Key themes from 2014 ANA Brand Masters Conference

March 6, 2014

By Marni Gordon, SVP of committees and conferences, ANA

ANA is well known for its fall “Masters of Marketing” Conference - which features terrific content and prominent speakers, including many leading CMOs and other marketing thought leaders. This year we held our second annual ANA Brand Masters Conference which was a late winter/early spring companion to the Masters of Marketing. This event was SOLD OUT for the second year in a row and over 450 people were in attendance.

Some of the key themes heard at the conference were:

  • Innovation is critical: Andy Callahan, president of retail at Hillshire Brands Company spoke about how his company is reinvigorating and extending their brands through innovation. Hillshire Brands also evolved their corporate culture to foster innovation. The company moved their headquarters from the suburbs to a great open space environment in downtown Chicago to encourage collaboration. In addition, Hillshire Brands holds a passion series where they bring in outside speakers to share inspirational stories with their employees.

  • Experiential marketing can be a great way to build (or rebuild) brands: Citi did a great job launching their Citi Bike program in New York which led to a significant increase in brand health metrics in one of their most important markets. Hostess also used only experiential marketing amplified by social in major markets to launch their rebirth campaign, “The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever.” This campaign was a huge success and stores sold out of product within the first 48 hours of launch!

  • Invest in building your brand: In his opening remarks, Bob Liodice mentioned that according to a recent ANA survey, CMOs consistently rate “building stronger brands” among their top goals/priorities. Chobani also shared how investing in brand building keeps their brand resilient and that investing in brand and great product creates premium value and market success. AutoNation also spoke about the company’s journey in rebranding a large organization. Greg Revelle, CMO at AutoNation advised attendees to be patient as branding takes a long-term commitment.

  • Millennials: Brands need to connect with millennials in an authentic way and in real-time. Taco Bell hired millennials to guide the company on what’s cool and help manage their social media. Millennials were also identified as an important group to reach by most of the speakers including Chobani, Dunkin Brands, and Honda. We also held a panel session with millennials who offered real-world advice and examples of effective ways to engage with the elusive millennial audience as a consumer and an employee.

The 2015 ANA Brand Masters Conference will be February 4-6 at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, Calif.! Mark your calendars now and I look forward to seeing you there!

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