Brother John Penney (Fall 1984) is not one to seek attention. But last year, attention found him. The opportunity led to a friendship with the star of a hit CNBC reality-series and the chance to help develop a free learning resource for small business owners.

Penney, the Founder & CEO of Miami-based digital marketing firm, BlackDog Advertising, was contacted by producers of CNBC’s The Profit. Penney and his team were asked to consider an unusual request—help Marcus Lemonis, host of The Profit, reinvigorate the company, Skinny Latina, founded by South Florida Celebrity Chef and reality TV star, Ana Quincoces.

The BlackDog team had to reinvent Quincoces’ line of sauces and marinades. The product struggled to establish a dominant presence in a crowded market.

It sounds like a great opportunity for an ad man, but Penney and his team had only four days to come up with an entirely new concept for the product line. There would be even more pressure—the entire process would be documented for the world to see on national TV. Failure was not an option.

BlackDog’s solution went above and beyond what was requested. Their work was so successful, it inspired Lemonis to plan for more collaboration with Penney’s team. In addition to hosting The Profit, Lemonis is CEO of Camping World and an entrepreneur with involvement in several enterprises. Penney started to collaborate with Lemonis in other areas of his business.

Brother Penney on CNBC's "The Profit"

Brother Penney on CNBC’s “The Profit”

As a digital-marketing firm with a strong portfolio in the tourism and hospitality industry, a new source of business during the pandemic was only too welcome.

Following BlackDog Advertising’s successful partnership with Lemonis, Brother Penney received the call when Lemonis decided to launch what might be the most rewarding project of his career— The website is a free online resource for small business owners.

At a time when many small businesses are challenged by the pandemic, the website explains that the online learning center was designed as a place for everyone to grow. “I’ve taken a lot of what I’ve learned over the years, and now I’m passing that along to you,” Lemonis wrote.

“Marcus is one of the most diverse entrepreneurs I know. He’s as comfortable fielding complex financial questions on a Camping World investor call as he is designing a furniture line for his Marcus Home collection,” Brother Penney said.

Brothers Penney, Hellegaard, and Wilkinson at the campaign launch event.

BlackDog had a hand in virtually ever aspect of launching From building the website to directing the video promotions, Penney and his team helped to make the resources possible.

Kevin Wilkinson (Spring 1984) pledged the semester before Penney and knows him well. “John is extremely talented in his profession” Wilkinson said. “I am glad that John’s path crossed with Marcus to help create a free resource that is so necessary right now. Their work is going to help a lot of people.”

“He’s been a tremendous asset to our chapter developing and producing our brochure for the Campaign for Florida Alpha. We’re very grateful to him and his team for the great work they did on behalf of the campaign.”