At Georgia-Pacific With Friends Old and New

Our second trip to Georgia in 10 days found us at Georgia-Pacific headquarters inside a gorgeous theatre space. Atlanta is home to so many great brands and we were thrilled to reconnect with old friends from Coca-Cola, IHG, Kids2, Delta Air Lines, Focus Brands, UPS and SunTrust. We were likewise ecstatic to add two new brands–Instacart and PÜR Cosmetics–to our community here.

Our second trip to Georgia in 10 days found us at Georgia-Pacific headquarters inside a gorgeous theatre space. Atlanta is home to so many great brands and we were thrilled to reconnect with old friends from Coca-Cola, IHG, Kids2, Delta Air Lines, Focus Brands, UPS and SunTrust. We were likewise ecstatic to add two new brands–Instacart and PÜR Cosmetics–to our community here.

TJ Abrams and Tia Cummings from IHG

The iconic Georgia-Pacific is one of the world’s largest makers of paper, pulp, tissue and more through brands such as Angel Soft, Brawny, Blue Ribbon and Advantage. The company was founded in Augusta, Ga., back in 1927 and now employs about 35,000 people.

Our host for the day–Kevin Planovsky, Principal at Vert Digital–did an exemplary job keeping the audience engaged. Planovsky welcomed the crowd and then swiftly made way for our first panel of the day.

Kevin Planovsky of Vert Digital

Panel Madness

Brand marketers from UPS, Coca-Cola and Ted’s Montana Grill kicked it off with a far-ranging panel discussion on “Adapting to Consumers’ Changing Behavior.” Much of it centered on the importance of reaching consumers in personalized ways, for example, via messages on birthdays or around other significant life events. One panelist urged brands to use emerging tech (e.g., AR and drones) so long as they do it at the right moment in the purchase process.

Consumer Behavior panelists (L-R): Moderator Michael Leen, SVP of MediaMonks; Jessica Smith, Senior Director of Marketing, Ted’s Montana Grill; Jay Devassy, Senior Manager-Global Customer Insights, UPS; and Allie Blalock, Digital Engagement Manager, The Coca-Cola Company

The morning continued with a spirited keynote and chat with two IHG brand marketers (pictured below) who we know well: Head of Global Brand Strategy & Performance TJ Abrams and Global Director-Mainstream Marketing Tia Cummings. The pair gave the audience a peek behind the veil on how IHG deftly folded Holiday Inn & Holiday Inn Express into one cohesive master brand.

Tisha Thompson of PÜR Cosmetics

An afternoon panel on “Creating Compelling Content for all Screens” was a treasure trove for content marketers. Tisha Thompson, VP-Marketing & Innovation for PÜR Cosmetics, stressed the value of faithful customers and said her brand gets feedback from them when bringing a new product to market. “Sometimes marketers are so busy chasing new customers that they forget the current loyal ones.” Jordan Lalor, Senior Social Media Specialist for Mercedes Benz USA, urged marketers to clarify objectives for social early in the process. “If clicks are the goal, use static images or short videos in social. But if awareness is the play, use a longer-form video.”

Our “Compelling Content” panelists (L-R): Tisha Thompson, Vice President of Marketing and Innovation, PÜR Cosmetics; Jordan Lalor, Senior Social Media Specialist, Mercedes-Benz USA; Terrance Ellis, Social Media Team Lead, Instacart; Martina Chisholm, Vice President, Content Marketing, SunTrust Bank; Shari Neumann, Sr. Director, Content Center Lead, Georgia-Pacific; and moderator Derek Smith, Director of Brand & Agency Licensing for Jukin Media

Everyone Loves Brand Love

Everyone loves a feel-good story so it’s no wonder our “Brand Love” roundtables have historically been so popular. In Atlanta, we hosted not one but two such sessions. Marketers from The Home Depot, Delta Air Lines, Cinnabon, NASCO, Coca-Cola and Focus Brands revealed how their respective brands have been able to make deeper emotional connections with consumers, pulling them into and down through the funnel, influencing buying behavior and creating true brand love & loyalty.

Roundtable I (L-R): Carson Hornsby, Senior Brand and Marketing Specialist, NASCO; Erin Everhart, Senior Manager, Commerce Marketing, The Home Depot; Moderator Rebecca Cardona, Sales Director at TripleLift; Stacie Johnson, Global Workplace Brand Manager, Coca-Cola Company; and Mario Suffren, Global Channels, Marketing, Focus Brands

Roundtable II (L-R): Moderator Tom Morrissy, President of Noble People; McCrea O’Haire, Digital Platforms & Innovation Manager, The Coca-Cola Company; Marissa Sharpless, Senior Manager, PR and Social Media, Cinnabon; and Jocelyn Merisca, Manager, Customer Engagement & Loyalty, Delta Air Lines

Quick-fire Thoughts from Fireside Chats

  • Tiffany Cameron, Director-Brand Media for Georgia-Pacific, told how her company prioritizes innovation across all of their brands and discussed the relationship between the direct-to-consumer model and engagement.
  • Jason McAlpin (below), Brand Director-vitaminwater for The Coca-Cola Company had this hot take to share: “At the end of the day, a brand is always striving to subvert culture.” Absolutely agree.
  • Meryl Macune, SVP-Global Marketing for Kids II, said her brand made a concerted shift toward content marketing over the last two years. Why? “New babies are born every day, new parents are born everyday. It all comes back to relevant content that speaks to those consumers.”
  • Fred Smith, not exactly a traditional brand marketer as the Senior Technologist at Centers for Disease Control, talked about health, safety and–well–zombie preparedness. Shrewd angle into a serious topic actually. Or as he said: “If you’re ready for a zombie apocalypse, you’re ready for a real emergency.”

The Inevitable VIP Dinner

We capped off the day with a delicious VIP Dinner at Ford Fry’s JCT Kitchen on Atlanta’s Westside. JCT is known for its spin on southern staples like fried chicken, mac-n-cheese and short ribs and it did not disappoint. Thrilled to say we also had a chance to wish BI CEO/co-founder Marc Sternberg an early happy birthday.

As always, Atlanta left a real impression on us. Luckily, it sounds like we may have left an impression on those who joined us too. We leave you with a couple verbatims from our audience and encourage you to attend an upcoming Brand Innovators event in your area.

“It is always an honor to be a speaker at a Brand Innovators event. I very much enjoyed networking with other Atlanta marketers at Georgia-Pacific and having discussions about what works and what doesn’t in today’s digital marketing space.”

— Martina Chisholm, VP-Content Marketing, SunTrust Bank

Martina Chisholm of SunTrust Bank

“I love attending the Brand Innovators events. It’s always great to be able to connect and speak with leaders in other industries, hear their stories, and walk away with valuable and actionable information that I apply to my business the next day.”

— Jordan Lalor, Senior Social Media Specialist, Mercedes Benz USA

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