What’s in a million dollar brand?

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American advertising executive Leo Burnett once said “If you don’t get noticed, you don’t have anything. You just have to be noticed, but the art is in getting noticed naturally without screaming or without tricks.”

Justine Pogroske, Founder and Creative Director of Sydney based boutique digital marketing agency, Million Dollar Branders (“MDB”), set out to shake things up in the marketing industry. Two years on MDB has given new life to existing brands and created a platform from which newcomers can build a legacy.  

Take what she did with Colombian lingerie brand, Ms. Morales Couture, of which she is also the co-founder, as an example.

Photograph: Ms. Morales Couture


The slogan for the brand is “the alter égo of lingerie”. Ms. Morales Couture’s advertising campaign (pictured) invites women to “undress” their dark side.

A calculated and strategic choice was made as part of the branding strategy that all models would either wear a mask or their faces would not be featured in advertisements.

Purchasers of Ms. Morales Couture are given lace masks to wear themselves so that they can feel safe to explore what kind of lingerie makes them feel sexy, powerful and in control.

When I first wore my Ms. Morales Couture mask, I will admit I looked at the lingerie through a different lens. I put on some red lipstick and browsed through their Summer collection and suddenly certain pieces I would never normally consider because I felt too self conscious appealed to me. It was like wearing the mask made me feel empowered enough to nail the look.



It is at that point that I am reminded of something that Mad Men character Don Draper once said.

“Advertising is based on one thing, happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay.”

For Justine that ‘happiness’ is the “opportunity to show women that they can be cheeky and provocative.”

“We want to revolutionise the lingerie industry and give women the opportunity to be who they want to be. There’s a stigma around very raunchy lingerie. We want to take women out of their comfort zone where they feel like they can wear anything and feel sexy,” she said.

Photograph: Million Dollar Branders


Justine aims to help her clients create a legacy for their brands.

“In 10 years’ time people will know my clients’ brand and their owner regardless of whether or not they are around,” she said.

Evidently a subscriber to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Justine explains that “there’s a few things that humans want. They need love. They need shelter and I think importance is also another thing. I want to help people feel like they left their mark on the world.”




The desire to create a legacy is one she herself possesses. For example, Justine is currently writing a book that she dubs “a kick in the ass” guide that gives entrepeneurs the tools they need to brand and market their business. The book is due for release in December this year.

“That’s my legacy to the world,” Justine said.

Anyone who has engaged the services of a consultant in branding or advertising knows it does not come cheap. Even something like setting up a website can set you back thousands of dollars. Justine is changing that.


“I’m going to disrupt the industry by allowing clients to afford my services,” she said.

“A lot of agencies will charge people $100k plus for an advertising campaign. I don’t. I don’t charge agency fees. I give people the opportunity to work with me for fair rates using tailored solutions in favour of them and not in favour of me as an agency.”




After finishing her studies in design and illustration, Justine’s first job involved designing 15 magazines at once with a magazine publishing company in Manly. This included “Cruise Passenger”, “Sommelier Australia” and “Rex Airlines” inflight magazines.

However, she was seduced by the fast paced and innovative world of advertising.

“I campaigned to get into an agency. I sent them a letter saying I would campaign for a period of 10 days. I sent them things like baby shoes with a sign that said ‘I know I need to learn to walk before I can fly.’ I got their attention and I was offered a job by Ogilvy,” she said.

Whilst at Ogilvy, Justine worked as a digital designer on advertising campaigns for major brands like Coke, Purina, Dove, and American Express.

Then she made the brave move to become a freelancer. As a freelancer, she designed Channel 10’s HD One Sports Website, Fairfax Digital’s corporate identity and the website for the online lifestyle newspaper www.dailylife.com.au.

“When I was freelancing I realised I am actually representing myself anyway. So why can’t I build my own company,” she said.

When asked what her vision was for MDB, Justine said “I want to go global. I want to be a guide for the average person sitting at home. I want to help them build their brand from the comfort of their own home. I want them to be able to look at the work I have done and to think that’s not so hard. I want to create their legacy.”

MDB is now expanding into the United States of America. For example, Justine is currently creating the legacy of Orange County and LA’s networking group for like minded enterpreneurs, The Socialite Network, by developing its branding and advertising campaign. MDB’s new public relations arm is also working with The Socialite Network to promote and host its networking event in Orange County on 27 April 2017.

To find out more about MDB check out their website www.mdbranders.com.au and follow them on Instagram @milliondollarbranders.

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