“The Currency Now is Attention”–Boston Marketers on Point

Some may treat a Snow Day as a chance to huddle under a blanket and watch a movie. But our Boston-based Brand Innovators community is far heartier than that, turning out in big numbers for a lively marketing summit at the Encore Boston Harbor just a day after a major winter storm.

Some may treat a Snow Day as a chance to huddle under a blanket and watch a movie. But our Boston-based Brand Innovators community is far heartier than that, turning out in big numbers for a lively marketing summit at the Encore Boston Harbor just a day after a major winter storm.


Rebalancing the funnel
A week ago, Old Navy became the latest company to announce it would shift its marketing strategy from bottom-funnel efforts towards more brand building. This recent wave served as a backdrop for some of the day’s most striking comments.

Wintry scenes outside our Boston venue

“We have to get out of this bottom-of-the-funnel, last-click marketing,” implored Heather Kaminetsky, Chief Brand Officer of M. Gemi, during a fireside chat. “You can’t build a brand solely on Facebook and Google.”


Heather Kaminetsky, Chief Brand Officer, M. Gemi

In the morning’s central keynote address, Ryan Cassidy, Global Digital Marketing Manager at New Balance, urged brands to move “from efficiency to effectiveness.” He made a case for (no pun intended) balance in terms of funnel splits, content and media mixes, digital video strategies and in social. Cassidy warned that, by going after efficiency so hard, brands may “eat through your funnel in a chase to the bottom.”

Ryan Cassidy, Global Digital Marketing Manager, New Balance

Cassidy said New Balance had to learn this lesson as well. “We were starting from a very efficient place where the bulk of our digital video ad dollars were going to platforms like Instagram and Facebook. We were patting ourselves on the back for a long time getting a cost per view of less than a penny. But then we started to kick the tires on what these views actually looked like.”

Building brand relevance and currency
During a panel focused on the 2020 outlook for digital marketers, leaders from John Hancock, Wahlburgers and Boston Beer Company stressed the need for brands to leverage data in an effort to be relevant in the right places, at the right time, for consumers.

Panel on 2020 Digital Outlook (L-R): Moderator James Lunt, Director of Sales, GroundTruth; Jay Wightman, Head of Digital Experience, John Hancock; Kimberly Stokes, Head of Digital & Media, Boston Beer Company; Dan Wheeler, SVP-Marketing & Innovation, Wahlburgers

Jay Wightman, Head of Digital Experience for John Hancock, delivered a perfect recipe for being a relevant brand in 2019: “My advice for marketers is simple. Find the sweet spot of what you’re good at, what you can deliver on and what your customers want.” Then he added this bit of wisdom: “The currency now is attention, and the data you collect is the reward.”

Jay Wightman, Head of Digital Experience, John Hancock

Ian Cohen, Head of Global Content Innovation & Creation for PayPal, echoed that advice. “The idea of brand currency is about value exchange,” he said. “It’s 2020. We need to stop obsessing over views and ‘viral’ videos and prioritize reaching the right people at the right time.”

Ian Cohen, Head of Global Content Innovation & Creation for PayPal with Jonathan Lacoste, President & Co-Founder of Jebbit

Transforming Consumer Engagement
As digital disruptions to the marketing and media industries continue apace, brands are more and more focused on how and where people will engage with them–how they can leave their mark and engender loyalty. Barbara Sharnak, Director-Brand and Product Marketing for Republic Wireless, drew a connection between the way products are presented to an audience and the reaction they are likely to receive. “It is important for us to showcase what a product does for the customer, and not to focus on the features that we put in the product.”

“I love the psychological aspect of the job, no matter the platform,” said Alex Silberman, Head of Social Media for MassMutual. “I’m interested in understanding how I can positively change human behavior.”

Panel on Future of Media (L-R): Alex Silberman, Head of Social Media, MassMutual; Mariya Raginsky, Director of Marketing and Brand, National Grid; Eileen O’Malley, Manager, Marketing and Social Media, Boston Celtics; Barbara Sharnak, Director, Brand and Product Marketing, Republic Wireless; and Dave Edwards, SVP, Managing Director, Growth, U.S., R/GA

Eileen O’Malley, Manager-Marketing & Social Media for the Boston Celtics said she’s been focused on data that can help her refine her content and storytelling strategy. “There is such an opportunity to find new stories and to tell them in new unique ways on each platform.” O’Malley sung the praises of TikTok but cautioned about volatility, reminding the audience it’s a platform driven by an audience even younger than the youngest NBA players. Sobering thought.

On a day filled with excellent advice from leading brand marketers, we’ll close with this battle cry from Marissa Curcuru, Manager-Global Media for Bose: “Throw out the rule book. Think outside of what the TV spot looks like. Focus on a holistic campaign that speaks to the consumer.” Well said.

Marissa Curcuru, Manager-Global Media, Bose

Special thanks to our hosts at the gorgeous Encore Boston Harbor for a great day and a fabulous dinner to close things out. Our community loved every minute.

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

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