now I’ve passed the obsession along to my son:)

Who would play me in the movie of my life:
Sandra Bullock for sure. She’s a brunette, she can nail the southern accent, and she went to East Carolina. Gotta love her!

Bryan Flynn
Ignition Agent

Associate Creative Director – My role is simple: serve as a means to ignite some creative thinking.

Best time of day:
Right before daybreak. You literally find yourself at the start of a brand new day.

Most commonly used saying:
“Good morning.” Everyone’s morning should start with good.

In my desk drawer, you’d find:
You can’t find anything. I’ve got a map to help folks out, but I think it’s in the desk drawer.

Pets of choice:
Dogs.

One thing I can’t live without:
Imagination.

Tory Gillett
Firebrand

Chief Account & Strategy Officer

My motto:
Risk is rewarded.

Who or what inspires me:
Travel and exploration, which simultaneously broaden my world view and make me grateful for my place within it.

In my fridge, you’d find:
More condiments than sustenance.

Can’t live without:
French fries. Coffee. Socks. Google. Sunshine.

Movie I watch way too often:
The Birdcage. “May I take your purse—as usual or for the first time?”

Brad Bennett
Co-Founder/Chief Development Officer

Managing Member responsible for creating sparks that develop from ideas into the brilliant blazes that drive great brands.  (Translation…I start the fires that the rest of the team must put out).

My motto:
There is always a way.

Who or what inspires me:
Time with family and friends, good books, preparing great food and sunsets on the Carolina coast.

When I look in the mirror I see:
The reflection of those who have helped to positively shape me both personally and professionally. And I see the incredible opportunity to ‘pay it forward’ in the future. I am also fascinated by the correlation between my hairline and my sideburns…as one recedes, the other gets longer. Hmm…

Most treasured desk trinkets:
The stone “I love you” carving from Paula, my wife…the “25 reasons why I love you” jar from Abbi, my daughter…the “A special Dad” card from Beau, my son.

One thing I can’t live without:
My wife of 15 years…Paula. She’s my best friend and soulmate.

Mike Grice
Co-Founder/Chief Creative Officer

Managing Member responsible for the day-to-day command of the fire service in all areas, along with creating and directing ideas capable of undergoing self-contained and self-sustained exothermic chemical reactions for the production of heat, light, gas, smoke and/or sales. Other words, the Chief Creative Officer.

My motto:
Say what you do, do what you say.

Who or what inspires me:
Who: My children.  What: The underdog.

Favorite thinking spot:
Everywhere.

Pet of choice:
Dogs. Especially our Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog.

Strangest hobby:
My job. Not so strange would be fitness, skiing, fishing, shooting clay and golf.

Joelle Halle
Intern

In my freezer, you’d find:
Totino’s Pizza Rolls. They’re my weakness.

An obsession I can’t quit:
Show tunes. Sorry not sorry!

Favorite vacation spot:
Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. I love rollercoasters!

Movie I watch way too often:
Dirty Dancing. Nobody puts Baby in a corner.

Title of a book about me:
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all.”