BARRY CALLEN

Writer, Strategist, & Broadcast Producer

Clients from Coca-Cola to WOCCU have invested just under half a billion dollars in ads and strategies Barry has either created or creative-directed at national advertising agencies like Ogilvy & Mather, Lintas, and The Hiebing Group.

Barry is on a mission from God to eliminate bad advertising one B.S. word at a time. As last year’s keynote speaker at the CUNA Marketing Conference, he shared “The Top 10 Mistakes Credit Union Marketers Make.”

He delights in helping the David credit unions defeat the Goliath banks. At places like CUNA Management School and the U.W. Graduate School of Business, Barry has taught over a thousand C-Suite executives how to use his PitchPerfect™ Process to find the most powerful thing to say and then make it into an ad. He’s written two books on marketing published by McGraw-Hill. 

Despite the fact that this “creative” studied improv comedy at Second City in Chicago, recorded an album of original songs in Nashville, got a B.F.A. in Painting, and wears all black…you can still put Barry in front of your clients. He’s even been a client. Heck, he’s even worked full-time at CUNA Mutual.

“I hope our CUNA Mutual clients choose Mel and me, not because we’re smaller and faster and cheaper, but because we aim to do compelling creative work.” Barry’s work has won hundreds of creative awards, but he is proudest of his three national Effie Awards for advertising effectiveness. 


Favorite Quote:  “The mind is an incredible tool, but it is no substitute for a pair of pliers.”

Favorite Mel superpower:  “She can turn 10,000 words into one beautiful picture.”

Barry never wears tights, a mask, or a cape, even when creating.

Barry has been struck by lightning.


MELANIE BALSIS (aka Mel)

Graphic Designer

Mel developed the craft of designing powerhouse web sites, email campaigns, photo shoots, brands, creative concepts, online promotions, identity systems, and print collateral at two of the nation’s most-advanced and fastest-growing marketing brands: Target and Amazon.com’s Shopbop.

She has spent most of her career meeting the extremely demanding design standards of the fashion industry – where the design itself makes or breaks the message. Mel started her own design studio to make this higher design standard available to B2B, B2C, and small entrepreneurial clients in other industries, where superior design can help a client stand out.

Mel believes that “simple, tasteful, uncluttered, easy-to-read design can instantly and wordlessly create a feeling of quality, honesty, humanity, intelligence, and professionalism. The look of your communications says as much or more about you than your words – and it speaks first.”  Mel always has practical reasons for her design choices. She is a thoughtful designer.

Mel enjoys the fact that being part of a small-scale “dynamic duo” enables her to have direct personal contact with her clients. She and Barry met at CUNA Mutual when they worked closely with the Lending Group to co-create the “Lending Drives The Movement” campaign for the Atrium Event. Their CUNA Mutual client observed their ability to create good work quickly, and suggested they form a virtual agency. Dana Henke on-boarded them, and now here they are for you.


Favorite Quote:  “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”  -Leonardo da Vinci

Favorite Barry Superpower:  “He can boil down the most complex and confusing concepts and turn them into engaging, sharp-witted words that actually make sense. All while keeping me laughing.”

Mel secretly dreams of one day becoming a full-time vegetable farmer.

Barry and Mel take turns being Batman, depending on the project.