On Top of the World, Winding Down 2019

Without question, this has been Brand Innovators’ biggest year yet so it seemed fitting that we closed out 2019 with two big events in the holiday-decked Big Apple.

Without question, this has been Brand Innovators’ biggest year yet so it seemed fitting that we closed out 2019 with two big events in the holiday-decked Big Apple.

The view from SAP’s Hudson Yards space in New York

Our Day 1 Marketing & Media Innovation Summit took place at SAP’s impossibly modern Next-Gen Open Innovation Space at Hudson Yards. SAP CMO (and our day’s event host) Alicia Tillman took the stage for a fireside chat and proceeded to deliver numerous insights and advice for brands. In fact, she was so quotable on subjects like brand purpose, Gen Z and diversity, we did an entire separate article about her here.

Obligatory family photo from the Brand Innovators Summit at SAP (That’s CMO Alicia Tillman front and center in the red and black)

Tillman was in good company as senior marketers from brands like MasterCard, Pfizer, Merck and Kind Snacks talked about podcasting, customer loyalty, programmatic, creative in-housing and how to build a truly 21st-century brand.

MasterCard: Evolving Experiential
How does a 50-year-old brand stay fresh? By evolving, says Alison Giordano, VP-Consumer Marketing, Sponsorships & Content Marketing for MasterCard. Giordano invoked a great quote from MasterCard CMO Raja Rajamannar: “When marketers make every dimension of their brand work for consumers, they can forge stronger, more meaningful connections that last.” To that end, Giordano said, MasterCard evolved by modernizing its brand identity and revamping its brand architecture to be more simple.

Alison Giordano, Vice President, Consumer Marketing, Sponsorships & Content Marketing, MasterCard

With all the talk about experiential marketing over the past few years, it’s worth pausing to consider that MasterCard’s “priceless” campaign–based on the insight that experiences matter more than things–has now been with us for more than 20 years. Running in 120 markets and 52 languages over those decades, it is truly iconic, helping keep the brand relevant and remain top-of-mind for consumers.

Of course, Giordano noted, the world has changed an awful lot since 1997. “So we moved ‘priceless’ off the main screen and into people’s lives,” she says, “by transforming it from a traditional advertising campaign into a holistic experiential marketing platform.”

What’s Next for CPG Marketing
Our panel looking at the future of CPG marketing featured Kristina Gerschel, Global Marketing Director at Merck, and Colleen Sherry, US Digital Media & Marketing Lead for Henkel. Both women talked about TikTok, Gen Z’s social platform of choice, acknowledging that, while virtually every brand is hopping on, deeper understanding is needed in terms of how to make content there stick.

CPG Marketing Panel (L-R): Moderator Lori Osorio, VP of CPG Sales, VideoAmp; Kristina Gerschel, Global Marketing Director, Merck; Colleen Sherry, US Digital Media & Marketing Lead, Henkel

Gerschel predicted that wearables will really take off in 2020 while Sherry said Henkel is leaning into micro-influencers for their perceived value and into broader content marketing. She also praised her brand’s healthy appetite for testing. “At Henkel, we are a test-and-learn culture. We’re not afraid to fail. But when we do fail, we make sure we measure to see why something failed and learn from it.”

Nestlé Waters: Behind the Bottle
Smeeta Khetarpaul, Director-Group Marketing Manager at Nestlé Waters’ Poland Spring imprint, took us “behind the bottle,” revealing the story of her brand’s transition toward more sustainable materials in their packaging. She also acknowledged that a brand’s good behavior can have a positive knock-on effect. “We are going out of our way communication-wise to be transparent about our sustainability actions,” Khetarpaul said. “The more the consumer is educated and informed, the more they will contribute to the solution.”

Smeeta Khetarpaul, Director, Group Marketing Manager – Poland Spring, Nestle Waters with Caleb Light Willis, Chief Creative Officer of Tongal

Avis: Programmatic & Business Impact
In a fireside chat, Alex Sutton, Director-Acquisition & Paid Digital Media for Avis Budget Group, sung the praises of programmatic and urged brands to go all in on A/B testing with a variety of audiences. “We leverage programmatic not just for presence but for business impact,” he said. “There should be an element of performance when it comes to all media. We’re fortunate to have access to really valuable first-party data.”

Alex Sutton, Director-Acquisition & Paid Digital Media, Avis Budget Group (r) with moderator Scott Hendrickson, SVP Sales, News Corp | News IQ

Equinox: All About Loyalty
Emotional loyalty from customers is everything to Equinox Fitness, according to Director of CRM & Member Marketing Jenna Klebanoff. “One element of that is consistency. That means our consumers showing up to the club and receiving that in-person, hands-on experience that builds that connection inherently. And it means recognizing them digitally–on anniversaries, birthdays, their 100th class. We want them to know we see them as individuals and as valuable members of our community.”

Jenna Klebanoff, Director, CRM & Member Marketing, Equinox (l) with Lauren Baer, Director of Loyalty Solutions, CrowdTwist

A few more images from SAP…

Influencer Aimee Kelly (Chic My Styles) spoke with Takumi CEO Adam Williams about bringing trust back to influencer marketing

Digital Media & Marketing 2020 Panel (L-R): Stacey Warshaw, Director, Digital Marketing, Ann Inc.; Jess Goon, VP Digital Marketing, Kind Snacks; and moderator Andrew Beranbom, Co-Founder & CEO, FirstTube Media

Panel on how to build a 21st-century brand (L-R): Ben Collier, Executive Director of Brand, JPMorgan; Catherine Leitner, Global Marketing Director, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts;  Martin Morse, VP of Marketing & Business Development, Bulletproof (speaking); and moderator Gian LaVecchia, SVP, Brand Partnerships & Agency Sales, Americas, DoubleVerify

Pfizer marketers–Chad Parizman, Head of Social Media and Digital Communications (2nd from right), and Erica Santiago, Sr. Manager, Digital Content (far right)–told the audience about their brand’s approach to podcasting

The lofty view from SAP at Hudson Yards

To learn more about this and other Brand Innovators events, go here.

(Thanks to my colleague Kat Papera for the terrific photos.)

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