Starbucks' Michelle Chin Discusses What Makes a Successful Brand Activation | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

Michelle Chin, Starbucks VP, Discusses What Makes a Successful Brand Activation


Michelle Chin, VP of marketing, product, digital and sustainability at Starbucks, is participating in ANA's 2024 ANA Award juries, specifically as a REGGIE Awards judge. Denise McDevitt, SVP of award programs at ANA, spoke with Chin to discuss what the judges will be looking for and what makes the difference between a good versus exceptional submission.

What current trends are you seeing in brand activation marketing? What has been the biggest shift since a year ago?

Gone are the days when customers chose brands to express themselves. Today, customers choose brands that share their personal values because they are seeking brands that they can trust to take care of them, communities, and the earth. Any successful brand activation must be authentic, inclusive, and ethically sound.

Every entrant wants to know what it will take to win a REGGIE Award. What campaign components will you be looking for this year to distinguish good versus exceptional?

An exceptional campaign is one that truly puts the customer first – understanding the customer insight and addressing the customer need in a highly emotive yet authentic way because customers choose brands that share their values to express who they are as individuals. Less successful brands are those that mask their commercial needs under the guise of doing good for their customers.

In the submission form, we ask REGGIE entrants to impress and excite us with the "ah-ha" solution they developed. What elements are you expecting the entrant to share in this section? What are you hoping to learn regarding the creation of a team's big idea?

There is nothing more important that the "ah-ha" moment when the brand has an authentic and distinct way to address a customer insight or need. What I'm looking for is how the team stays true in delivering the customer need, and not letting the commerciality supersede. I recognize the team needs to deliver business results, but I'm more interested in how they deliver the business results through the lens of humanity.

An effective performance evaluation framework is critical to show the value of a marketing campaign. What type of evaluation framework do you use when assessing brand activation marketing efforts? What metrics and KPIs will you expect entrants to provide in their REGGIE submissions?

With so many stakeholders watching and judging any marketing campaign, what's most important is aligning upfront what are the key success metrics. Beyond the immediate financial measures (such as revenue, ROI, acquisition, and conversion), it's even more important to deliver a campaign that reinforces the brand's purpose by putting its values in action and building brand trust (health attributes) to weather all the turmoil in the marketplace today.

We know it is critical for brands to prioritize the importance of cultural sensitivity in their activations. How will you handle the evaluation of this in the award submissions?

Inclusion and diversity is critical – it is something that brands need to incorporate into their every day. It's the responsibility of leaders, team members, and agencies to callout stereotypes, unconscious bias, and exclusions whenever it presents itself. It's not something that you can "prioritize" when building a campaign. It needs to be an active process in your organization and in your daily processes. At a minimum, brand teams need embrace diversity at the table to ensure different viewpoints and perspectives are heard so there is ongoing awareness, sensitivity and learning of different cultures that surround us.

My last question: If you could offer just one key suggestion, one request in your role as a REGGIE awards judge to teams preparing their entries. What would it be? How would you complete this sentence?

If nothing else, be sure your submission... demonstrates how the brand activation is serving a greater purpose where your success is measured beyond the immediate financial returns, and there is sustained brand affinity long after the program is over.

The ANA REGGIE Awards celebrates the most innovative, impactful, and ground breaking brand activation campaigns of the year. The final deadline to submit work into the 2024 REGGIE Awards program is January 19th, 2024.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Denise McDevitt is SVP of award programs at ANA.