Branding Like You Mean It: Walking the Walk at Insider Summits, 2022

As MediaPost’s Insider Summits moved back into fully live experiences last year, the pent-up demand was overwhelming. Marketers, many of whom were still working remotely themselves, were hungry to meet and share IRL again. We went into overdrive to serve that need, and, frankly, so did most of our guest speakers. Before we surge into the 2023 Insider Summits, I would like to reflect a bit on some of my own favorite brand presentations from the latter half of 2022. I was especially impressed by marketers who were embracing emerging trends and channels in earnest – walking the walk of metaverse experimentation, tapping TikTok’s potential, breaking through the data driven blandness of current advertising, and even DEI. These folks aren’t just checking a box but really thinking harder about innovating. 

Chobani’s Metaverse ABCs

Our old friend Lexi Christie of Chobani pulled off a rare trick by bringing us into the metaverse credibly. Her presentation at the CPG Brand Insider Summit cast off a ton of takeaways on how brands need to think about these emerging environments. We asked for a case study and Lexi delivered so much more than the story of Chobani Oat Milk Cosmic Race in Roblox. She offered a true primer on going metaversal – from platform choice to content to available KPIs. This is a must-see.



Poppi: Tapping Into TikTok Power

While the major platforms started struggling to hold onto advertisers by year’s end, interest in TikTok remained strong. One of the most comprehensive peeks into the art of brand building in that red hot channel came to us from the CMO of DTC beverage brand Poppi. Allison Ellsworth told the D2C Brand Insider Summit in November how a single Poppi post garnered over 48 million views. Rocketed the soda to the top of the Amazon sales charts and sold half dollars in product in a day. This case showed a real understanding of how TikTok works differently, from both a media and creative standpoint.

Liquid Death 

One of my own pet peeves about current advertising is just how boring it has become. The mechanics of a data driven and accountable ecosystem, I fear, have made performance marketers of everyone. So few ads make me stop and think, nod in recognition, let alone laugh.  Even big brand efforts tend to play it safe and feel as if they have been workshopped into blandness. The ad slump is not universal, of course. The white space in branding now is simple creativity. In fact, recent MediaPost Insider Summits have carved out special sessions that invite our participating marketers to share creative that might inspire their peers to think and craft harder. But far and away the most popular exhibition of advertising fearlessness was Liquid Death’s presentation on how its branding was so catchy it spawned a successful merchandising business that let consumers align with the brand. 

Talking the talk of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is a lot more common than walking the walk. But don’t get me started on the chronic vapidity and disingenuousness of so-called “meaningful branding.” Salim Holder, CEO of 4th Ave. Market was a breath of fresh air on the topic of marketers genuinely investing in their constituent communities. And so we invited him to several Summit last year to share how it is really done. Salim has not only successfully tapped into a growing network of highly influential historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), but he offers a real value exchange in the form of digital marketing training. 

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